Braun didn’t win the Hank Aaron Award

October 28, 2012

> Notice how I didn’t title this article, “Buster Posey wins the Hank Aaron Award.”

The Hank Aaron Award is defined as “the most outstanding offensive performer in each league.” In the American League, the award went to Miguel Cabrera, and rightfully so. In the National League, it should have definitely gone to Ryan Braun, right?

Nope. As he probably will with the NL MVP, Posey somehow won this award. But it’s a different case for this award than the MVP.

If Posey wins the MVP award, I won’t be as mad because Posey’s Giants contended all year (and won the NL West), while Braun’s Brewers could only muster up a hot streak during the final weeks of the season, and only came as close to the playoffs as two games behind the second Wild Card spot. That’s just the way the MVP voting works, and we’ve all become used to it.

But the Hank Aaron Award should be- and, as shown by the winners in recent years, is- different than the MVP award. It doesn’t matter whether or not the winner’s team contended- after all, Matt Kemp won it last year.

Overall, Posey definitely did not have a better offensive year than Braun, and there really isn’t a legitimate argument for it. The only major offensive category that Posey had Braun beaten in was batting average- Posey won the batting title (.336) and Braun came in third in the race (.319). Other than that, though, Braun had him beat by plenty in many other stats. Braun had nearly 20 more home runs than Posey (41 to 24), had more RBIs (112 to 103), more hits (191 to 178), and a higher slugging percentage (.595 to .549).

I don’t know about you, but looking at those stats, there’s a clear-cut winner of this award- and it isn’t Posey.

Perhaps it’s the “roid factor,” something we may have to live with for the rest of Braun’s career. I didn’t think it would come into play for an award like this, but I suppose it’s going to affect Braun’s chances at every award for as long as he plays.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> The Giants now have a stranglehold over the Tigers in the World Series, taking a 3-0 lead with their 2-0 win tonight. Ryan Vogelsong continued his postseason dominance with 5 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, and the only two runs he needed were on RBI hits from Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford in the second inning.

That two-run second inning was the only flaw in a stellar outing from Anibal Sanchez, who went seven innings while striking out eight.

THE NEWS

> Following the play in which Doug Fister got hit in the side of the head with a line drive the other night, MLB is now seriously considering a helmet-type guard for pitchers. This was probably already being talked about after the Brandon McCarthy scare in September, but this fiasco likely accelerated the talks.

Anyway, the helmets wouldn’t reach the big leagues right away. If they do come into play, they would first be tested in the minors.

> Minor moves:

Blue Jays: Outrighted Tyson Brummett to Triple-A.

THE EXTRAS

> Oh, FOX…

> Cabrera was literally given a crown for winning the first Triple Crown since 1967.


Brewers could make a serious run at Hamilton

October 26, 2012

> I’m not going to get my hopes up, but it would be amazing if the Brewers actually pulled this off.

A few weeks ago, Buster Olney suggested that the Brewers could be a good home for Josh Hamilton, who will probably one of the most coveted free agent sluggers this offseason. The immediate reaction by most to Olney’s statement was that Hamilton would be to the Brewers this offseason what Jose Reyes was last offseason- he makes sense logically, but perhaps not financially. I agreed with that at the time (but I’ve been clinging to hope that we can bring him in somehow).

Today, though, Jon Heyman wrote that sources “familiar with the Brewers’ thinking” believe that the Brewers are going to make a serious run at Hamilton. Heyman cited a few good reasons for this: first and foremost, the Johnny Narron factor. Narron, currently one of the Brewers’ co-hitting coaches, was Hamilton’s “life coach,” so to speak, in Cincinatti and Texas (if you didn’t know, Hamilton used to have serious alcohol problems). If Hamilton gives the Brewers any discount, it’ll be because of that.

But another factor I didn’t consider a few weeks ago was that the big spenders- the Yankees, Red Sox, and Dodgers- are more than likely to stay away from Hamilton, all for their own reasons. The Rangers, his current team, are hinting that they won’t try and retain him. That leaves the door wide open for the Brewers.

And I get the feeling Doug Melvin might pull it off. Though he couldn’t net Reyes last offseason, people seem to forget he brought in an even more valuable piece- Aramis Ramirez- and he put up an MVP-caliber season. Melvin took a gamble with Norichika Aoki, and he had a sensational rookie season.

Again, I don’t want to get my hopes up, but- as Heyman states at the end of his article- the Brewers have a better chance than people think.

POSTSEASON COVERAGE

> The Giants took a 2-0 advantage over the Tigers in the World Series tonight, also winning their game 2-0. The Tigers managed just two hits in the shutout, and cost themselves a run early on (none other than) Prince Fielder’s baserunning blunder.

Madison Bumgarner and Doug Fister were both stellar, but Drew Smyly let in Fister’s inherited runner in the seventh inning, handing him the loss.

