Category: Dailies

AND THE WINNER IS….NL

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Now onto the National League.

Cy Young

A really tough call this year because there were three
deserving pitchers . The winner is Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals. He led the
league in wins (19), games started, and innings pitched. His 212 strikeouts
were fourth as was his 2.63 ERA.

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Last year’s winner, Tim Lincecum, was dominant again – 15
wins, 261 K’s and 2.48 ERA. There would be no argument if he won again.

Honorable Mention goes to 2005 award winner and Wainwright teammate
Chris
Carpenter who came back from serious arm injuries that limited him to 5
games in 2007 and 2008. Carpenter led the league in ERA and had a sparkling
17-4 record.

 

MVP

This award
begins and ends with first basemen. Another Cardinal is MVP.

No one is more feared as a hitter than Albert Pujols. A
typical season for him is a career year for most others. This year was no
exception – he walked 116 times and struck out only 64 in 700 plate
appearances. His career averages are 42 HR, 129 RBI and a .334 average. This
year he led the league with 47 HR’s, 
was second with 135 RBI and third in hitting at .327. No one is more
deserving than Albert Pujols.

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Honorable Mention goes to Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee
Brewers. He was second in HR (46), and first in RBI (141). He combined with
Ryan Braun to drive in more than 33% of the team’s run total.

Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan of the Florida Marlins in another tough
decision. Not only did he hit .321 good for fourth in the league but had a
remarkable second half of the season. After the All-Star game, he tallied 113
hits, 3rd best all-time.

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Honorable Mention is another Brewer, Casey McGehee. Picked
up from the scrap heap in the off season, McGehee did not even
become a regular until after Rickie Weeks went down in mid-May. Still he ended up hitting .301
with 16 HR and 66 RBI.

 

Manager of the Year

There really is no other choice than the Rockies Jim
Tracy
.  When he took over the team
on May 27th, the club was 18-28. They went 74-42 the rest of the
year and went into the final series of the season against the Dodgers with a
chance at winning the division.

Honorable Mention goes to another West Division team.
Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco
Giants guided a hitting challenged team to an 88-74 record. The Giants rotation
of Tim Lincecum. Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Jonathan Sanchez and in September, Brad
Penny was as good as it gets. If they had hit better (.255 Avg, 122 HR, .699
OPS) they might still be playing.

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AND THE WINNER IS…AL

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Now that the 2009 Season is into the playoffs, it’s time for
this commentator to make his choices for post-season awards.

American League

Cy Young

Zach Greinke
was the year-long favorite and he did nothing to lessen it. He won 15 games on
a team that lost 95. What’s astonishing is that he lost 9 games that were
decided by 2 runs or less including two 1-0 and one 2-1 games. If he is lucky
in even half those contests, he finishes with 20 wins. His sparkling 2.16 ERA
was the lowest by an American League starter since Pedro Martinez posted a 1.74
for the 2000 Red Sox. Now before people say that he doesn’t deserve it because
he pitched on a bad team, remember those 9 two runs or less losses. Also, Steve
Carlton won the 1972 award going 27-10 for a terrible Phillies team that
lost 97 games.

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Honorable Mention goes to Felix Hernandez of the Mariners who quietly posted an
exceptional season – 19-5, 2.49 ERA.

 





MVP

There was a
reason the Yankees won over 100 games for the first time since 2004 and it
wasn’t the stratospheric payroll. 
They had
seven players with over 20 home runs and Derek Jeter set the
table with 212 hits and a .334 average, good for third place. But the MVP
goes to Joe Mauer. He won his third batting title, the second in a row . He
also for the first time added power (28HR/96RBI).  In 1942 the Boston Braves Ernie Lombardi won the title
hitting .330. He is the only other catcher in the history of the game to win it.
So it is indeed a remarkable accomplishment for a catcher to win three.

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Honorable Mention goes to Derek Jeter who hit .334 and set the team’s career hit record while being
the catalyst in the Yankees drive for the division title.

 

Rookie of
the Year

Gordon
Beckham
of the White Sox gets the award by a slight margin over the Orioles
outfielder Nolan Reimold only because the latter ended the season on the DL.
Both had similar lines so it is logical to assume that Reimold would have
finished with better stats.

capt.fc8ea694a18c41deac93363d4c96f439.white_sox_indians_baseball_ohmd110.jpg

 

Honorable Mention
goes to the Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus who at 21 played a critical position
and hit a respectable .267.

