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5 Ways the Philadelphia Phillies Could Land B.J. Upton

After making the playoffs five years in a row from 2007-11, the Philadelphia Phillies missed out on the postseason in 2012, finishing 17 games back of the Washington Nationals

They’ll need to get healthy in the offseason and add a game-changing bat in the middle of the lineup. No, his name isn’t Josh Hamilton. 

It is B.J. Upton. 

He was recently tendered a one-year qualifying offer by the Tampa Bay Rays, so the Phillies would have to give up their first-round pick in order to sign him. 

After the Phillies were able to assemble their whole team, they were able to finish 35-24. 

With Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins all recovering from injuries, and the dominant pitching staff still intact, the Phillies have a chance to make the postseason again in 2013. 

All they’ll need is the defensive and offensive capabilities of B.J. Upton. 

In 2012, he hit 28 homers and stole 31 bases. His OBP was a bit low at .298, but he hadn’t had a season below .300 before this one. 

To put it in perspective, John Mayberry Jr.—the starter for Philadelphia down the stretch—hit 14 homers and slugged only .395. 

Not to mention he doesn’t have nearly the same range Upton does. 

It won’t be easy luring one of the top outfielders in the free-agent market, but here are five ways the Phillies can land him instead of Angel Pagan, Michael Bourn and Josh Hamilton. 

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NY Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers: New York Players Who Give Yankees Edge in Game 3

Down 0-2 in the ALCS, the New York Yankees aren’t feeling good about their chances. If they want to make this a series, they’ll have to win Game 3 against Detroit’s Justin Verlander. 

The Yankees know this is their do-or-die game. If they go down 0-3, winning four against this Detroit Tigers pitching staff is damn near impossible—unless they go all Boston Red Sox on them. 

The slumping Alex Rodriguez and Company should also know that if they manage to squeeze out a win they will have CC Sabathia going in Game 4, meaning this series could very well end up being tied going into Game 5. 

First thing’s first: There are two key players that will provide an edge for the Yankees in a game where they are heavy underdogs. 


Robinson Cano

The best hitter on a team full of hitters in deep slumps, Cano has hit no different. 

Cano hasn’t had a hit since October 8 against the Baltimore Orioles, a span of 24 at-bats. 

Amongst teams that have started more than three games against Justin Verlander in the past three years, the Yankees have hit him the second best, pegging him with a 3.27 ERA. The Yankees also beat him two times out of three already this season alone. 

For a great hitter like Cano, it is only a matter of time before he breaks out and hits like the person who had 33 homers and 48 doubles while posting a career-high .929 OPS in the regular season. 


Ichiro Suzuki

Small sample size alert! 

But right now, the Yankees don’t really care.

They’ll need all the offense they can muster, and Ichiro Suzuki is the one player who has hit decently in this Detroit series, going 4-10 with a homer. 

It also doesn’t hurt that in 55 at-bats against Verlander Suzuki has hit .309 against him with a .333 OBP

In a game where runs may be sparse, with Phil Hughes pitching well in his playoff start against the Baltimore Orioles, an extra-base hit or a stolen base may be crucial.

Also, the Yankees lineup may present a better chance for more offense against the shoddy play of the Detroit bullpen. 

Against Jose Valverde in Game 1, the Yankees were able to hit two homers off him, but so far against Detroit starters, they haven’t done much. 

Joaquin Benoit has an ERA of 5.52 in the second half of the season. Octavio Dotel is also being used heavily but not effectively, allowing 50 hits in 58 regular-season innings. 

Even without Derek Jeter, the Yankees hold so many good hitters in Cano, Ichiro, Mark Teixeira and even Alex Rodriguez, it’s only a matter of time before they break out. 

What better time than against the league’s best baseball pitcher in a must-win game in Detroit?

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Barry Zito or Ryan Vogelsong in the Giants’ Playoff Rotation: Does It Matter?

With the Major League Baseball regular season winding down into its last week, there are frenetic finishes found in the divisions everywhere, ranging from the AL West with Texas and Oakland, to the AL Central with Detroit and Chicago and the NL East with Washington and Atlanta.

Combine that with the second wild-card this year and every team appears to be in the running for the last spot. But there is one team that is on cruise control and can afford the luxury of not pushing any of their starters: the San Francisco Giants

However, there is one glaring weakness shrouding the Giants’ playoff aspirations right now, and that is the playoff rotation. After Matt Cain, the ace pitcher that owns a perfect game this year and didn’t allow a single earned run in the Giants’ postseason run in 2010, there is chaos. 

Madison Bumgarner appears to be slowing down in the second half due to tiredness, posting a 4.84 ERA in September and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2.11, much different from his season K/BB rate of 3.98. 

