Recap of all major awards

November 23, 2011

> Yesterday, the NL MVP was handed out. This marked the last major award of the offseason. And I’m proud to say that, for the first time ever, I got all of my predictions right. Not that I agreed with all of them, but they were probably the most logical choice fore each award.

> Anyway, here are the top finishers for each award (courtesy of Baseball Reference):

AL MVP

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers

2. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox

3. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays

4. Curtis Granderson, Yankees

5. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

6. Robinson Cano, Yankees

7. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox

8. Michael Young, Rangers

9. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox

10. Evan Longoria, Rays

NL MVP

1. Ryan Braun, Brewers

2. Matt Kemp, Dodgers

3. Prince Fielder, Brewers

4. Justin Upton, Diamondbacks

5. Albert Pujols, Cardinals

6. Joey Votto, Reds

7. Lance Berkman, Cardinals

8. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

9. Roy Halladay, Phillies

10. Ryan Howard Phillies

AL Cy Young Award

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers

2. Jered Weaver, Angels

3. James Shields, Rays

4. CC Sabathia, Yankees

5. Jose Valverde, Tigers

6. C.J. Wilson, Rangers

7. Dan Haren, Angels

8. Mariano Rivera, Yankees

9. Josh Beckett, Red Sox

10. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays

NL Cy Young Award

1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

2. Roy Halladay, Phillies

3. Cliff Lee, Phillies

4. Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks

5. Cole Hamels, Phillies

6. Tim Lincecum, Giants

7. Yovani Gallardo, Brewers

8. Matt Cain, Giants

9. John Axford, Brewers

9. Craig Kimbrel, Braves

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Jeremy Hellickson, Rays

2. Mark Trumbo, Angels

3. Eric Hosmer, Royals

4. Ivan Nova, Yankees

5. Michael Pineda, Mariners

6. Dustin Ackley, Mariners

7. Desmond Jennings, Rays

7. Jordan Walden, Angels

NL Rookie of the Year

1. Craig Kimbrel, Braves

2. Freddie Freeman, Braves

3. Vance Worley, Phillies

4. Wilson Ramos, Nationals

5. Josh Collmenter, Diamondbacks

6. Danny Espinosa, Nationals

7. Darwin Barney, Cubs

7. Kenley Jansen, Dodgers

AL Manager of the Year

1. Joe Maddon, Rays

2. Jim Leyland, Tigers

3. Ron Washington, Rangers

4. Manny Acta, Indians

5. Joe Girardi, Yankees

6. Mike Scioscia, Angels

NL Manager of the Year

1. Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks

2. Ron Roenicke, Brewers

3. Tony La Russa, Cardinals

4. Charlie Manuel, Phillies

5. Fredi Gonzalez, Braves

6. Bruce Bochy, Giants

6. Clint Hurdle, Pirates

8. Terry Collins, Mets

8. Don Mattingly, Dodgers

> Most of them seemed deserving enough. Although I was surprised to see Longoria even on the AL MVP ballot.

> Anyway, onto some Brewers news. They’ve offered arbitration to free agents Prince Fielder and Francisco Rodriguez. Assuming both decline it (which they probably both will), the Brewers will get four premium picks in next year’s First-Year Player Draft.

> Which brings me to my next point. I didn’t pay much attention to the small print of the labor agreement reached between MLB and the players’ union because I was celebrating Braun’s MVP award, but apparently this new agreement is creating a salary cap on how much teams can pay players to sign with them after being drafted. This will probably effect how some teams draft for the next five years, especially teams that rely on the draft in order to contend, such as the Rays.

But hey, it’s what we’ve grown to expect from Bud Selig.

> The biggest news of today was the Indians bringing back the injury-prone Grady Sizemore on a one-year deal worth around $5 million. I guess they aren’t giving up on the center fielder yet, despite the fact he’s had five different surgeries over the past three years, and has averaged below 100 games played per season during that span.

> Bruce Chen has decided to go back to the Royals for the third straight year, but this time signed a two-year deal. Chen really came out of nowhere as a solid pitcher for the Royals in 2010, and had an even better 2011. But I’m surprised Chen’s “chencision” was to return to the Royals instead of play for a contending team. (In case you haven’t noticed, I occasionally use @TrippingOlney jokes on here.)

> Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts. I’ll update again if any other big news comes out tonight.

Advertisements

Looking back at the first week of 2011’s offseason

November 7, 2011

> The first week of the 2011 MLB offseason was rather quiet, with none of the top free agents reaching agreements with new teams (or the ones they were already with). But I guess that wasn’t expected. Anyway, despite this, there were a lot of minor moves, with some more significant than others, and later in this article I’ll try to go through every move made. But, before that, there is one Brewers-related piece of news that I should probably share.

> Dale Sveum is going to be interviewed for the Cubs’ managerial vacancy tomorrow. Ugh.

Over the past few days, Sveum has been considered the front-runner to become the new Red Sox manager, but nothing has been confirmed. And now he’s going to have a chance to become the Cubs’ manager, a team he has seen up close and personally for quite a few years now as the Brewers’ hitting coach.

