Roy Halladay wins NL Cy Young Award

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Roy Halladay delivers a pitch to the Cincinnatiti Reds during the third inning in Game 1 of the MLB National League Division Series baseball playoffs in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 6, 2010. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

After cruising through his first season in the National League, Roy Halladay was given the 2010 National League Cy Young Award.

Halladay was the unanimous choice after posting a 21-10 record with a 2.44 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP over 33 starts. He also struck out 219 batters while walking only 30, and finished with two no-hitters (one of which came in his first ever postseason appearance).

Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals finished second in the voting and the Rockies’ Ubaldo Jimenz finished third despite being the unanimous choice early in the year. Tim Lincecum, who won the past two NL Cy Young awards, finished 11th despite beating Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Derek Lowe and Cliff Lee (twice) in the postseason.

While Cardinal fans are still crying about how Wainwright didn’t win the award in 2009, they have nothing to say this year. Halladay was the clear-cut choice while receiving all 32 first-place votes. The award caps off an amazing year.

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Breaking down the 2010 National League Wild Card race

St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols receives high fives in the dugout after hitting his second two run home run of the night in the fifth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on June 29, 2010. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

Before their sweep of the Braves this week, I would have said that the National League Wild Card is a three-team race. But now that the Rockies are putting together a very Rockie-like charge, this is definitely now a four-horse competition in the NL.

Let’s break down the contenders and make a prediction.

(Side Note: I’m fully aware that the Phillies and Cardinals still have a great chance of catching the Braves and Reds in their respective divisions, but I’m going by the standings as of Thursday, August 26. In a couple of weeks, I’ll update this list so for now, let’s just call this Version 1.0.)

Philadelphia Phillies
Games Remaining: 36
Games Back: 0
What I Like About Their Chances: I like the Phillies because quite frankly, they’ve been here before. They know what it takes to play good baseball in the month of September and their roster is chockfull of veteran players. Even though they haven’t shown it of late, the Phils also still have the best lineup 1-8 of any of the four Wild Card contenders and a three-headed monster in Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt (who has been outstanding in the month of August) and Cole Hamels. This is, by far, the most talented team of the four listed…

What I Don’t Like: …that said, this club isn’t playing very good baseball right now. In their last seven games, they’ve won only two and they were just swept at home by the Astros. Also, despite all of their offensive firepower, they’ve managed to score just 16 runs in those seven outings. They also have six more games against the Braves, who they are just 5-7 against this season. This is a club that seemingly can’t put it all together this season and you just get the sense that something’s missing.

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Cardinals in the hunt for Oswalt, but will they take on his salary?

June 10, 2010 - Denver, Colorado, U.S. - MLB Baseball - Houston Astros pitcher ROY OSWALT throws during a 5-4 win over the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.

One day after reports surfaced that the Phillies were on the verge of acquiring Roy Oswalt via a trade, Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports hears that the Cardinals are now the front-runners for the Astros’ ace.

In fact, the Astros have been talking with Cardinals GM John Mozeliak for several days now, and Oswalt is quite amenable to go to St. Louis if the teams can agree on what players will head back to Houston. For their part, the Cardinals are convinced that matching Roy Oswalt up with Dave Duncan would take a guy who is already an ace and turn him back into the Cy Young candidate he was a few years ago. I’ll stop believing stuff like that when Dave Duncan actually fails for once. Which I wouldn’t bet on, frankly.

Of course, the big issue everyone has been talking about today has been Oswalt’s desire that his 2012 option be picked up. That’s $16 million, and that ain’t hay. My source tells me, however, that Oswalt would be willing to work with the Cardinals to make the option more palatable, possibly in terms of deferring some money. The sides aren’t quite that far yet.

The other issue is that the Cardinals’ farm system is tapped out, outside of top prospect Shelby Miller, who was the club’s first round pick in 2009.

Would St. Louis be willing to give up Miller and take on Oswalt’s salary? That’s a reach, especially considering Oswalt and Albert Pujols are each due to make $16 million in 2011, Matt Holliday is set to make $17 million, Chris Carpenter $15 million, Adam Wainwright $6.5 million and Kyle Lohse $11.9 million. That’s a lot of dough for six players and that doesn’t even include Ryan Ludwick, who is due a raise soon.

