Friday, November 16, 2007
-Barry Bonds is federally indicted. I’ll admit off the top that I have a bias against Bonds. He’s a jerk. He’s an angry, ego-centric, embittered a-hole. His contempt for the fans is something I think is disgraceful. However, I would agree with one of my colleagues at work: character is not a prerequisite for the Hall of Fame.
That said, Bonds legacy is in tatters, regardless of how his trial turns out. Bonds has expressed bitterness over his historic 756 home run ball being displayed with an asterisk. Now Bonds has to contend with the fact that his pursuit of the home run record led him to jail. It would be a fitting dénouement to his story.
Oh, and Bonds is in trouble, because the Feds rarely proceed to trial unless they feel it is a sure thing. If they moved to indict Bonds, they must have some pretty good information.
Make no mistake about it: Bonds career is over. Nobody is going to touch him for 2008 with this criminal indictment hanging over his head. He’s done. Who wants to sign a 43-year old baseball player with a pending criminal indictment? No team will want to deal with that kind of agony. That’s it. Goodbye.
-Alex Rodriguez is going to ink a 10-year, $275 million deal with the Yankees. I’m pretty surprised given that the Yankees High Command basically said, “hit the road, jack” when A-Rod opted out of his contract. The Yankees have their big bat in the lineup and the biggest free agent is off the market just days before Thanksgiving.
One column that I read argued that A-Rod is now baseball’s golden boy because the game needs for A-Rod to break Bond’s current record of 762 home runs and do it soon. If A-Rod really does play the next ten years, he could do it. He’s 244 from tying right now. I’m sure baseball would love to see A-Rod break it: a star about whom doping accusations have never been made, plays in New York City and is charismatic and interesting. Baseball, say hello to your new golden boy.
-The Phillies managed to re-sign J.C. Romero to a 3-year deal. He’ll be the set-up man for new closer Brad Lidge now that Geoff Geary went to Houston as part of the deal that brought Lidge here. I’m not a fan of Romero’s: his DIPS ERA was 4.11 in 2007, a full 2.87 runs higher than his ERA. He allows a LOT of walks (25 in 36 innings with the Phillies), too many in my opinion, to be a successful pitcher. I’m worried that he’ll get shelled this season.
-I wonder which of the big free agent centerfielders will be the first to sign: Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones or Rowand? My money is on Hunter inking the first deal to set the market. Jones will go second and Rowand will benefit from the fact that teams desperate for a bat will give him big, big money. Kinda like Carlos Lee from last season.
-We’ll have to see another big deal in the first week of December. With the Twins trying to move Johan Santana to the highest bidder in all likelihood, there have to be some mega-deals out there. With the dearth of pitching on the market, trades are going to be the only way that teams build up their rotations. Mark my words: the Phillies will contact the White Sox about a deal for Jon Garland and soon.
-The Phillies won’t pursue Mike Lowell. They’ll focus on pitching and try to snare a third baseman as an add-on to any trade.
-The Phillies might go out and re-sign Randy Wolf if the price the White Sox mention for Garland is too high. Wolf had a so-so year for the Dodgers (9-6, 4.73 ERA), but I actually think he pitched rather well, surrendering just ten home runs in 102 & 2/3 innings (0.87 HR/9) and getting a lot of strikeouts (8.24 K/9). I think he’d be a solid pickup if the Phillies can’t get Garland.
Monday, November 12, 2007
AL Manager of the Year
Who will win … Terry Francona, Boston Red Sox.
Who should win … Joe Torre, New York Yankees.
Perhaps baseball will give the award to Torre to spit in the eye of George Steinbrenner and the mighty Evil Empite in the Bronx. No, baseball will give the award to Francona because the Red Sox were the strongest team in baseball in 2007, seizing control of the A.L. East and never relinquishing it on their way to their second World Series title in four years. The deserving candidate is Torre, who won it in 1996 and 1998, but who turned in his greatest performance as a manager this season, taking a Yankees team that was 21-29 on May 29th, and then going 73-39 the rest of the way. Torre took a team loaded with egos and no pitching and succeeded in making them into contenders. He was the A.L.’s best manager.
