A month ago, it looked like Ryan Vogelsong might not even have a spot in the Giants’ postseason rotation.
Vogelsong was the National League’s ERA leader with a mark of 2.27 following his August 8 start, but the right-hander then suddenly hit a wall. He posted a hideous 10.31 ERA over his next seven outings, pushing his overall mark up to 3.65. With Barry Zito pitching well at the time and Tim Lincecum having plenty of cachet, it appeared that a long relief role might be in Vogelsong’s future once San Francisco reached the NLDS.
But, the former Japanese Leaguer rebounded with three nice starts to close out the regular season to seal up a postseason rotation spot, and he’s carried it over with some brilliant work in the playoffs. Vogelsong has allowed just one run in each of his three postseason outings, and he staved off elimination for the Giants with seven innings of one-run ball in Sunday’s NLCS Game 6. The 35-year-old’s nine strikeouts represented a career high. Marco Scutaro continued to be the offensive hero for the Giants, going 2-for-3 while driving in two huge runs during the decisive four-run second inning.
The Giants will hand the ball to 16-game winner and 2012 All-Star Game starter Matt Cain in Monday’s Game 7, while the Cardinals will turn to fellow 16-game winner Kyle Lohse. The winner will get the Tigers and Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the World Series on Wednesday.
Blue Jays Add Aviles, Escobar to be Subtracted?
The Blue Jays obtained Mike Aviles from the Red Sox over the weekend in the trade of former manager John Farrell. Could it be a precursor to another move involving their middle infield?
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported Sunday that the Jays "will look to trade" shortstop Yunel Escobar this offseason. Escobar has an affordable contract, as he’s slated to make $5 million in 2013, and the Blue Jays have $5 million options on him for 2014 and 2015. But, it appears he’s started to rub people in Toronto the wrong way just as he did in Atlanta.
Heyman thinks a trade of Escobar "won't be easy, considering his rep," but with the lack of quality shortstops out there, we have a feeling they could get someone to take him on if they’re motivated enough. The A’s could be a possible fit if they don’t bring back Stephen Drew, according to Heyman. The Blue Jays are expected to let Kelly Johnson walk as a free agent, so Aviles could slide into the second base spot. They also have Adeiny Hechavarria available to play either middle infield position.
Young Lands in Oakland, Bell Goes to Arizona
The Blue Jays/Red Sox deal wasn’t the only one to go down over the weekend, as the A’s, Diamondbacks and Marlins completed a three-team swap that sent Chris Young to Oakland and Heath Bell and Cliff Pennington to Arizona.
The D’Backs were pretty dead set on trading Young over the offseason, as they still owed him $10 million when you include his 2014 buyout, and they have a glut of outfielders. The 29-year-old is coming off a disappointing season that saw him bat just .231/.311/.434 with 14 home runs and 41 RBI in 101 games. But, he had back-to-back 20/20 seasons in 2010 and 2011 and is a decent bet to rebound despite going from a hitter-friendly park to a pitcher-friendly one.
The A’s now have a glut of outfielders themselves, with Young, Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes and Seth Smith all capable of holding down starting jobs. Smith should spend most of his time at DH, but that still leaves four outfielders vying for three jobs. We wouldn’t be surprised to see general manager Billy Beane swing another deal, despite his statements that he has no plans to do so.
It was surprising to see that the Marlins only had to cover $8 million of the $21 million remaining on Bell’s contract, especially since he’ll likely only be a seventh inning man in Arizona. But, with the A’s taking on nearly Young’s entire contract, the D’Backs didn’t add too much to their payroll with Bell and Pennington, who is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter.
National League Quick Hits: Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported Sunday that the Giants are expected to shop Tim Lincecum over the offseason. Lincecum had a down season and is owed $22 million in 2013, so he won’t be easy to move. San Francisco will likely have to eat some of the contract if they want to get anything worthwhile in return ... Matt Holliday sat out Sunday’s NLCS Game 6 with lower back stiffness and is considered unlikely to play in Game 7. Matt Carpenter has replaced him in the starting lineup ... Jake Westbrook is over his oblique injury and is expected to be added to the roster if the Cardinals make it to the World Series. He could take the rotation spot of Lance Lynn, who struggled in both NLCS starts ... Lance Berkman (knee) is feeling better but hasn’t progressed enough to be a candidate to be added to the World Series roster ... Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com thinks the D’Backs could trade Justin Upton this winter, despite statements from owner Ken Kendrick that a deal involving the outfielder would be unlikely ... The D’Backs have picked up J.J. Putz’s $6.5 million option for 2013. He’ll remain the team’s closer for another year before likely handing the reins to David Hernandez ... The Phillies will decline Ty Wigginton's $4 million option for 2013.
American League Quick Hits: CC Sabathia will visit Dr. James Andrews to get his pitching elbow examined. The Yankees don’t believe the big left-hander has ligament damage, but he could require a procedure to have a bone spur removed. Such an operation wouldn’t affect his status for spring training ... Michael Pineda’s recovery from shoulder surgery is going slower than expected, as Yankees manager Brian Cashman admitted that the club isn’t expecting a contribution from the big right-hander until the second half of next season. Given his long layoff and the fact that he’s returning from such a major procedure, Pineda likely won’t be a factor in fantasy leagues until 2014 ... Japanese right-hander Shohei Otani will sign with a major league team rather than turn pro in his native country. The 18-year-old will be subject to the $2.9 million international bonus pool, though teams will likely be willing to go over that figure and pay a tax on the overage given Otani’s upside. The Rangers, Dodgers and Red Sox are among the teams that have already scouted Otani ... Derek Lowe would like to sign somewhere as a starter next season. The 39-year-old is coming off a terrible year and will probably have to settle for a minor league deal ... The A’s will use Scott Sizemore, who missed all of 2012 with a torn ACL, at second base next season. He’ll likely compete with Jemile Weeks for the starting job ... Rafael Soriano is expected to opt out of his contract for 2013 and leave New York to seek a multi-year deal as a closer.