THE NEWS

> I haven’t talked much about the Brewers minor leaguers who are participating in the Arizona Fall League, but it’s worth noting that Brock Kjeldgaard, Josh Prince, and few other guys have been able to make names for themselves down in Arizona.

> Minor moves:

Pirates: Claimed Chad Beck off waivers from the Blue Jays; claimed Ali Solis off waivers from the Padres.
Mets: Claimed Anthony Recker off waivers from the Cubs.
Padres: Outrighted Thad Weber to Triple-A.
Cubs: Outrighted Adrian Cardenas, Jason Berken, Miguel Socolovich, and Marcos Mateo to Triple-A.
Diamondbacks: Outrighted Jonathan Albaladejo, Tyler Graham, Mike Jacobs, Joe Martinez, and ex-Brewer Cody Ransom to Triple-A.
Mariners: Outrighted Luis Jimenez to Triple-A.

THE EXTRAS

> This was sort of a cool way for the Brewers to thank their fans.


Why Verlander deserved his MVP award

November 22, 2011

> The AL MVP was handed out today, and, as I predicted, Justin Verlander won.

> But, there are a lot of people out there who think Verlander shouldn’t have won- because he’s a pitcher. Sure, the Cy Young Award is there for the best overall pitcher in each league. And they don’t need to play for a contending team. Felix Hernandez (Mariners) and Zack Greinke (while he was on the Royals) are the two most recent pitchers to take home the Cy Young Award while sulking on last place teams.

>  A lot of people are going to disagree with this, but I think the MVP should play for a contending team. If the player couldn’t get his team into the playoffs, then was he truly that valuable?

> Anyway, regardless of my policy on the MVP, Verlander deserved the award. Let’s start with the numbers- he went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts, becoming the 11th AL pitcher in history to win the pitching Triple Crown. I know some are saying, “What’s so special about a 2.40 ERA?”  I guess there isn’t much. There were two pitchers with ERAs lower than 2.40, both in the NL- Clayton Kershaw (2.28), who won the NL Cy Young, and Roy Halladay (2.35). Verlander’s 2.40 ERA did lead the AL, however. And, he threw 250 innings and had a .920 WHIP, both of which also led the AL.

> And was there anyone more valuable to their team than Verlander? Try imagining the Tigers without Verlander and his 24 wins. Their rotation would look somewhat like this: Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Brad Penny, Phil Coke, and who knows who the fifth would have been. (I didn’t put Doug Fister in there because, with that rotation, the Tigers wouldn’t have been contending at the Trade Deadline, hence not being buyers and probably not acquiring Fister.) As I said, the Tigers wouldn’t have been contenders- maybe not even a .500 team.

> Anyhow, this is just my theory that I’ve believed in for awhile now. I can see why some disagree with it, but again- it’s my opinion; you don’t have to agree with it if you don’t want to.

> There was no Brewers news again today. Hopefully, there will be news tomorrow about Ryan Braun winning the NL MVP…

> Greg Halman has been on my mind all day, and if you know what happened to him, he’s probably been on yours as well.

Halman, who had been an outfielder for the Mariners, was stabbed to death early this morning in his native country, the Netherlands.

Sometimes, I don’t understand why our world is like this.

Halman, who was just 24 years old, had played seven Minor League seasons with the Mariners, being drafted when he was 16. This past season, he played in 33 Major League games with the Mariners, and probably had a shot at being a full-time outfielder with them next year. In fact, he was in the Netherlands preparing for that possibility.

But no. Everything- everything he worked for, everything he dreamed of- was taken away from him in an instant, because of the blade of a knife.

> This has been a scary offseason so far. First, Nationals catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped in his native Venezuela, but was rescued. Now, this. I hope nothing else like this happens for the rest of the offseason; I’ve had enough already.

But, this is my message to Major League players- don’t return to your native country. According to the events early this offseason, it can only bring bad things.

> The Rangers signed Joe Nathan to a two-year deal today. They’ve announced that they’re moving Neftali Feliz to the rotation, so this probably means that either Nathan or Mike Adams will be their new closer. But I don’t know about this- it appears Nathan is past his prime.

> The Pirates officially announced today that they signed shortstop Clint Barmes to a two-year deal. This makes the Brewers out of the running for the above-average defensive shortstop.

> Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Feel free to leave comments, if you’ve got them.


Verlander wins AL CYA; Brewers make a few announcement

November 16, 2011

> Today was actually a somewhat busy day for the Brewers, probably their busiest since the 2011 Hot Stove started. They made a few announcements concerning their free agents. But, before I get to all that…

> Justin Verlander won the AL Cy Young Award. Although that was probably clarified a few months ago, it was made official today.

