September 22, 2005

Offense!

Someone asked me the other day whether I wanted to see Chicago or Cleveland win the American League Central. "Not the White Sox," I said. I have no emotional investment in the Indians and the thought of any team other than the Twins winning the division makes me extremely unhappy. But if it's not going to be the Twins, I'm just hoping it won't be the White Sox.

I can't explain why, exactly. I mean, they've become the Twins' chief rival over the past few years, sure, but before that the Indians were the bullies of the division. Yet somehow I view Cleveland as an upstart team with a bright future, quality players, and good management. And I view the White Sox as ... well, the White Sox.

Plus, considering the Twins have been looking up at them in the standings all season long I would take great pleasure in watching Chicago blow a humongous lead down the stretch. No, they haven't "collapsed" like so many in the mainstream media are quick to proclaim. Rather, they've come back down to earth while the Indians caught fire.

Still, it'll feel an awful lot like a collapse to White Sox fans if they're sitting home with the Twins in October. And if I'm going to be miserable recapping the season that was during the winter, they might as well be too. The Twins can do their part to help the Indians tonight, as Johan Santana takes the mound against Brandon McCarthy and the White Sox.

* * * * *

Baseball sure is a funny game. The Twins have been struggling to score runs with their regulars in the lineup all year, but with several players hurting and several more simply on the bench, they trotted out the following lineup against Oakland yesterday afternoon:
LF   Jason Tyner
SS Jason Bartlett
DH Matthew LeCroy
1B Justin Morneau
RF Michael Cuddyer
3B Terry Tiffee
C Chris Heintz
CF Nick Punto
2B Luis Rivas

That's a lineup only a mother could love, with guys playing out of position, slap-hitters galore, and Triple-A filler all over the place. So what happened? Well, I watched in amazement as they somehow managed to score 10 runs against the A's.

It was the Twins' first game with double-digit runs since August 5, when they beat Boston 12-0, and just the third time in 65 second-half games that the lineup has produced more than nine runs. I'd have liked to see them save a few for tonight's game, of course, since Santana could use the support and beating Chicago makes me a lot happier than beating Oakland.

At this point though, I guess we'll take what we can get. The win improved the Twins to 77-74 on the year, which means they have to go 5-6 for the remainder of the year to finish the season with a winning record. With four games left against the Royals that should be doable, but the fact that it's far from a sure thing on September 22 is pretty depressing.

* * * * *

We're likely to see a lot of sad-looking lineups from here on out, as Shannon Stewart has joined Torii Hunter on the sidelines for the rest of the season. Stewart injured his shoulder making a leaping catch against the White Sox back in August, and the pain has apparently become too much to handle. Here's what he told LaVelle E. Neal in the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
I can't really drive the ball. I'm changing my swing. I'm trying to drive the ball and I can't. This has been a tough year.

I've been hard on Stewart this year, in part because I think he has largely been "untouchable" when it comes to criticism in the mainstream media. While just about every hitter on the entire team has been ripped by someone with a newspaper byline, Stewart's performance has almost secretly been as disappointing as anyone's.

Right on cue, Neal points out that Stewart is "batting .203 since the injury." That's true, of course, but he was hitting .283/.333/.396 when he got hurt. Stewart will finish the year at .274/.323/.388, so it's pretty silly to write off his struggles on an injury that occurred in late August. Still, something tells me that'll be the way his sub par season is spun by most people.

UPDATE: Neal, showing why he has earned the title of Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com, has a very nice article (with plenty of good quotes) in today's Star Tribune on the Twins' plan to rebuild the lineup this offseason. Here's a little excerpt:

"We've seen this year that this is not going to work," Gardenhire said. "We have to make changes. We have to have hitters. We have to have some new people come in. There's people here who are going to work, sure, but we have to have help."

The potential for an aggressive offseason is exciting, since last year's winter additions essentially consisted of signing Juan Castro and Mike Redmond. Here's hoping Terry Ryan can find a way to make it work while holding onto Francisco Liriano and Scott Baker.

Today at The Hardball Times:
- Ten Things I Didn't Know Last Week (by Dave Studeman)
- Business of Baseball Report (Brian Borawski)

Today's Picks (105-95, +$785):
Chicago (Maddux) -105 over Milwaukee (Helling)


September 20, 2005

Target: Ryan Howard

Someone made a comment here last week criticizing me for not offering any actual solutions to the Twins' many problems that I've been chronicling all season. I found that criticism amusing, because those of you who have been reading this blog for a while now would probably say that one of the things I do most often is pretend like I know what's better for the Twins than the people actually running the team.

