MVP of Yesterday (June 26, 2013): R.A. Dickey

A tough one to choose yesterday, as two pitchers (R.A. Dickey and A.J. Griffin) both had complete game 2-hit shutouts. However, Dickey had a higher Win Points Added on Fangraphs (i.e. he was more responsible for the win, which makes sense as the Blue Jays only won by three while the Athletics won by five), so I’m giving him the nod.

As usual, standings after the jump:

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WBC News and… Dickey vs. the Mexican National Team (and Gallardo vs. USA)

Okay, here’s the WBC news for today: Brett Lawrie hurt his ribcage, and Deolis Guerra also is out of the WBC.

Got that? Okay, good, now, time for a little bit of a preview for the USA-Mexico game tonight. It should be a treat, with reports coming that the game is close to a sell-out, with the crowd expected to be an even split between the USA and Mexico (a common occurrence in games featuring the Mexican national teams, to the extent where the American national soccer team plays many of it’s games against Mexico in northern cities like Columbus and Seattle to ensure it’s mainly an American crowd).

For Team USA, it’s an important game in order to get the WBC off to a good start. But for Mexico, this is an all-but-must-win game, after their shocking upset by Italy yesterday. And in the center of this is R.A. Dickey. He played for Team USA in the 1996 Olympics (and Brandon Phillips was the bat-boy!), but this is his first time in the WBC. So, how have Team Mexico’s hitters done in the past against Dickey:

Jorge Cantu: 3-8, 2B, BB, SO

Luis Cruz: 0-1

Ramiro Pena: 0-3

Gil Velazquez: 2-5, SO

…And that’s it. Those are the only players on Team Mexico that have met Dickey in MLB play. Knuckleballers are so hit and miss, of course, that there is no way of possibly knowing how the game could turn out, or how the other players could fare the first time they see the knuckler.

On the flip-side, here’s how the expected lineup for Team USA has done against Yovani Gallardo, the Mexican starter (this includes postseason play, by the way):

Jimmy Rollins: 2-10, SO

Brandon Phillips: 9-37, 3 2B, HR, 5 SO, 2 BB

Ryan Braun: None, since Braun and Gallardo both have played with the Brewers their entire careers

Joe Mauer: 5-10, 2 SO, 2 BB

David Wright: 3-16, HR, 8 SO, 3 BB

Eric Hosmer: None.

Giancarlo Stanton: 3-9, 2B, 3 SO

Adam Jones: None.

J.P. Arencibia: None.

So, there you have it: the histories between Team USA and Team Mexico’s hitters and today’s starting pitchers. Enjoy the games.

Late World Baseball Classic news for January 13, 2013 (Part 2 of an undetermined number)

Okay, more news on Team USA, this time from Jon Heyman of MLB Network and CBSsports.com:

R.A. Dickey, Andy Pettitte & Ryan Vogelsong in team USA rotation for wbc. story coming on @cbssports

— Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 13, 2013

Braves star Craig Kimbrel, indians teammates Chris Perez & Vinnie Pestano plus Luke Gregerson will be in Team USA’s pen. — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 13, 2013

 

Team USA will be announced Thursday. more stars will be named. #USA — Jon Heyman (@JonHeymanCBS) January 13, 2013

 //

So, the big news from these that we didn’t already know:

R.A. Dickey and Ryan Vogelsong, who had been mentioned as possibilities, are now probable. Luke Gregerson, Padres’ middle reliever, is also in, and continues to give good depth to the US bullpen. And Heyman says that there are more “stars” to be named. Take of that as you will.

I’ll have something on the Team USA players revealed so far either late tonight or sometime tomorrow.

Headlines from around the Continuum: Dickey-Officially-Traded Edition

Baseball-related headlines from the front pages of major newspaper, as seen from the the Newseum website.

R.A. Dickey deal is finished

Globe and Mail (Toronto): The $24,000,000 Knuckles

Toronto Metro: Dickey’s All In

National Post (Toronto): DICKEY- Can these $25M knuckles put Jays over the top?

Toronto Star: TAKING JAYS TO THE TOP (alongside an image of Dickey on top of Mount Kilimanjaro last off-season)

Toronto Sun: DICKEY DEAL DONE!

Metro New York: CY YA LATER- METS TRADE R.A. DICKEY

The (AL) East is Wild

The American League East is in a interesting situation. For years, after all, there were some things that were for certain: The Yankees and Red Sox could be expected to come in first and second (sometimes flipping the order), the Blue Jays and sometimes Orioles would be a distant third, then the Orioles and Tampa would be taking the bottom two spots.
Then, suddenly, the Rays rose, becoming a factor. And so for the past few years, there were three teams in the AL East who could be expected to make a run at the playoffs.

And then came this past season, 2012, when everything went crazy. The Yankees still won, sure, but the Red Sox plummeted and the Orioles, despite the fact they were, on paper, maybe the fourth-best team in the division, ended up snagging a wild card spot. The Rays also were pretty good and made a good run at a playoff spot, and may well have gotten one if not for injuries.

But now, with the Red Sox again opening their checkbooks, and the Blue Jays having traded for basically every good player on the Marlins and now closing in on a deal for NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, the question is… where is the weakness of the AL East?

None of the teams have gotten particularly worse- although the Yankees may not have signed anybody of note (save for Kevin Youkilis) and they have Alex Rodriguez out for the first half of the season, they can hardly be considered to have suddenly plunged into irrelevance.  The Orioles haven’t really added anybody, but they’ve only lost Mark Reynolds, and most of last season’s historic bullpen will remain. The Rays have lost James Shields, but any rotation that has David Price and a lineup that has Evan Longoria is going to cause plenty of havoc in the standings.

The two teams that have added the most people- the Red Sox and Blue Jays- still have plenty of question marks. In Boston, for example, John Farrell will have to prove that his less-than-stellar performance as skipper in Toronto wasn’t just a result of the players he had available and the tough schedule he had to play. Toronto will have to avoid the injuries that devastated their pitching staff last season and integrate a bunch of new players into the team, all while also having the return of John Gibbons as manager. Gibbons had a sometimes tumultuous stint as Blue Jays’ manager from 2004 to 2008, and his hiring was something of a head-scratcher.

What does it all mean? It means that the AL East is a wild division, one with no clear favorite or clear unfavorite. It should be an interesting season in 2013.