Daily Dose: Cespedes On RepeatTuesday, July 15, 2014
Chicks dig Yoenis Cespedes.
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If the old Nike commercial rings true, Cespedes is doing alright for himself after he won his second straight Home Run Derby at Target Field on Monday. After advancing past Jose Bautista in the semifinal round, Cespedes crushed Todd Frazier in the finals to take home the top prize.
Cespedes became the first player to win back-to-back trophies in the Derby since Ken Griffey Jr. did it in 1998 and 1999. But unlike last year, when Bryce Harper fell one short of Cespedes' mark in the final round, the 28-year-old cruised past Frazier 9-1 to earn his second title.
It wasn't all smooth sailing, though. In the first round, Cespedes needed a swing-off against teammate Josh Donaldson to advance to the next round. He then took care of Adam Jones as he got into the swing of things. On the National League side, Frazier took down Troy Tulowitzki after sliding past Tulo's teammate and fan favorite Justin Morneau in the first round.
One of the biggest concerns regarding the Home Run Derby is its effect on hitters when they return to playing games, and while Yasiel Puig may not have any lasting issues -- he failed to hit a single homer on the evening -- his 28 homers could potentially have an adverse effect on Cespedes in the second half. It's worth noting, though, that after Cespedes hit 32 in the 2013 Derby, he actually posted a better line in the second half of the season than he did in a subpar first half.
While the power was on display Monday evening, a debate about which pitcher most deserves the first shot at suppressing runs in Tuesday's All-Star Game was at the center of discussion earlier in the day.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny announced at a press conference Monday afternoon that Adam Wainwright would be the National League's starting pitcher for the game, sparking a debate about whether Wainwright deserves to start the game over Clayton Kershaw.
A debate about which pitcher should start an exhibition game meant to showcase the game's best players is, by nature, splitting hairs, as both Wainwright and Kershaw have legitimate claims to starting the game. Wainwright's include having pitched the fourth-most innings in the major leagues to this point while owning a FIP that is best in the National League among qualified pitchers. The 32-year-old is also tied for the major league lead in wins with 12.
Kershaw missed being qualified by 2/3 of an inning due to an injury that forced him to miss all of April, but if he were he would rank first in the majors in ERA, FIP, K% and BB% while being near the top in a few other categories. It's crazy to say coming off a year in which he was very nearly the unanimous choice for the NL Cy Young Award, Kershaw is currently in the midst of the best season of his career.
Somewhat unbelievably, neither accomplished starter has ever started an All-Star Game for his league, making the decision that much more noteworthy for fans.
So who deserves to start the game? In all actuality, it really doesn't matter. Both pitchers will get to throw, and neither will still be around in the late innings when the game is likely decided. But it sure made for some opinionated discussion.
Speaking of a lot of hot air, rumors continued to swirl Monday as the calendar moved one more day closer to the trade deadline.
The most interesting tidbit of the day came out of Queens, where the Mets are said to be making Bartolo Colon available in trade discussions. Colon is making $9 million this season, approximately $4 million of which he's yet to be paid, and he'll earn $11 million in the last year of his deal in 2015.
The 41-year-old isn't the front-of-the-rotation starter that David Price or Cliff Lee is, but he's shown through the season's first half that he's still got something to offer a contending team. Colon posted a 3.99 ERA and 1.18 WHIP that were dragged down by an ugly first month and a half, and he's coming off a month in which he went 4-1 with a 2.57 ERA.
There are plenty of teams that could use Colon at the back end of their rotation, so it will be interesting to see which teams emerge as suitors for the right-hander -- and what they're willing to give up -- as the next few weeks unfold.
Among other trade happenings, the Blue Jays acquired Brett Wallace from the Orioles for cash considerations, the Royals have set their sights on Jonny Gomes as a potential target and the Angels are interested both Ian Kennedy and Huston Street from the Padres.
National League Quick Hits: Cliff Lee (elbow) got knocked around in what was supposed to be his final rehab outing on Monday, allowing eight runs -- three earned -- over 4 2/3 innings for High-A Clearwater. Lee is on track to return to the Phillies rotation on July 21, and it's unclear if Monday's clunker will have any effect on that timetable ... A source tells David Lennon of New York Newsday that Starlin Castro is unlikely to be traded this season. The Cubs recently acquired Addison Russell in the Jeff Samardzija deal and they already have one of the premier shortstop prospects in the game in Javier Baez, but the Cubs appear in no rush to move on from the 24-year-old Castro. The shortstop is enjoying a resurgent year, batting .276/.326/.440 11 home runs and 52 RBI ... Trevor Cahill will rejoin the Diamondbacks rotation in the second half, because why not ... Only in the All-Star Game will you find Andrew McCutchen batting leadoff in 2014.
American League Quick Hits: After some initial fear that the injury might be more long-term, it appears Alex Gordon (wrist) could be ready when the season resumes on Friday. He'll undergo a full workout of the wrist on Thursday, and if all goes well he's aiming to be back in the lineup against the Red Sox ... According to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports, the Red Sox were prepared to offer Jon Lester approximately $100 million over five years before Lester ceased negotiations. Lester is set to become a free agent after the season, and he will be paid handsomely -- by the Red Sox or someone else -- if he's allowed to reach the open market ... The Yankees released Alfonso Soriano after designating him for assignment last week. He's batting .221/.244/.367 on the year, but a team will likely try to catch lightning in a bottle on a low-risk deal in the next few days ... Only in the All-Star Game will you find Derek Jeter batting leadoff in 2014.