I talk about free-agent signings they should make and shouldn't have made, prospects who deserve a shot they haven't gotten yet, which hitters should be platooned, and how the manager should write up the lineup card each day. In fact, aside from marveling over Johan Santana, dreaming about Joe Mauer's future, boring people with stories about poker, and drooling over Jessica Alba, giving the Twins unsolicited advice might just be what this blog is all about.

In that grand tradition, allow me to suggest Philadelphia as a potential home for Torii Hunter. The Phillies are in a large market and have a shiny new ballpark, which gives them plenty of room to add payroll. Plus, they've given 38-year-old Kenny Lofton the majority of the starts in center field this season. And while Lofton and his platoon partner, Jason Michaels, have both been very productive, it is a position I could see general manager Ed Wade addressing this offseason.

Beyond all of that -- and perhaps just as importantly -- the Phillies have a talented young hitter who the Twins could add to the middle of the lineup immediately. Ryan Howard is a left-handed slugger who has been playing first base for Philadelphia since Jim Thome went down with a season-ending injury. With Thome's long-term contract paying him handsomely through at least 2008, Howard will be without a place to play come spring.


Howard is limited defensively, but with Justin Morneau entrenched at first base he could focus entirely on his offense as the Twins' designated hitter. I ranked him as the 28th-best prospect in all of baseball heading into this season, and the 25-year-old Howard is now one of the leading candidates for National League Rookie of the Year. Here's what he's done over the past couple seasons:

YEAR     LVL       G      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR     XBH
2004 AA 102 .297 .386 .647 37 56
AAA 29 .270 .362 .604 9 19
MLB 19 .282 .333 .564 2 7
2005 AAA 61 .371 .467 .690 16 35
MLB 76 .289 .355 .549 18 33

Or presented another way:

LVL       G      AVG      OBP      SLG     HR     XBH
AA 102 .297 .386 .647 37 56
AAA 90 .336 .430 .660 25 54
MLB 95 .289 .352 .551 20 40

However you want to break Howard's numbers down, they're very impressive. He has huge power, slugging well over .600 in the high minors and .551 through his first 90 major-league games, and has also managed to hit for good batting averages. Combining his numbers at three different levels over the past two seasons, he has 82 homers in 287 games, or an average of 43 long balls for every 150 games played.

Of course, Howard also has some faults. As I mentioned earlier, he's not a good defensive player. He'll turn 26 years old in November, which makes him fairly elderly for a rookie. Also, Howard strikes out more than just about any hitter in baseball and doesn't have a ton of plate discipline.

LVL      AB      SO     BB      SO%     SO/BB
AA 374 129 46 34.5 2.80
AAA 321 103 53 32.1 1.94
MLB 305 103 29 33.8 3.56

Given a full-season's worth of playing time in the majors, Howard is a good bet to strike out in excess of 170 times. He'll also draw about one walk for every three times he strikes out, so if his batting average dips below .260 or so (which is a possibility when you're not making much contact) he's likely to have a sub par on-base percentage.

Oh, and here's another weakness: Howard has gone just 7-for-59 (.119) against left-handed pitchers in the big leagues. That could be the biggest problem for the Twins, because they are already loaded with young, left-handed hitters (Mauer, Morneau, Jason Kubel) who figure to struggle against southpaws. I'd say the Twins could lessen the impact of Howard's weakness against lefties by platooning him, but we've all seen how much Ron Gardenhire has listened to the same advice regarding Jacque Jones.

Instead, given the side of the plate Howard bats from, the number of times he figures to strike out, and the lack of skill he brings to the table defensively, he doesn't strike me as a player the Twins would actually go after. Which is a shame, because he's clearly major-league ready, it looks like he'll be available this offseason, and his bat in the middle of the lineup against right-handed pitching could really make a difference.

