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Archive for November, 2006

Brandon Webb – Your 2006 Cy Young Winner!

From Rotoworld:

Brandon Webb received 15 of the 32 first-place votes to win the NL Cy Young Award on Tuesday. Amazingly enough, the NL voters are 2-for-2. Webb looked liked the best choice to us, though there were arguments to be made for Chris Carpenter, Roy Oswalt and Bronson Arroyo. The only truly awful choice would have been Trevor Hoffman, who received 12 first-place votes and finished second with 77 points, 26 behind Webb. Carpenter was third with two first-place votes and 63 points. Oswalt received three first-place votes, but because he was left off 19 ballots, he finished with 31 points. Also receiving votes were Carlos Zambrano (six points), Billy Wagner (four), John Smoltz (three) and Takashi Saito (one).

Voting:             1st     2nd      3rd     Points

1. Brandon Webb     15       7        7        103
2. Trevor Hoffman   12       3        8         77
3. Chris Carpenter   2      16        5         63
4. Roy Oswalt        3       3        7         31
5. Carlos Zambrano   -       1        3          6
6. Billy Wagner      -       1        1          4
7. John Smoltz       -       1        -          3
8. Takashi Saito     -       -        1          1

From Major League Baseball:

PHOENIX — Arizona right-hander Brandon Webb made his first All-Star appearance in 2006 and ran off a 30-inning scoreless streak. Now he has capped the year off with his greatest achievement. On Tuesday, Webb was named the National League Cy Young Award winner by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Webb tallied 103 points in the balloting, earning 15 first-place votes, seven second-place votes and seven third-place votes. He outdistanced San Diego’s Trevor Hoffman (77) and St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter (63). Hoffman (12), Carpenter (2) and Houston’s Roy Oswalt (3) also received first-place votes.

Webb, 27, finished the season with a 16-8 record and 3.10 ERA in 33 starts. His 16 wins tied five other pitchers — the Reds’ Aaron Harang, the Dodgers’ Derek Lowe and Brad Penny, the Braves’ John Smoltz and the Cubs’ Carlos Zambrano — for the most victories in the National League, though it is the lowest win total by a Cy Young winner in any year not shortened by labor issues.

Webb’s 16 wins set a new career high while his eight losses were also the fewest he has recorded in his four-year big league career.

The Kentucky native becomes the second D-backs pitcher to win the award, following in the footsteps of Randy Johnson, who won four consecutive Cy Young Awards from 1999-2002.

Webb threw a career-high 235 innings on the season while recording a career-high 178 strikeouts in addition to five complete games and three shutouts. Webb boasted the fourth-best ERA in the Majors and ranked second in innings pitched. He tied for second in complete games and tied for first in shutouts.

Webb went unbeaten in his first 13 starts, while posting an 8-0 record with a 2.14 ERA over that span.

The sinkerball specialist missed one start in the beginning of August due to soreness in his right forearm. After taking a few starts to return to his prior form, the Arizona ace gave up just five earned runs over the course of four consecutive starts from Sept. 9-26.

However, Webb struggled in his last start of the season against the Padres on Oct. 1 — the same day that the Cy Young Award ballots were due — when the right-hander yielded seven earned runs on eight hits over four innings, which marked his shortest outing of the year and inflated his ERA from 2.88 to 3.10.

“You know, it might be the first bad game he’s pitched all year,” said Arizona manager Bob Melvin following that game. “If that game happens earlier in the year, we forget all about it. To basically have one bad game all year, it is unbelievable. It’s unfortunate it happened today … For me, he’s the best pitcher in the National League.”

“Looking back on the year, I think I had a pretty good year,” Webb said that day. “I came in and fulfilled the expectations of what hopefully everybody had for me. Hopefully, I did that for them. I feel good about the year that I had.”

The year was a memorable one to say the least. Webb served as the D-backs’ lone representative in his first All-Star Game, where he threw a scoreless fourth inning and retired a tough trio of Derek Jeter, David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez in order.

He also posted 30 scoreless innings over three-plus starts from May 20 through the fifth inning of his June 5 start against the Phillies. The streak was halted when Philadelphia tagged him for three earned runs.

“It was a good run, fun while it lasted,” said the easy-going Webb after the game. “I knew I wasn’t going to go forever without giving one up.”