NL Manager of the Year
Who will win … Charlie Manuel, Phillies
Who should win … Manuel
Maybe the Rockies Clint Hurdle stands a chance here, but Manuel took a team that struggled early in the season (remember that 3-10 start?) and had a pitching staff that was eviscerated and created a winner. His calm presence and skilled tactics led the Phillies to victory. Did anyone in baseball, aside from maybe Joe Torre, do a better job? I think not. Manuel should be a lock.
AL Rookie of the Year
Who will win … Daisuke Matsuzaka, Boston Red Sox.
Who should win … Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox.
Dice-K was pretty decent in 2007. Pedroia led all rookies in OPS (.823, 108 OPS+) and really came out of nowhere to help power the Red Sox to the World Series. Dice-K got all of the glory and will win the award, but I think teammate Pedroia was the best of an uninspired lot.
NL Rookie of the Year
Who will win … Troy Tulowitski, Colorado Rockies.
Who should win … Tulowitski.
Let’s see … Tulowitski plays shortstop, a demanding defensive position, very well, and he hit 24 Home Runs, 99 RBIs, .838 OPS (110 OPS+). He led all N.L. shortstops in Range Factor (5.39) and in Fielding Win Shares (10.9). Hard to have a better rookie season than that! Tulowitski was clearly the best rookie in the National League.
AL Cy Young
Who will win… Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox.
Who should win… Beckett.
Beckett, the sole 20-game winner in the majors in 2007 (20-7), will win the award, and he clearly deserves it. While the Twins Johan Santana pitched well, he lost a step in 2007/ Beckett’s Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) ERA was 3.22 to Santana’s 3.94. Beckett also had a better K/BB ratio: 4.85 to 4.51, and allowed fewer walks (1.9 BB/9 to 2.3) and fewer Home Runs (0.80 to 1.45 HR/9) than Santana. I actually think the Indians C.C. Sabathia is the runner-up, rather than Santana. Still, this was Beckett’s season. Bottom-line: Beckett was the best pitcher in the AL in 2007.
NL Cy Young
Who will win … Jake Peavy, San Diego Padres.
Who should win … Brandon Webb, Arizona Diamondbacks.
I give the edge to Webb over Peavy because Peavy accumulated his stats playing in the park that favors pitchers above all others in the Major League. Peavy gets more strikeouts (10.4 K/9 to 7.7), gives up roughly the same number of walks (2.9 BB/9), and gives up slightly more home runs (0.56 HR/9 for Peavy to Webb’s 4.8). Peavy’s FIP is 2.80 to Webb’s 3.19, but Peavy plays in a pitchers park with a terrific defense backing him up. Webb plays in a hitters dream with a mediocre team behind him. Much like how Sandy Koufax carried the Dodgers in the 1960’s, Brandon Webb carries the D-Backs. They’d be sunk without him. Maybe this is an argument based on sentiment more than hard stats, but I like Webb for his second consecutive Cy Young award.
Who will win… Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees.
Who should win … A-Rod.
Basically, this is the only award that the Red Sox won’t take. How good was A-Rod? 54 Home Runs, 156 RBI, 160 Runs Created, 31 Doubles, 24 steals in 28 tries … A-Rod was clearly the best player in the American League in 2007. Nobody played better baseball. Had it not been for A-Rod’s torrid April, the Yankees would never have made the playoffs at all. As it stands, he was the best bat in the league and played a tough defensive position well. If the ballot isn’t unanimous for A-Rod, I’d be shocked.
Who will win … Matt Holliday, Rockies.
Who should win … Jimmy Rollins, Phillies.
Hitting 36 Home Runs, 137 RBI, .405 OBP, and 125 Runs Created ought to win you the MVP award. But who was more important to their team than Jimmy Rollins? Holliday was a cog in the Rockies machine, but Rollins was the fire-starter for the Phillies. This was no ordinary season for J.Roll: 38 Doubles, 20 Triples, 30 Home Runs, 94 RBI, 41 stolen bases in 47 attempts, 122 Runs Created. Sure, there are things not to like about Jimmy Rollins. His .345 OBP is too low for a lead-off hitter. And he did lead the N.L. in Outs with 527. But he has a unique blend of speed, power and defense and his terrific play was vital in sparking the Phillies to the NL East crown. He was the best individual player in the league and was the most important to his team. He was the 2007 NL MVP. Give it to him!
Alright, sometime this week look for Part II of my Minor League review, then look for Part I of my Phillies Season in Review: Fielding next Monday.