Today at The Hardball Times:
- Just How Good Are These Rookies? (Part 2) (by Aaron Gleeman)

Today's Picks (105-94, +$925):
Boston (Wakefield) -140 over Tampa Bay (Kazmir)


September 18, 2005

Trading Torii

The big story locally this weekend was Torii Hunter putting his home in Golden Valley on the market. The local media turned that seemingly innocuous piece of news into rumors of Hunter himself being on the trade market this offseason, and Hunter's comments when asked about the situation reinforced the idea that he could potentially be on the move soon.

Even with Johan Santana emerging as one of the elite pitchers in baseball, Hunter undoubtedly remains the face of the Minnesota Twins. He is a Gold Glove-winning center fielder with power, speed, and an infectious smile, and has been willing to open up to the media both locally and nationally. His emergence as a player coincided perfectly with the team's re-emergence as a contender in 2001.


While extraordinarily popular, Hunter has been criticized quite a bit by Twins fans since signing his four-year, $32-million contract in the winter of 2002. I have been guilty of this in the past as well, often talking about how Hunter's lack of discipline at the plate keeps him from truly becoming a great all-around player.

However, while the general consensus seems to be that the contract was a mistake from the Twins' perspective, I disagree. I liked the deal at the time and continue to believe that Hunter, when healthy, is worth close to what he is being paid. What does that mean, exactly? Well, let's take a look.

YEAR      PA     VORP
2001 603 26.0
2002 604 50.8
2003 642 19.8
2004 569 31.2
2005 416 23.8

VORP stands for Value Over Replacement Player, and essentially tries to determine how much a hitter is worth over a "replacement-level player" who plays the same position. In other words, Hunter is worth more compared to other center fielders than he would be compared to, say, first basemen. And over the past five seasons he has been worth around 32 runs more than a replacement-level center fielder per 600 plate appearances.

Ah, but what about defense? Unfortunately the problem with trying to get an accurate picture of Hunter's value as a player is that much of his worth is tied into his defense. And while we can all agree that he is a good center fielder, how good is certainly up for debate. Is he the best center fielder in baseball? One of the top three? Top five? Is his defense worth 10 runs per season over the average center fielder? Is it worth 20?

Defensive metrics, while a whole lot better and more reliable than they were several years ago, are still in their infancy compared to the many ways we have to evaluate offense. In looking over the many different defensive numbers for Hunter -- from Win Shares and Ulitmate Zone Rating to Fielding Runs Above Replacement and Diamond-Mind ratings -- I think a fair estimate is that Hunter is worth around 15-20 runs per season over a replacement-level center fielder.

Add that together with his offense and Hunter checks in at around 50 runs above replacement level per season. If you subscribe to the theory that every 10 runs or so above replacement level are worth an extra win for a team, then Hunter is worth somewhere around five wins per season. That leaves the next step as determining how much those five wins are worth to a team, and specifically the Twins.


An entire team of replacement-level players should win around 45 games per season and, assuming they each make close to the minimum salary, cost around $8 million. If you assume that the Twins have a standard goal of winning a total of 90 games per year and their payroll will stay fairly constant at around $60 million, that leaves 45 wins to find and about $52 million to find them.

In other words, to a team like the Twins each win over replacement level is worth around $1.2 million. Multiply that by Hunter's five wins above replacement level and you get $6 million. Toss in a few extra dollars because of what he is likely worth to the team when it comes to marketing, revenue, and exposure and you might get up to $6.5 or even $7 million a year. All of which means he has probably been overpaid by about a million bucks per season, although that number rises now that he is due $10.75 million in 2006 (and the Twins hold a $12 million option for 2007).

If the Twins were forced to pay each player exactly what he is worth, they'd never have enough payroll room to compete with other teams. Instead, they pay small salaries to young players each season, which gives them room to pay a few veterans like Hunter premium salaries. Two of the most important aspects of maintaining a winning team under payroll restraints are always getting younger and always getting cheaper. For a team like the Twins it is almost always worth shedding a large salary if you can also acquire cheap, young players who will be underpaid for several seasons.

Even if you only receive 80% of Hunter's value back in a trade, if that value comes in the form of young, minimum-salaried players you've come out ahead. That's why the Twins are constantly letting veterans leave, via both free agency and trades, and constantly relying on their farm system to restock the team with talent. You simply can't compete with a $55 million payroll when you're handing out long-term contracts at around market value to every veteran on the team.