So the reason I said “ugh” earlier is because, no matter who it is, I find it painful to see someone from a team I like leave for a team I hate. For instance, I was crushed a few years back when Brett Favre left the Packers for the Jets, and eventually the Vikings- a team I despise. (That is, until I figured out what a loser Favre was under the surface, but you still get the point.) Anyway, I’d be happy for Sveum no matter where he goes (if he does end up managing), but let me say I’d be much happier if he went to the Red Sox instead of the Cubs.

> But, with that aside, let’s get to all the moves that occurred during this first week of the Hot Stove. I guess I didn’t realize how much I didn’t cover on BreakingWI, but here’s my chance to redeem myself.

> Frank McCourt agreed with MLB to sell the Dodgers, and hopefully put this divorce-bankruptcy crap behind him and the franchise. The Dodgers suffered that for far too long, and hopefully whoever ends up being the team can right that ship.

> The long expected CC Sabathia opt-out never actually happened, as the Yankees managed to retain him by adding an extra year, worth $25 million, to his already-remaining for years on the seven-year deal he signed back in 2008 (after he left the Brewers). So much for that… I was looking forward to him sticking it up the Yankees’… Er, maybe I shouldn’t go there.

> The Indians acquired 15-year veteran starting pitcher Derek Lowe from the Braves. Lowe has definitely been on a decline in recent years, but the Indians hope his veteran presence can anchor their very young rotation.

> The Phillies successfully signed designated hitter Jim Thome to a one-year deal worth $1.225 million. Oh, wait, they’re a National League team… Apparently they expect him to play a little first base and be a power lefty off the bench, but I can’t see this deal working out very well.

> Cards manager Tony La Russa decided to retire after 33 seasons as a Major League manager. He definitely went out on top, that’s for sure…

> Davey Johnson is going to be the Nationals’ manager in 2012 as well, after picking up where Jim Riggleman left off midway through the 2011 season.

> The Giants exercised their option on lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and also signed fellow lefty reliever Javier Lopez to a two-year deal.

> The Dodgers re-signed Juan Rivera to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million after acquiring him from the Blue Jays halfway through the 2011 season.

> The Cubs exercised their half of the option on third baseman Aramis Ramirez, but Ramirez declined his half, thus becoming a free agent.

> The Nationals re-signed starter Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year deal, following three seasons full of injuries- two of which he didn’t even pitch at all. But, before that, he was a dominant starting pitcher for the Yankees.

> The Diamondbacks made a few signings on and off the field, as they locked up shortstop John McDonald with a two-year, $3 million deal, along with a one-year deal worth $1.2 million for catcher Henry Blanco. They also extended GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson, both of whom completely turned around what looked to be another disappointing season coming in.

> The Brewers declined their $17.5 million option on Francisco Rodriguez, which was inherited from the Mets. They also declined a $6 million option on shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt (HOORAY!).

> The Mets pretty much came out and said that they’re not going to be able to retain shortstop Jose Reyes. Not that I’m surprised, but it’s sort of odd that they’d come out and say it like that.

> The Braves have announced that they would trade starter Jair Jurrjens and outfielder/second baseman Martin Prado, if given a good enough deal. Right now, the Royals look like the best destination, at least for Jurrjens.

> The Giants are willing to trade starter Jonathan Sanchez. Not sure who would want that walk-machine, unless they really need starting pitching.

> The Cardinals declined their optionsĀ  on shortstop Rafael Furcal and reliever Octavio Dotel. That was surprising to some (including me).

> The Red Sox picked up their $6 million option on shortstop Marco Scutaro.

> The Nationals appear to be in the running for starter Roy Oswalt, whose option was declined by the Phillies prior to the World Series.

> It sounds like the Phillies are literally dying for Michael Cuddyer, which means they’ll probably have him. But that would pretty much nullify the Thome deal, because Cuddyer could play a similar role, but is so much more versatile.

> The Diamondbacks declined options on starter Zach Duke, second baseman Aaron Hill, and shortstop Willie Bloomquist, but are probably open to re-signing Hill and Bloomquist.

> The Blue Jays picked up their option on outfielder Edwin Encarnacion, but declined their option on reliever Jon Rauch.

> The Royals picked up their $6 million option on closer Joakim Soria, who is coming off a horrible 2011. But, prior to that, he was one of the top closers in the game.

> The Reds picked up their option on second baseman Brandon Phillips, but declined the option on closer Francisco Cordero.

> The Padres declined options on starter Aaron Harang, reliever Chad Qualls, and first baseman Brad Hawpe. I thought it was interesting that they didn’t pick up Harang’s option, because he actually quietly put up a good season.

> The Rays exercised their optionĀ  on starter James Shields and closer Kyle Farnsworth, while declining both of those pitchers’ batterymate, Kelly Shoppach.

> Mariners closer David Aardsma, who did not pitch at all in 2011 due to an injury from 2010, has elected free agency. Whichever team that signs him will probably have to wait until at least June for his services in the Majors, however, as he’s still recovering from the injury.

