Comparing the mega-teams from LA

December 17, 2012

> Following the 2011 season, Los Angeles was not in a good state as far as the sport of baseball goes. The Angels and Dodgers hadn’t reached the postseason in 2010 or 2011, posting some of their worst seasons in decades (by their standards). The Angels were struggling to find any offensive consistency to back their decent starting pitching. The Dodgers were having similar issues, but their problems extended off the field as well, as Frank McCourt left them bankrupt.

I don’t think the Dodgers were expecting to contend in 2012 (at least early on) because of where they were financially, but their one huge move was giving Matt Kemp an eight-year, $160 million deal following his MVP-caliber campaign in 2011. The Angels, however, made themselves early favorites for the World Series by signing Albert Pujols to a 10-year, $254 million deal, and C.J. Wilson to a five-year, $77.5 million deal.

Fast-forward to the 2012 offseason- following yet another season in which neither of these teams made the postseason- and a lot has changed. The Dodgers are nowhere near bankrupt; in fact, they’re the polar opposite, thanks to Magic Johnson and Co. The Angels are in the same position they were last year, but if they don’t make the postseason this time around, there’s something very wrong.

Anyway, let’s take a look at each of these teams from every angle- the lineup, the rotation, the bullpen, and so on. Both of them are considered near locks for the playoffs, but one has to be better than the other, right?

THE LINEUPS

Angels: 

1. Mike Trout, CF
2. Erick Aybar, SS
3. Albert Pujols, 1B
4. Josh Hamilton, RF
5. Mark Trumbo, LF
6. Kendrys Morales, DH
7. Howie Kendrick, 2B
8. Alberto Callaspo, 3B
9. Chris Iannetta, C

Dodgers: 

1. Mark Ellis, 2B
2. Luis Cruz, 3B
3. Matt Kemp, CF
4. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
5. Hanley Ramirez, SS
6. Andre Ethier, RF
7. Jerry Hairston Jr., LF
8. A.J. Ellis, C
9. Pitcher

OK, first off, Hairston isn’t going to start the entire season. Once Carl Crawford returns from the disabled list, he’ll take Hairston’s spot, and that’ll change the whole culture of the lineup (many project Crawford to hit second). But, until Crawford comes back- which will probably sometime in late May- that’s what I’m guessing the Dodgers’ lineup will look like.

Anyway, those are both powerhouse lineups. The each feature possibly the best 3-4-5-6 combos in their respective league in Pujols-Hamilton-Trumbo-Morales and Kemp-Gonzalez-Ramirez-Ethier. It’s hard to say which is really better than the other; both are going to be very exciting to watch. While I think the Angels’ lineup might be the more exciting with three perennial MVP candidates in Trout, Pujols, and Hamilton, I think the Dodgers have the overall better lineup. The reason I say this is because there are more experienced hitters in the Dodgers lineup, and by experienced, I mean hitters that you know what you’re going to get from them. Kemp, A-Gon, Ramirez, and Ethier aren’t necessarily “veterans” yet, but they’ve certainly been around the block a few times and have shown they can produce consistently at the big league level from year to year. The Angels definitely have that experience in Pujols and Hamilton, but they have a lot of younger, inexperienced hitters who I think we need to see more from. There’s no denying that Trout had the best offensive rookie season in quite some time, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to be susceptible to a sophomore slump. Trumbo hit over .300 for the most of the season last year, but then flamed out for the last two months and fell to a .268 average.

I think if everyone in the Angels’ lineup performs to their ability (and that includes Kendrick, who everyone thought was going to be a batting champion one day), then they’ll have the better lineup. But until that happens, I’d put my money on the Dodgers’ lineup, especially once Crawford gets back.

Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp

THE ROTATIONS

Angels: 

1. Jered Weaver
2. C.J. Wilson
3. Tommy Hanson
4. Joe Blanton
5. Garrett Richards

Dodgers

1. Clayton Kershaw
2. Zack Greinke
3. Chad Billingsley
4. Hyun-Jin Ryu
5. Josh Beckett

Coming into this offseason, both teams wanted to improve their starting rotations, and I think each did. However, I think the Angels losing Greinke really hurt them. I also wasn’t in complete agreement with them just giving up on Dan Haren and Ervin Santana; I really wonder if they’re going to get what they could have gotten from those two from Hanson and Blanton. And Richards is going to be good somewhere down the road, but I’m not so sure he’s ready for a full-time rotation spot. There are even some question marks surrounding Wilson, who had a terrible second half for the Angels in 2012. Weaver is no doubt the ace, but health is a bit of a concern with him; same goes for Hanson.

To me, the Dodgers obviously have the better rotation, even though there are a few enigmas in theirs as well. Kershaw/Greinke is one- if not the best- 1-2 punches in baseball, and they get to throw half of their games at the pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. After Kershaw and Greinke, however, there are a few questions. Billingsley can be an All-Star caliber pitcher when he’s on, but that isn’t always the case. Perhaps not having the pressure of being a #2 starter will help him. Anyway, the 4-5 spots in the Dodgers’ rotation should go to Ryu and Beckett, in my opinion. The Dodgers also have veterans Ted Lilly, Chris Capuano, and Aaron Harang, all of whom are capable of starting, but I think Ryu and Beckett will give them better results than any of the other two.

Clayton Kershaw

It’s evident that both of these teams will have to back up their rotations with those huge lineups, but I think the Dodgers are better off starter-wise.

THE ‘PENS 

(NOTE: I only put the six guys who I thought were guaranteed spots. There are probably going to be a few other long relievers in each bullpen>)

Angels: 

Ryan Madson
Ernesto Frieri
Scott Downs
Sean Burnett
Kevin Jepsen
Jerome Williams

Dodgers: 

Brandon League
Kenley Jansen
Ronald Belisario
Scott Elbert
Matt Guerrier
Javy Guerra

This is actually the one category in which I think the Angels are better off. There’s only one guy that I think the Dodgers can count on to be consistent, and that’s Jansen. The rest of the guys- including League, who they named their closer and threw $22 million at- have had up-and-down careers.