Even if you only receive 80% of Hunter's value back in a trade, if that value comes in the form of young, minimum-salaried players you've come out ahead. That's why the Twins are constantly letting veterans leave, via both free agency and trades, and constantly relying on their farm system to restock the team with talent. You simply can't compete with a $55 million payroll when you're handing out long-term contracts at around market value to every veteran on the team.

All of which isn't to say a player like Hunter doesn't have plenty of value to the Twins, and especially to other teams. Hell, those five wins above replacement level are worth a ton to the Yankees. If you figure their goal is to win 100 games per season (55 above replacement level) and they have around $200 million to do so, then Hunter is suddenly worth around $18 million per season.

The Twins' decision on whether or not to deal Hunter essentially boils down to which of the following they'd rather have:

  • Hunter for $10.75 million in 2006 and $12 million in 2007, plus draft picks when he leaves via free agency after 2007.
  • A total of $22.75 million to spend in 2006 and 2007, plus whatever cheap, young players Hunter can bring in via trade.
  • In the first scenario the Twins hold on to around 10 wins above replacement level over two seasons while eating up around 19% of the team's payroll. In the second scenario, they've lost about 10 wins over two seasons, but have gained a ton of payroll flexibility and, if general manager Terry Ryan does a good job, a player or two who can step right into the lineup and get back some of the wins that were lost (and potentially provide value past 2007, when Hunter becomes a free agent).

    As always, the key to this decision is in the details. Hunter is slightly overpaid on a team with a low payroll, but he does provide good value and plenty of wins, and his impact on the Twins' revenue is likely higher than it would be for other teams. Trading him could also provide good value and plenty of wins, but it all depends on a) which cheap, young players the Twins can get in return, b) what they would do with the money saved, and c) who they have to replace Hunter in center field.

    Perhaps the biggest thing in the Twins' favor is that they don't have to rely on a purely hypothetical "replacement-level player" to step in for Hunter. Lew Ford has been doing a solid job playing center field since Hunter went down with his ankle injury in late July, and is hitting .263/.337/.381 on the year. Plus, the Twins drafted a speedy center fielder named Denard Span in the first round back in 2002 and he hit .307/.370/.369 with 23 steals in 117 games between Single-A and Double-A this year.


    Replacing Hunter with Ford for an entire season would make the team worse, but the dropoff would be far from catastrophic (Ford has averaged 31 VORP per 600 plate appearances). The real issue is whether or not it's worth downgrading the team in center field in order to pick up a young player or two -- perhaps a second baseman and a corner outfielder, or maybe a third baseman and a designated hitter -- who would provide much-needed depth to a lineup that has been horrendous this season.

    In a best-case scenario, the Twins swap Hunter to a big-payroll team like the Yankees, Cubs, Rangers, Red Sox or Orioles for a young infielder and a young corner outfielder, and then spend the significant money saved on another hitter. That would improve three spots in the lineup while making the team younger, and the only dropoff would be from Hunter to Ford in center field. Of course, the tough part is finding a taker for Hunter that not only wants him and his salary, but is willing to part with a young hitter or two to get them.

    Today at The Hardball Times:
    - A Mini-Dynasty in the Making (by David Gassko)

    Today's Picks (105-92, +$1,135):
    New Orleans +3.5 (-110) over New York

    Tuesday's Picks:
    Cleveland (Westbrook) +105 over Chicago (Buehrle)


    September 15, 2005

    Link-O-Rama

  • The good people over at Dead Spin -- I never know who to credit something with on a blog that has multiple authors -- wrote up just about everything you'd ever want to know about Bill Simmons' new book without actually reading it. I'm not sure whether it's thriftiness, laziness or the fact that many book publishers now send me complimentary copies of new releases, but I have yet to buy Simmons' book.

    Judging from the fact that I am just now reading Alan Schwarz's The Numbers Game -- which, in addition to being written by one of my favorite writers, was universally praised as one of the best sports books of last year -- I'd say I will get to Simmons' book sometime around 2018. But hey, did I mention that The Hardball Times Baseball Annual: 2006 is available for pre-order?

  • I've been known to get worked up over the attention paid to Derek Jeter by the mainstream media and I also happen to think that Tom Brady is football's version of Jeter. You can take that for whatever it's worth, but in addition to the negative connotations implied you should know that I think Jeter will deservedly end up in the Hall of Fame someday. In other words, both Jeter and Brady are significantly overrated and fawned upon far too often, but they're also really, really good.