Verlander was pretty much guaranteed the award after winning the AL Triple Crown by leading the league in wins (24), ERA (2.40), and strikeouts (250). A few more of his amazing stats were 251 innings pitched (excluding the postseason), a 0.92 WHIP, and an opponent’s batting average of .192.  His overall numbers were 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA as the ace of the Tigers’ pitching staff that would have been absolutely nothing without him.

Verlander also threw a no-hitter against the Blue Jays in May. It was the second of his career, the first coming against the Brewers back in 2007.

Anyway, Jered Weaver, James Shields, and CC Sabathia came in second, third, and fourth in the voting, respectively.

> Now, onto the Brewers’ announcements.

> Mark Kotsay has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Padres, meaning he definitely won’t be coming back to the Brewers. The deal will be worth $1.25 million.

In 2011 with the Brewers, Kotsay hit .270 with three home runs and 31 RBIs in 104 games. While those numbers aren’t bad for a player off the bench, Kotsay made multiple defensive miscues, and most of them ended up costing the Brewers (especially in the games he started in the NLCS). In my opinion, Kotsay should probably be a DH for an AL club, but the Padres need all the offense they can get…

> Doug Melvin was named co-executive of the year today, winning it with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski. Melvin was expected to compete with Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers for the title, as both completely revamped their respective teams, and ended up facing off in the NLDS this year. But, Melvin bringing in starters Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to turn the starting rotation into a strength probably won it for him. Not to mention his Trade Deadline acquisitions of Francisco Rodriguez and Jerry Hairston Jr.

Dombrowski, meanwhile, probably won it because of his Trade Deadline trade for starter Doug Fister. Verlander and Fister combined for a tough 1-2 punch in the Tigers’ rotation.

> Craig Counsell won’t be returning to the Brewers in 2012, Melvin announced today. He’s been a fan favorite for a long time in Milwaukee, and also lives just north of Milwaukee in Whitefish Bay. But, he’s now 41, and is coming off a season in which he hit just .178 off the bench, and was mired in an 0-for-45 streak to tie a Major League record for the longest stretch without a hit. He hasn’t decided whether or not he’s going to retire, though.

> The Brewers’ interest in free agent shortstop Clint Barmes apparently heated back up today. Since it appears that Jose Reyes is going to sign with the Marlins, it’s probably better that they’re interested in Barmes.

Barmes hit .244 with 12 home runs in 2011 with the Astros, but is one of the better defensive shortstops in the NL (especially better than Yuniesky Betancourt). The Astros have shown interest in re-signing Barmes, but their financial situation probably won’t allow it.

> Lastly, Melvin and Scott Boras, Prince Fielder’s agent, talked to each other today, and apparently Boras brought up the importance of the 1-2 punch of Ryan Braun and Fielder. He also said that he wants the Brewers to be involved in the bidding for Fielder. I don’t know what to make of this yet, but hopefully it means Boras is becoming a little more considerate.

> Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Feel free to leave thoughts, if you have any.


A few predictions for the MLB awards…

November 6, 2011

> It’s been an extremely slow day for me in nearly every aspect. Close to no new baseball news, BreakingWI not getting any views (but I’m pretty used to that by now), and just not much to do. This is why I hate when baseball season ends.

> Anyhow, before I get into my main topic, here’s the Hot Stove news from this slow day:

> It appears Dan Duquette is close to becoming the Orioles’ GM. I talked last night about how it seemed like nobody wanted to fill the O’s GM vacancy, but, sure enough, someone takes it after I say that.

Anyway, Duquette has prior experience as a general manager with the Expos (1991-1994) and the Red Sox (1994-2002). Apparently he’s known for attracting fans to both of those teams during his time with them, but I don’t know how that will translate in Baltimore, who haven’t experienced as much as a winning season since 1997.

But I would like to see someone get that team turned around sometime in the near future. I, along with every other true baseball fan, am sick of the Sox and Yankees dominating the AL East due to high payrolls. But that’s what the Rays are there for, I guess…

> The Cubs managerial search is starting with Pete Mackanin, who has already met with the Red Sox as well. Mackanin serving as the Phillies hitting coach right now, but sounds open to leave for a managerial job. Anyway, the Cubs are also going to talk to Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux- the Brewers’ old pitching coach.

So that’s really all the Hot Stove news for the day. As I said earlier, it’s been a slow and rather boring day…

> Because I really have nothing else to write about, I’ve decided to show you guys my predictions for who’s going to win each award, and the reason why I want them to win. So, I’ll start with the MVPs from each league.