Hot Stove Dispatches

From Rotoworld:

The Padres told agent John Boggs on Monday that they’re targeting a power-hitting left fielder and probably won’t re-sign Dave Roberts.  It had become pretty obvious. “If the priority for the Padres is a power bat and you are Dave Roberts, OK, fine, you can’t do anything about it,” Boggs said. “We can’t force the issue with the Padres.” Roberts isn’t going to be hurting for work. The Cubs, Brewers, Rockies, White Sox and Giants are among those interested. The Padres are pursuing Gary Sheffield at the moment. They could have Brian Giles or Josh Barfield take over as their leadoff hitter.

David Wright and Ryan Howard homered as the MLB All-Stars went up 4-0 in the series in Japan by winning 7-2 on Tuesday. Jose Reyes had two hits and two RBI, and Andruw Jones drew three of the MLB team’s 10 base on balls. Starter Chris Young pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Both runs came off John Maine in the fifth. The MLB team has never swept the Japanese team in the five-game series since the format started in 1986. John Lackey is due to start Wednesday’s finale.

Yorvit Torrealba hit his first homer Sunday for Los Llanos of the Venezuelan Winter League. He’s 3-for-19 in five games. Torrealba is currently DHing to make up for some of the at-bats he missed out on due to a strained shoulder last season. He’s expected back with the Rockies to compete with Chris Iannetta for a starting job next spring.

Willy Aybar went 2-for-4 with a homer and three RBI as the third baseman for Licey of the DWL on Saturday. Aybar is getting a chance to team up with his brother, Erick, to form the left side of Licey’s infield. Willy is having the better go of it offensively so far. He’s batting .327/.407/.519 in 52 at-bats.

Hot-Stove Dispatches

(and now we’re up to date).  From Rotoworld:

Armando Benitez stands to benefit the most if the Giants opt to hire Bobby Valentine as their new manager. Although it’s a remote possibility, Valentine is apparently on a list of fall-back candidates should the Giants decide they don’t want to hire any of the current men up for the job. Benitez and Valentine were very close when they were both in New York, and having him aboard could do wonders for the enigmatic closer.  The Giants have since hired San Diego’s Bruce Bochy.

New Phillies first base coach Davey Lopes could help Shane Victorino become a better basestealer. Victorino has tremendous speed, twice stealing 45 bases or more in the minors, but he’s yet to show he can be a threat in the majors. How much of a sleeper Victorino will be next year will depend on what happens with Pat Burrell and David Dellucci.

There continues to be a lot of speculation in Cincinnati that the Reds will try to trade Adam Dunn this offseason.  Reds GM Wayne Krivsky, who worked with the Twins for 11 years, wants to cut down team strikeouts, increase average and doesn’t mind losing some home runs in the process. With that mindset, Dunn is definitely a good candidate to be moved. Krivsky has already traded away three of the five hitters who struck out 100 times in 2005 – Wily Mo Peña, Austin Kearns and Felipe Lopez. Given his propensity for striking out, a dwindling batting average and his skaky defense, the Reds could use their 40-homer man to land a much-needed starting pitcher, the paper suggests. Reportedly, Houston (Dunn’s hometown), the Cubs and the Dodgers would all be interested.

Jason Vargas pitched two hitless innings and struck out three in his appearance for Escogido of the DWL on Friday.  Due mostly to wildness, Vargas was a major disappointment in 2006. Not only did he have a 7.33 ERA in five starts and seven relief appearances in the majors, he actually finished at 7.43 in his 13 starts at Triple-A Albuquerque. He should yet have a future in a major league rotation, but his next opportunity with the Marlins may come as a reliever.

Free Agency Dispatches

From Rotoworld:

Free agent Moises Alou intends to play in 2007, but it won’t be with the Giants.  “I’m almost sure, more than 99.9 percent sure, that I won’t return with the San Francisco Giants,” Alou told The Associated Press. Alou said he planned to go elsewhere partly because the Giants did not renew the contract of his father at the end of the season. The Mets and Indians are believed to be considering him right now. There might be more interest in him once the Gary Sheffield situation gets settled.

The Rockies, who could use both a center fielder and a leadoff hitter, have started talks with free agent Dave Roberts. “Of course Dave has interest in Colorado. And I told them that. He likes the direction they are going,” agent John Boggs said. “He’s not going to just wait around (for San Diego).” Although Roberts is 34 and has durability issues, he could be just as effective as and much cheaper than Gary Matthews Jr. and Juan Pierre for the short-term. That will make him very popular.