Speaking purely from a baseball standpoint, Oswalt makes every bit of sense for the Cardinals. But it’s a whole other story from a financial perspective.

Brian McCann helps the National League finally end 13 years of misery

National League All-Star catcher Brian McCann (L) of the Atlanta Braves celebrates with relief pitcher Jonathan Broxton of the Los Angeles Dodgers after the National League won Major League Baseball's All-Star Game in Anaheim, California July 13, 2010. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

Down 1-0 heading into the seventh inning, you got the sense of “here we go again” for the National League in the All-Star Game. The pitching was excellent (the one run that the AL scored was unearned), but nobody was hitting and it appeared that the NL was destined to spend the rest of its existence in All-Star Game hell.

Then Braves’ catcher Brian McCann came to the plate with bases loaded and promptly unloaded them with a double to give the NL a 3-1 lead. The Cardinals’ Adam Wainwright, the Giants’ Brian Wilson and the Dodgers’ Jonathan Broxton followed with scoreless innings in the seventh, eighth and ninth to give the NL its first ASG victory in 13 years.

The pitching in most All-Star Games is usually good, but the NL’s staff was excellent on Tuesday night. They allowed just six hits and one earned run, while walking three batters and striking out eight. Roy Halladay had the most trouble in his 0.2 innings of work by allowing two hits, although neither run crossed home plate.

The pitching for the AL was also solid outside of the Yankees’ Phil Hughes, who had decent stuff but was smacked around in the fatal seventh inning. In just 0.1 innings of work, he gave up two runs on two hits, including McCann’s double.

Also noteworthy was how base running came into play late in the game for both sides. Down 1-0 in the seventh, Scott Rolen (who had reached on a single) took second and third on only a single by the Cardinals Matt Holliday because he read the ball off the bat perfectly. While he eventually scored on McCann’s double, Rolen’s savvy base running play was potentially huge because it put a runner at third with less then two outs and the NL down by one run.

On the flip side, the AL was threatening in the bottom of the ninth when David Ortiz singled to right to start the inning and John Buck hit what looked to be another single two batters later. But Ortiz didn’t read the play well enough and while the ball dropped in front of outfielder Marlon Byrd, he still had enough time to pick it up and make a good throw to second to nail Ortiz for the force out.

While it was a tough play for Ortiz to read, the gaff killed any momentum that the AL had built in the ninth and Broxton was able to retire Ian Kinsler to give the NL its first victory in over a decade.

2010 MLB Preview: NL Central

In order to help get you ready for the MLB season, we’re doing division-by-division rankings with quick overviews on how each club could fair in 2010. Next to each team, you’ll also find a corresponding number written in parenthesis, which indicates where we believe that club falls in a league-wide power ranking. Be sure to check back throughout the next two weeks leading up to the season, as we will be updating our content daily. Enjoy.

All 2010 MLB Preview Content | AL East Preview | AL Central Preview | AL West Preview | NL East | NL Central | NL West

Next up is the NL Central.

1. St. Louis Cardinals (4)
Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday could help the Cardinals win this division sauced out of their minds on a nightly basis. That said, would anyone really be surprised if Carpenter’s arm falls off and the starting pitching (which is among the best in the league) suffers? It’s happened before, so if you answered “yes” to the proposed question then you sir or madam, have not been paying attention. Still, the addition of Brad Penny (who pitched well in the second half last year) will strengthen the club’s starting pitching and Kyle Lohse is a fine middle of the rotation guy. Pujols and Holliday will ignite the offense again, although Colby Rasmus might be the key to whether or not this team makes a serious World Series run. Skip Schumaker is a solid table setter, but how Rasmus fairs hitting in front of Pujols and Holliday could be the difference between the Cards winning the NL Central again and playing for a championship. David Freese better produce too or else the club will regret not acquiring a veteran third baseman in the offseason. All in all, the Cardinals are the best the NL Central has to offer and should make another postseason appearance this season. But how far they go beyond that depends on whether or not Carpenter and Wainwright can continue their magic and if Pujols and Holliday receive help from the rest of the lineup.

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