Royals kill themselves in the long run

December 10, 2012

> About a half an hour ago, I saw a headline that read: “Shields AND Davis to Royals for Myers. Other names involved.”

At the time, I thought that wasn’t a bad deal for the Royals, who appeared to have acquired James Shields and Wade Davis from the Rays in exchange for prospect Wil Myers, who is arguably the top offensive prospect in the game. I thought “other names involved” meant some not-so-significant Double-A players whom the Royals wouldn’t be seeing anytime soon.

Nope. The other three prospects involved were left-hander Mike Montgomery, third baseman Patrick Leonard, and righty Jake Odorizzi (whom the Brewers dealt to the Royals in the Zack Greinke deal back in 2010).

In other words, the Royals are still stupid.

In my eyes, just Myers for Shields and Davis would have been fair. Shields is already 30 and has a year (plus an option) remaining on his contract. Davis was great as a reliever last year, but was mediocre at best as a starter for the Rays in 2010 and 2011. With the package they sent the Rays, the Royals should have been able to net David Price at the very least.

Anyway, the Royals should at least contend in 2013, which perhaps was the goal all along. The Royals haven’t made the playoffs since 1985, and it’s been questioned over the past few years whether their ownership is even trying  to win.

The Royals did improve their rotation: it’ll now look something like Shields, Jeremy Guthrie, Ervin Santana, Davis, and Bruce Chen (though I’d replace Chen with a prospect like Danny Duffy). Not the greatest rotation, but it’ll win games with the lineup that hits behind it.

This will help the Royals in 2013, but I think they’re going to regret this in the long run. Needless to say the Rays scammed them in this one.

> A day after signing Zack Greinke to a six-year, $147 million deal, the Dodgers dished out another huge contract, locking up Korean lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu with a six-year, $36 million deal.

> Minor moves: 

Indians: Signed Mark Reynolds to a one-year deal.
Phillies: Signed Zach Miner to a minor league deal.

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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.


Luc and Maldo: possible trade bait

November 15, 2012

> The Brewers signed catcher Blake Lalli to a minor league deal earlier today. The deal includes an invite to big league Spring Training,

At first, I just presumed this was a move to give the Brewers catching depth in case something were to happen to Jonathan Lucroy or Martin Maldonado. But it got me thinking about a topic that I’ve been pondering ever since Maldonado established himself at the big league level while filling in for Lucroy.

The Brewers have two catchers who are capable of starting in the Majors in Lucroy and Maldonado. That’s a luxury not many teams have. But, while it’s great to have, you have to wonder if the Brewers are dangling either of them on the trade market.

It’s sort of the same situation the Packers had at the end of last season. They had two quarterbacks who could have starting jobs in the NFL- Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn. Rodgers was- and still is- clearly the incumbent. Flynn was a great back-up, but, when free agency called his name, he decided to walk. The point is, if a guy knows he’s good enough to start at the big league level- whether it be baseball or football- he’s going to want that opportunity.

The difference with the Brewers’ catching situations is that both Lucroy and Maldonado are still controllable for a good amount of time. Lucroy just signed a five-year extension last year, while this will be just Maldonado’s second year in the big leagues, so he’s got a long ways to go before free agency.

But I wouldn’t at all count out the Brewers trying to use one of the catchers as trade bait in exchange for, say, bullpen help. The Brewers signed Lucroy to a very financially friendly deal. At first glance, that could be Lucroy giving the Brewers a discount because he wants to stay in Milwaukee, but you have to wonder if the Brewers have other ideas. Luc’s contract is certainly one another team wouldn’t mind picking up. Maldonado, meanwhile, still has years of team control, and won’t hit arbitration for a few years either.

So, the Brewers have two very talented catchers- both offensively and defensively- who have extremely friendly financial situations. There isn’t a doubt in my mind other teams have at least inquired on one of them.

Amazing the discussion some random minor league signing can draw out.

> Norichika Aoki has decided to sit out the World Baseball Classic coming up this spring. A few other Japanese players around baseball, such as Yu Darvish and Hisashi Iwakuma, have decided to do the same.

> David Price and R.A. Dickey won the American and National League Cy Young Awards, respectively.

Despite the fact Dickey won the award practically unanimously, there’s some controversy that Clayton Kershaw should have won the award again. Kershaw certainly had the stats to back it up- he led the league in ERA for the second straight year, had just six fewer innings than Dickey, and one less strikeout than Dickey. However, Kershaw got just 14 wins (obviously not his fault, he played for a disappointing team). And Dickey had a ton of hype around him all year because of his “feel-good story” and the fact that he’s a knuckleballer.