> The White Sox picked up their option on reliever Jason Frasor, who they acquired from the Blue Jays at the Trade Deadline.

> The Indians exercised their option on starter Fausto Carmona, but declined the option on the injury-plagued center fielder Grady Sizemore.

> The Pirates declined options on catcher Ryan Doumit, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, catcher Chris Snyder, and starter Paul Maholm. I thought they should have kept Maholm at least, because he’s good- just doesn’t get run support. But they can do whatever the want to keep themselves from having their first winning season since 1992, for all I care…

> The Rockies declined their option on starter Aaron Cook. That was definitely expected, as he’s been injury-plagued and ineffective over the past two years.

> Lastly, the Rangers exercised their option on Japanese reliever Yoshinori Tateyama.

Well, that took awhile, but thanks for reading. Feel free to leave thoughts on these moves, 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.


Brewers take Game 1 behind Gallardo’s gem

October 2, 2011

In 2008, Yovani Gallardo was named the Game 1 starter for the Brewers-Phillies NLDS. This year, he was named the Game 1 starter against the Diamondbacks in the NLDS, but the circumstances were much different.

In 2008, Gallardo was injured nearly the entire season, and had only one start under his belt that season. So getting a playoff start- especially the first game- must have been a surprise. But, the Brewers had used CC Sabathia to clinch the Wild Card on the last day of the season, so he couldn’t be used until Game 2 at the earliest. And you can’t blame them for not wanting to use Dave Bush or Jeff Suppan in Game 1, so Gallardo was actually the only legitimate choice. Gallardo would end up losing that game, thanks to three unearned runs served up by the Brewers’ defense.

But this year was different for him. Gallardo was ready for a Game 1 start in 2011, after leading the Brewers in wins (17) and strikeouts (207). He also ended up leading the rotation in ERA (3.52). So, considering he was the ace of the staff this year (and that Zack Greinke had been used on the last day of the season), he was again the choice for Game 1.

And he certainly didn’t disappoint. The Brewers defeated the Diamondbacks in the all-important Game 1 of the NLDS, 4-1, and pretty much rode on the back of Gallardo’s great start the entire time (until he finally got some run support towards the end). Gallardo went eight stellar innings, while giving up one run on four hits. He walked one and struck out nine for his first career postseason win.

To be honest with you, Gallardo didn’t look good in the first inning. He allowed a leadoff single to Willie Bloomquist on the first pitch of the game, then allowed Bloomquist to steal second. Then, Justin Upton hit a single to left field, which you’d think would score the speedy Bloomquist, right? Think again. Left fielder Ryan Braun threw a laser to catcher Jonathan Lucroy, and they nailed Bloomquist at home to prevent the first run from scoring. Just another reason Braun should be MVP, though… Anyway, that play changed the game for both teams, because after that, the D-backs couldn’t seem to do anything to get a run in.

The Brewers couldn’t get anything going against Ian Kennedy and his 21 wins until the fourth inning, when they had bases loaded with no outs against him. But, they only scored one run, courtesy of a sacrifice fly by Jerry Hairston Jr. I’m beginning to wonder what our batting average with runners on would look like if Yuniesky Betancourt weren’t on this team… Anyway, the Brewers tacked on another run in the sixth inning on Jonathan Lucroy’s RBI single.

Then, Kirk Gibson made a rather interesting decision in the seventh inning. Kennedy had just given up a two-out double to Braun, and Prince Fielder was coming up. Gibson then came out to talk to Kennedy, and probably ask him if he wanted to intentionally walk Fielder. Kennedy must have said no, which turned into a boneheaded decision on his part. He threw a first pitch fastball to Fielder, and then Fielder backed out of the batter’s box and simply smirked. He was probably thinking, “You’re actually going to pitch to me?” And that was exactly what Kennedy was doing. But, the next pitch definitely made him regret it.

Kennedy handed Fielder a hanging curveball on a silver platter for Fielder to crush over the right field wall for a two-run shot. But I’m still trying to figure out why Kennedy, with a base open at first, even pitched to Fielder.

Anyway, the Diamondbacks’ only run came on a Ryan Roberts home run leading off the eighth inning. Gallardo’s reaction to that? Striking out the side to finish the eighth. John Axford would then come in to finish the game in the ninth for his first career postseason save.

The Brewers will try and take a 2-0 advantage in this series later today against the D-backs, and will send Zack Greinke (16-6, 3.83 ERA), who will be making his first career postseason start. He’s 11-0 at home this season, but is 0-2 against the D-backs in his career, so one of those streaks will come to an end today. Also note that this will be the second straight start that he’ll be starting on three days’ rest, so I guess we’ll see how he reacts to that.

The D-backs will counter with Daniel Hudson (16-12, 3.49 ERA), who will also be making his first postseason start. He finished the regular season 0-3 with a 4.26 ERA, so he doesn’t have much momentum coming into this start. The Brewers faced him once earlier this year, and tagged him for five runs, but all five of those runs were driven in by pitcher Shaun Marcum, who doesn’t start until tomorrow. So I don’t know how the rest of the offense will do against this guy.