 

 

Manager of
the Year

Last year’s
choice was a no brainer – Joe Maddon. This year there’s a group of skippers
that are worthy.

Jim Leyland of
the Tigers kept the team in the race until losing the play-in game.

Joe Girardi
led the Yankees to a 100 win season in the pressure cooker that is New York.

Dan
Wakamatsu steered the Mariners to a winning record after the team lost over 100
games last year.

But the
award this year goes to Mike Scioscia of the Angels. Long overlooked because
the team in on the left coast, Scioscia is a players manager who uses his
talented roster to maximum efficiency. 
All he has done is take the Angels to the playoffs in six of the last
eight years. It’s time to make amends.

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Honorable Mention goes to Ron Gardenhire of the Twins who somehow finds a way to be in contention
with a low budget team. This year they had more ups and downs than the stock
market. They lost their cleanup hitter and two starters to injuries and still
found a way to win. Gardenhire has taken a bargain basement team to the
post-season in five of his eight years as manager.

In the next entry, I pick the National League’s winners.

I’M SORRY, BUT WE DON’T NEED YOU

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Brewers
fans know that Manager Ken Macha has shut down top starter Yovani Gallardo for
the year because, gasp, he has thrown over 3,000 pitches! Imagine that, getting
laid off because you were “overworked”. 
Never mind that there are still two weeks to play. Never mind that this
is another ridiculous trend regarding use of a pitching staff. In the last 20
odd years we have gone from a 4-man to a 5-man rotation which seemed radical at
the time. Then we segmented the bullpens into long relievers, middle relievers,
one batter “specialists” (usually a lefty), set-up men and the closer. If I
hear one more manager say that their bullpen is overworked I think I will buy
Red Sox tickets (there is no fate is worse than that, I’d rather see the
Nationals). As the game lags on, nothing is more brutal than to watch the late
inning tedium, in the name of strategy, of managers doing the lefty-righty
shuffle between hitter and batter that usually doesn’t do much to the outcome
and drags the game on mercilessly long. I mean bringing in a lefty to face a
lefty in the 7th when you are down by five runs? Give me a break!

About that 3,000 + pitch total. This is more
ludicrous than the pitch count that has swept over the game like some vile
threat of destitution. When figuring Gallardo’s numbers, he averaged around 17
ppi (pitches per inning- just wait this stat is on the horizon).  In his illustrious career, Bob Gibson
averaged 292 IP/year. When you do the math, it means he threw on average 4,454
ppy (pitchers per year) and was never on the DL for an extended period of time.
Some other examples:

o  
Don Sutton                        3,995

o  
Tom Seaver                        4,250

o  
Nolan Ryan                        3,944

o  
Fergie Jenkins                    4,131

o  
Steve Carlton                     4,165

Every one of these Hall of
Famers except Jenkins pitched for at least 20 seasons and Fergie pitched for 19
and all for the most part were in 4 man rotations.

Here’s a scenario I’d love
to see:

I enter the office with my
cup of coffee in one hand and my Blackberry in another. I sit at my desk, fire
up the computer and check my voice mails. Just then I get a call from Willis,
my boss. “I need to see you in my office right away”.

Nothing good ever comes from
that request. I saunter on down the hall and plant myself on a chair directly
in front of Willis’ imposing desk. “Wilford”, he says, “it’s come to my
attention that you have already exceeded your sales quota for the year. You are
outperforming everyone else on the staff.” Great, I thought, a nice big raise.

“I’ve decided to let you
take off for the rest of the year”.

“What’s that?”

“You heard me. You have done
exceedingly well. It’s time to let the others catch up.”

“But who will call on my
customers. Take care of their needs?”

“We’ll handle that fine. You
need to go home and rest, you know, get fired up for next year. We’re gonna
need that drive and determination.”

“But….”

“No buts. Clean up your
office and we will see you in January.”

As I walked back to my
office, it occurred to me that I have been laid off with pay for doing too
well! Maybe I can become a starting pitcher in the major leagues!

 

 

 

CATCHING UP

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A Player For the Ages….

