Sunday, July 12, 2009

Mid-season Awards: A.L. MVP

In what was intended to be a weekend worth of mid-season picks for major MLB awards, my laziness has stretched to three weeks.

That being said, I'm ready to post my selection for the A.L. MVP as the Cubs and Cardinals play us into this year's All-Star break.

For N.L. MVP, there was no uncertainty. Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols was the obvious choice. The A.L. MVP isn't nearly as obvious.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Tampa Bay Rays

A.L. MVP: Joe Mauer, Twins - Ernie Lombardi (1942) was the last catcher to win a battle before Joe Mauer. Since Lombardi, Mauer has won two batting titles. Despite having his worst game of the season (0-for-5 with four strikeouts) today, Mauer is hitting .373 heading into the All-Star break and leading the A.L. in batting average.

What's different in 2009 for the career .324 hitter is his increase in power. Mauer has hit 15 home runs at the midway point even though he missed the first month of the season. And before this year, his career high was 13 home runs.

Mauer leads the A.L. in OBS (1.090). He and Tampa Bay's Ben Zobrist are the only two A.L. players with an OBS of 1.000 or greater heading into Sunday's games.

His 49 runs scored and 49 RBIs put him on pace to surpass 100 of each.

MLB: MAY 10 Mariners at Twins

Runner-up: Justin Morneau, Twins - Morneau has put up strong numbers across the board and you could easily make the case that Mauer and Morneau should swap positions.

At the break, Morneau is batting .311 with 21 home runs and 70 RBI. He's second in the A.L. in RBI and tied for fourth place in home runs.

Mauer and Morneau have a nearly identical AB:HR ratio. Mauer has hit one home run per 16.07 at bats while Morneau has hit one home run per 15.9 at bats.

Honorable Mention: Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle), Jason Bay (Boston), Mark Teixeira (NY Yankees), Evan Longoria (Tampa Bay), Ben Zobrist (Tampa Bay), Torii Hunter (LA Angels)

See Cy Young picks: American League and National League.

Carlos Pena to replace Dustin Pedroia on All-Star team

MLB: MAY 20 Athletics at Rays

Boston Red Sox second baseman is going to miss this year's All-Star game. A.L. manager Joe Madden named Carlos Pena as his replacement, per Joe Smith of the St. Petersburg Times.

"I have to believe who ever leads the league in home runs normally belongs in an All-Star game," Maddon said. "And the fact he hadn't been on the team yet bothered me just a little bit, so for whatever reason, it all worked out well."

Pena leads the A.L. in home runs (24) and was one of the five finalists for the final A.L. All-Star spot. Despite the Rays' "Vote 'Los" campaign, Detroit's Brandon Inge won that honor.

Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler finished second to Inge in voting for the final spot. Pena finished fourth.

In addition to leading the A.L. in home runs, Pena is tenth in RBI (58) and is hitting .230.

Pena is one of the eight Home Run Derby contestants. He'll be competing against Nelson Cruz (Texas), Brandon Inge (Detroit), Joe Mauer (Minnesota), Albert Pujols (St. Louis), Adrian Gonzalez (San Diego), Prince Fielder (Milwaukee) and Ryan Howard (Philadelphia).

Other Rays' All-Stars include Evan Longoria, who will start at third base, and reserves Jason Bartlett, Ben Zobrist and Carl Crawford. See the full All-Star roster here.

The Hot Corner, 7/12 edition

Yankees starter Andy Pettitte, who said "I didn't make the adjustments I needed to make," didn't make it out of a seven-run fifth inning for the Angels.

Alex Rodriguez hit two home runs (career #569 and #570) to pass Rafael Palmeiro, who says he's "not on that list," for 10th all-time on the career home run list.

A-Rod, who's not an All-Star for the first time since 1999, will have the opportunity to rest up. But he is tearing it up lately hitting .407 with eight homers and 22 RBI in his last 16 games.

Jeff Francoeur hit a two-run single in his first at bat as a Met.

The Mets have signed 29 of their 39 picks in last month's MLB First-Year Player Draft. The deadline to sign players in August 17th.

Ted Lilly got his 100th career victory as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 5-2. But the guys in the clubhouse tell Lilly, "You have 200 to go.''

Without Ryan Zimmerman in the lineup, the Nats are being creative. In the process, they beat the Houston Astros 13-2 last night.

The A's traded Jack Hannahan to Seattle for Double-A pitcher Justin Souza.

As Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star writes, "The Blue Jays are becoming the authorities in the AL East on walk-off losses." Last night, the Jays suffered their third such loss in the past 10 games.

Melvin Mora had the game-winning hit in the 12th inning against the Jays last night.

The Mets will likely start Oliver Perez to begin the second half.

Mets first baseman Carlos Delgado spent yesterday with a dozen Puerto Rican high school seniors.

Mets demoted Nick Evans to Triple-A Buffalo.

Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun writes about change coming to the Orioles.

Juan Uribe on the error that made Jonathan Sanchez's perfect game a no-hitter: "I didn't feel good that I didn't make the play. I wanted to do something, I wanted to make the play, but maybe if I go back (on the ball), maybe it's a base hit. An error is better than a base hit."

Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti said of the no-no: "I waited for a while, let everybody else clear out and had a little cry. It was wonderful."

Tigers rookie pitcher Rick Porcello won't start again until June 22nd.

John Smoltz got his first win as a Red Sox starter.

The 'Stros will start Wandy Rodriguez in their first game after the All-Star break.

Nelson Cruz, the Rangers right fielder, said of the Home Run Derby: "You always dream about being in the Home Run Derby. I think I have a chance. I think I’m going to do well."

The Rangers fell out of first place in the A.L. West after losing to Seattle last night.

I’ll never moan and groan if they want to put me at short,” said Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis.

Justin Upton had a career-high four hits in last night's win over the Marlins.

Jake Fox might catch some as the Cubs second catcher with Geovany Soto on the DL.

Brad Radke is now a member of the Twins Hall of Fame.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said the White Sox might be willing to make a trade, per Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Growing up, White Sox rookie Gordon Beckham's favorite sport was football. ''As a child, he never dreamed of playing baseball in the major leagues,'' his mother told Carol Slezak of the Chicago Sun-Times. ''It was actually shocking that he chose [to pursue baseball in college].''

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times believes that the Dodgers shouldn't let Roy Halladay get away.

After shutting out the Marlins last night, Dan Haren's N.L.-leading ERA dropped from 2.16 to 2.01.

Rays catcher Dioner Navarro was hospitalized for tests after a foul tip off of the catcher's mask.

Marc Lancaster of The Tampa Tribune writes, "barring a significant injury to a player the Rays can't adequately replace internally, status quo seems the likely outcome."

The Pirates will stick with their rotation (Paul Maholm, Charlie Morton, Zach Duke, Ross Ohlendorf and Virgil Vasquez) after the All-Star break, which gives all pitchers 10 days off.

Diamondbacks third baseman Mark Reynolds is on the verge of becoming arbitration-eligible based on his performance, which could be costly to the D'Backs in 2010.