The Angels, on the other hand, have a nice mix of young flamethrowers and veteran guys who know how to pitch. I loved the Madson pick-up; I expect him to have a good year even though he missed all of 2012. Frieri can also close if need be. Then they have a great tandem of lefties in Downs and Burnett. This has the makings of a great bullpen for the Angels.

Frieri

These are both going to be very exciting teams to watch, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we saw an LA vs. LA World Series (though it never seems to work out that way). I think the Dodgers have the slight edge, but that’s not to put a damper on the team the Angels are going to field.

> The Phillies signed Mike Adams to a two-year, $12 million deal (plus a vesting option for a third year), so that puts to bed any rumors that spoke of his possible return to Milwaukee. But Doug Melvin probably wouldn’t have been willing to give him $6 million a year anyway.

> The Mets are being the Mets once again, as they have a deal in place to send the reigning NL Cy Young Award winner- R.A. Dickey- to the Blue Jays in a seven-player deal. The deal also includes Josh Thole and another prospect going to the Jays along with Dickey, while the Mets are getting back Travis d’Arnaud, Noah Syndergaard, John Buck, and a prospect.

I’m starting to wonder why the Mets gave an extension to David Wright if this is what they intended to do all along, but that’s their screwed-up organization for you. But I like the deal for the Blue Jays. They may have hurt themselves in the long run, but they’re making themselves favorites for the AL East next year. They’ve assembled a pretty nice rotation in Dickey, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, Brandon Morrow, and Ricky Romero, all of whom have been considered aces at some point in their careers.

> Minor moves: 

Phillies: Signed John Lannan to a one-year deal.
Marlins: Signed Jonathan Albaladejo and Ed Lucas to minor league deals.
Giants: Signed Javier Herrera to a minor league deal.
Twins: Signed Mike Pelfrey to a one-year deal.


Hamilton, Dempster wiped off the market

December 15, 2012

> For the second straight offseason, the Angels have picked up the best hitter on the market with a sneaky deal that no one saw coming. Following a year in which they gave Albert Pujols a 10-year, $254 million deal, they handed out another huge contract to Josh Hamilton, this one for five years and $175 million. 

If you told me you saw this coming, I’d call you a liar. Their outfield seemed set with Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, and Peter Bourjos, a young core that could last them a long time. But, much to the chagrin of their division rival Rangers, they went out and stole the best free agent on the market, and will insert Hamilton into one of those outfield slots (likely Bourjos’).

It was speculated all offseason that the Brewers had interest in Hamilton, and there were articles as recent as December 6th saying that Milwaukee would make a run at him. But, realistically, the Brewers were never going to get him, especially at his price tag.

Anyway, the Angels’ lineup now looks something like this: Trout, Erick Aybar, Pujols, Hamilton, Kendrys Morales, Trumbo, Howie Kendrick, Alberto Callaspo, and Chris Iannetta.

Looks like Los Angeles is the new New York.

Hamilton

> The Brewers’ top starting starting pitching target, Ryan Dempster, was also taken away, as the Red Sox wooed him with a two-year, $26.5 million deal. Apparently, the Brewers were willing to give Dempster two years plus an option for a third, but they didn’t come close to what Boston was offering cash-wise. Anyway, I don’t see Dempster doing well in the American League after what he did for the Rangers last year, but that was his choice.

With Dempster off the market, the likelihood of the Brewers bringing in a free agent starter this offseason decreased by a lot. The rest of the crop is either too Jeff Suppan-like or won’t fit the Brewers financial situation. The next best option after Dempster would be Edwin Jackson, but that would only happen if he would be willing to take a one-year or two-year deal. If the reports of Jackson wanting a four or five-year deal are true, then the odds of him coming to Milwaukee aren’t very good.

But, as I’ve been saying, it isn’t the end of the world if the Brewers don’t bring in a new starter for 2013. I’m completely fine with them staying in-house and using the prospects who are big league-ready. If that is the case, the ideal rotation for the Brewers would be Yovani Gallardo, Marco Estrada, Chris Narveson, Wily Peralta, and Mike Fiers. While that seems like a relatively inexperienced rotation to someone who doesn’t watch the Brewers everyday, I think the Brewers will get by, especially with the best offensive lineup in the National League backing them up.

> One more major signing: the Tigers finalized a deal with Anibal Sanchez, who nearly went to the Cubs, this morning. The Cubs reportedly had a five-year, $75 million deal in place with Sanchez as recent as last night, but the Tigers were given the opportunity to counter the offer, and wound up getting him back.

Sanchez was one of the starters who the Brewers probably wouldn’t have been able to afford, but at least it’s good that the division rival Cubs won’t get him.

> Doug Melvin basically said that he doesn’t want Shaun Marcum back.

> The Brewers have been linked to Mike Adams, one of the better relievers on the market, recently. But Tom Haudricourt considers them out of the hunt for him. Adams started his career with the Brewers, pitching for them from 2004 to 2006.

> Long-time Brewers farmhand Amaury Rivas has signed a minor league deal with the Marlins. He was always one of my favorite minor league pitchers for the Brewers, but I figured he’d be gone at some point.