No it wasn’t as sexy as, say, setting a new hitting streak
record, but what Derek Jeter accomplished last week was monumental in its own
right. Think of the most storied franchise in the history of the game and of
all of the Hall of Famers who passed through Yankee Stadium: Ruth, Gehrig,
DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra. These names are synonymous with the Yankee tradition.
Now comes Derek Jeter, the team’s all-time hits leader, breaking Gehrig’s
record, which stood for 70 years.

Derek Jeter is now a true Yankee legend. Yet is doesn’t seem
like it, because his low-key and modest persona does not attract media scrutiny
like, say, Manny Ramirez.

Ten years from now it will sink in when a tour of Monument
Park will include seeing the number two included on the wall of retired
numbers. Maybe then we will appreciate what an asset to the game Derek Jeter
is.

 

Pity Milton Bradley?

Should we be surprised that Milton Bradley proved again that
he is his own worst enemy? Another meltdown has led to his season ending
suspension. He lambasted the press, the fans, and his teammates.  He has left a wake of chaos and
discontent wherever he has played. Yet, one can’t help to have some sympathy
for the man. He has a mental health disease that needs to be treated quickly
and aggressively. The Cubs’ fans shouldn’t be surprised by this since they have
booed him unmercifully almost since opening day. The sensitive nature of his
fragile makeup almost guaranteed this unfortunate outcome.  While it is easy to bash someone and
call them vile names, people need to understand that Milton Bradley is not a
bad person, he has a real medical condition that needs treatment.

Please, Milton, for your own sake, get some help.

 

The Brewers Are Mailing It In

Today, September 21, the Brewers open a three game series
against the Cubs 12 ½ games out of first place. They have effectively been out
of the race since the beginning of the month. Everyone knew that the starting
pitching has been woefully ineffective. GM Doug Melvin’s failure to improve the
rotation was unfathomable. He appeared during the telecast tonight defending
his inaction by saying he still has faith that the starters will bounce back
next year. Yah?  If you believe
this, you also believe that national health care will be cheaper and more
efficient.

The team is mailing it in. They might as well pack it up and
go home since they are playing like they can’t wait to get there.  Manager Ken Macha’s use of the pitching
staff is like a house painter using a different color paint in the middle of
doing a room. He lets the starters get pounded and when the game is all but
officially over goes to his “tired” bullpen. He will not give Yovani Gallardo
another start citing the number of “pitches” he has thrown! This is another
trend that is unsettling. If a team’s good players are not going to be used,
why don’t we just end the season a month earlier or give the loyal fans a
discount, like minor league ticket prices. Who needs to pay full price to watch
this travesty?

A promising start has been reduced to protecting pitchers
for next year. Do you feel as cheated as I do?

 

Should The Brewers Trade Prince Fielder?

This will be the hottest topic in the hot stove talks this
winter. Getting a jump on the speculation, I believe that the team should seek
legitimate offers. There are a few logical reasons for this.

First, when he is eligible for free agency he will seek and
probably get Teixiera money, his agent being the notorious Scott Boras. That,
of course, is out of the club’s price range.

Second, with the club in dire need for quality pitching, a
Fielder trade could reap a harvest of good young arms.

Third, not many teams will be able to afford Fielder and
among those who can, most are set at first base. The most likely pursuers will
be the Red Sox and the Mets.  The
Sox could upgrade the position since right now they are working a rotation
there between Youkalis, Martinez and Kotchman.  The Mets will have money to burn since they will show Carlos
Delgado and his $19.2 million expired contract to the door.

Who has the best pitching prospects? With Boston, it starts
with Dan Bard, Clay Bucholz and Michael Bowden. With the Mets, there’s not much
to offer. A Jon Niese or a Tobi Stone is about it. If the Mets had any other
good prospects they would’ve been up this year.

Trading Fielder will create a crater in the offense that
will not be easily replaced. And it will be spectacularly unpopular with the
fans. But he’s going to leave eventually so upgrading the pitching staff sooner
than later is the best outcome.

 

DOES ANYONE FEEL SORRY FOR THE METS?

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Except for die-hand Mets fans, does anyone feel sorry for the
dreadful state the team is currently in?  Most baseball fans are probably gloating over this since
there’s nothing they love more than to see a team that tries to buy a pennant
fail. Only the Yankees exceed their $149,373,987 payroll.

