Results tagged ‘ Buster Posey ’

Former Yanks farmhand 2nd in Rookie voting

It turned out that the Yankees did not trade a future American League Rookie of the Year Award winner to get Curtis Granderson from the Tigers 11 months ago.

Austin Jackson, a highly-touted prospect in the Yankees’ system, went to Detroit along with relief pitcher Phil Coke in the three-team trade also involving the Diamondbacks Dec. 8, 2009 that brought Granderson to the Bronx and included sending pitcher Ian Kennedy to Arizona.

When Jackson got off to a smoking start for the Tigers as their center fielder and leadoff hitter, Rookie of the Year talk surrounded him for much of the first half. Jackson tailed off somewhat in the second half, although he still had a fine year. It just was not as good as that of Rangers closer Neftali Feliz, who set a rookie record with 40 saves and was the choice of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for the Jackie Robinson Award that was announced Monday.

Felix, 22, was listed first on 20 of the 28 ballots submitted by two writers in each league city, second on seven and third on one to amass 122 points, based on the 5-3-1 tabulation system. Feliz’s saves total broke the previous rookie mark of 37 by 2000 winner Kazuhiro Sasaki of the Mariners.

Feliz, who had a 4-3 record with a 2.73 ERA in 70 relief appearances, is the first Dominican pitcher to win the award and the third winner from the Dominican Republic overall, joining Alfredo Griffin and Angel Berroa. Dominican-born winners in the National League were Raul Mondesi, Rafael Furcal, Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez.

A closer has won the AL award three times in the past six years. Oakland’s Andrew Bailey won in 2009 and Huston Street in 2005. Feliz is the fifth closer honored. The first was the Orioles’ Gregg Olson in 1989. Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti, now the Giants’ pitching coach, was a starter when he won the award in 1981. Feliz is the second Rangers player to win the award. The other was first baseman Mike Hargrove in 1974.

Jackson, who received the other eight first-place votes and was the runner-up in the balloting with 98 points, led all AL rookies in runs (103), hits (151), doubles (34), triples (10), extra-base hits (48), stolen bases (27) and total bases (247). Jackson batted .293, stole 27 bases and scored 103 runs, but he struck out 170 times, a very high total for a player who hit only four home runs.

In the National League, Giants catcher Buster Posey beat out Braves right fielder Jason Heyward for the award. Posey, 23, was named first on 20 of the 32 ballots cast by two writers in each league city, second on nine and third on two to finish with 129 points. Posey hit .305 with 18 home runs and 67 RBI and handled a pitching staff that helped the Giants win the NL West title. His 21-game hitting streak from July 4-28 was the longest of the season by a rookie in either league.

Heyward (.273, 18 HR, 72 RBI) received nine first-place votes and was the runner-up with 107 points. Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia (13-8, 2.70 ERA) got one first-place vote and placed third with 24 points. The other two first-place votes went to Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez (.273, 19 HR, 85 RBI), who finished fourth with 18 points.

Posey was the sixth NL catcher honored, joining Johnny Bench, Earl Williams, Benito Santiago, Mike Piazza and Geovanny Soto. Catchers who won the award in the AL were Thurman Munson, Carlton Fisk and Sandy Alomar Jr. Other former Giants winners were Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Gary Matthews and John Montefusco.

The victories by Feliz and Posey marked the third time since the award’s inception in 1947 that the winners were opponents in the World Series. The other years were 1981 when Righetti and the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela started Game 3 at Dodger Stadium and 1951 when Mays and Yankees infielder Gil McDougald played in all six games of the Series.

It should have happened in 2003 with the Yankees’ Hideki Matsui and the Marlins’ Dontrelle Willis, but Matsui lost out to Berroa in a disputed election.

How much did Lee lose?

Did Cliff Lee hurt his bargaining power with his two losses in the World Series? Although he pitched brilliantly for six innings Monday night, the three-run home run Lee allowed to Edgar Renteria in the seventh essentially lost the World Series for the Rangers, who will have to dig deep into their pockets, which aren’t exactly Texas size, to retain the lefthander bound for free agency.

The Yankees haven’t made any secret of their interest in Lee, who beat them twice in the 2009 World Series and again in Game 3 of this year’s American League Championship Series. General manager Brian Cashman tried to trade for Lee in July and almost had a deal in place before the Rangers swooped in and grabbed him from Seattle.

