My 2013 CMA Awards Predictions

My vote would’ve gone to the selection of each category in bold.

Entertainer of the Year:
Blake Shelton
George Strait
Jason Aldean
Luke Bryan
Taylor Swift

Single of the Year:
Cruise – Florida Georgia Line. Republic Nashville.
Highway Don’t Care – Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift & Keith Urban. Big Machine Records.
Mama’s Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert. RCA Nashville.
Merry Go Round – Kacey Musgraves. Mercury Records.
Wagon Wheel – Darius Rucker. Capital Records Nashville.

Album of the Year:
Based on a True Story – Blake Shelton. Warner Bros. Nashville.
Blown Away – Carrie Underwood. Artista Nashville.
Red – Taylor Swift. Big Machine Records.
Same Trailer Different Park – Kacey Musgraves. Mercury Records.
Tornado – Little Big Town. Capital Records Nashville.

Song of the Year:
I Drive Your Truck – Written by: Jesi Alexander, Connie Harrington & Jimmy Yeary. Performed by: Lee Brice.
Mama’s Broken Heart – Written by: Brandy Clark, Shane McAnally & Kacey Musgraves. Performed by: Miranda Lambert.
Merry Go Round – Written by: Shane McAnally, Kacey Musgraves & Josh Osborne. Performed by: Kacey Musgraves.
Pontoon – Written by: Barry Dean, Natalie Hemby & Luke Laird. Performed by: Little Big Town.
Wagon Wheel – Written by: Bob Dylan & Ketch Secor. Performed by: Darius Rucker.

Female Vocalist of the Year:
Carrie Underwood
Kacey Musgraves
Kelly Clarkson
Miranda Lambert
Taylor Swift

Male Vocalist of the Year:
Blake Shelton
Eric Church
Jason Aldean
Keith Urban
Luke Bryan

Vocal Group of the Year:
Eli Young Band
Lady Antebellum
Little Big Town
The Band Perry
Zac Brown Band

Vocal Duo of the Year:
Big & Rich
Florida Georgia Line
Love and Theft
Sugarland
The Civil Wars
Thompson Square

Musical Event of the Year:
Boys Round Here – Blake Shelton Feat. Pistol Annies
Cruise – Florida Georgia Line with Nelly
Don’t Rush – Kelly Clarkson Feat. Vince Gill
Highway Don’t Care – Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift & Keith Urban
The Only Way I Know – Jason Aldean with Luke Bryan and Eric Church

Musician of the Year:
Brent Mason – Guitar
Dann Huff – Guitar
Mac McAnally – Guitar
Paul Franklin – Steel Guitar
Sam Bush – Mandolin

Music Video of the Year:
Blown Away – Carrie Underwood. Directed by: Randee St. Nicholas.
Boys Round Here – Blake Shelton Feat. Pistol Annies. Directed by: Trey Fanjoy.
Downtown – Lady Antebellum. Directed by: Peter Zavadill.
Highway Don’t Care – Tim McGraw with Taylor Swift & Keith Urban. Directed by: Shane Drake.
Mama’s Broken Heart – Miranda Lambert. Directed by: Trey Fanjoy.
Tornado – Little Big Town. Directed by: Shane Drake.

New Artist of the Year:
Brent Eldredge
Florida Georgia Line
Kacey Musgraves
Kip Moore
Lee Brice

Thoughts:
Entertainer of the Year selection came down to Blake Shelton vs. Luke Bryan. Ultimately I chose Shelton due to his role on The Voice.

Cruise for Single of the Year was one of the easiest decisions for me.  However if someone made an argument for Merry Go Round I would not fight it.

Same Trailer Different Park from Kacey Musgraves is an incredible album.  From top to bottom I gave it the edge of Blown Away.

Song of the Year was probably the toughest decision for me to make.  I Drive Your Truck, Merry Go Round and Wagon Wheel are all favorites of mine.  I Drive Your Truck is my dark horse that could win this category due to the great story it tells.