After late season collapses the past two years, the team had
high expectations that their largess would finally bring that long elusive
division title, especially with the opening of their magnificent new stadium. But
faster than an “Insane” Bolt 100m run the team became incapacitated and the
long spiral down began.

 

The opening day lineup looked like this:

Jose Reyes      ss

Daniel Murphy lf

David Wright 3b

Carlos Delgado 
1b

Carlos Beltran cf

Ryan Church      rf

Brian Schneider c

Luis Castillo 
2b

Johan Santana  p

The other starters being counted on were John Maine, Livan
Hernandez, Oliver Perez and Mike Pelfrey. JJ Putz was counted on to set-up
Francisco Rodriguez.

 Here was today’s lineup against the Rockies:

Angel Pagan  
cf

Luis Castillo 
2b

Daniel Murphy 1b

Jeff Francoeur 
rf

Cory Sullivan   lf

Fernando Tatis 
3b

Brian Schneider  c

Wilson Valdez 
ss

Tim Redding   p

 

Only three starters from the opening day lineup, Murphy, Castillo
and Brian Schneider, played tonight.

Let’s take a trip to the infirmary:

1 . Oliver Perez starts the season on the DL and just
recently went back on it with patellar tendinitis in his knee. In between
trips, he started 14 games, went 3-4 with a  6.82 ERA.

2,  May 11,
Carlos Delgado, right hip impingement, has not returned.

3. May 21  
Jose Reyes, right calf tendonitis, has not returned.

4. June 3     Ramon Martinez, fractured right pinkie,
has not returned.

5.  June 5    JJ Putz, right elbow surgery,
out for year

6. June 7   
John Maine, right shoulder fatigue, has not returned

7.  June 22
Carlos Beltran, bone bruise right knee, has not returned

8, July 9      Fernando Martinez, right knee inflammation, activated  Sept. 1

9. July 20   Fernando Nieve, torn right quadriceps,
has not returned

10. August 6 
Jon Niese, torn right hamstring, out for year

11. August 13 Joey Cora, thumb ligament surgery, out for
year

12. August 18 David Wright, hit in the head by a pitch, out
for 17 days

13. August 21 Johan Santana, bone chips, left elbow, out for
season

 

This list of injuries would be common for an NFL team, but for a baseball team it goes beyond unfortunate. It entered the bizarro world. 

It’s easy to enjoy the precipitous ordeal that is the 2009
New York Mets, now 59-74 after tonight’s 5-2 loss to the Rockies. The manager,
the coaches, the team, the front office and the fans can’t wait for this
disaster to end.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOME RANDOM THOUGHTS

Brewers….Stick  a Fork In Them
The year long struggle to get a resemblance of a starting pitching rotation has doomed the Brewers. I’m baffled that Doug Melvin could not find one decent starter or take a chance on someone ala the Phillies with Pedro Martinez and the Cardinals with John  Smoltz. I mean what do you have to lose? They couldn’t be any worse than our current group of slugs (except for Yovani Gallardo) and who knows, they could find lightning in a bottle.

Instead he demotes JJ Hardy and then refuses to trade him, releases then trades Bill Hall to the Mariners for a minor league pitcher and gives Bill Castro his walking papers.

Even though Alcides Escobar has started out fine, he can’t pitch and it is still way too early to project what kind of player he will be. 
 
So the Brewers who started out so promising are now cooked. And don’t look for much improvement in the near future. There are some attractive free agent starters worth pursuing in the off-season; Josh Beckett, Rich Harden, Tim Hudson, Cliff Lee and Brandon Webb to mention a few. Look for the club to make some half-hearted offers just to appease fans by saying offers were made but were rejected. Of the above mentioned, I would take a shot at getting either Hudson, Webb or, yes, even Ben Sheets. All three will be coming off major surgeries and their contracts could be uploaded with incentives. Perhaps they can go overseas and sign a Japanese pitcher, most of whom have done pretty well over here. 


BULLETIN: All may not be lost yet this year. It was just announced that Suppan and Bush are coming to the rescue with anticipated starts this week. l contend that nothing will change, that their chronic inflammation of the suck will continue to hinder whatever hope the Brewers have of climbing out of this mire. Quick, order a shipment of the anti-suck vaccine.