Lee was not exactly lights out for Texas during the regular season (4-6, 3.98 ERA) after a terrific start with the Mariners (8-3, 2.34 ERA). That’s a combined record of 12-9 with a 3.18 ERA, which is not all that imposing. Lee is looking for CC Sabathia-type money, but those statistics aren’t CC Sabathia-type numbers.

Speaking of numbers, Lee went from 2-0 with a 2.81 ERA in the 2009 World Series to 0-2 with a 6.94 ERA in the 2010 World Series. Now I’m not forgetting his two victories over the Rays on the road in the Division Series or his Game 3 gem against the Yankees in the ALCS, also on the road. In fact, Lee did not lose on the road or win in Texas in the post-season, so maybe Rangers Ballpark In Arlington is not the place for him.

One thing the Yankees have to be careful about is how they look at a pitcher who has been successful against them (9-4, 3.81 ERA, including post-season play). Not to pick on A.J. Burnett, but his attractiveness to the Yankees two off-seasons ago was based a lot on how he pitched against them. The problem is that if a player goes to his “cousin,” then he doesn’t have that “cousin” anymore.

Don’t get the idea that I’m ranking on Lee. He would be a great addition to the Yankees. I’m just saying his price tag may have to be re-arranged a bit.

For old-time Giants fans, the ones still sore at their leaving the Polo Grounds for San Francisco in 1958, you will have to admit that the Curse of Coogan’s Bluff is over now that the Giants have their first championship in the Bay Area. The 1962 Giants of Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey and Juan Marichal couldn’t do it. The 1989 Giants of Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell and Matt Williams couldn’t do it. The 2002 Giants of Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent and Robb Nen couldn’t do it. Managers as talented as Alvin Dark, Roger Craig and Dusty Baker couldn’t do it.

It came down to the Bruce Bochy-directed Giants of Renteria, Juan Uribe, Aubrey Huff and Cody Ross, plus a string of excellent young pitchers Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner, plus an exceptional rookie catcher Buster Posey, plus a paint-it-black bearded closer Brian Wilson, not to be confused with the Beach Boy.

Lincecum outpitched Lee in Game 5, which was also characterized by Bochy out-managing Ron Washington. In the sixth inning, Mitch Moreland led off with a single for the Rangers in what was then a scoreless game. Instead of playing for one run against the overpowering Lincecum, Washington eschewed the sacrifice and had Elvis Andrus swing away on a hit-and-run play, but he lined out to center and Moreland had to scurry back to first base. Again, no bunt with one out, and Michael Young flied out to center as well.

In the seventh, when the Giants put their first two runners on with singles by Ross and Uribe on two-strike pitches, Bochy ordered the bunt from Huff, who did not have a sacrifice in a 13-season career.  A pro, Huff got the ball down and put the runners in scoring position. Lee got the second out by punching out Pat Burrell, who had a brutal Series (0-for13, 11 strikeouts).

Again, Washington blundered by not ordering Renteria walked intentionally and let Lee go after Aaron Rowand. Lee appeared to be pitching around Renteria, but why take the risk of a pitch going awry, such as the 2-0 cutter that the Giants shortstop clubbed for a three-run homer? Never mind that Lee didn’t want to walk Renteria; who’s running the club, the pitcher of the manager?

It was the second game-winning hit in a World Series clinching game for Renteria, who won the 1997 Series for the Marlins against the Indians with an 11th-inning single. Only two other players have done that in Series history, both Yankees – Lou Gehrig (Game 4 in 1928 against the Cardinals and Game 6 in 1936 against the Giants) and Yogi Berra (Game 4 in 1950 against the Phillies and Game 7 in 1956 against the Dodgers). Joe DiMaggio also had two game-winning RBI in Series clinching games (Game 4 in 1939 against the Reds and Game 5 in 1949 against the Dodgers), but the latter was not on a hit but a sacrifice fly.

Renteria’s were far more dramatic than the others because in each case the hits broke ties from the seventh inning on. The Giants simply shut down the Rangers after Texas got back into the Series by winning Game 3. The Rangers scored one run (on Nelson Cruz’s seventh inning solo homer off Lincecum) in the last 21 innings and did not get a single runner in scoring position in Game 5.

It was hard to believe this was the same team that had, in Cashman’s word, “manhandled” the Yankees.

