Nathan Grimm

Baseball Daily Dose

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AL MVP: The Remix

Friday, May 24, 2013


I'm not here to choose sides.

Mike Trout is great. The Angels outfielder possesses the combination of speed and power that comes along once in a generation. In his rookie season last year, Trout hit 30 homers, stole 49 bases and played Gold Glove-caliber defense in the field. Oh, and he's only 21 years old.

Miguel Cabrera is also great. Even without Albert Pujols' sudden and drastic decline, Cabrera has undoubtedly been the best hitter in the game in recent years, with last season's .330, 44 home run, 139 RBI performance serving as Exhibit A. In winning the American League MVP award in 2012, Cabrera also became the first player to win the Triple Crown in 45 years.

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The two historic seasons produced a unique debate during awards season last year, as members of the pro-Trout and pro-Cabrera contingents took turns disparaging the other's candidate and, often, each other. It was a perfect storm created by the intersection of two unique ways of thinking. It was a once-in-a-lifetime showdown.

Right?

Almost two months into the 2013 season, both players seem intent on producing an encore. After a relatively slow start, Trout has begun to pick it up in recent weeks, hitting .351/.437/.770 in 20 games in May heading into Thursday's contest. And after a mammoth blast off Ervin Santana in the first inning of Thursday's game, Trout now has 10 homers, 10 stolen bases and a .302/.378/.582 line.

And, in what is becoming a theme, Cabrera has been even better. The Tigers slugger hit his 14th home run of the season Thursday, raising his RBI total to 55 and his average to .391 in the process. For context, through 45 games last season Cabrera was hitting a paltry .306 with just eight homers and 35 RBI. Pedestrian numbers at best.

It remains to be seen where both players will be at season's end, but as the great philosopher T. Owens liked to say, get your popcorn ready. Baseball fans are in for another fireworks show.

Stalled Chase

The bad news is that Chase Utley is making a trip to the disabled list for the fourth consecutive year.

The good news is that this trip looks to be the shortest in recent memory.

Knock on wood, but the oblique strain Utley suffered on Wednesday has, in theory, a much shorter return time than the broken thumb that kept him out six weeks in 2010 and the knee issues that shortened his past two seasons. For their part, the Phillies seem optimistic Utley will be back sooner than later.

"The recovery for this type of injury should take between two and four weeks," Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a statement. "We do believe and hope that Chase will be ready to play in Philadelphia within 15 days."

It's an unfortunate occurrence for Utley, who was enjoying a rebound year up until the injury. With his knees not causing him problems, Utley was hitting .272/.339/.475 with seven homers and five stolen bases through 44 games.

DL stints come with the territory for the 34-year-old, but this stay, it seems, won't last too long.

The Gausman Cometh

Kevin Gausman got plenty of doughnuts on Thursday. They just weren't the kind he was looking for.

Despite the strange superstition that led to his locker being overstuffed with doughnuts upon his arrival at Rogers Centre, Gausman couldn't replicate the zeros on the scoreboard, giving up four runs over five innings to take the loss in his first major league start.

The No. 4 overall pick in the 2012 MLB Draft, Gausman didn't disappoint in some respects, striking out five and hitting high 90s with many of his fastballs on the evening. But he was also touched for four runs, with the big blow coming on a two-run homer by J.P. Arencibia. In all, Gausman was realistic about his night.

"Nobody goes through anything completely smooth," Gausman said. "I felt good early on in the game. When I got [into trouble], I just tried to buckle down like I always have with guys on base. I felt good. I made some good pitches. That's a good hitting team."

The top prospect most likely earned another start with his performance, and it seems just a matter of time before he is the next name fantasy owners are tripping over each other to grab. Orioles fans have heard this line before, but with Gausman and Dylan Bundy in the stable, the future is bright in Baltimore.

American League Quick Hits: Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Jered Weaver (elbow) will likely rejoin the rotation next week as long as his bullpen session goes well. In that scenario, Weaver will not make a rehab start ... Josh Willingham hit two homers and drove in four runs Thursday. It was his first multi-hit game in what has been a very down May ... Will Middlebrooks is considered day-to-day with lower back spasms ... Ryan Dempster was pulled after allowing four runs in three innings Thursday. The right-hander has now allowed 15 runs in 12 2/3 innings spanning his last three starts ... Manny Machado went 3-for-4 with three doubles against the Blue Jays. His 21 doubles lead all major league players ... Twins recalled P.J. Walters from Triple-A Rochester. The Kyle Gibson train, meanwhile, sits quietly at the station ... Ivan Nova (triceps) could be back from the disabled list as soon as next week. His role when he returns -- whenever that is -- is yet to be determined ... Mark Teixeira (wrist) could begin a rehab assignment Tuesday at Double-A Trenton. Teixeira is eligible to return from the DL on May 31 ... Kevin Youkilis (back) is "maybe a week" away according to Yankees GM Brian Cashman. Youk has been out since April 27 ... Michael Pineda (shoulder) threw five innings in an extended spring training start on Thursday. Earlier in the day, the player he was traded for, Jesus Montero, was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma by the Mariners.

National League Quick Hits: Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) took live batting practice for the first time since his injury on Thursday. Marlins manager Mike Redmond was encouraged by the outing ... Mets prospect Zack Wheeler is expected to make 2-3 more starts at Triple-A Las Vegas before being called up. Go ahead and grab him now in deeper mixed leagues ... Fernando Salas (shoulder) received a shot Thursday to help reduce inflammation. He has been shut down by the Cardinals for the time being ... Ike Davis could be demoted after the weekend series. The first baseman has one hit in his last 38 plate appearances ... Carlos Zambrano allowed an unearned run in four innings of work at extended spring training on Thursday. The Phillies could call him up soon, as they have a glaring need for an aging starter with a diminished skillset.



Nathan Grimm is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. He can also be found on Twitter (@Nate_Grimm).
Email :Nathan Grimm



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