> Minor moves: 

Rangers: Signed Brandon Snyder to a minor league deal; outrighted Konrad Schmidt to Triple-A.
Padres: Signed Juan Oramas, Sean O’Sullivan, Gregorio Petit, and Rene Rivera to minor league deals; acquired Chris Rearick from the Rays.
Twins: Signed ex-Brewer Brandon Boggs, Ray Olmedo, Bryan Augenstein, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Scott Earlton, Virgil Vasquez, Mike O’Connor, and Jason Lane to minor league deals.
Giants: Signed Andres Torres to a one-year deal; signed Chad Gaudin to a minor league deal.
Braves: Signed Ramiro Pena to a one-year deal.
Rockies: Signed Tommy Manzella to a minor league deal.
Mets: Re-signed Manny Acosta to a one-year deal.
Yankees: Signed Bobby Wilson and Gil Velasquez to minor league deals; designated Josh Spence for assignment.
Cardinals: Signed Alex Reyes to a minor league deal; signed Ty Wigginton to a two-year deal.
Nationals: Signed Neivy Pilier and Brian Bocock to minor league deals.
Rays: Acquired Vince Belnome from the Padres.
Phillies: Signed Andres Blanco, Josh Fields, Cesar Jimenez, Steven Lerud, Michael Martinez, Zach Miner, Jermaine Mitchell, Pete Orr, and Humberto Quintero to minor league deals; claimed Mauricio Robles off waivers from the Mariners.
Royals: Signed Xavier Nady to a minor league deal.


Results of the major awards

November 17, 2012

> Now that the week of debating over awards is over, the boring part of the offseason starts: waiting for all of the big name players to sign. But first, let’s look at the complete placing for each award (via Baseball Reference).

NL MVP:

1. Buster Posey
2. Ryan Braun
3. Andrew McCutchen
4. Yadier Molina
5. Chase Headley
6. Adam LaRoche
6. David Wright
8. Craig Kimbrel
9. Aramis Ramirez
10. Jay Bruce
11. Matt Holliday
12. Aroldis Chapman
13. Brandon Phillips
14. R.A. Dickey
14. Joey Votto
16. Ian Desmond
16. Clayton Kershaw
18. Michael Bourn
19. Allen Craig
20. Gio Gonzalez
20. Kris Medlen
20. Martin Prado
20. Alfonso Soriano
24. Giancarlo Stanton
24. Ryan Zimmerman
26. Carlos Beltran
26. Aaron Hill
28. Jason Heyward
28. Carlos Ruiz
30. Johnny Cueto
30. Bryce Harper
32. Chipper Jones
32. Miguel Montero
32. Angel Pagan
32. Hunter Pence

AL MVP: 

1. Miguel Cabrera
2. Mike Trout
3. Adrian Beltre
4. Robinson Cano
5. Josh Hamilton
6. Adam Jones
7. Derek Jeter
8. Justin Verlander
9. Prince Fielder
10. Yoenis Cespedes
11. Edwin Encarnacion
12. David Price
13. Fernando Rodney
14. Jim Johnson
15. Alex Rios
16. Josh Reddick
17. Albert Pujols
18. Ben Zobrist
19. Joe Mauer
20. Rafael Soriano
21. Matt Wieters
22. Felix Hernandez
22. Jered Weaver
24. Raul Ibanez

NL Cy Young Award: 

1. R.A. Dickey
2. Clayton Kershaw
3. Gio Gonzalez
4. Johnny Cueto
5. Craig Kimbrel
6. Matt Cain
7. Kyle Lohse
8. Aroldis Chapman
8. Cole Hamels

AL Cy Young Award: 

1. David Price
2. Justin Verlander
3. Jered Weaver
4. Felix Hernandez
5. Fernando Rodney
6. Chris Sale
7. Jim Johnson
8. Matt Harrison
9. Yu Darvish

NL Rookie of the Year: 

1. Bryce Harper
2. Wade Miley
3. Todd Frazier
4. Wilin Rosario
5. Norichika Aoki
6. Yonder Alonso
6. Matt Carpenter
6. Jordan Pacheco

AL Rookie of the Year: 

1. Mike Trout
2. Yoenis Cespedes
3. Yu Darvish
4. Wei-Yin Chen
5. Jarrod Parker

NL Manager of the Year: 

1. Davey Johnson
2. Dusty Baker
3. Bruce Bochy
4. Fredi Gonzalez
5. Bud Black
5. Mike Matheny

AL Manager of the Year: 

1. Bob Melvin
2. Buck Showalter
3. Robin Ventura
4. Joe Maddon
5. Joe Girardi
6. Jim Leyland
6. Ron Washington

> I forgot to mention the other day that Ramirez placed ninth in the NL MVP voting. It seems like a lot of non-Brewers fans are overlooking that he actually turned in a great year.

> The Brewers signed Eulogio De La Cruz and Zach Kroenke- both pitchers- to minor league deals.

Kroenke is a lefty, so he gives the Brewers some much-needed depth in that department. And, if you don’t recognize the name “Eulogio” De La Cruz, trust me- you do.

Does “Frankie” De La Cruz ring a bell? Yep, he’s back, and n0w I can continue vomiting over how horrible his mechanics are.

> Jack Zduriencik- a former Brewers scout, and currently the general manager of the Mariners- said they aren’t actively pursuing Josh Hamilton. That could be good for the Brewers, though Doug Melvin has been saying basically the same thing as Zduriencik.

> The Blue Jays signed Melky Cabrera to a two-year deal worth $16 million. Interpret that how you want.

> Minor moves: 

Mets: Signed Brian Bixler to a minor league deal.
Padres: Acquired Tyson Ross and A.J. Kirby-Jones from the Athletics.
Athletics: Acquired Andrew Werner and Andy Parrino from the Padres.
Royals: Signed Brandon Wood, Atahualpa Severino, Brian Sanches, and Anthony Ortega to minor league deals.


Braun comes in second

November 16, 2012

> I knew all along that the NL MVP voters were going to get it wrong, but at least they didn’t push it too far.

Buster Posey won the NL MVP today, something we’ve felt would happen ever since the regular season ended. I predicted him to win it, but, once again, that doesn’t mean I think it’s the right choice.