Jim Rice…Shut-Up!
Now that he is in Cooperstown, Jim Rice apparently feels that he can mouth off on all things baseball. His ridiculous criticism of Derek Jeter was uncalled for. He said that Jeter is not a good example for Little Leaguers! What, and I suppose Manny Ramirez is?
 
Who is Jim Rice to talk about a player who is already better than Rice ever was? Soon, Jeter will become the Yankees all-time hits leader. He is one of few major leaguers who truly represents the image of the game the way it should be. Scandal-free, he avoids tabloid headlines. He takes his Captain’s designation seriously.  If I had a young son right now you better believe I would want him to emulate Jeter.

And Rice? He’s lucky to be in the Hall of Fame.  If I were him, I would walk quietly into the sunset and never be heard from again.

Strasburg Era Begins.
Well the Nationals signed phenom Stephen Strasburg to a record contract for a draft pick. Thanks to Scott Boras, who’s only goal is to eventually bankrupt teams so long as his players are taken care of, a new era of inconceivable wealth is being awarded to unproven players who have yet to pitch or hit at the major league level.

These kids are now being enriched based on their potential. Imagine if Strasburg blows out his arm before he’s even pitched in the major leagues. Who loses? All of the risk is on the team, not the player.

Something needs to be done. To those who want to compare these contracts to those that rookies get from the NFL and NBA there are two big differences. One, first round picks almost always make the professional team the year they are drafted. In baseball, there is no guarantee. They sign rich contracts and begin in the minors. Second, both the NFL and NBA have restrictions on what they pay draft picks. The NFL has a slotting system with suggested pay ranges for draft picks, (baseball supposedly does to but it is, at times, ignored). The NBA has a hard salary cap for rookies. Baseball has neither and won’t as long as the union is calling the shots.

I don’t know where the Nationals, who play in front of some of the smallest crowds in the majors, came up with the money for this contract. They will be paying Strasburg over $15 million over the life of the contract. By contrast, the Brewers signed their first 13 picks for just over $6 million! The Marlins entire 2009 payroll is just over $21 million. 


The players contract ends in 2011 and this needs to be addressed before it gets out of control. The league will propose hard caps for signing bonuses like the NBA. Otherwise, as Melvin points out, why have a draft at all? Let every team have the opportunity to sign players. 
 
Of course, the union will make no concessions unless something is offered in return. Maybe a bigger percentage of royalties can be a negotiating chip.

ANOTHER PANIC ATTACK

So Brewers GM Doug Melvin thinks the answer to fixing a horrid starting rotation is to send JJ Hardy to the minors and Bill Hall to the Nederlands. It’s another panic attack that did nothing to address the real problem with this team.

Did I miss something here? If I recall, JJ Hardy wasn’t throwing batting practice curveballs during the game.  Yes, he was having a down year and he let his season long slump affect his fielding but to not cut him any slack is unfair. Jimmy Rollins is having a similar off year but I doubt that the Phillies will send him down. Was Hardy solely to blame for this dilemma?

As for Hall, this unfortunately was going to happen. Was it just three years ago that he went to center field and hit over 30 HR’s? The Brewers gave him more than a fair chance. Hall was one of my favorite players but I can’t argue with this move.

Finally, pitching coach Bill Castro gets the ax as the fall guy for the atrocious pitching staff. All Castro can do is give the staff his knowledge and wisdom; he can’t go out there and pitch himself. He ended up being the scapegoat because Melvin refuses to take responsibility for putting together the staff, including paying Jeff Suppan an obscene amount of money in what will go down as his worse free agent signing ever.

Melvin spoke about performance and being held accountable. Is that so. What about Mike Cameron and Jason Kendall neither of whom have performed well? Cameron strikes out at an alarming rate and is the worst hitter in the majors with RISP. Its obvious Kendall’s best days are behind him as he can’t throw and he can’t hit anymore.  Yet they stubbornly keep running him out there playing in more games than any other catcher.  Corey Hart wasn’t exactly tearing it up either before he got hurt.

We all knew Escobar would be up sooner or later, but how would you like to be in his shoes now, trying to replace one of the most popular players on the club?

So what did all of this upheaval prove? Not a darn thing. We still have the smelly staff and as long as we do, all the roster moves in the world will not change our direction.

Both Melvin and Mark Attanasio say they haven’t given up on the season.  If you think these moves will make the Brewers any better, then you are a dying optimist or a fool.