MVPs announced: Braun or Posey? Cabrera or Trout?

904745.jpg

MVPs announced: Braun or Posey? Cabrera or Trout?

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Miguel Cabrera has a Most Valuable Player award to go with his Triple Crown. And Buster Posey has an MVP prize to put alongside his second World Series ring.The pair of batting champions won baseball's top individual honors Thursday by large margins.Cabrera, the first Triple Crown winner in 45 years, won the AL MVP by receiving 22 of 28 first-place votes and 362 points from a panel of Baseball Writers' Association of America.The Detroit third baseman easily beat Los Angeles Angels rookie center fielder Mike Trout, who had six firsts and 281 points.Cabrera hit .330 with 44 homers and 139 RBIs to become the first Triple Crown winner since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Cabrera also led the league with a .606 slugging percentage for the AL champion Tigers.Some of the more sabermetric-focused fans supported Trout, who hit .326 with 30 homers and 83 RBIs, and he led the majors with 129 runs and 49 steals and topped all players in WAR -- Wins Above Replacement. Trout won AL Rookie of the Year earlier in the week."I was a little concerned. I thought the new thing about computer stuff, I thought Trout's going to win because they put his numbers over me," Cabrera said. "I was like relax. ... if he wins, it's going to be fair because he had a great season."His victory is a win for the traditional statistics."At the end of the game, it's going to be the same baseball played back in the day," Cabrera said.Posey, at a charity event at his mother's school in Leesburg, Va., followed the AL debate and Googled to find out the winner."I think it intrigued everybody," he said. "As a fan of the game, it was a fun race to watch."With three fewer hits or two less homers, Cabrera would have fallen short of the Triple Crown. The last four Triple Crown winners have been voted MVP, including Mickey Mantle in 1956 and Frank Robinson in 1966."I think winning the Triple Crown had a lot to do with me winning this honor," he said.Cabrera became the second straight Detroit player voted MVP, following pitcher Justin Verlander in 2011, and was the first Venezuelan to earn the honor. Countryman Pablo Sandoval took home World Series MVP honors last month.Before the season, Cabrera switched from first base to third to make way for Prince Fielder, who signed with Detroit as a free agent."I focused too much in spring training about defense, defense, defense," Cabrera said. "I forgot a little bit about hitting, about getting in the cage like I normally do."In spring training, Posey's focus was just to get back on the field. His 2011 season was cut short by a collision with the Marlins' Scott Cousins on May 25 that resulted in a fractured bone in Posey's lower left leg and three torn ankle ligaments.Posey not only returned, he became the first catcher in 70 years to win the NL batting title and helped San Francisco win its second World Series championship in three seasons."I definitely have a deeper appreciation for being able to play baseball," he said. "I've seen that it can be taken away quick."The first catcher in four decades to win the NL award, Posey got 27 of 32 firsts and 422 points to outdistance 2011 winner Ryan Braun of Milwaukee, who was second with 285 points.Pittsburgh outfielder Andrew McCutchen (245) was third, followed by St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina (241).Posey, a boyish-looking 25, was the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year as the Giants won their first World Series since 1954. This year he set career highs with a .336 average, 24 homers and 103 RBIs as San Francisco won again.Posey took the NL batting title after teammate Melky Cabrera requested a rules change that disqualified him. Cabrera, who hit .346, missed the final 45 games of the regular-season while serving a suspension for a positive testosterone test and would have won the batting crown if the rule hadn't been changed.Ernie Lombardi had been the previous catcher to capture the NL batting championship, in 1942."I think anybody that has caught before understands the grind of catching, not only the physical, the nicks, the wear and tear of squatting for nine innings night in, day out, but just the mental grind of working a pitching staff," Posey said. "It's demanding."NOTES:In his first season with the Angels, Albert Pujols didn't finish among the top 10 for the first time in his career. While with St. Louis, he won three times, was second four times and also finished third, fourth, fifth and ninth. ... Catchers have won the NL MVP just eight times, with Posey joining Gabby Hartnett (1935), Lombardi (1938), Roy Campanella (1951, 1953, 1955) and Johnny Bench (1970, 1972). Posey became the first Giants player to win since Barry Bonds was voted his record seventh MVP award in 2004. ... Cabrera earned a 500,000 bonus, Adrian Beltre 150,000 for finishing third in the AL and Josh Hamilton 50,000 for fifth place. Braun gets a 75,000 bonus, and McCutchen and Molina 50,000 each. The Yankees' Derek Jeter finished seventh in the AL, one place below the level where his 2014 player option would have increased by 2 million to 10 million.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Quakes' lopsided loss to Red Bulls

quakes-redbulls-usatsi.jpg
USATSI

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Quakes' lopsided loss to Red Bulls

BOX SCORE

The San Jose Earthquakes had one big thing going for them when they took on the New York Red Bulls Wednesday evening — they were on 10 days rest having last played a truly competitive match on July 10 in U.S. Open Cup action.