Ryan Braun came in second place. That is actually much better than I thought the voters were going to give him. When the five finalists- Braun, Posey, Andrew McCutchen, Yadier Molina, and Chase Headley- were announced, I was sure Braun would get fifth as a result of being unfairly penalized for something that he was actually exonerated from. (Looking back, the exoneration literally meant nothing, except that Braun got to play while being showered by boos for the first 50 games as well.)

The voting wasn’t at all close. Posey received 27 of the 32 possible votes, while Braun got just two. However, Braun got the most second place votes by a large margin, with his 15 votes being at least nine more than every other candidate. Posey finished with 422 points to Braun’s 285 (the next closest to Braun was McCutchen with 245).

But, as mentioned earlier, the voters got it wrong. Here’s a complete list of the stats Posey topped Braun in:

1. Batting average
2. OBP
3. OPS+

And Posey didn’t have Braun beat by too much in each of those stats, while Braun murdered him in most of the other stats. Plus, batting average hasn’t been, for some reason, considered as much of a factor because of the rise of sabermetrics (but until Carlos Pena wins an MVP with a sub-.200 batting average, I’m not buying it).

Oh well. Not much else I can do to defend Braun, considering I attempted to defend him when Matt Kemp was in this position last year.

But, had it not been for the false PED accusation, Braun would have won the MVP- easily.

> Meanwhile, Miguel Cabrera won the AL MVP over Mike Trout. Something told me I wanted him to win it, but I had a much tougher time defending his case than I thought. Perhaps it was because I actually opened my ears a bit more; most Cabrera-backers heard “TRIPLE CROWN!!!!” and nothing else.

> Following a very injury-plagued year for the Brewers as a whole (at least early on), they’re going to “focus as much or more on preventing injuries as on treating them.”

> Minor moves: 

Braves: Signed Gerald Laird to a two-year deal.
Cubs: Signed Dioner Navarro to a one-year deal.
Blue Jays: Signed Neil Wagner to a minor league deal.
Angels: Signed Billy Buckner, Luke Carlin, Brendan Harris, Trent Oeltjen, Jo-Jo Reyes, and J.B. Shuck to minor league deals.
Nationals: Signed Will Rhymes to a minor league deal.
Royals: Signed Brandon Wood to a minor league deal.


Miley snubbed in NL RoY voting

November 13, 2012

> The AL and NL Rookie of the Year Awards were handed out today. The AL recipient was who we expected: Mike Trout. Pretty sure we all knew that one in August.

But there is a lot of debate around the NL winner, who, of course, had to be Bryce Harper. He edged Wade Miley by a mere seven points- Harper received 16 first place votes, while Miley got 12.

I thought Miley was the clear-cut winner. He went 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA and was the unexpected ace of the Diamondbacks’ staff. Harper and the other finalist for the NL RoY, Todd Frazier, both had decent rookie seasons, but were WAY too overhyped. Harper hit .270, and received more hype than Ryan Braun did in 2007 when he hit .324 in his rookie season.

Again, I’m not denying that Harper had a good season, but to say he had a better season than Miley- which is what giving Harper the NL RoY is doing- isn’t right.

Also, if you didn’t see it, I went on a Twitter rant about how Wilin Rosario had just as good of a season- if not better- than Harper. Rosario had the same batting average, and more home runs and RBIs in less at-bats. That would have been fun to write, but I was stupid and forgot to take Coors Field into effect. Oops.

> Props to the two writers who gave Norichika Aoki second-place votes in the RoY. Aoki came in fifth place overall, and also received five third-place votes.

This is how the placing went:

1. Harper
2. Miley
3. Frazier
4. Rosario
5. Aoki
6. Yonder Alonso
7. Matt Carpenter
8. Jordan Pacheco

As you can see, Mike Fiers was left completely off the ballot. Apparently everyone forgot about him after he fell of a cliff from August on.

> Doug Melvin shot down the rumors that the Brewers were talking to Corey Hart and his camp about a possible contract extension. Not to worry; we’ll probably see the extension come eventually. It’s worth noting Hart will probably be open to talks midseason as well, as he signed his three-year extension (which he’ll be in the last year of in 2013) in August of 2010.

> Minor moves from the past few days: 

Red Sox: Signed David Ross to a two-year deal.
Twins: Signed Tim Wood and Eric Fryer to minor league deals.
Giants: Outrighted Emmanuel Burriss, who elected free agency; re-signed Jeremy Affeldt to a three-year deal.
Rangers: Signed Neal Cotts, Juan Apodaca, Yonata Ortega, Jim Adduci, Zach Simons, and Aaron Cunningham to minor league deals.
Royals: Outrighted Jason Bourgeois, who elected free agency.
Tigers: Signed Shawn Hill to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Signed Daniel McCutchen and Dan Meyer to minor league deals.


Predictions for the upcoming awards

November 12, 2012

> Seeing as the major MLB awards are going to be handed out all week starting tomorrow, I figured I’d better get this article up tonight.

So this is basically going to be the same drill as it was last year: I’m going to give my predictions for all of the major MLB awards (NL and AL Rookies of the Year, NL and AL Managers of the Year, NL and AL Cy Young Awards, and NL and AL MVPs). I’ll also put some other noteworthy players who are deserving of the respective award, but just weren’t my choice. (I’m going to do that regardless of who the “finalists” for each award are, because that’s a stupid concept.)

Also, one more note before we begin: I make my picks partly based on my own opinion, but also depending on who will draw the most votes. There are certain trends for each award that voters tend to follow, so I take those into account as well. This is who I think will win, not who I want to win. (If it were who I wanted to win, I’d find ways to incorporate Brewers players into winning all of the awards.)

Anyway, on that note, let’s begin.

NL MVP: Buster Posey, Giants

It puts pain into my heart to write that, but that’s who I think is going to win it. As much as I want to put Ryan Braun, there’s no chance he’s going to win, despite putting up a much better year than Posey in every stat (except batting average).

