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Coghlan should win NL ROY after big second half

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Ken Rosenthal

Ken Rosenthal has been the FOXSports.com's Senior MLB Writer since August 2005. He appears weekly on MLB on FOX, FOX Sports Radio and MLB Network. He's a member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Follow him on Twitter.

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Around the Horn

  • The Phillies are not committed to keeping Brad Lidge as their closer if his struggles continue.

    Lidge blew his major-league leading 10th save against the Astros on Saturday, his ERA increasing to 7.15.

    "(Manager Charlie) Manuel will do what's best for the club," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. says. "If he feels that Lidge is not able to close games, he'll make a change.

    "Right now, he is confident that (Lidge) will get his stuff back, get it going. But we're not going to cut off our nose to spite our face. If it gets to the point where Charlie feels he is not able to do the job, he might have to change things."

  • The Marlins' Dan Uggla will be no bargain financially: His salary this season is $5.35 million, and he will get two more cracks at arbitration before becoming a free agent after the 2011 season.

    The Orioles, Twins, Giants, Diamondbacks, Dodgers and Cardinals are among the teams that have shown past interest in Uggla. The Orioles are among the clubs that would prefer him at third base.

  • The Cardinals' Skip Schumaker rates as one of the worst defensive second basemen in the majors according to advanced defensive metrics, but one scout says the converted outfielder is improving.

    "He's making plays that in spring training I would have bet my house he could not have made," the scout says.

  • The Rockies no doubt need closer Huston Street, who has missed the past week with right biceps tendinitis. But left-hander Franklin Morales has gone 4-for-4 in save opportunities as Street's replacement.

    Morales began the season as a starter, then missed more than two months with a strained shoulder. He is better-suited for the bullpen; prior to Street's injury, he had emerged as one of the better left-handed setup men in the game.

    "It's jaw-dropping how hard he's throwing," G.M. Dan O'Dowd says.

  • White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen says he already has informed GM Ken Williams of his desire to keep outfielder Mark Kotsay on the club next season.

    Guillen values Kotsay's leadership and may be souring on Scott Podsednik, who has made a number of mental errors in recent weeks.

  • Good news for Cardinals pitching coach Dave Duncan, who is still upset over his team's treatment of his son Chris: Shelley Duncan, his older son, was named International League MVP.

    Shelley, who turns 30 on Sept. 29, hit 30 homers and drove in 95 runs with a .916 OPS for the Yankees' Class AAA affiliate, serving mainly as a right fielder and DH. His teammate, Austin Jackson, 22, was named the league's Rookie of the Year.

    First baseman Juan Miranda, another player with the Yankees at Class AAA, finished the season with 19 homers, 82 RBIs and an .866 OPS.

    Miranda, 26, is stuck behind Mark Teixeira with the Yankees. One executive thinks he would have been a better acquisition for the Giants than Ryan Garko.

    — Ken Rosenthal

  • Chris Coghlan, National League Rookie of the Year. Who? What? Coghlan, the Marlins' left fielder, isn't as well-known a rookie as Phillies left-hander J.A. Happ or Braves righty Tommy Hanson, but he should be. In August, he became only the second National League rookie in the last 60 years to produce 47 or more hits in a month; Wally Moon had 52 in July 1954. For all the talk about American League Most Valuable Player, the races for the two rookie awards are far more competitive, featuring numerous candidates in each league. Coghlan, 24, is third in the N.L. in batting with a .376 average since the All-Star break. He has a higher on-base/slugging percentage than Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen and Rockies center fielder Dexter Fowler, the latter of whom has not played since Aug. 24 because of a bruised right knee. Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee is closer to Coghlan in OPS but has nearly 150 fewer plate appearances. Among pitchers, Happ rates the edge over Hanson and Cubs righty Randy Wells — he is 10-4 with a 2.77 ERA, while Hanson is 9-3 with a 3.02 ERA and Wells 10-8 with a 2.84 ERA. Happ also had pitched more innings than both before missing his start Monday with a strained side muscle — 56 more innings than Hanson. The question then becomes, pitcher or position player? Well, a position player contributes every day, and the Marlins became a better team after Coghlan took over in the leadoff spot on May 30, working counts, getting on base. Advanced defensive metrics indicate that Coghlan is below-average in left. However, he has made steady improvement after playing the position only once in the minors. The Marlins no longer are certain they will move him back to the infield at second or third next season. One thing seems clear: The emergences of Coghlan and infielder Emilio Bonifacio have put the Marlins in better position to trade second baseman Dan Uggla and outfielder Jeremy Hermida this offseason. Bonifacio has not proven he is a long-term answer; his OPS is the second-lowest in the NL. Still, he could end up at second next season with Coghlan moving to third. Or, Coghlan could stay in left, with Cameron Maybin playing center and Cody Ross right.

    And in the American League ...

    The AL rookie class is so good, two of the preseason favorites — Rays left-hander David Price and Orioles catcher Matt Wieters — are not even the top candidates on their own teams. Rays right-hander Jeff Niemann, who is 12-5 with a 3.67 ERA, can mount an even stronger case than Tigers righty Rick Porcello, who is 12-8 with a 4.18 ERA. Orioles left fielder Nolan Reimold, meanwhile, leads all AL rookies in home runs, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Yet, neither Niemann nor Reimold is necessarily the favorite for the award. White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was talking up third baseman Gordon Beckham over the weekend. A's closer Andrew Bailey is 23-for-27 in save chances with a 2.06 ERA. But I remain partial to my preseason choice, Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus, in part because it might be the only prediction I got right. Andrus, who turned 21 on Aug. 26, does not hit like Beckham, but his .338 on-base percentage at age 21 certainly is presentable and he has stolen 24 bases in 28 attempts. He also is the only AL position-player candidate who has been with his team the entire season. His candidacy, though, is driven by his defense. Andrus ranks third in the majors at shortstop in ultimate zone rating, yet his impact goes beyond any statistical measure. His arrival helped transform the Rangers into a pitching-and-defense team. The Rangers last season ranked 29th in the majors in defensive efficiency, a statistic that measures the percentage of balls in play that are converted into outs. This season they rank fifth.

