Thursday, November 15, 2012

Daily Hot Stove Wrap Up 11/15

Almost the weekend but not quite.  It's November 15th and by now, us baseball junkies are starting to feel some serious withdrawal.  The blockbuster Blue Jays-Marlins trade still the biggest news of the week along with Torii Hunter signing with the Tigers.  It's also Awards week which I admittedly failed to mention in last night's Hot Stove Update.  Last night, the AL and NL Cy Young winners were awarded, the night before was Manager of the Year after Rookies of the Year.  Here's a quick recap/blurb about awards, awards, awards to kick off Thursday's edition of the Daily Hot Stove Wrap Up.  

Rookie of the Year

  • American League: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels 
C'mon, did you really think this one was ever in question?  The biggest question is will Mike Trout also take home the AL MVP which is announced tonight.  Trout's outstanding year out-shined a fine performance by Yoenis Cespedes, but in the end, it was never in question as Trout took all first place vote in a unanimous decision to cap off one of the greatest rookie performances in baseball history.  Oh yeah, the kid is 21....that's right 21.  Anyone else feel like they haven't done crap with their life?

  • National League: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
The other wonderkid, who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated at 16 and graduated high school early has just about done everything you can do as a baseball player at -- 20?  That's right, the Washington National's outfielder received 16 of 32 votes from the NL Panel, just narrowly edging out SP Wade Miley of the Diamondbacks.  With 22 home runs as a teenager, Harper's energy and hustle was a key component to bringing postseason baseball back to the nation's capital for the first time in almost 80 years.  There was serious clamor for Miley along with some minor down-the-ballot controversy, but I don't think anyone can complain about this choice.  

There were questions about whether the Angels and Nats rushed two of their top prospects this season and whether they could perform at a major league level so young.  The only question now is what two talented youngsters do for an encore and what will be the next trophy they hoist?  Congrats.

Manager of the Year

  • American League: Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics
I really thought it was going to be Buck Showalter of the Orioles and so did a lot of voters as Melvin narrowly edged Showalter by 116-112 points.  Still, it's hard to argue with what the As skipper did this season, winning the AL West against the flashier rosters in Texas and Los Angeles.  And in true "Moneyball" fashion, Oakland did it all with a low budget and scrappy players most teams had given up on.  Sure the Orioles had a fine season but it was the Oakland As who were one of baseballs funnest teams to watch and one of the hottest teams down the stretch.  

  • National League: Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals
It's exciting to be a baseball fan in DC.  In a city where most people are transplanted, out-of-towners, Nationals Park was rocking in 2012 with stars like Gio Gonzalez, Harper, Michael Morse and Ryan Zimmermann in capturing their first NL East Division crown and bringing playoff baseball back to America's capital for the first time since 1933.  Johnson won 23 of 32 possible first-place votes and has already announced he will only be back for one more season before moving into a consultants role, so let's see if the Nats can replicate last year's success and see what kind of managerial candidates will appear on the short list to replace him.   With a roster full of young, exciting players expect the vacant position as Washington's new skipper to be one of the most coveted position open in baseball.  Well, that and Melky Cabrera's personal trainer.  Or Price Fielder's nutritionist.  Or Alex Rodriguez's publicist.  Let's just say anyone would be thrilled to lead this team after next year.  

Cy Young Award

  • American League: David Price, Tampa Bay Rays
In one of the closest Cy Young votes in history, David Price won his first Cy Young Award by narrowly beating out Detroit's Justin Verlander by a mere four votes.  It seems like just yesterday that Price was dominating AL hitters out of the bullpen, during Tampa Bay's surprise run to the World Series in 2008 an now the young pitcher is dominating hitters as a starter.  Price may have benefited from pitching to stiff competition in the AL East, and while Verlander had another spectacular year, it's not like Price's selection is without merit.  He led the league in ERA, finished sixth in strikeouts and tied for first in wins by going 20-5 (I'm not going to get started on wins as a reliable pitching credential today).  Surprisingly, Angel's Jered Weaver came in a distant third to Price and Verlander, despite a no-hitter and a sparkling 2.81 ERA and may have been hurt by, well, being hurt as he only threw 188 2/3 innings compared to Price's 211 and Verlander's 238 1/3.  

  • National League: R.A. Dickey, New York Mets
Need anymore proof that baseball is a game for the underdogs, consider the story of R.A. Dickey.  Proving that something good can come out of Queen's baseball once in a while, the 38-year-old Dickey became the first knuckleball pitcher to win a Cy Young, two years after being the first player cut by the Mets in spring training.   In a vote that really wasn't all that close, Dickey collected 27 of 32 first place votes by tossing a record 32 2/3 consective scoreless innings, winning 20 games, and leading the league in strikeouts, innings pitched and quality starts.  Dodger's Clayton Kershaw and Washington's Gio Gonzalez finished second and third, respectively.  It's been a year to remember for R.A. (who had boldly published a memoir that detailed past sexual abuse he had suffered as a child).  For an unlikely pitcher, throwing an unlikely pitch, us at the Full Count send our congrats to Dickey, who proves once again that nice guys can finish first.  

