First-third awards – NL Cy Young

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With Johan Santana coming back to the pack lately, the NL currently has nine starters with ERA between 2.00 and 2.70.

1. Johan Santana – 2.00 ERA in 72 IP
2. Wandy Rodriguez – 2.26 ERA in 67 2/3 IP
3. Matt Cain – 2.31 ERA in 66 1/3 IP
4. Dan Haren – 2.42 ERA in 78 IP
5. Johnny Cueto – 2.43 ERA in 74 IP
6. Jair Jurrjens – 2.59 ERA in 66 IP
7. Chad Billingsley – 2.59 ERA in 80 IP
8. Zach Duke – 2.62 ERA in 79 IP
9. Josh Johnson – 2.66 ERA in 74 1/3 IP

No one else is under 3.00 and there aren’t any relievers on pace for 60
saves, so let’s label the above as the nine legitimate candidates.

First off, I like looking at unearned runs and defense. Santana and
Rodriguez have both given up seven unearned runs apiece, while no one
else on the list had allowed more than two. Haren is the only one in
the group yet to give up an earned run.

On to the gloves. Duke is being helped out by the game’s second most efficient defense to date.
Billingsley’s defense is third, while Cueto’s is ranked fifth. On the
other side, the Mets are 19th, the Astros 25th, the Giants 18th and the
Diamondbacks 22nd.

With additional factors, such as bullpen support and ballpark, being weighed, VORP still has an identical top nine NL starters, but ranks them in a vastly different order.

1. Dan Haren – 29.0
2. Johnny Cueto – 26.4
3. Chad Billingsley – 25.4
4. Zach Duke – 24.6
5. Matt Cain – 24.3
6. Josh Johnson – 23.1
7. Johan Santana – 22.4
8. Jair Jurrjens – 21.8
9. Wandy Rodriguez – 19.1

I’m not a big fan of VORP, but I think it comes up with a very good
list here. Santana was the NL’s best pitcher for six weeks and he’d
probably be my Cy Young pick for the rest of the season, but he doesn’t
deserve the top spot right now.

First third NL Cy Young

1. Haren
2. Billingsley
3. Cueto

Yoenis Cespedes says he does not plan to opt out of his contract

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 04: Yoenis Cespedes #52 of the New York Mets reacts after he hit a two run double in the eighth inning inning against the Miami Marlins during a game at Citi Field on July 4, 2016 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
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Yoenis Cespedes is in the first year of a three-year, $75 million deal with the Mets that includes an opt-out clause leading into 2017. It’s a great situation for him. If he was hurt or ineffective this year, hey, he still gets $75 million. If he rakes he can go back out on the free agent market this November and see if he can’t do better than the two years and $50 million he’ll have left.

Cespedes said today, however, that he does not plan to exercise his opt-out this winter:

Speaking through an interpreter, Cespedes stayed on message, saying his focus is on “helping the team win so we can hopefully make it to the playoffs.”

When asked by The Record’s Matt Ehalt if he intended to honor all three years of his current $75 million contract, without opting out, Cespedes flatly said, “Yes.”

The beautiful thing about baseball contracts is that the Bergen Record is not a party to them and thus statements made to them about the contract are not legally binding. Cespedes can most certainly change his mind on the matter — or just lie to the press even if he fully intends to opt-out — and nothing can be done to him. At least nothing apart from having someone write bad things about him, but that’s gonna happen anyway. The guy can’t play golf without someone who has no idea how to Cespedes’ job say that he “just doesn’t get it.”

So, will Cespedes opt-out? He’s certainly making a case that it’d be a wise thing to do purely on financial terms. He’s hitting .295/.365/.570 with 25 homers in 98 games. And those numbers are dragged down a bit by the fact that the Mets kept playing him through an injury for the second half of July.

Maybe Cespedes just likes New York and maybe he’s happy with his two-year, $50 million guarantee and won’t opt out. Maybe he doesn’t want to deal with the drama and uncertainty of free agency again, even if he would have no trouble finding a job. Maybe he thinks that he’ll fall short of the $25 million average annual value he’s looking at for 2017 and 2018 if he opts out, even if he does get a longer deal as a result.

We have no idea and we have no say. But it’s not hard to imagine that, if he keeps hitting and especially if he helps the Mets get into the playoffs, he’d be leaving a ton of money on the table if he doesn’t test the market once again.

Oakland A’s officials taking a tour of a possible waterfront ballpark site

OAKLAND, CA - FEBRUARY 19:  A Maersk Line container ship sits docked in a berth  at the Port of Oakland on February 19, 2015 in Oakland, California. International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) longshoremen at the Port of Oakland took the day shift off today to attend a union meeting amidst ongoing contract negotiations between dockworkers and terminal operators at west coast ports. The port closure, the seventh one this month, has left 12 container ships stuck at the dock with no workers to load and unload them. The ILWU members at 29 West Coast ports have been without a contract for 9 months. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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The Oakland Athletics’ ballpark saga has gone on for years now, with false starts in Fremont and San Jose, lawsuits and seemingly interminable talks with the City of Oakland over a new place on the current Coliseum site. That’s all complicated, of course, by the presence of the Raiders, on whose address — be it Oakland, Las Vegas or someplace else — the A’s future is still largely contingent.

The city has tried to get the A’s interested in a waterfront site for several years now. There are a lot of problems with that due mostly to zoning and regulatory matters, as well as proximity to transit and other practical concerns. The artist’s renderings are often pretty, but it takes more than artist’s renderings to make a good ballpark plan.

But no one is giving up on that and, it seems, even the A’s are willing to at least listen to such proposals now:

Oakland A’s co-owner John Fisher is expected to join officials Thursday for a hush-hush tour of the Port of Oakland’s Howard Terminal, a cargo-loading area near Jack London Square that Mayor Libby Schaaf tirelessly promotes as “a fantastic site for a ballpark.”

Guess it ain’t so “hush-hush” anymore. As with all Oakland ballpark stories, however, feel free to continue snoozing until someone gives us a real reason to wake up.

Note: The above photo is from the Port of Oakland. I have no idea what the proximity of the working part of the city’s port is to where they’d build a ballpark, but I used this picture because I love the story about how George Lucas spotted those things from an airplane as he was leaving Oakland or San Francisco or whatever and used them as inspiration for the AT-AT Imperial Walkers in “Empire Strikes Back.” Which may be a totally aprocyphal story, but one I love so much that I told it to my kids when we flew in to Oakland back in June and will choose to believe despite whatever evidence you provide.