Top 5 A.L. Cy Young award candidates

2012 AL Cy Young

Who’s your vote for AL Cy Young?

After Jered Weaver’s magnificent complete game shutout and Justin Verlander’s 14k performance last night I got to thinking, who is the favorite to win the Cy Young this year in the American (and National) League.

Not only does Weaver hold the AL lead in Wins, but also ERA. Obviously, Verlander has the strikeout lead, but Felix Hernandez is hot on his trail, in that department. Taking all things into consideration, the following is our top five Cy Young Candidates, in order. (Look for the National League to follow in the next day or two).

5. Chris Sale – Chicago White Sox

After sitting for nine days, Sale came back last night and pitched very well against an underrated Royals team – Sale went 8.0 innings, struck out seven, and allowed two earned in his return. After receiving the win last night the young southpaw now has 13 wins, a 2.59 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and 121 punch-out’s.

The reason Sale isn’t higher on this list is simple, the White Sox plan on watching his innings for the remainder of the year, and let’s face it, there’s some stiff competition out there.

4. Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners

Some might say this is a bit too low for the King, however, he has just 10 wins in 23 games started. Granted, the Mariners probably have the worst offense of anyone on this list, but a Cy Young performer should be able to surpass the 15 win total, at least, and I don’t think Hernandez will do so.

That all said, when you pitch a complete-game shutout, you only need one run and King Felix has done that more than anyone else on this list. That in itself could lead voters to rally behind this stud. Read more here…

Mike Greenberg a Mariners Fan?

Mike Greenberg ESPNIn an interesting twist given his New York upbringing and staunch support of his beloved Jets, ESPN’s Mike Greenberg donned a Seattle Mariners jersey on the set of Mike and Mike in the Morning today and officially proclaimed himself a Mariners fan, for no reason other than to root against co-host Mike Golic’s prediction that Seattle’s on-field woes would continue for the foreseeable future.  The gesture, petty by normal social and even sporting standards, is just the latest in the ongoing series of good-natured jousting between the hosts of the popular morning sports talk show.

Greeny’s new found fanhood grew legs after yesterday’s on-air discussion surrounding the Mariners’ recent trade of outfielder Ichirio Suzuki to the Yankees.  When the conversation turned to star pitcher Felix Hernandez, Golic boldly asserted that the Seattle would make little headway toward becoming competitive during the two years that remain on his contract and that Hernandez too would find himself in a different uniform before the end of his deal, another castaway of a club that, by Golic’s prediction, will continue to amass losses and discard talent in a constant cycle of being nothing more than a farm team for the rest of the Majors. Read more here…

Seattle Mariners looking towards the future

Jason Vargas

Jason VargasAs the Seattle Mariners announced their 25-man roster they transitioned Chone Figgins from third base to a utility backup in the outfield and infield to make room for promising new players such as Kyle Seager and Alex Liddi.

With Figgins out at third base, the Mariners can now concentrate on putting their most competitive lineup on the field. For instance, it would have been a shame to block Kyle Seager at third base. Seager is a better fielder and hitter than Figgins and factors into the Mariners’ long-term plan. Seager is poised for a breakout season, batting .360 and four homeruns during spring training in Japan.

Backing up Seager will be rookie Alex Liddi who was a long shot to make the squad. Liddi will be with the Mariners for the first week or two until Franklin Gutierrez returns from disabled list.

The Mariners are handling Figgins well. Considering he has two more seasons left on a $36 million contract, the club is looking for a return on its investment, while maintaining its youth movement.  

The change in the lineup gives Figgins another chance to get his career back on track for the Mariners. He’ll be returning from Japan as the fourth outfielder for the first couple of weeks of the season. Michael Sanders will play centerfield with Guiterrez on the DL, Casper Wells will be in left field with Mike Carp on the DL, and Ichiro Suzuki starts his eleventh season in right field.

Figgins will need to get things going quickly at the start of the season, after struggling this spring at the plate with a .225 batting average.  Manager Eric Wedge hopes Figgins will return to the player he was in Anaheim. To help Figgins return to his old self, Wedge will put Figgins in the leadoff and will move Ichiro from the leadoff spot to the third spot. If Figgins slumps in May and June, he could be released.

Chone Figgins has been The Mariners’ biggest enigma in recent years. Hopefully with him returning to the top of the lineup will enable him to be more comfortable and productive at the plate.  One of Figgins biggest strengths is his versatility and he will lean on to wear different gloves throughout the season. Maybe the Mariners can catch lightening in a bottle with Figgins glove and bat.  It would suit Figgins to start sooner than later to get going because time is not on his side. 

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