NL MVP: Ryan Braun, Brewers

That’s a given. If you’re a Brewers fan, odds are you want Braun or Prince Fielder to win. And either of them would be deserving- Braun hit .332 with 33 home runs and 111 RBIs, while Fielder hit .299 with 38 homers and 120 RBIs. But, if I had to choose between these two, I’d go with Braun, just because he’s the overall better player. Braun is a true five-tool player- he can hit for average and power, he’s fast, he can play defense (most of the time), and has a great arm. Oh, and he had a 30/30 season. Fielder, on the other hand, is what I would call a one-tool player- he hits for power, and that’s about it. He looked like an idiot defensively this year, can’t run, and, despite the fact he hit .299, he doesn’t normally hit for that high of an average. So, say what you like, but I think Braun is better, and I’m glad we have him signed through 2020 instead of Fielder (if I had to choose between which one I wanted signed that long).

I know there are people out there who want Matt Kemp of the Dodgers to win. And that’s a legitimate argument- he hit .324 with 39 homers and 41 steals, one homer away from the near-impossible 40/40 season. But, he plays for the Dodgers, which is going to not help him in the voting.

Anyway, that’s why Braun is my choice. Aside from Fielder and Kemp, his other competition is going to be Justin Upton of the Diamondbacks, but there’s nearly no chance of him winning.

AL MVP: Justin Verlander, Tigers

Yes- I’m choosing a pitcher as the MVP. But, so are many others, and it’s tough to argue with. Verlander had a career year, going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA. He also had 250 strikeouts, which won him the AL Triple Crown (an award given for leading the league in wins, ERA, and strikeouts).

Another reason Verlander is a legitimate choice for MVP is that the Tigers would have been nowhere without him, and I mean nowhere. Try imagining their rotation without Verlander- Max Scherzer, Rick Porcello, Brad Penny, and Phil Coke. I didn’t even put Doug Fister in there because, with that rotation, they wouldn’t have even been in contention at the Trade Deadline, and wouldn’t have acquired him.

A few other contenders for the MVP in the AL are Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox), Miguel Cabrera (Tigers), Curtis Granderson (Yankees), and Jose Bautista (Blue Jays). All of those guys had great seasons, but did any of them help their team as much as Verlander helped the Tigers?

NL Cy Young Award: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

Like Verlander in the AL, Kershaw won the NL Triple Crown, as he went 21-5 with a 2.28 ERA, along with 248 strikeouts. If you think that’s remarkable, add this to those stats- he’s only 23 years old.

And, he played for the Dodgers, who, other than Kemp, give close to no run support, so getting 21 wins with a team like that isn’t easy. But he was just one of those guys who, also like Verlander, appeared to be an automatic win every time he took the mound.

Some other competition for the NL CYA are Ian Kennedy (Diamondbacks), Roy Halladay (Phillies), and Cliff Lee (Phillies).

AL Cy Young Award: Verlander

I already explained what I could about Verlander in the AL MVP section, and winning the MVP as a pitcher pretty much locks up winning the CYA as well.

Jered Weaver (Angels), CC Sabathia (Yankees), C.J. Wilson (Rangers), and Ricky Romero (Blue Jays) are, in my opinion, Verlander’s best competition for the CYA.

NL Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel, Braves

Kimbrel had a remarkable season in his first full year in the Majors, and had big shoes to fill, future Hall of Famer closer (at least in my opinion) Billy Wagner had just retired. But, Kimbrel put those expectation aside and broke the rookie saves record with 46. Yes, Neftali Feliz held it for all of one year.

Anyway, despite the fact he technically ended up costing the Braves their playoff chances, he still had a great season.

A few other good rookies in the NL were Freddie Freeman (Braves) and Josh Collmenter (Diamondbacks).

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson, Rays

While Hellickson didn’t get much run support, as his 13-10 record shows, he still put up a 2.95 ERA and 189 innings pitched, both of which led rookie starting pitchers in the MLB. Not to mention he pitches in the AL East, arguably the toughest division to pitch in, and to put up those numbers as a rookie in that division is incredible.

Michael Pineda (Mariners), Eric Hosmer (Royals), and Mark Trumbo (Angels) are probably the best competition for the AL ROY.

NL Manager of the Year: Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks

In his first full season as D-backs manager, Gibson completely turned this team around from an awful 2010 season in which his team won only 67 games. After a slow start, the stayed hot the rest of the season and beat out the 2010 World Champion Giants for the NL West division title. Of course, they would lose to the Brewers in the NLDS, but the fact that the even made the postseason this year was remarkable.

Ron Roenicke (Brewers) and Tony La Russa (Cardinals) both probably have a better chance at winning than Gibson, but I still think Gibson is deserving.

AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, Rays

With a week left in the season, it didn’t look like the Rays would be going to the postseason. But, Maddon, who is arguably the most motivational manager out there, kept driving his team on, and the eventually passed the Red Sox for a playoff berth on the last day of the season.

Other candidates in the AL include Ron Washington (Rangers) and Jim Leyland (Tigers).

> Anyway, those are all of my predictions. Feel free to leave a comment saying if you agree or disagree with them (or you can post your own). These are purely from my opinion, and I don’t expect a couple of them to win. But I think they’re all deserving.


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