Female Vocalist of the Year was a tight race as well.  I ultimately decided I like what I’ve heard this year from Carrie Underwood the most.  I’ll admit a little celebrity crush bias might have played into this decision though….

Luke Bryan was my gut decision for Male Vocalist of the Year, but the more I think about it the more my mind starts trying to sway me to each of the other candidates.  So I’ll stop trying to sway myself and go with my which of the group sounded best right away.

Last year the Vocal Group of the Year category would have been much tougher, but when I think about what has happened in just the past year I liked The Band Perry here by a long shot.

What do you get when you throw together three the most popular country music male talents for one song.  The Only Way I Know getting my vote for Musical Event of the Year.

The music video for Blown Away I felt like was superior to the others in the Music Video of the Year category.

Just like all the other categories, New Artist of the Year had a lot of worthy candidates.  Kip Moore and Kacey Musgraves are two new favorites of mine, but it is hard to argue with Florida Georgia Line’s success this year.

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Clay Buchholz 2012 vs. 2013

Wednesday night, Toronto Blue Jays broadcasters Dirk Hayhurst and Jack Morris started the debate that has got the baseball world talking.  Buchholz pitched a good game – 7ip 2h 8k 3bb 0r – Hayhurst and Moris began questioning if Buchholz was “cheating”.

He very clearly kept going to touch his left forearm with the index and middle fingers on his pitching hand.  There was also a certain shine to that left forearm that was not there on his right arm, and that shine was not on his left arm during 2012 or Spring Training this year.

Here he is during Spring Training in 2013:
Here is a screenshot I took from that video:

clay spring training 2013

Click for Full Size.

This is Clay Buchholz, again pitching in Toronto, on September 15, 2012:

Here is a screenshot I took from this video:

clay 2012

Click for Full Size.

Here is the video that started the discussion from Wednesday.

No great spot to clearly point out the shininess in a screenshot here.  So I went to Twitter and found a picture:

Clay Wednesday

Source: Twitter

This picture is a much better close-up than the best screenshot I tried to take from the video.  But they are from the same start.

Buchholz has offered a response and many have speculated.  My opinion is that there is a very apparent shine to that arm.  But the questions “What really is it?” and “Is it cheating?” are not up to me to decide.  If I were to speculate, I would most likely be wrong too.  Is it baby lotion?  Is it pine tar?  Is sun tan lotion?  Is it something else?  Is it a combination of things?  Or is it simply that his left arm sweats more than his right arm out of the blue this season?

Here is Tom Verducci’s take on SI.com.
Here is the story by Gordon Edes on ESPN.

Here is Buchholz’s 2012, 2013 and career statistics to compare.

Year Age Tm W L ERA GS CG SHO IP R ER HBP WHIP H/9 HR/9 BB/9 SO/9 SO/BB
2012 27 BOS 11 8 4.56 29 2 1 189.1 104 96 12 1.326 8.9 1.2 3.0 6.1 2.02
2013 28 BOS 6 0 1.01 6 0 0 44.2 5 5 0 0.963 5.4 0.2 3.2 9.5 2.94
7 Yrs 52 32 3.73 111 5 3 681.0 311 282 24 1.314 8.3 0.9 3.5 6.8 1.95
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/3/2013.

No matter what is going on, cheating or not, Buchholz is pitching at a very high level.  There are also a few things that need to be remembered, again cheating or not.  The first thing to remember is Buchholz threw a no-hitter in his second career start, on September 1, 2007, against the Baltimore Orioles while striking out nine batters.

Buchholz was also named the No. 51 prospect in baseball at the end of the 2006 season by Baseball America.  This is before he threw the no-hitter. Then at the end of 2007, coming into 2008, Baseball America ranked him as the No. 4 prospect in baseball — only behind Jay Bruce, Evan Longoria and Joba Chamberlain.

The third thing to take into account is that before an injury plagued season in 2011, he went 17-7 with a 2.33 ERA in 2010.  He was an All-Star and finished sixth in the American League Cy Young ballot.  Which leads me to my final thing to be taken into account — he entered this 2013 season at age 28.  This is about the age where many players begin to reach their peaks.