  • That's not all the fun this week as one of baseball's biggest season long debates will have answers as the MVP races are decided this evening.  If you're hearing for the first time about the type of season Miguel Cabrera of the Tiger's had, well, congrats on getting out of the coma.  Miggy won the first Triple Crown since the Johnson Administration while leading Detroit to a World Series.  Mike Trout is the favorite of the new breed of baseball fans who think sabermetrics is a magic formula to winning.  I've been writing about him all week too, so I'll leave readers a tool called Google to find out exact stats for Mr. Trout.  
  • While I have opinions about who I want to win (and if you have read about what team I support from past posts, you probably already know), I think Cabrera will win.  Don't get me wrong, I think Trout had an outstanding, historic year and probably should get it given his defense and speed on the basepaths, but there are enough "traditionalists" left to just pull Miggy to his first AL MVP.  The fact that the Tiger's made the playoffs might help.  It's not relevant at all but you'd be just as naive to think that stuff like that doesn't matter to the voters.  
  • On the National League side, expect Buster Posey of the Giants to win his first MVP.  The only serious challenger (Cardinal's Yadier Molina) plays the same position at catcher and Posey was stronger in most of the head-to-head stats.  Pirates OF Andrew McCutchen is a personal favorite, but he struggled badly down the stretch as Pittsburgh faded.  Voters will probably be scared away from voting for Ryan Braun less than a year after his issues with PEDs, and while Chase Headley had a fine season in San Diego, if he wins, I will post pictures of naked Swedish women on this blog immediately after the award is announced.  That I can promise you.  
  • The pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona, now known as Roberto Hernandez is drawing interest after the Indians declined his option, making him a free agent.  A myriad of issues such as injuries and getting his name right on his visa plagued Hernandez during 2012, but expect the 32-year-old to land a low-level offer with some sorry franchise, desperate for pitching Cleveland.
  • The Cubbies have signed catcher Dioner Navarro to a one-year deal worth $1.75 million.  It may not seem like a big deal, but if your club has a professional backup catcher that can hit (.290 in 2012) and plays solid defense, that can be the difference for a couple of wins a year.  
  • Speaking of backup catcher, the market is starting to get pretty thin as the Braves have signed Gerald Laird to a 2-year deal.  Laird hit .282 in his best offense year since 2008 with the Tigers last season while earning the sarcastically affectionate nickname "G-money."  That's about all I have to say about Gerald Laird.  
  • Long time closer Brian Fuentes has retired from baseball at the age of 37.  Fuentes had a terrible year with the Cardinals and Athletics last season but will always be remembered as that "sidearmed guy who's a pretty good closer for the Rockies, maybe we can get him at the trade deadline" from several years past.  Godspeed Brian Fuentes.  
  • Angels are reported to have interest in Hiroki Kuroda.  The catch is that they'll only pursue him if they fail to re-sign Zack Greinke.  My guess is they'll re-sign Zack Greinke, if not overpay.  It's the Angels, not the Twins, they will spend the money.  
  • Rox Sox GM Ben Cherington says that bringing Kevin Youkilis back to Boston is "not outside the realm of possibility" which translates to normal people languages as "probably not."  Still, Youkilis is still loved in Beantown so don't be too surprised if it happens.  
  • Obligatory Alex Rodriguez rumor post: nothing new on this front, everyone.  
  • The Brewers have signed ex-Chicago Cub Blake Lalli to a contract but don't expect many boos from Wrigley Field when he steps to the plate in Chicago wearing a new uniform next year.  
  • And finally good news out of Oakland as pitcher Brandon McCarthy was cleared for baseball activities, less than three months after a scary line drive to the head ended his season and sent him to the ER.  Welcome back Brandon, continue to provide us with electric fastballs and hilarious tweets (if you're not following @BMcarthy32 on Twitter, you really should)

It's been a good day in baseball.  Catch me tomorrow after Mike Trout edges Cabrera for MVP by one point tonight because Aaron Boone (yes, he has a vote) left Cabrera off the ballot completely because of some secret prejudice towards Venezuelans and Hugo Chavez.  And after I finish a bonfire of Aaron Boone in effigy in my apartment complex after it happens, while chanting "Injustice, no one even knows what WAR is much less Aaron Boone."  Okay I'm a huge nerd.  Goodbye