There’s no denying Posey had a great year- 24 homers, 103 RBIs, and a .336 batting average- on a team that hasn’t been known for its offense in recent years. He also plays catcher (at least most of the time), which is a very important position, and will no doubt be taken into consideration during the voting.

Again, Braun had the better year, but there are unfair reasons he can’t win the award that we’ve just come to accept.

Other notable contenders for the NL MVP: Braun, Brewers; Chase Headley, Padres; Andrew McCutchen, Pirates; Yadier Molina, Cardinals

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

This award probably has the best debate out of any of the awards this year. Many believe it’s become a two-horse race between Cabrera and Mike Trout, who had a phenomenal rookie season. It almost want to say it’s a toss-up between the two for who should win the AL MVP, but that wouldn’t be any fun. I can’t just say Cabrera is going to win the MVP; I suppose I have to state my case.

Trout definitely had a great rookie season, as mentioned earlier. That’s why he’s going to win the AL Rookie of the Year, which I’ll get to later on. But, in my opinion, Cabrera had the better season.

Cabrera won the Triple Crown with a .330 batting average, 44 home runs, and 139 RBIs. The Triple Crown certainly helps his case, but even without that back him, I think he’d still win it. If the Triple Crown numbers weren’t enough, Cabrera also led the AL in slugging percentage (.606) and led the Majors in OPS (.999).

And, since the MVP seems to be determined by whether or not the recipient’s team makes the playoffs, Cabrera also wins it in that aspect- his Tigers made it to the World Series, while Trout’s Angels watched the playoffs from home. Do I agree with that part of the voting? No, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

My final case is that without Cabrera, the Tigers don’t make the playoffs (a lot of other players in their lineup underperformed this season, in my opinion). The Angels would have finished in third place in the AL West with or without Trout, which is unfortunately true, despite the impact Trout had on that lineup.

Other contenders for the AL MVP: Trout, Angels; Josh Hamilton, Rangers; Adrian Beltre, Rangers; Robinson Cano, Yankees

NL Cy Young Award: R.A. Dickey, Mets

No, I’m not picking him because he’s a “feel-good story.” The knuckleballer came out of nowhere and had one of the more dominant seasons in recent NL history, going 20-6 with a 2.73 ERA. He also had five complete games (three of them shutouts) while eating up 233 2/3 innings. Dickey struck out 230 in that span, which is pretty wild for a knuckleballer. All four of those stats- complete games, shutouts, innings, and strikeouts- led the NL.

Dickey will probably win the award because he is, in fact, a feel-good story, but that’s not why I’m giving it to him. Once you get past that part of it, he had some pretty amazing stats.

Other contenders for the NL CYA: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Johnny Cueto, Reds; Gio Gonzalez, Nationals

AL Cy Young Award: David Price, Rays

Price nearly won the award two years ago when he went 19-6 with a 2.72 ERA, but was narrowly beat by Felix Hernandez and his 2.27 ERA. This year, I think it’ll be the opposite: Price will take home the award as King Felix watches.

Price was tied for the AL lead in wins with 20, and also led the AL in winning percentage (he went 20-5). His career-best 2.56 ERA also led the AL. Price will be pitted against some tough competition for the AL CYA, as 20-game winner Jered Weaver and the reigning CYA/MVP Justin Verlander will no doubt give him a run for his money.

Other notable contenders for the AL CYA: Weaver, Angels; Verlander, Tigers; Chris Sale, White Sox; Hernandez, Mariners

NL Rookie of the Year: Wade Miley, Diamondbacks

There’s an interesting crop of contenders for the NL RoY this year; some of them are overhyped, some not. But I’m giving it to Miley for a few reasons. He went 16-11 with a 3.33 ERA, which is spectacular, since he was barely being considered for the D-backs’ rotation during Spring Training. Miley also pitched about half of his games at the hitter-friendly Chase Field.

But I’m also sick of hearing that Bryce Harper should win the NL RoY because of all the hype surrounding him. What does that have to do with his performance? And I can guarantee that if Todd Frazier hadn’t saved someone’s life earlier this year, there wouldn’t be nearly as much hype around him.

Other notable contenders for the NL RoY: Harper, Nationals; Frazier, Reds; Norichika Aoki, Brewers; Mike Fiers, Brewers; Wilin Rosario, Rockies

AL Rookie of the Year: Trout

He should be given this award unanimously. Trout had one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time, hitting .326 with 30 home runs. He also stole 49 bases.

Again, I’m not giving him the MVP for a case already stated, but he should win this award easily.

Other notable contenders for the AL RoY: Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics; Yu Darvish, Rangers; Jarrod Parker, Athletics; Tommy Milone, Athletics; Robbie Ross, Rangers

NL Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson

Before the season started, Johnson said that if the Nationals didn’t make the playoffs, he wanted the Nats to fire him. Many thought those were bold words at the time, but Johnson backed his statement by leading the Nationals to their first playoff berth since their move to Washington. Not to mention the Nationals led the NL in wins along the way.

Other contenders for the NL MoY: Bruce Bochy, Giants; Dusty Baker, Reds; Mike Matheny, Cardinals

AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin

Now, this is literally a toss-up between Buck Showalter and Melvin for me. Both led their teams to unpredictable playoff runs. But, if I had to pick one, I’d go with Melvin, just because I predicted that the Athletics were going to have a terrible season prior to this year. He certainly jammed that back down my throat.

Other notable contenders for the AL MoY: Showalter, Orioles; Robin Ventura, White Sox; Joe Maddon, Rays

> And that’s all I’ve got for tonight. Any news (and minor moves) that I missed today will come tomorrow.