He had the potential to be a dominate pitcher all along.  Then when he was just 25 he put up the above mentioned 2010 numbers.  So the fact that he is really good should be no surprise to anyone.  He had injury issues in 2011, only starting 14 games. Then in 2012, there was the well-publicized Boston scenario that led to their manager, Bobby Valentine, being fired after one season and them trading away star players.

Now let’s look at some interesting sabermetric differences, while keeping in mind that the sample size is pretty small – at only 44.2 innings pitched so far in 2013.

Buchholz is having a career year in terms of striking out batters.  He is currently striking out 9.47 batters per nine innings.  His career, which includes the 2013 numbers has him averaging 6.85 batters per nine innings.

Batters have also only hit a .176 average off of Buchholz so far in 2013. This is not just a “lucky” fluke because of the small sample size either.  If you add thirty-two points to his batting average allowed, which is  the difference in his career BABIP and his 2013 BABIP, hitters would still be only hitting .208 off of him on the season. That is an average allowed, that over a season most any starter would take in a heart beat.

Buchholz has also left 91.4 percent of baserunners on base so far in 2013.  Fangraphs also has him speeding up his pace, taking less time between pitches than he ever has.

Buchholz has been getting more movement on his pitches this year which is where the substance really is playing into in the minds of people and leading to the above mentioned results.
Vertical MovementHorizaontal Movement
Click for Full Sizes.

That’s it.  I have given you all the tools.  Pictures, videos and statistics.  Now you should better be able to come to a conclusion about what is going on with Buchholz and the effect of recent allegations.

Follow @DavidCoatsII on Twitter

Quick Look at Players in the Dodgers, Red Sox Trade

According to Dodgers LA Times beat writer, Dylan Hernandez, the trade sending Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers from the Red Sox is official.  I am not going into the winners or losers of the trade, what the trade might mean for Bobby Valentine’s future with the Red Sox, money, etc.  I am just going to give a little information on the players involved, according to MLB Trade Rumors, in the trade.

The Red Sox Receive:
RHP Rubby De La Rosa
RHP Allen Webster
INF Ivan De Jesus
OF/1B Jerry Sands
1B James Loney

Rubby De La Rosa was the Dodgers minor league pitcher of the year in 2010.  He was their third highest rated prospect in the Dodgers organization in the Baseball America Prospect Handbook in 2011.  He did not qualify as a prospect in the 2012 edition.  De La Rosa started 10 games and appeared out of the bullpen 3 times for the Dodgers in 2011 pitching to a 3.71 ERA.  Coming off Tommy John he has pitched 12 minor league innings in 2012 and 0.2 innings in the majors.  He has not allowed a minor league earned run in 2012.  He allowed 2 earned runs in his 0.2 innings with the Dodgers.  The Baseball America Prospect Handbook in 2011 his fastball sits at 95-96 mph and has registered as high as 102 mph.  He is able to hold the velocity deep into games & can find an extra gear when needed.  He has two promising secondary pitches in his changeup and slider.  The changeup sits at 85-89 mph with late fade.  The slider has sharp, late break when he stays on top of it.  Baseball America says he has the potential to become a No. 2 starter or a closer.

Allen Webster is a converted shortstop.  The Baseball America Prospect Handbook 2012 has Webster as the second highest rated Dodger prospect with a 55-Medium grade.  According to them his repertoire includes a 90-95 mph fastball that peaks at 97 mph with plenty of sink.  He also throws a slider and a curveball that are plus pitches at times, but he can get caught between the two because he has trouble staying on top of his curveball.  A changeup that features sink and fade at 79-83 mph might be his best pitch.  Some scouts argue that he tips it by slowing his arm speed however.  He compares to Derek Lowe and has the potential to become a No. 2 starter according to one Dodgers official in the Prospect Handbook.  So far in 2012, Webster has pitched all season at Double-A Chattanooga and over 121.2 innings he has a 6-8 record with a 3.55 ERA.