    Why do I bring this up? Because Jason Sehorn, who was significantly overrated, fawned upon far too often, and not very good at all, made headlines in Boston earlier this week for his comments about Brady on ESPN Radio. I didn't really think Sehorn's comments were that outrageous -- he basically said Peyton Manning is a lot better than Brady and he'd even take Marc Bulger over him -- but I did think it was funny that one of the most overrated athletes of all time would have the balls to say someone else is overrated.

    And, of course, Brady responded with a classy, subtle jab back at Sehorn:

    People can say what they want, and we'll just line up and play. Unfortunately, a lot of people who get attention in the league are the self promoters who talk about how good they are, how good their teams are -- and they don't seem to come through a whole lot.

    When you're a player whose claims to fame are being a rare white guy who played cornerback (badly), having ridiculously toned abs, and marrying an attractive actress, you should probably stay out of the player-evaluation game. Oh, and Angie Harmon is nearly as overrated as Sehorn (and probably about as good at covering wide receivers).

  • Speaking of toned abs, there is now a rule in Minnesota that bans high-school cheerleaders from exposing their "midriffs or torsos." I came to the sad realization a while back that at 22 years old I am probably a little too old to be ogling high-school girls, but the bill still makes me upset. It's not that I care what cheerleaders are wearing, but rather the idea that people pushed to have such a bill passed annoys me.

    There are so many people in this country trying to ban and censor so many different things that don't matter at all, from video games, radio shows, and television to drugs, cheerleading outfits, and sex. If we could collectively take 99% of the effort and attention given to issues like what cheerleaders are wearing and apply it to things that actually matter to the average person ... well, I'd have a lot less stuff to complain about here.

  • At the risk of receiving a whole lot of angry e-mails, I'd like to introduce a new feature that may just become a regular staple of this blog ...

    The Week in Waffle Crappers:

    * Jessica Alba looking as good as a human being can possibly look in a swimsuit.

    * Alba looking slightly less spectacular and a whole lot more clothed in Entertainment Weekly.

    * Christina Aguilera, whom I've never really been a huge fan of, looking ridiculously good while subtlely showing off some, um, body jewelry.

    (Don't worry, everything linked at this blog is "safe for work." Well, unless you work with the people who banned the torso-exposing cheerleading outfits, I guess.)

  • This picture is amusing on a number of levels. And it's Team Jolie in a blowout.
  • Here's a headline you probably won't see on ESPN.com anytime soon: "Stu Scott named most loathsome person at ESPN." Booyah!
  • One of the nice things about having a job that requires you to read dozens of newspapers from across the country every day is that you occasionally stumble across comedy gold like this story from the Boston Globe:
    For the second straight year, a sheep has been stolen from the Natural Resources Trust of Easton, abused, and left inside of a dormitory at Stonehill College.

    According to Robert Babineau, executive director of the trust, the sheep was taken Sept. 3, spray-painted in black, dressed in a bra, and placed inside a Stonehill dorm.

    [...]

    Officials believe that students at the college may be responsible for the theft because of a similar incident that occurred last year. A sheep was stolen from the trust, dressed in a bra, and put in a dormitory.

    No paint was involved in the earlier incident.

    Wait, it gets better:

    In the latest case, the sheep, as well as a chicken, were taken from an educational location of the trust's land on Main Street in Easton called the Sheep Pasture.

    [...]

    While the chicken is unharmed, Babineau said, the sheep seemed distraught from the experience.

    Perhaps he heard the sad news that the E! canceled Taradise.

  • Here's a quote from Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth about Steelers running back Willie Parker that could be really interesting if taken completely out of context:
    He's not more powerful, he's just faster and he's slick. I mean, it was like the guy had Vaseline on or something.

    I'll trust everyone to create their own punchline here.

  • Today at The Hardball Times:
    - The Truth Hurts (by John Brattain)
    - Rube Bressler Redux? (by Dan Fox)

    Today's Picks (100-90, +$845):
    Detroit (Johnson) +210 over Los Angeles (Lackey)

    Saturday's Picks:
    Oklahoma +7 (-110) over UCLA
    Michigan State +6 (-110) over Notre Dame
    Illinois +21.5 (-110) over California

    Sunday's Picks:
    Pittsburgh -6 (-110) over Houston
    St. Louis +1 (-110) over Arizona
    Kansas City -1 (-110) over Oakland


    September 14, 2005

    Liriano's First No-Decision

    I realize at this point that I come up with a new way to describe just how awful the Twins' offense has been this season nearly every day, but bear with me on just one more: I am now at the point of simply rooting for starting pitchers who pitch well to get no-decisions. I've given up all hope of starters picking up wins, and am instead just hoping they don't get tagged with undeserved losses.