The Cubs are expected to buy out their $13 million option on Kerry Wood for 2007. Wood would receive $3 million in the buyout and then the Cubs will try to re-sign him for a much lower base salary with a deal that included many incentives. Wood, out of a sense of obligation, wants to return, but if another team dangles enough money and the promise of returning to the rotation in 2008, he’d have to take the offer.

After filing for free agency, Dave Roberts has expressed a lot of interest in signing with the White Sox to be their leadoff hitter. “The White Sox would be a good fit for him,” Roberts’ agent John Boggs said. “With their lineup, it’s a tempting proposition.” He is coming off his most productive season, stealing a career-high 49 bases with a .293 average. The Padres are also expected to try to re-sign him.

Pending free agent Dave Roberts said if the Giants hire Bruce Bochy as their new manager, he’d be interested in signing with San Francisco.  “He and I have a great relationship,” said Roberts. The Giants are expected to make a big push for Gary Matthews Jr. for center field, but are said to be interested in Roberts as a Plan B. At the age of 34, Roberts might be a bit young to fit in with the Giants, however.

Cleveland is interested in pending free agent Moises Alou. With Travis Hafner locked into DH duties, the Indians don’t seem like the best for Alou, who is going to continue to have health issues if he’s asked to play the outfield most of the time. The Mets are also looking hard at Alou.

Francisco Cordero will make $5.4 million in 2007 after the Brewers exercised his club option on Friday.  It’s not exactly a bargain, but had Cordero been set free, he would have been the most heavily pursued closer on the market and he likely would have received at least $20 million for three years. He had a 1.69 ERA in 26 2/3 innings after being acquired from the Rangers in July. It’s unknown whether Cordero triggered the games finished clause that would have boosted the option’s value from $5 million to $6 million. The Brewers were going to keep him either way. Since Derrick Turnbow never bounced back in the second half, Cordero will spend 2007 as Milwaukee’s closer.

“Turning Japanese” Edition of Dispatches

From Rotoworld:

Baseball officials announced John Maine will replace Johan Santana on the MLB All-Star team heading to Japan.  With injuries to Pedro Martinez and Orlando Hernandez, Maine proved to be one of the Mets most reliable pitchers down the stretch. He went 1-0 with a 2.63 ERA in three postseason starts.

Clay Hensley has been added to the roster of MLB All-Stars who will head to Japan next month for an exhibition series. That gives the Padres two starters on the team as Chris Young had already signed on.

Brandon Webb will probably not be permitted to go to Japan with the team of major league players because of Arizona’s concerns over his workload.  Major league baseball recently asked the Diamondbacks to make Webb available for next month’s exhibition series in Japan, but after he pitched in a career-high 235 innings — the second-highest total in the majors — the club will wisely err on the side of caution. “We’ll probably decline the invitation. To crank it back up this time of year is a little too much to risk. We haven’t finalized it, but that’s the way we’re leaning,” GM Josh Byrnes said.

Playoff Dispatches – NLCS

I have no Cardinals, see?  From Rotoworld:

John Maine pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings for a victory as the Mets beat the Cardinals 4-2 on Wednesday to even up the NLCS at 3-3. Maine walked four — one intentionally — and hit a batter tonight, but he allowed just two hits before being removed. Chad Bradford, Guillermo Mota and Aaron Heilman combined to carry the shutout into the ninth before Billy Wagner gave up a two-run double to the unstoppable So Taguchi. The decisive Game 7 will be played Thursday night. The Mets are expected to throw Oliver Perez against Jeff Suppan.

Jose Reyes went 3-for-4 with a home run and a couple of stolen bases Wednesday against the Cardinals. He was due. Reyes had been just 8-for-35 with one steal in two attempts during the postseason. His homer tonight led off the bottom of the first against Chris Carpenter.

John Maine walked five while giving up four runs — three earned — in four innings Friday against the Cardinals.  Maine pitched a perfect first, but two walks and an error helped lead to a two-run second and Jim Edmonds hit a two-run homer after Albert Pujols walked in the third. The subpar performance isn’t going to change his status for Game 6, as the Mets have no real alternative to the rotation with which they entered the series.

Playoff Dispatches – Divisional Series

Playing catchup – courtesy of Rotoworld:

Jeff Kent went 4-for-5 with a two-run homer and a double as the Dodgers were eliminated on Saturday. Unfortuantely, Rafael Furcal, Kenny Lofton and J.D. Drew couldn’t follow Kent’s lead. The 38-year-old second baseman went 8-for-13 in the series to improve his career postseason average from .264 to .292. He has nine homers and 23 RBI in 43 playoff games.

