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Sunday Afternoon Fantasy Baseball Thoughts

Got a late start today, so here are a few things I came across this afternoon:

From ESPN's Buster Olney in his Sunday morning blog:

Also from Elias: Verlander becomes just the fifth pitcher in the past 20 seasons to win 20 games before the first of September. And with the exception of Schilling, each of the other pitchers on this list went on to win their league's Cy Young Award.

Verlander is now 20-5 after winning yesterday, with a 2.38 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 3.02 xFIP, 0.90 WHIP, 4.54 K/BB rate, and a 26.3% K% which is 3rd in MLB behind Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw and Blue Jays starter Brandon Morrow. I think he wins the AL Cy Young award hands down.

More baseball thoughts after the jump:

I wrote yesterday that I think the Dodgers should deal Andre Ethier this offseason, and today we get this from T.J. Simers from the LA Times:

He was an All-Star, but since the break he's hitting .224 with seven runs batted in. His last home run came on July 25.

Ask Ethier if he should still be playing on a right knee that will require off-season surgery, and he says, "If you're expecting me to do what I've done in the past, no, there's no possible way I can do that right now. You can say tough it out and give it your best shot, but it's not going to happen.

"It's only going to get worse from this point. I've dealt with it all season long, but as the season goes on my body wears down. That's just the way it is — I keep getting put in the lineup, so what am I supposed to do?"

Worse yet, and can it get any more around here, why would the team's general manager even hint at the possibility that Ethier might be faking an injury?

"What am I supposed to be concerned about?" General Manager Ned Colletti says. "That he has those numbers [since the All-Star break], that he's hurt or contends he's hurt?"

Ethier was vocal back in spring training saying he is not sure if he will be in LA in 2012, saying he could be non-tendered. I think he said that after the team non-tendered catcher Russell Martin in the offseason. I doubt Ethier would be non-tendered, but to hear Colletti question how injured Ethier is is interesting. It appears Colletti may be thinking about dealing him as well. I think a deal to the Braves makes a lot of sense, maybe for one of their young pitching prospects.

More from Olney:

 This story will get some notice in rival front offices: The Royals are willing to deal prospects for starting pitching, Bob Dutton writes. They would appear to be a good match, on paper, with the Mariners, Braves, Diamondbacks and a few other teams. For example: The Braves could be looking for a long-term solution at third base, knowing that Chipper Jones is nearing the end of his career -- Kansas City has Mike Moustakas and Atlanta has a nice core of pitching prospects.

Wow. Are the Royals that close to being in contention? They are currently in last place in the NL Central, 19 games out of 1st place. I guess GM Dayton Moore saw division rival Indians trade two of their top prospects for Ubaldo Jimenez and thinks he has more than enough prospects to make a similar deal. Here are quotes from Moore from today's Kansas City Star:

"We’ll be aggressive in trades," Moore said. "We’ll try to make a trade or two that helps us. We have to look internally first, but then we have to look at trades. Then, finally, we have to look at free agency. We’ll explore all of those options."

The Royals, even after calling up several of their top prospects this season, still have Mike Montgomery, Jake Odorizzi, Chris Dwyer and Wil Myers in the farm system. There will be plenty of teams who will have interest in several of these guys.

With Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, possibly CC Sabathia entering free agency this offseason, the Royals are going to be very involved in the offseason trade rumors for the first time in quite awhile.

After reading this, I might be on board with predicting a solid bounce back year from Twins catcher Joe Mauer in 2012:

After speaking with the training staff, Mauer is making arrangements to upgrade his offseason conditioning program. The offseason is the best time for players to add strength, and Mauer wants to enter 2012 spring training in the best shape possible.

"The biggest thing is having a regular offseason," Mauer said. "This year has been pretty tough for me, probably the toughest season I've been through, physically. Last year wasn't easy either. I had that heel injury and things kind if trickled down from that.

Mauer had offseason knee surgery, and assorted injuries this season, leading to him underperforming expectations in 2011. I still won't rank him in my top 3 catchers for 2012,  but possibly in my top 5.