    That's not to say Francisco Liriano deserved a win in his first major-league start yesterday afternoon -- he only lasted five innings and gave up two runs -- just that I was very glad when the Twins scraped together enough runs to take him off the hook for the eventual loss. If Liriano is lucky, he'll finish his first season 0-0.

    For most of the year the Twins failed to score runs because their hitters, who weren't all that great to begin with, underperformed. However, I'm not so sure that's the case any longer. When a big-league lineup includes Jason Tyner, Juan Castro, Michael Ryan, and Luis Rivas you can't realistically expect to score more than a couple runs.

    Yes, three of the other guys who started yesterday's game -- Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, and Jason Bartlett -- have been disappointing, but they could have lived up to expectations and they'd still be surrounded by utility men and Triple-A filler. Without a star hitter like, say, David Ortiz, a lineup has to rely on depth. Instead, the Twins lack sluggers, no one but Joe Mauer gets on base, and multiple spots per game are filled by guys who should probably be batting sixth at Rochester.

    Consider that the Twins have now given 1,247 at-bats to Castro, Rivas, Ryan, Tyner, Nick Punto, Luis Rodriguez, Terry Tiffee, Brent Abernathy, Bret Boone, and Corky Miller. There isn't a single player in that group who could realistically be called anything more than a utility man or fifth outfielder on a good day, yet they have managed to combine for 25% of the team's at-bats while hitting .245/.294/.336.

    When a team struggles the tendency is to look at the better players on the roster and blame them for underachieving. That's easy with the Twins, as Morneau, Cuddyer, Shannon Stewart, Jacque Jones, and Lew Ford have each had poor seasons. However, they haven't done significantly more damage to the team's ability to put runs on the board than some of the lesser names. There's room for blame there, just not room for all of it.

    Plus, it's a whole lot easier to actually fix a problem that involves finding upgrades for the guys in that 25% group. In other words, will it be easier for the Twins to give up on Morneau and find a top-notch veteran first baseman for next season or simply find a way to use 1,247 at-bats that doesn't involve Rivas and Boone? The latter, of course, and the first step toward getting the offense back to semi-respectability is improving at the margins.

    Well, that and putting an end to making guys like Sean Douglass look like Roger Clemens. Douglass entered yesterday's game with a 6.49 ERA on the season and an 8.08 ERA in the second half. Here's what he had done in his previous six starts:

    OPP      IP     H     R     ER     BB     SO     HR
    TOR 6.2 7 6 6 0 2 2
    BOS 4.0 5 5 5 4 1 1
    TOR 6.1 8 4 4 1 4 2
    BOS 3.0 9 7 7 2 3 2
    CHW 4.2 8 8 8 3 4 2
    KC 2.0 4 4 4 1 4 1

    As a friend of mine once said after looking at the group of girls across the dance floor from us at a junior-high party, "That's a whole lot of ugly." Add it all up and you get an 11.47 ERA in 26.2 innings, with 41 hits allowed, including nine homers, and an 18-to-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio. That's about as bad as a pitcher can be while remaining in a major-league starting rotation.

    So what did Douglass do against the Twins?

    OPP       IP     H     R     ER     BB     SO     HR
    MIN 6.0 4 1 1 1 3 0

    Six innings of four-hit, one-run ball, and not a single home run allowed. Of course.

    I can't even count the number of times the Twins have been held in check by someone like Sean Douglass this season. And by that I mean someone who should be pitching to Jason Tyner, Michael Ryan, and Luis Rivas in the International League.

    Today at The Hardball Times:
    - Ten Things I Didn't Know Last Week (by Dave Studeman)
    - How Not To Use Statistics: Why David Ortiz Shouldn't Be MVP (by Larry Mahnken)

    Today's Picks (100-89, +$1,025):
    Chicago (Buehrle) -180 over Kansas City (Greinke)


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