Chris Carpenter answered Brandon Webb's shutout with one of his own last night, and in doing so, brought the race for the NL Cy Young Award to the fore.
Anyway, in between songs I've been watching a little baseball. You know, the Twins' chase of the Tigers isn't the only great comeback going on. Last night, Chris Carpenter threw his second shutout in six starts, and despite his missing a few weeks to a sore shoulder, he's now making a serious run at his second straight NL Cy Young Award. Carpenter has a 2.54 ERA since the All-Star break with a 67/10 K/BB and an average of more than seven innings per start.
Joe chimes in on the absence of White Sox on his MVP ballot, the Dodgers' bullpen usage, the absurdity of some official scoring, and more.
Aside: someone asked why, when the metrics mostly point Mauer's way, I have Jeter on top. It's the extra playing time and a sense that Mauer's fielding runs (FRAR) may be a tad inflated. So may Jeter's, however. Ask me again after Labor Day.
The Dodgers offered a number of $5 million, and Gagne's rep, Scott Boras, offered $8 million. How come the lower number was so compelling? Sadly, the current CBA lacks a clause allowing unfettered access to the process to self-important analysts, so we have to posit a little, and ask around some front offices to hear possible explanations. One NL exec had this to say: "Boras overreached." Not that there's a whole lot of ambiguity in that statement, but after prodding, the exec clarified the statement: "Gagne's in his first year of eligibility, and there's a bunch of comparable guys. They're not as good, but they're a clear baseline from which it'd be easy to convince the panel to work." This is true.
Gagne wasn't eligible for arbitration until after the 2003 season. During the time leading up to his first arbitration hearing, he earned a renewal-rights-tastic $550,000 after a 2002 season in which he pitched 82.1 innings, allowed 55 hits, struck out 114 against 16 walks, and saved 52 out of 56 games. In short, he was what might be called "pretty good", or, for our less restrained readers, "unbelievably sick and devastating". In 2003, it's safe to say he earned his $550,000, putting up this statistical line for the year:
After the first five games of the Round Robin, the surprising Cibao Giants are in first place with 4 wins and 1 loss. The Aguilas follows with 3 and 2, Licey is 2 and 3, and Azucareros is 1 and 4.
The Tigers won their first two games, but lost two consecutive against the Aguilas over the weekend, in front of full crowds at Santo Domingo and Santiago. Monday's game at Santiago was a typical classic of these two powerhouses. The Aguilas scored seven runs in the first inning against Randy Keisler and Wilton Chavez, but Licey proceeded to score 10 unanswered runs to take a three-run lead. D'Angelo Jimenez hit a three-run homer off Brett Laxton to crown a five-run rally in the fifth inning, putting the Tigers ahead.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, their defense failed miserably in the last two innings, and the Aguilas scored five runs to win the game 12-11. Jimenez went from hero to goat when he botched a groundball for a potential game-ending double play in the ninth, and after a strike out to pinch-hitter Felix Martinez, Victor Diaz followed with a walk-off two-run double off Guillermo Mota to leave the Tigers on the field.
The Tigers have now lost their last three games while the Aguilas have won their last three.
The long-suffering fans of the Estrellas de Oriente experienced yet another frustration when their ballclub was eliminated for the postseason on the last day of December. The Estrellas were almost out of contention with eight games remaining in the regular season, but suddenly the team caught fire and went on to win five consecutive games, including a both ends of a double-header against the Azucareros on the road, which tied them for fourth place--putting them just one game behind the third place Giants. But the Estrellas were quickly back in fifth place the following day after losing a key game against the Aguilas in Santiago, 10-2, while the Azucareros and Gigantes won their respective ones. The Estrellas needed a victory on their own and a loss from the Azucareros against Licey to force a tiebreaker, but although the former was accomplished (they beat the already qualified Gigantes 14-10) the Azucareros beat Licey 4-0 to clinch the last playoff berth.
The Estrellas had a much better Pythagorean record than the Azucareros (25 projected wins against 20) but the Azucareros benefited from 10 wins in 13 games decided by one run, while the Estrellas had a more realistic 9-9 record on such games.