Posted: Tuesday September 12, 2006 2:20PM; Updated: Tuesday September 12, 2006 2:48PM
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Has Cleveland finally found a closer for 2007 in Tom Mastny? "I don't think so," says a scout. "He doesn't have overwhelming stuff. He doesn't have that out-pitch closers need. I'd be surprised if he's in the role next season. If he is, we'll know that Cleveland still hasn't solved their biggest problem."
A scout on the Giants: "Why can't they win [the wild card]? I really like them now because of Matt Cain. He's a difference-maker because they've always been missing that guy behind [Jason] Schmidt. He can be just absolutely overpowering -- a mid-90-mph fastball, good curve, good change. Schmidt and Cain in a short series? That's pretty scary, if you ask me."
Before we get carried away with the Tigers' slide, let's remember that in 2005 the White Sox's once-cushy lead in the AL Central was whittled to 1½ games last September. After three big games at Comiskey Park this week, the Tigers have three games against the Royals, three against the Blue Jays, and three more against Kansas City to close out the season.
Cole Hamels, Philadelphia's phenom left-hander, has a new mentor: Jamie Moyer. "I've learned so much just watching him, but we're also out there playing catch all the time, and we talk all the time, him offering wise words of wisdom," says Hamels. "He definitely keeps me in line, keeps me working hard. His mental approach to the game is just phenomenal. If I can learn from him and better my mental approach, it'll help me in the long run to get to that next level."
Some executives and scouts have suggested that Joe Girardi is a control freak and overly opinionated, maybe even suffocating as a manager, that he is a younger version of Buck Showalter and that his strong personality is the reason the Marlins' front office wants him out. "He's done a nice job with that team to get them to where they are," says a scout, "but sooner or later, that kind of hands-on style wears on a team." It's abundantly clear, however, that these young Marlins, whose clubhouse is as relaxed as a university dorm, relate well to their young first-year skipper. "He reminds me a lot of Dusty Baker -- he's the ultimate players' manager," says Borowski. Adds first baseman Mike Jacobs, "He's out there running with us, working out, lifting weights. It's like he's one of the guys -- except he's in the best shape out of everyone here. He gets along well with everyone. He just knows how to deal with people."
For your consideration: Frank Thomas for AL MVP. He doesn't deserve to win it, but he deserves to be in the top six. For a team that is waltzing into the postseason despite a punchless lineup, the 38-year-old has been huge: He ranks in the top eight in the league in homers, slugging percentage, OBP and OPS.