Rangers exposed in World Series

I know what you’re thinking, Yankees fans. Couldn’t the Bombers have given the Giants a better game to this point in the World Series?

There is a tendency to think that way until you consider that the Yankees batted only .201 in the American League Championship Series against a Texas pitching staff that has allowed 20 runs and 22 hits to the Giants in two games. It didn’t appear that the Rangers could look worse than in losing, 11-7, in Game 1, but they were even more horrible in the 9-0 debacle in Game 2.

This was actually a pitcher’s duel for seven innings, although the Giants’ Matt Cain had a decided edge over the Rangers’ C.J. Wilson, who was forced out of the game because of a blistered finger one batter into the seventh. There was nothing in the San Francisco eighth that could be called a duel, however. The first two Giants batters struck out, then after a soft single to center by Buster Posey, Halloween came early for Texas.

Derek Holland, who had pitched so brilliantly against the Yankees in the ALCS, came out of the bullpen and threw 11 straight pitches out of the strike zone on the way to loading the bases and forcing in a run. Mark Lowe walked in another run before the Giants swung the bats and got a two-run single from Edgar Renteria and RBI hits from Aaron Rowand (triple) and Andres Torres (double). Seven two-out runs made it 13 of the 20 in the Series for the Giants.

It turned out to be another lopsided game in a World Series to decide a season that was characterized by outstanding pitching. Cain aside, we have seen little of that in the Series. The Giants righthander ran his string of post-season innings without allowing an earned run to 21 1/3 in which he has allowed 13 hits and five walks with 13 strikeouts.

Despite being routed in Game 1, the Rangers walked only one batter (by Cliff Lee yet), but they gave up four free passes in the eighth, which must have given team president Nolan Ryan a feeling of déjà vu. The all-time strikeout leader is also the career leader in bases on balls by a pitcher.

A Texas offense that hit .306 against the Yankees in the ALCS and had 11 hits in Game 1 of the World Series had three singles and a double in getting shut out Thursday night. The closest the Rangers came to scoring was in the fifth when Ian Kinsler led off with a drive to deep center, but the ball struck the top of the fence like an old Spalding off a New York neighborhood stoop and fell back to the field. Kinsler had to settle for a double and never advanced beyond second base.

Rangers center fielder Josh Hamilton, the AL Most Valuable Player favorite, looks like a different player against the Giants than he was against the Yankees. Hamilton was the MVP of the ALCS, batting .350 with four home runs, seven RBI and eight walks, half of them intentional. He worried the Yankees so much that manager Joe Girardi chose to walk Hamilton on purpose three times in one game. The Giants have challenged Hamilton, who is 1-for-8 with one walk (not intentional) in the World Series.

The offensive stars of the Series are the aging left side of the San Francisco infield – Renteria, 34, at shortstop and third baseman Jose Uribe, 30. When the score was only 2-0, they had driven in the runs, Renteria with a home run in the fifth and Uribe with a single in the seventh. Each has homered and combined to bat .357 with eight RBI and six runs scored.

Imagine what Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez make of that?

Giants push Lee off cliff

Cliff Lee’s invincible reputation as a post-season pitcher took its first hit Wednesday night in Game 1 of the World Series. The lefthander spit out a 2-0 lead and watched from the dugout after being knocked out in the fifth inning as the Giants rolled to an 8-2 spread on the way to an 11-7 victory.

Given his previous work in the post-season this year for the Rangers and last year for the Phillies, Lee seemed in total control at 2-0. He even helped build the second run with his bat on a double off a butcher-boy swing that got tortoise-slow Bengie Molina to third base from where he scored on a fly ball by Elvis Andrus.

Door closed, everybody might have thought considering that Lee had won three starts on the road in this post-season (two at Tropicana Field and one at Yankee Stadium) with a 0.75 ERA and had a career post-season mark of 7-0 with a 1.26 ERA.

The Giants’ comeback started with their starting pitcher, Tim Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young Award winner with the violent delivery who settled in effectively after a shaky first two innings. Mitch Moreland, who doubled and was stranded in the fourth, was the only base runner off Lincecum after the Andrus sac fly until two out in the sixth when Ian Kinsler walked and scored on a double by Molina.