Dave Roberts went 3-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base Saturday in the win over the Cardinals.  The stolen base was his first, but Roberts is 6-for-11 through three games. He was also credited with a sac bunt today, though he was going for a hit.

Manager Willie Randolph left open the possibility of using Game 1 starter John Maine on short rest in Game 4 Sunday rather than Oliver Perez. Perez went 0-2 with a 6.41 ERA in his final four starts of the regular season. Maine could get the start on three days rest depending on if Perez is needed out of the bullpen in Game 3.

Manager Bruce Bochy said that Khalil Greene (finger) is probably healthy enough to start Saturday’s Game 3, but the skipper is leaning towards not not starting him.  Greene has not started since Aug. 17. “[Greene] probably will not be out there — [due to] the fact he hasn’t played in such a long time. But I do have the ability to change my mind,” Bochy said. Greene will be available off the bench for pinch-hitting and defensive duty.

Khalil Greene looked good in batting practice and could see action in the NLDS, manager Bruce Bochy said. “I was very encouraged the way he swung the bat today,” Bochy said. “If he had felt that good on Tuesday, he would have given me some options.” Bochy said “there’s a chance he could play before the series is over.” Well, considering that might mean Saturday for the Padres, he better get Greene in there soon.

Dave Roberts made a perfect throw to gun down Juan Encarnacion at the plate in the second inning of Game 2 of the NLDS Thursday. “We were looking for some type of spark, a play,” Roberts said, “and I thought that play would take us over the edge.” Unfortunately, the Padres couldn’t generate any momentum from the play, and wound up being shut out. Of course, Roberts, who had three hits and the only run in Game 1, didn’t do anything at the plate in game 2, taking an 0-for-4 and striking out twice.

Derek Lowe expressed his dislike for the shifting done by the infield to defend against Carlos Delgado.  “I am not a big fan of (shifting) the defense,” Lowe said. “I understand why people do it, because of all the statistical stuff. But I don’t believe in it. If you put three guys on one side, then you leave the third baseman over there (alone).” Delgado was 4-for-5 in Game 1, including 3-for-3 with a home run against Lowe. Brad Penny also complained about the shift.

More IBA Accolades

Yesterday, only the top slots of each category were available in the Internet Baseball Awards.  Let’s see how the rest of the squad fared:

NL MVP:

7. Jose Reyes
10. Roy Oswalt
12. Jason Bay
13. Brandon Webb
28. Ryan Zimmerman (traded away)
30. Chipper Jones
35. Adrian Gonzalez (traded away)
37. Adam Dunn
40. Jeff Kent
55. Aaron Harang

Single-votes:
65. Chad Tracy – 1 2nd-place vote
76. Khalil Greene – 1 4th-place vote
76. Clay Hensley – 1 4th-place vote
92. Doug Davis – 1 7th-place vote
93. Dave Roberts – 1 8th-place vote

Yep, someone must have voted for all the Padres.  The question is, how did they vote for Khalil Greene as 4th, and Dave Roberts as 8th?  Let’s compare:

PLAYER     G    AVG   HR    RBI  RUNS   SB
-------------------------------------------
Greene    121  .245   15    55    56     5
Roberts   129  .293    2    44    80    49

So it’s not as lopsided, though both are positive contributors on defense, but for fantasy purposes, Roberts was much more effective, thanks to the average and steals.

NL Cy Young:

1. Brandon Webb
2. Roy Oswalt
10. Aaron Harang
13. Derek Lowe
36. Clay Hensley
41. Chuck James

All single 5th-place votes:
45. Chad Cordero
45. Hong-Chih Kuo
45. John Maine

NL Rookie:

3. Ryan Zimmerman (traded away)
5. Prince Fielder
11. Clay Hensley
19. Chuck James
20. Ronny Paulino
21. Stephen Drew (traded away)
22. John Maine
29. Mike Jacobs
33. Hong-Chih Kuo
52. Carlos Quentin

All single 5th-place votes:
54. Tom Gorzelanny (traded away)
54. Ben Johnson (released)
54. Taylor Buchholz (released)

So the Roadrunners have a good scouting department, but don’t necessarily hang onto their players for too long.