Braun takes home fifth consecutive Silver Slugger

November 9, 2012

> Apparently there’s one award that a false PED accusation can’t take away from Ryan Braun, and that’s one of the three outfield Silver Slugger awards. Braun has basically had this award locked down ever since he arrived in the Majors, this season being the fifth consecutive in which he took home an outfield SS. (The reason I say “one of the outfield awards” is because there is no specific left field award; the awards just go to the three top offensive outfielders regardless of which outfield position they play.)

But Braun winning this award doesn’t make it any better that he was robbed of the Hank Aaron Award, and will be robbed of the MVP. Just something we’ll have to live with for likely the next few seasons.

Anyway, here are the rest of the Silver Slugger winners at their respective positions:

American League

Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski

First Base: Prince Fielder

Second Base: Robinson Cano

Third Base: Miguel Cabrera

Shortstop: Derek Jeter

Outfield: Mike Trout

Outfield: Josh Willingham

Outfield: Josh Hamilton

Designated Hitter: Billy Butler

National League

Catcher: Buster Posey

First Base: Adam LaRoche

Second Base: Aaron Hill

Third Base: Chase Headley

Shortstop: Ian Desmond

Outfield: Andrew McCutchen

Outfield: Jay Bruce

Outfield: Braun

Pitcher: Stephen Strasburg

Now for a few pieces of news I’ve missed over the last few days…

> Hunter Morris was named the Topps Southern League Player of the Year. He just can’t stop winning awards; now let’s hope he isn’t falsely accused of using steroids sometime this offseason.

> Carlos Gomez was given the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year award for the Brewers.

Defense appears to be second sense to him; now let’s see if Gomez can build off his solid offensive campaign in 2012. If the Brewers don’t sign Hamilton, Gomez is the guy they’re going to fall back on.

> Brock Kjeldgaard left the Arizona Fall League with a broken foot. He is going to have surgery this week, but will be ready for Spring Training.

> Santo Manzanillo also left the AFL due to a sore right shoulder. He got murdered for seven runs in just two innings over the course of three AFL games.

But poor Manzanillo never really managed to get healthy all year. He got into a car accident in late 2011, which affected his arm, and probably his performance.

> Minor moves:

Diamondbacks: Signed Garrett Mock to a minor league deal.
Mets: Signed Greg Burke to a minor league deal.
Indians: Outrighted Kevin Slowey, who elected free agency; signed Hector Rondon and Luis Hernandez to minor league contracts.
Red Sox: Signed Mitch Maier to a minor league deal.
Pirates: Signed Darren Ford and Jared Goedart to minor league deals.
Royals: Re-signed Manny Pina to a minor league deal.
Blue Jays: Acquired ex-Brewer Jeremy Jeffress from the Royals; signed Maicer Izturis to a three-year deal; designated Scott Maine for assignment.
Rangers: Acquired Tommy Hottovy from the Royals.
Angels: Signed ex-Brewer Mitch Stetter to a minor league deal.
Reds: Outrighted Bill Bray and Wilson Valdez, both of whom elected free agency.
Phillies: Re-signed Kevin Frandsen to a one-year deal.


Brewers sign Asencio

November 8, 2012

> The Brewers signed reliever Jairo Asencio to a minor league deal on Monday. The deal includes an invite to Spring Training.

It’s probably unfair for me to judge him based on just parts of three seasons in the Majors, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the guy. His numbers in the Majors, though they are a small sample size, are unimpressive: he has a 5.23 ERA over 58 1/3 innings. In 2012, he threw a career-high 40 1/3 innings between the Indians and Cubs. Asencio had a 4.91 ERA overall in 2012, but was significantly better with the Cubs, posting a 3.07 ERA in 12 games with them.

The Brewers are doing exactly what I expected them to do: attempt to rebuild the bullpen from scratch. Not saying that’s a bad thing; sometimes it works. I think Michael Olmsted, if he stays healthy, could be a huge contributor at the big league level. I don’t feel quite as strongly about Asencio, but you never know.

> Apparently Doug Melvin and Zack Greinke recently had a conversation, but it was “just about baseball.” Of course, the media has tried to blow this into a “the Brewers are extremely interested in Greinke” situation, but they didn’t take into consideration that Melvin and Greinke became very good friends outside the game during Greinke’s time in Milwaukee.

Not saying that I don’t want the Brewers to bring Greinke back, but it’s extremely unlikely. The Angels and Dodgers seem to be his most likely suitors at this point.

> Melvin also continues to preach that the Brewers are a “long shot” for Josh Hamilton, who recently announced he’s seeking $175 million years over seven years (not like he’s actually going to get that kind of deal with his injury/drug history, though).

One thing I’ve forgotten to take into consideration this offseason is that Melvin has probably been turned off of mega-deals because of his history with them. In 2001, when Melvin was the general manager of the Rangers, he was the man who signed Alex Rodriguez to the infamous 10-year deal. Of course, the Rangers wound up not being able to afford it and had to send A-Rod to the Yankees. But perhaps that’s why Melvin is being so hesitant with these big-name free agents.

> The finalists for each major award were announced tonight. I’m really not a big fan of this “finalist” concept that has been introduced this year for awards, but here they are:

AL Rookie of the Year: Yoenis Cespedes, Yu Darvish, Mike Trout

NL Rookie of the Year: Todd Frazier, Bryce Harper, Wade Miley

AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Buck Showalter, Robin Ventura

NL Manager of the Year: Dusty Baker, Bruce Bochy, Davey Johnson

AL Cy Young Award: David Price, Justin Verlander, Jered Weaver

NL Cy Young Award: R.A. Dickey, Gio Gonzalez, Clayton Kershaw

AL MVP: Adrian Beltre, Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano Hamilton, Trout

NL MVP: Ryan Braun, Chase Headley, Andrew McCutchen, Yadier Molina, Buster Posey

I’ll reveal my own picks for each award sometime before next week. (By the way, all of my picks were correct last year.)

> Juan Nieves, who threw the only no-hitter in Brewers history back in 1987, was hired as Boston’s hitting coach today.