Tim Lincecum, while improving in the second half, lowering his ERA to under 5.00 (albeit briefly) and maintaining a high strikeout rate, just isn’t the pitcher he was in 2010 and certainly won’t magically re-appear, at least not this year.

One can toss out a good luck/bad luck, BABIP (batting average of balls in play) this, BABIP that argument, but he just isn’t as efficient and has trouble locating the fastball in all situations. 

Even with Bumgarner’s and Lincecum’s recent struggles, they have the postseason experience to warrant starting honors. It is the next two pitchers in the previously vaunted starting rotation that are providing the dilemma. 

One of those is Barry Zito, the pitcher ridiculed for his inability to live up to his enormous contract but that has been pitching spectacularly of late (although when looking into the stats, he is relatively the same pitcher).

The other feel-good story is Ryan Vogelsong, who had a phenomenal first half followed by a disastrous seven-start stretch where he couldn’t get anyone out due to lack of command and plain stubbornness with his fastball. 

So who starts Game 4? Give it to the man asked to sit out the entire 2010 playoffs searching for redemption, or keep the pitcher who wasn’t even pitching in the MLB just two years ago a chance to continue that storybook ending?

The answer is both. It doesn’t matter who starts; both will be able to pitch in the same game. Right now, even with Vogelsong’s strong last two starts, neither pitcher is good enough to get through six to seven innings unscathed against the high-octane offenses of the Cincinnati Reds or Washington Nationals.

Keeping both starters in to face the lineup only twice will limit the damage. Pitching either Zito/Vogelsong for the first three or four innings and the other the latter three or four will work. 

It may seem a little outlandish but it isn’t out of the question of having a tag-along pitcher. The Colorado Rockies did it this year (with little success, but that’s mostly a testament to how bad their pitching is) and it would behoove the Giants not to at least try. 

In reality, all the Giants need is to have one pitcher get hot. Matt Cain is the ace and Bumgarner’s regular-season totals back him as a solid No. 2, but the most important aspect of their success will be whether Lincecum, Zito or Vogelsong can pitch well. 

It doesn’t matter who is starting or who isn’t. Both Zito and Vogelsong will have opportunities to shine. Fortunately and somewhat surprisingly, they won’t have to be perfect because the offense has shown its ability to carry the team, something that hasn’t been said since the 2002 playoffs. 

The Giants are hoping this one ends like 2010 instead.

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Melky Cabrera: Why Re-Signing the Suspended Outfielder Is a Logical Move

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle wrote that the chances of the San Francisco Giants re-signing the switch-hitting Melky Cabrera “are close to nil.”

Schulman also said that the anger from the “higher-ups” in Giants management would cause them to rescind any thoughts about taking on a contract, albeit likely a small one, to retain a once 200-hit outfielder. 

As has been talked about and analyzed ad nauseam for the past week, Cabrera was caught not only for elevated testosterone levels but also for trying to use a fake website in order to cover himself. 

It is impossible to determine whether elevated testosterone levels will actually help an already-accomplished major league hitter become a better hitter. The fact that he took the drugs, though, and compounded the mistake with the attempt at a fake website are not furthering his chances at a long-term deal in the Bay Area. 

With the recent happenings, there is probably no other team in all of Major League Baseball that will touch him. That seemingly foregone conclusion of a five–year, $100 million deal? Blown to smithereens. 

With that being said, Giants management doesn’t have much to lose by re-signing him. The next part is pure speculation as there is no report on whether Melky did or did not take steroids in 2011 or any year besides 2012. If San Francisco can get him for around three years, $18 million, they will have locked up a hitter who did hit 18 homers a year ago when he—once again, pure speculation but there has been no evidence to the contrary—hopefully was not under the influence of elevated testosterone levels. 

His OBP ranged from .360 in 2006 to .337 in 2011 when he had his “breakout” year of 18 homers. Only this season did his OBP jump all the way up to .390, so one could see the argument that he just started “juicing.” 


A cost-effective deal for a decent hitter—with a WAR (wins above replacement) of 4.1 before he took steroids—seems to be a logical step for this offseason. As for the moral side of the argument, there was nothing that management could do. Cabrera is a grown man, and he chose to do this. We can only hope he learns from his mistakes. 

This argument becomes superfluous if the Giants win the World Series without Melky taking a single at-bat. But if they cannot even make the playoffs, the offense will once again be the issue.

A starting outfield with only Hunter Pence under contract will ignite questions. And when GM Brian Sabean looks at his minor league options—and there are not many pending Gary Brown—he will be forced to revisit the idea of Cabrera in left again. 

We’ve seen this with another left fielder on the Giants before. If he produces again next year, most of the noise made in the stands at AT&T Park will be cheers. Winning doesn’t hurt either. 

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