The Giants began chipping away in the third when an error by third baseman Michael Young opened the gate for a rally which Lee fed into by hitting a batter and giving up the second of three doubles to Freddy Sanchez. It looked as if Lee righted himself with two called strikeouts to end that inning followed by a perfect fourth. But he failed to stop San Francisco’s merry-go-round in the fifth after one-out doubles by Andres Torres and Sanchez tied the score.

After striking out Buster Posey, Lee, who never walks anybody, put Pat Burrell on with a wayward 3-2 pitch and gave up two-out singles to Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff as the Giants moved ahead. Lee was at 104 pitches, which is usually where he is in the ninth.

Juan Uribe, whose home run against the Phillies in the National League Championship Series got the Giants into the World Series, greeted reliever Darren O’Day with a three-run shot.

For Yankees fans, there was a dual pleasure in watching what happened to Lee after the way he had tormented them in the World Series last year and the American League Championship Series this year. The Yankees nearly traded for Lee in July, and it is no secret that he is high on their off-season shopping list. Should the Rangers triumph in the Series with Lee playing a major role, Texas may be able to persuade him to stay with a club on the rise located only a 40-minute flight away from his Arkansas home.

If the Rangers don’t win the Series, however, Lee might find rejoining his former Indians teammate CC Sabathia a better option. Much was made this week of a story in USA Today in which Lee’s wife, Kristen, complained about rude behavior toward Rangers family members in the stands at Yankee Stadium in which she said beer was tossed at them and that some fans in the upper deck spat upon them.

Lee said he could not blame the Yankees organization for the oafish behavior of some fans. Still, a wife’s view can be important to where a player signs. One of George Steinbrenner’s many strengths in the pursuit of free agents was his penchant for charming players’ wives in convincing them there was no better place to play, or shop, than in New York. The current front office could find Mrs. Lee to be quite a challenge.

At the seventh inning stretch at AT&T Park, Tony Bennett sang “God Bless America.” The singer, 84, has long been identified with the Bay Area because of his 1962 hit, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” He is, however, a native New Yorker. The former Anthony Benedetto grew up in Astoria, Queens, in the same neighborhood as a guy named Edward Ford, who would find success with the Yankees by the nickname of “Whitey.”

Yankees do-gooders

Brett Gardner will be honored Wednesday in a pre-game ceremony at Yankee Stadium as the Yankees’ winner of the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association 2010 Heart and Hustle Award, which honors one active player from each of the 30 big-league clubs who “demonstrates a passion for the game and best embodies the values, spirit and tradition of the game.”

Is there a better way to describe the Yankees’ left fielder? Gardner has been a sparkplug at the bottom of the order, a pesky hitter who taxes pitchers by taking them deep in the count. Brett is one of the best examples of why it is more difficult pitching in the American League than the National League where pitchers are required to bat. Find me any pitcher who will grind out at-bats the way Gardner does.

All Alumni and active players will vote to select the final Heart and Hustle Award winner from the 30 team winners to be announced Nov. 5 at the 11th annual Legends for Youth Dinner in Manhattan.

Earlier Tuesday, Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia visited two Bronx schools – PS 186 at 750 Jennings Street and PS 146 at 968 Caldwell Avenue – to survey the locations that have been re-designed by Out2Play. The Yankees are representing the non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to building and refurbishing playgrounds throughout the New York City public school system for the Pepsi Refresh Project.

Each major league club has outlined an idea that they are passionate about and will vie for fans votes and an ultimate $20,000 Pepsi Refresh grand to fulfill the project. Fans have until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17, to cast their votes at http://www.mlb.com/PepsiRefresh or via text by typing the team name “YANKEES” to 76462.

Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira was one of six July nominees for the Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Month Award Presented by Pepsi. The award recognizes the player who consistently performed at his best when the game was on the line during the month of July.

Last month, Teixeira batted .344 with 10 doubles, 8 home runs, 26 RBI, a .462 on-base average and a .698 slugging percentage in 26 games covering 96 at-bats. The other nominees are Padres relief pitcher Heath Bell, Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, Giants catcher Buster Posey and Twins outfielder Delmon Young.

Fans may visit pepsiclutch.mlb.com to vote for their favorite nominee. Online voting will conclude at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, with the winner announced Aug. 6. At the conclusion of the season, fans will have the chance to vote for the Major League Baseball Clutch Performer of the Year Award, which will be presented during the post-season.  

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