> Brooks Conrad signed with the Hanshin Tigers in Japan. Maybe he’ll hit higher than .000 over there.

> Minor moves:

Twins: Re-signed Sam Deduno and Esmerling Vasquez to minor league deals.
Braves: Signed Wirfin Obispo to a minor league contract.
Orioles: Outrighted Steve Tolleson, who elected free agency.
Mariners: Claimed Scott Cousins off waivers from the Blue Jays.
Yankees: Claimed David Herndon off waivers from the Blue Jays; claimed Josh Spence off waivers from the Padres.
Mets: Outrighted Mike Nickeas and Fred Lewis, both of whom elected free agency; released Jason Bay (that’s probably more than a minor move, but he was so hilariously bad for them that I can’t consider it major).
Diamondbacks: Signed Eddie Bonine to a split contract.
White Sox: Acquired Blake Tekotte from the Padres.
Padres: Acquired Brandon Kloess from the White Sox.


The Gold Glove continues to be a screwy award

November 4, 2012

> If there’s going to be an award called a “Gold Glove” handed out to a player at each position every year, it should go to the best defensive player at that position for that given year, no?

Apparently not. Before I get into my point, here are the 2012 GG winners for each position:

American League:

C: Matt Wieters, Orioles
1B: Mark Teixera, Yankees
2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees
SS: J.J. Hardy, Orioles
3B: Adrian Beltre, Rangers
LF: Alex Gordon, Royals
CF: Adam Jones, Orioles
RF: Josh Reddick, Athletics
P: Jeremy Hellickson, Rays/Jake Peavy, White Sox

National League:

C: Yadier Molina, Cardinals
1B: Adam LaRoche, Nationals
2B: Darwin Barney, Cubs
SS: Jimmy Rollins, Phillies
3B: Chase Headley, Padres
LF:
Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
CF: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
RF: Jason Heyward, Braves
P: Mark Buehrle, Marlins

Plenty of guys were considered “snubbed” at their respective positions because of their reputation for making spectacular defensive plays. Take Mike Trout, for instance. He robbed home runs (literally going up the wall and bringing the ball back into the park) on three occasions this year as the center fielder for the Angels. But why did Jones win?

Statistically, Jones actually had a better defensive season than Trout; Jones had the better defensive WAR. Denard Span of the Twins also had a better defensive WAR than Trout.

In my opinion, that’s the way it should be- the guy who is statistically the best defender at each position should win. That happened in a few cases this year: Rollins had the best fielding percentage among NL shortstops, Barney committed just two errors at second base (which led NL second baseman, obviously), Teixera had just one error all year, Cano was tied for first in fielding percentage at second base, and so on.

But, of course, when it came to the possibility of a Brewer getting a Gold Glove, he got screwed. Aramis Ramirez led the NL in fielding percentage and had the fewest errors among qualifying third basemen. So who obviously wins the award at third base? Headley, duh.

But why? If one player has better defensive statistics than another player at a certain position, that player should win the Gold Glove. This is the one award I think should be strongly influenced by statistics, because there’s always going to be one player who is definitively better than another (statistically) at each position. Most of the defensive statistics go hand-in-hand, so it’s unlikely there’s going to be two players who each have one better defensive statistic than the other. This is a far different award than something like the MVP or Cy Young Award, in which there are a series of different statistics that don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with each other. That makes for more of an argument for who should win those award, which is why it’s okay for there to be voters.

But there shouldn’t be a vote for the Gold Glove. There’s a best defensive player at each position, and that’s that.

THE NEWS

> The Brewers signed free agent righty Michael Olmsted to a minor league contract.

> Travis Ishikawa officially elected free agency.

> Two Brewers were selected to play in the Arizona Fall League Rising Stars game- Hunter Morris and Johnny Hellweg. Morris hit clean-up and went 1-for-1 with an infield single and a sacrifice fly.

> The Cubs nearly sent Carlos Marmol to the Angels in exchange for Dan Haren last night, but the deal wound up not going through. The Angels were looking for anything they could get before they had to decline Haren’s option for 2013, but, since the trade didn’t come to fruition, they were forced to decline the option. Haren is now a free agent and could be a possible fit for the Brewers.

> 10 teams are reportedly interested in lefty free agent Mike Gonzalez. I’d take him, seeing as the Brewers will be very thin on lefty relievers once again next year (if they have any). Manny Parra, the only lefty in the Brewers’ bullpen in 2012, is probably going to be one of the next guys to go.

> Minor moves:

Rockies: Outrighted Carlos Torres to Triple-A; reinstated Josh Sullivan, Todd Helton, Juan Nicasio, and Christian Friedrich from the 60-day DL.
Orioles: Outrighted Lew Ford, Zach Phillips, and Steven Tolleson to Triple-A.
Mets: Outrighted Mike Nickeas to Triple-A.
Twins: Outrighted Sam Deduno to Triple-A.
Royals: Outrighted Manny Pina to Triple-A; reinstated Danny Duffy and Felipe Paulino from the 60-day DL.
Mariners: Signed Hisashi Iwakuma to a two-year extension; re-signed Oliver Perez.
Blue Jays: Acquired Esmil Rogers from the Indians.
Indians: Acquired Mike Aviles and Yan Gomes from the Jays.
Cardinals: Outrighted Steven Hill, Bryan Anderson, and Adam Reifer to Triple-A.
Pirates: Outrighted Ali Solis to Triple-A.
Astros: Outrighted Chuckie Fick to Triple-A; outrighted Brian Bogusevic, Jorge De Leon, and J.B. Shuck, all of whom elected free agency.
Athletics: Re-signed Bartolo Colon to a one-year deal.
Marlins: Signed Kevin Kouzmanoff and Jordan Smith to minor league deals.