    AL MVP: Don't forget Youk

    Twins catcher Joe Mauer is the favorite for American League MVP and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter a strong contender, but the Red Sox's Kevin Youkilis is a better candidate than several first basemen drawing more prominent mention — the Yankees' Mark Teixeira, Angels' Kendry Morales and Tigers' Miguel Cabrera. Youkilis owns the highest OPS of the group, and is second only to Mauer in the AL in that category. He is the major leagues' highest-ranked defender at first, according to the plus-minus ratings at Bill James Online. And he offers unmatched versatility, making 43 starts at third this season and even two in left field, though that experiment did not go well. Youkilis finished third in the MVP balloting last season behind Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia and Twins first baseman Justin Morneau. Another top-five finish seems likely.

    All Hale in D.C.?

    Diamondbacks third base coach Chip Hale could emerge as a top managerial candidate for the Nationals, according to major-league sources. Hale managed in the D-Backs' farm system when Nationals general Mike Rizzo was the team's scouting director. The D-Backs bypassed Hale when they promoted farm director A.J. Hinch to replace manager Bob Melvin on May 8. Melvin could be another candidate in D.C., sources say. The Nationals also have kicked around the idea of hiring Bobby Valentine, who would give the team an instant identity. Interim manager Jim Riggleman also will receive consideration. Nationals team president Stan Kasten praised Riggleman during a recent interview with FOXSports.com's Jon Paul Morosi but did not indicate that he had an edge on other candidates for the permanent job. "We'll sit down when the season's over and look at the best long-term interest of the franchise," Kasten said. "But we couldn't be happier with the job he's done up to now."

    The White Sox: What went wrong?

    Left-hander Clayton Richard was on a roll when the White Sox included him in a four-player package for right-hander Jake Peavy on July 31. The loss of Richard, however, was not one of the main reasons for the Sox's demise in August. Richard, 4-2 with a 5.40 ERA for the Padres, has produced only two quality starts out of eight. Right-hander Freddy Garcia, meanwhile, has given the White Sox three straight quality starts in Richard's spot. One scout who saw Garcia beat the Red Sox on Friday night was unimpressed by the pitcher's stuff. But if Garcia keeps getting results, the White Sox likely will exercise his option for next season — a $1 million base salary, plus $2 million in incentives. In any case, the bigger issue for the White Sox in August was their offense, which ranked only 11th in the American League in runs per game, and their bullpen, which was 4-5 with a 4.02 ERA. "That's the great mystery as far as I'm concerned," GM Ken Williams says. "That's the last thing I was worried about. Then we went out and got (Tony) Pena, and I said, 'I'm not going to worry about that anymore.'"

    Pirates' Duke, Maholm could be keepers

    Some rival executives believe that the logical next step for the Pirates this offseason would be to trade either left-hander Paul Maholm or Zack Duke — or even both. Not so fast. Maholm is under control through 2012 at affordable salaries, while Duke will receive increases from his current salary of $2.2 million in his remaining two years of arbitration. The only way the Pirates would trade either, according to a source with knowledge of the team's thinking, is if they received a younger major-league ready starter of similar quality, plus another piece. The Pirates have lost 29 of their last 40 games, own the second-worst record in the N.L. and have clinched their 17th straight losing season, the longest streak for any team in the four major North American team sports. Still, club officials are not ready to concede 2010, much less 2011. Maholm's 4.72 ERA is more than a run per game higher than it was last season, but he, Duke and right-hander Ross Ohlendorf give the Pirates a reasonable chance to compete in most of the games they pitch. As one team executive says, "It is time to start moving forward."

    Papelbon going nowhere

    There has been speculation that the Red Sox would trade closer Jonathan Papelbon and retain left-hander Billy Wagner as a one-year bridge to right-hander Daniel Bard in the closer's role, but one team official describes the scenario as "pretty unrealistic." True, Papelbon is eligible for free agency after the 2011 season, and his salary will jump from its current $6.25 million in his final two years of arbitration if he does not agree to a long-term deal. Still, the Red Sox's goal every year is to win the World Series, and Papelbon has a 0.00 career ERA in 25 postseason innings. Papelbon also has diminished early concerns that he was slipping. Since July 29, he is 9-for-9 in save opportunities with a 1.08 ERA in 16 2/3 innings, 23 strikeouts and four walks.
    Tagged: Orioles, Red Sox, Angels, White Sox, Tigers, Brewers, Twins, Yankees, Athletics, Rangers, Braves, Dodgers, Nationals, Phillies, Pirates, Cardinals, Padres, Giants, Rockies, Marlins, Rays, Derek Jeter, Freddy Garcia, Scott Podsednik, Mark Kotsay, Jake Peavy, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, Joe Mauer, Huston Street, Kendrys Morales, Jeremy Hermida, Cody Ross, Skip Schumaker, Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Paul Maholm, Cameron Maybin, Dan Uggla, Juan Miranda, Jeff Niemann, Ross Ohlendorf, Andrew McCutchen, Franklin Morales, J.A. Happ, Shelley Duncan, Emilio Bonifacio, Nolan Reimold, David Price, Clayton Richard, Casey McGehee, Matt Wieters, Elvis Andrus, Austin Jackson, Rick Porcello, Gordon Beckham, Andrew Bailey, Chris Coghlan, Daniel Bard

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