Personally, I chose Dickey to win the award, but not because of his story or the fact that he’s a knuckleballer; neither of those things impact that his raw stats were amazing. Not to mention Dickey played for a worse team than Kershaw and still managed to rack up 20 wins.

I also chose Price to win his award; his 20-5 record and 2.56 ERA were captivating enough for me. Justin Verlander had another great year- 17-8 with a 2.64 ERA. But a lot of Price’s raw numbers (ERA, wins, etc.) were simply better than Verlander’s, which impacts voters’ decisions. And, Price pitches in a much tougher division.

> The MVP awards are going to be handed out tomorrow, but Ryan Braun isn’t going to win.

> Minor moves: 

Tigers: Signed Torii Hunter to a two-year deal.
Marlins: Claimed Scott Maine off waivers from the Blue Jays. (In exchange, the Jays received the rest of the Marlins’ roster.)


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.


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.


Braun gets two hits in NL’s third straight win

July 11, 2012

> Welcome to the new and improved Breaking Wisconsin (at least for now). More on the new setup later, but for now let’s get straight to the All-Star Game.

> The National League defeated the American League, 8-0, for the third consecutive year. Personally, I thought some of the NL’s starters shouldn’t have gotten the nod, as did many others. But, it was some of those starters in particular who may have won the game for the NL.

Justin Verlander was starting for the AL, and I’m sure everyone thought he would have a tidy six-up, six-down two innings. But he did exactly the opposite. After striking out Carlos Gonzalez to start the game, he gave up a single to Melky Cabrera. Then, Ryan Braun represented the Brewers with an opposite field RBI double off JV to give the NL an early 1-0 lead. Verlander struck out Joey Votto the next batter, but struggled with his control after that, giving up back-to-back walks to Carlos Beltran and Buster Posey to load the bases. Pablo Sandoval then made him pay with a bases-clearing triple (yes, Sandoval hit a triple). Dan Uggla followed that up with an RBI single, but got a little help from some sheepish defense by Prince Fielder. Corey Hart would have made the play.

The NL added three more runs in the fourth against Matt Harrison. Matt Holliday hit an RBI single off him, then Cabrera put the icing on the cake with a two-run home run to extend the lead to 8-0. The biggest deficit ever recovered from in ASG history was five runs, and that didn’t change tonight.

The NL pitching staff was stellar, as shown by the nine goose eggs in the AL box score. Matt Cain started, and he threw two solid innings to begin the game. From there, Gio Gonzalez, Stephen Strasburg, Clayton Kershaw, R.A. Dickey, and Cole Hamels each threw scoreless innings. Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman combined for an eighth inning that was filled with high-90’s and low-100’s fastballs, and Wade Miley, Joel Hanrahan, and Jonathan Papelbon each got an out in a scoreless ninth inning. The only NL pitchers who didn’t make an appearance were Huston Street, the Padres’ only representative, and Lance Lynn. But who knows- maybe Tony La Russa called to the bullpen for Lynn, but got someone else this time.

Other than Verlander and Harrison, the AL pitching staff didn’t give up a run, either. Joe Nathan, David Price, Jered Weaver, Chris Sale, Ryan Cook, Jim Johnson, and Fernando Rodney each threw scoreless innings. The only AL player not to enter the game was position player Adam Dunn, but he would have probably just struck out to end the game.

> As I sort of expected, Cabrera took home the ASG MVP award this year after going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. I was gunning for Braun to win it- he also had a triple to go along with his RBI double- but Cabrera was definitely worthy as well.

> Here was a cool moment in the game. Chipper Jones got into the ASG thanks to an injury to Giancarlo Stanton. Chipper announced at the beginning of the year that this will be his last year before he retires, so everyone wanted him to get into the game somehow, and that opportunity presented itself.

Not only that, though- Chipper got a hit in his only at-bat. He hit a weak tapper to the right side, and second baseman Ian Kinsler may or may not have let the ball sneak through for a hit. That was probably the case, because Chipper was laughing his head off by the time he got to first base. Still, though, that was a cool moment.

> That’s about all I’ve got about the game.I could go on forever about all of the different storylines that were going on, but I think I covered the main points.

> You’ve probably noticed by now that I’ve given BW a new theme. I’ve been pondering that idea for a while, actually going all the way back to near the time I started the blog. The old theme was supposed to be temporary, and this one is also probably going to end up not being around very long. But I haven’t found a theme I like for the long-term yet.