Brandon Webb – Your 2006 IBA Cy Young Award Winner

Each year, the folks at Baseball Prospectus host the Internet Baseball Awards as a means of giving the fans of baseball a voice in the major post-season awards process, even if that process skews sabermetrically.

Below are the Atomic Roadrunners voted for in the big three: MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year.

Most-Valuable Player voting:

1. Albert Pujols
2. Ryan Howard
3. Carlos Beltran
4. Miguel Cabrera
5. Lance Berkman
6. Chase Utley
7. Jose Reyes
8. David Wright
9. Alfonso Soriano
10. Roy Oswalt
11. Chris Carpenter
12. Jason Bay
13. Brandon Webb
14. Brian McCann
15. Barry Bonds

Mets infielder Jose Reyes (.300/.354/.487, 7.2 WARP3) received significant voting support this year for the first time, and finished seventh. In ninth and tenth were two more newcomers to the top ten: Alfonso Soriano and Astros ace Roy Oswalt, the highest-ranking pitcher (220 IP, 166 K, 8.9 WARP3) in this year’s NL MVP voting.

Cy Young Voting:

1. Brandon Webb
2. Roy Oswalt

3. Chris Carpenter
4. Carlos Zambrano
5. Trevor Hoffman
6. Bronson Arroyo
7. John Smoltz
8. Billy Wagner
9. Roger Clemens
10. Aaron Harang
11. Chris Young
12. Jake Peavy
13. Derek Lowe
14. Tom Glavine
15. Josh Johnson

The 2006 Internet NL Cy Young race was an extremely close three-way hunt in which the Diamondbacks’ Brandon Webb (235 IP, 178 K, 9.2 WARP3) outpolled Astros ace Roy Oswalt and last year’s runner-up, Cardinals pitcher Chris Carpenter (221.2 IP, 184 K, 7.8 WARP3).

Carpenter, who finished second to Roger Clemens in the 2005 voting, appeared on more ballots than either Webb or Oswalt, but finished third as a result of receiving far fewer first-place votes than either of his two major competitors.

Webb had previously earned a fourth-place finish in 2003, the same year he won the Internet NL Rookie of the Year award, but was not a factor in 2004 or 2005. Oswalt’s second-place finish, his highest ever, makes him the only pitcher in baseball to have finished among the top ten in Internet Cy Young voting in five of the last six years–he previously finished sixth in 2005, fifth in 2004, third in 2002, and seventh in 2001.

Rookie of the Year Voting:

1. Hanley Ramirez
2. Dan Uggla
3. Ryan Zimmerman
4. Josh Johnson
5. Prince Fielder
6. Matt Cain
7. Takashi Saito
8. Anibal Sanchez
9. Russell Martin
10. Josh Willingham

Nationals third baseman (and former Roadrunner) Ryan Zimmerman (.287/.351/.471, 8.1 WARP3) finished third, and was less of a surprise, but hitting .296 with a .357 OBP and a .471 SLG while playing sparkling defense was still much more than expected for a player out of college less than a year.  The Brewers’ Prince Fielder met all expectations placed upon his top-prospect status, and still managed fifth place, after tiring towards the end of the season.

Interesting to note that of the top ten rookies, only four were protected from the 2005 season in the WBRL: Zimmerman (AaRr), Fielder (AaRr), Cain (Shoeless Jews) and Willingham (Get Off Kong!).  Of the rest, only Russell Martin and Josh Johnson were in their current organization at the end of last season.  The rest came from AL trades (Ramirez and Sanchez in the same trade from Boston), Saito from Japan, and Uggla from the Diamondbacks in the Rule 5 draft.  Five of the ten top rookies were on the Marlins – 1, 2, 4, 8 and 10.

Welcome to the Hot Stove League!

It’s been fairly quiet around the AaRr front since the LCS games a few weeks ago.  The World Series itself was pretty flat, as there weren’t any RoadRunners in the series, save for AaRr alumni Placido Polanco and Sean Casey (1990’s) on the Tigers.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be doing a 2006 season retrospective, focusing on the hits, misses, and other minutiae as the “winter” comes on strong – winter being relative here in the Valley of the Sun.

In the meantime, the staff here at Roadrunner central is constantly checking the offseason news, the scouting reports, the new CBA, and the latest free-agent signings, and of course, the rumor mill.  Appropriate non-sensitive data will be posted, lest we tip our hand regarding draft strategy.

Enjoy the offseason – 141 days to the draft! (or maybe 148, depending on the date).