Analyzing the veteran starters on the market

October 30, 2012

> Doug Melvin and the Brewers have made it known that they’re probably going to go after a free agent starter this offseason, preferable an experienced guy to anchor what looks to be a young rotation. Personally, I’m still debating whether or not that’s the right decision; the bullpen probably needs more tending to than the rotation. But, if the Brewers do choose to go after a free agent veteran starter, there’s actually a surprisingly decent market for that category this offseason. Here’s a list of the key possibilities for the Brewers:

Ryan Dempster
Zack Greinke
Jeremy Guthrie
Edwin Jackson
Hiroki Kuroda
Kyle Lohse
Brandon McCarthy
Anibal Sanchez*
Dan Haren*
Jake Peavy*

*Sanchez, Haren, and Peavy all have options (or other contract impediments) with their current teams, so it remains to be seen if they actually reach the free agent market.

Basically, the guys I listed are possibilities that I wouldn’t mind the Brewers signing, and most of them are relatively realistic for the Brewers as well. Greinke, obviously, isn’t very likely, but you still can’t count him out.

Dempster was stellar with the Cubs in 2012, but sort of fell off a cliff with the Rangers (despite a winning record in Texas). He’s clearly better in the National League, but I’d say one of the only benefits of the Brewers signing Dempster is that they wouldn’t have to face him (he has 15 career wins against the Brewers).

Guthrie might be the worst option on the list. He was awful with the Rockies, probably because of Coors Field, but resurrected himself with the Royals during the second half, posting a 3.16 ERA. Guthrie is still one of the riskier options on the list, however, and the Brewers will probably try and go with someone else.

Jackson quietly had a decent year as the fifth starter in the Nationals’ rotation, but he’s had an inconsistent career, and the number of teams he’s played for will tell you that. I wouldn’t mind the Brewers signing him, but there’s a bit of a risk with him as well.

For me, Kuroda is the best option on the list. After years of getting no run support in Los Angeles, he blossomed on the big stage in the Bronx. He proved he can pitch in the hitter-friendly environment of Yankee Stadium, meaning he probably wouldn’t do too bad at Miller Park.

There’s no denying Lohse had an unbelievable season in 2012, but I just don’t see him fitting in with the Brewers. Plus, he’s going to draw a ton of money (at least $12 million a year), and I don’t see the Brewers spending that on a starter.

In my opinion, McCarthy is one of the more underrated pitchers in the game; he knows how to shut down a good offense. But, it’s not often that he isn’t injured, whether it be shoulder/elbow problems, or taking line drives off the head.

Those are my top options. There are also guys like Joe Blanton, Jeff Francis, and Daisuke Matsuzaka, but there’s no doubt that those guys would turn into Jeff Suppan-like signings, so I hope the Brewers stay away from them.

THE NEWS

> Now that the offseason has officially started, the Brewers made a series of roster moves today. Shaun Marcum, Francisco Rodriguez, and Alex Gonzalez all elected free agency. Marcum and K-Rod are both as good as gone, but Gonzalez has a chance of returning as the back-up shortstop (or starter, depending on Jean Segura’s status). The Brewers also reinstated Mat Gamel and Chris Narveson from the 60-day disabled list. Lastly, they re-signed shortstop Hector Gomez to a minor league deal.

The Brewers’ other free agents, Livan Hernandez and Yorvit Torrealba, are already on the market, as they elected free agency during the NLCS.

> The Gold Glove Finalists were announced today. Here’s a list of them at each position:

American League

Pitcher: Jeremy Hellickson, Peavy, C.J. Wilson
Catcher: Alex Avila, Russell Martin, A.J. Pierzynski, Matt Wieters
First base: Adrian Gonzalez, Eric Hosmer, Mark Teixera
Second base: Dustin Ackley, Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia
Shortstop: Elvis Andrus, J.J. Hardy, Brendan Ryan
Third base: Adrian Beltre, Brandon Inge, Mike Moustakas
Left field: Alex Gordon, Desmond Jennings, David Murphy
Center field: Austin Jackson, Adam Jones, Mike Trout
Right field: Shin-Soo Choo, Jeff Francoeur, Josh Reddick

National League

Pitcher: Bronson Arroyo, Mark Buehrle, Clayton Kershaw
Catcher: Yadier Molina, Miguel Montero, Carlos Ruiz
First base: Freddie Freeman, Adam LaRoche, Joey Votto
Second base: Darwin Barney, Aaron Hill, Brandon Phillips
Shortstop:
Zack Cozart, Ian Desmond, Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins
Third base: Chase Headley, Aramis Ramirez, David Wright
Left field: Ryan Braun, Carlos Gonzalez, Martin Prado
Center field: Michael Bourn, Andrew McCutchen, Drew Stubbs
Right field: Jay Bruce, Andre Eithier, Jason Heyward

That awkward moment when Gonzalez isn’t on the Red Sox anymore, yet could win the AL Gold Glove at first base.

Anyway, Ramirez should win the third base GG, seeing as he had the fewest errors in the league at the position. But Braun won’t win the GG in left field, because steroids. (You can bet that’s what all of the voters are thinking.)

> Minor moves:

Yankees: Exercised 2013 options for David Aardsma, Cano, and Curtis Granderson.
Phillies: Declined 2013 options for Ty Wigginton, Jose Contreras, and Placido Polanco.
Twins: Declined 2013 option for Scott Baker; signed P.J. Walters to a minor league deal.
Orioles: Exercised 2013 option for Luis Ayala.
Athletics: Optioned 2013 option for ex-Brewer Grant Balfour; declined Stephen Drew’s option; signed Mike Ekstrom to a minor league deal.
Dodgers: Declined 2013 options for ex-Brewer Todd Coffey, Juan Rivera, and Matt Treanor.
Pirates:
Outrighted Jeff Clement, Eric Fryer, and Daniel McCutchen to Triple-A.
Indians: Signed Takuya Tsuchida.


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