Anyway, you guys probably don’t care much about themes, but, to go along with quality writing, there needs to be a catchy theme to grab the eye of the reader.

> And that’s about it. Tomorrow I’ll try and put up an article with my ratings of all of the players on the Brewers’ roster up to this point in the season. But for now, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Kimbrel, Hellickson take home ROY awards

November 15, 2011

> Needless to say I called this a few days ago.

> Craig Kimbrel and Jeremy Hellickson took home the NL and AL Rookie of the Year Awards today (respectively). So for those of you who say that pitchers shouldn’t win this award (or the MVP), then this wasn’t your year.

Kimbrel was thrown into the Braves’ closer role since future Hall of Fame closer Billy Wagner retired before this year started. And he handled it just as Wagner would have; possibly better. Kimbrel set the record for the most saves by a rookie closer with 46, which also tied Brewers closer John Axford for the most in the NL. He put up a 2.10 ERA with 127 strikeouts in 77 innings. Despite the fact Kimbrel technically ended the Braves’ season by blowing a save against the Phillies on the final day, he was still the most deserving of any NL candidate.

I was one of the few (or so it seemed) who actually thought Hellickson would win. And you can’t argue with the numbers. His 13-10 record could have been better, and actually should have been better- he was victim of low run support from a weak Rays offense various times. But, his 2.95 ERA in the AL East was unbelievable, especially for a rookie. Hellickson also ate up 189 innings, the most among rookie starters in the Majors. I don’t know what it is about the Rays and managing to put together all of these homegrown starters who will eventually become aces (David Price being the other standout homegrown ace for them).

> Anyway, onto the Hot Stove news of the day. Unlike the other Hot Stove days thus far this offseason, this one was actually somewhat busy.

> The Dodgers are reportedly nearing an eight-year deal with center fielder Matt Kemp. The deal would be worth $160 million, which is odd, since I heard the Dodgers wouldn’t be able to make any of these gigantic signings until the Dodgers are sold. But it probably has something to do with the fact that Kemp is already on the team.

Kemp is coming off a stellar 2011 campaign, in which he hit .324 with 39 home runs, 126 RBIs, and 41 steals. He was just one home run away from the coveted 40/40 season. Kemp also won the Gold Glove for NL center fielders and one of the outfield Silver Slugger Awards as well. He and Ryan Braun are the two top contenders for the NL MVP this year.

> The Angels are apparently “serious” c0ntenders for free agent starter C.J. Wilson. I find this strange, considering the Angels’ biggest need is obviously offense (as is any team in the AL West not named the Rangers). The Angels already have a trio of aces in Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana (if you consider him an ace; I do).

Wilson is coming off a season in which he went 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA as the ace of the Rangers’ staff. The year before, he was 15-8 with a 3.35 ERA, but was a reliever every year before that. So it should be interesting to see how he responds to what’s probably going to be a big multi-year deal.

> Theo Epstein, the new Cubs’ president, talked to Carlos Zambrano for the first time today. Epstein announced that Zambrano will have to “work his way back” to earn a spot on the Cubs’ roster for next year.

But honestly, why are the Cubs still even giving this psychopath a chance? He’s put together enough scenes to embarrass the Cubs forever, and was already placed on the disqualified list. I thought the disqualified list would be the last straw, but apparently not.

At the same time, however, I can’t really blame them. Zambrano still has a large portion of his contract left in 2012, and the Cubs won’t want to eat up another huge contract after releasing a player (similar what they did to Carlos Silva before the 2011 season).

> Before I finish, here’s some Hot Stove news related to the Brewers:

> Doug Melvin announced that the Brewers won’t offer Prince Fielder a contract during this week’s GM meetings in Milwaukee. Not like Scott Boras would have accepted an offer, anyway.

> Melvin also said that he hasn’t decided whether or not to meet face-to-face with Jose Reyes and/or his agent. Reports are saying that Reyes is extremely close to signing with the Marlins, but nothing is official yet.

> The Brewers are apparently interested in bringing back Yuniesky Betancourt on a contract worth less than what his option for 2012 would have been worth. I hope this a last resort option if the Brewers become that desperate for a shortstop…

> Lastly, the Brewers are also interested in bringing back Jerry Hairston Jr., who put up a stellar postseason for the Brewers in 2011.

> Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. Thanks for reading, and free to leave your thoughts.