Unfortunately for the Quakes, they failed to take advantage of that in losing to the Red Bulls 5-1 — definitely not the return to the pitch they were hoping for.  

Here are five takeaways from a Wednesday evening, lopsided loss to NYR. 

— The Quakes had no answer for Sacha Kljestan. The Red Bulls midfielder, who frequented the U.S. Men’s National Team roster at one point, was not called to international duty for the ongoing FIFA Gold Cup and San Jose paid the price for that — the man finessed the Quakes to death on Wednesday evening, factoring in three New York goals with his use of spacing in the Red Bulls midfield. 

— There were a couple of big debuts for San Jose. First, newly signed designated player Valeri Qazaishvili — who the MLS world is calling Vako — made his league debut when in he came as a substitute for Danny Hoesen at halftime. The Georgian native showed flashes with his early touch, but never really factored in the game until the 88th minute when he scored the Quakes’ lone goal on a volley tap courtesy of a nifty Jahmir Hyka cross. It’s a nice debut on the scoresheet, but San Jose is expecting DP-esque things from the Georgian. 

— And second, welcome back, Quincy Amarikwa. The forward has been sidelined since September of 2016 when he suffered ACL and LCL damage that required surgery. Amarikwa has been documenting his recovery on social media and surprised Quakes fans when he make his on-pitch return last week in a friendly against Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt. On Wednesday, he made his official return in the 76th minute. Amarikwa has nine goals and seven assists in 41 career appearances with the Quakes. 

— It definitely wasn’t the homecoming head coach Chris Leitch was hoping for. Leitch played for five seasons over with the New York club. He made 101 appearances for the Metrostars/Red Bulls, assisting on five goals during his career. 

He’s now 0-1-0 as an opposing head coach. 

— It’s unfair to nitpick on a single defensive effort, given that soccer is a team sport, but the Red Bulls attacked center back Andres Imperiale often Wednesday afternoon — and more often than not, they were rewarded with a scoring opportunity. It’s the second straight poor showing on the road for the Quakes defense as a whole after surrendering a four-spot to Atlanta United FC on Independence Day.

Why are the Giants reportedly gambling on a Pablo Sandoval reunion?

Why are the Giants reportedly gambling on a Pablo Sandoval reunion?

SAN FRANCISCO — A day after Pablo Sandoval was designated for assignment, Bruce Bochy was asked about his former third baseman. He said he thinks “the world of Pablo.”

“He’ll be fine,” Bochy added. “He’s got enough to live on.”

Bochy gave no indication he was ready for a reunion. Behind closed doors, many added that they didn’t want one, period. For two days over the weekend, I chatted with players and team employees about the possibility of Sandoval returning. I didn’t find one who was eager for the move. 

Someone, and someone important, apparently did. 

According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com and Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, Sandoval and the Giants will agree to a minor league deal. Giants officials declined comment Wednesday afternoon because Sandoval still has not cleared waivers. Sanchez and Heyman are as good as it gets, however, so we must ask the next question: “Why?”

Why do the Giants, in last place, possibly headed for their worst season ever and a rebuild, feel it’s a good idea to bring back a player who hasn’t had a good season since leaving in 2014 and left a scorched earth trail on his way to Boston?

Perhaps the reason is Sam Dyson. Team officials are thrilled with the move they pulled, acquiring Dyson essentially for free after he was designated by the Rangers. Dyson is now their closer. Maybe the Giants feel Sandoval can be similar found money. 

Perhaps the reason is the sellout streak. The Giants, for the first time in seven years, are looking at nights where the park isn’t filled. Sandoval burned bridges, but he still has some fans in the Bay Area and there have to be a few dozen boxes of panda hats in a closet at AT&T Park, right? 

Perhaps there’s an old-fashioned baseball reason, although that’s a bit harder to find. Sandoval posted a negative WAR in all three seasons in Boston and he played just 161 total games, posting a .237 average and a .646 OPS. But maybe Giants scouts see something there that they can fix, giving them a switch-hitter off the bench and potentially another option at third. 

The Giants — should the move become official — will give their rationale. At some point, someone may have to explain this move to the clubhouse, too. After leaving, Sandoval said he only missed Bochy and Hunter Pence.

“Do I remember that story?” one player said this week, “Of course I do."

Some players expressed a desire to give time to Ryder Jones and Jae-gyun Hwang, and to wait for Christian Arroyo to get healthy. Instead, the Panda is reportedly returning. Why? Maybe the question asked in the front office one was a different one: “Given the way this season has gone, why not?”