Ivan De Jesus is ranked as the 26th best prospect in the Dodgers organization according to the Baseball America Prospect Handbook 2012.  They graded him as a 40-Low.  De Jesus has spent time in 2012 between AAA Albuquerque and the Dodgers.  According to the Prospect Handbook he has an inside-out swing producing line drives from gap to gap with solid bat speed and he fits best at second base.   He has gone 9-33 (.273) with 3 walks in his limited plate appearances with the Dodgers in 2012 scoring 5 runs and knocking in 4 RBI.

Jerry Sands lost his prospect title for the 2012 edition of the Baseball America Prospect Handbook.  In the 2011 edition he was ranked as the sixth best prospect in the Dodgers system.  He set multiple school records for NCAA Division II Catawba before being drafted in the 25th-round of the 2008 draft.  He hit 35 homers between Low A Great Lakes and AA Chattanooga in 2010 on his way to being named as the Dodgers’ minor league player of the year.  The 2011 Prospect Handbook says he has had some trouble laying off high fastballs at times, but he shows an aptitude for handling breaking pitches so he shouldn’t just be a one-dimensional slugger.  He has spent time in the majors in 2012, but has spent the majority of his time at AAA Albuquerque batting .303/.380/.531 with 24 homers.

James Loney being sent to Red Sox has by far spent the most time in the majors of any player being sent the Red Sox way.  He has never been a big time power threat at first base, but had a respectable .346 OBP from 2006-2011 for the Dodgers.  But he has struggled in 2012 at the plate with a .646 OPS.  From 2006-2011 he had a .778 OPS.

The Dodgers Receive:
RHP Josh Beckett
1B Adrian Gonzalez
OF Carl Crawford
INF Nick Punto

Josh Beckett has taken the mound for the Red Sox since 2006.  He went 89-58 with a 4.17 ERA in his Boston career.  In 2012, however he has gone 5-11 with a 5.23 ERA in 127.1 innings.  When looking at his PitchFx (Fangraphs) you can notice a sharp drop in his average fastball velocity between 2011 and 2012.  In 2011 his fastball averaged 93.1 mph, which has dropped to 91.6 mph in 2012.  He also has gone away from throwing his fastball as much as he has done over his career.  Over his career he has thrown his fastball 62.1 percent of the time, and in 2012 he has gone under 50 percent for the first time at 47.6 percent.  Given, he has developed a cutter and has begun throwing it more.  I just point it out because I think the drop in velocity has contributed a more prominent role for his cutter.

Adrian Gonzalez has had a productive and respectable 2012 season, but it has not been up to his standards set the past few years.  His batting line from 2009-2011 was .306/.403/.536.  In 2012, it has dropped to .300/.343/.469.  This has led to a Fangraphs WAR drop from 6.6 in 2011 to 2.7 in 2012.  He still offers possible gold glove defense at first base when healthy.

Carl Crawford was not the same player with the Red Sox that he was in Tampa Bay.  That has been well documented.  Part of that is injury, some say Boston was not a good fit for him, but for whatever the real reason the result has been a lower performance with the Red Sox.  Crawford had a 7.6 Fangraphs WAR in 2010, his final year with the Tampa Bay Rays.  But he had a combined 0.6 WAR in his year and a half in Boston.  When playing a full season with the Rays he never stole less than 46 bases.  He only totaled 23 stolen bases in his time with the Red Sox.  I like sabermetrics in general, but one I do not completely side with are the defensive sabermetics.  That being said it is worth noting his UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating) saw him lose a great deal of range in the outfield.  His UZR was never lower than 15.8 from 2008-2010.  His UZR in 2011 was -2.2 and -1.7 in 2012.  I question what role the Green Monster played in this, but either way I am just throwing the stat out there for you.

Nick Punto can play multiple defensive positions, but his hitting skills have never really stood out.  He has a career .649 OPS.  In 2011, he had a nice stink with the Cardinals on his way to a .809 OPS in 63 games.  But in a comparable amount of plate appearances so far in 2012 he has seen his current .573 OPS.  He has proved to be a nice utility player to have on a roster.  He will fill in to the role Jerry Hariston Jr. had before getting injured.

 

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