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More hardware…

…now for the National League.  Full disclosure:  The Blowhard watches a whole helluva more American League baseball than National League.  This may be quick…

Most Valuable Player:

  1. Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
  2. Daniel Murphy, Washington
  3. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
  4. Nolan Arenado, Colorado
  5. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
  6. Joey Votto, Cincinnati
  7. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
  8. Yoenis Cespedes, New York Mets
  9. Buster Posey, San Francisco
  10. Corey Seager, LA Dodgers

10 guys is definitely steep here, as from what I can tell it’s Bryant and then 9 other guys to fill out the ballot.  Murphy 2nd?  Why not?  He led the league in OPS.  He was 13th in WAR?  Oh no!!  I can’t in good conscience put Arenado at #2.  Sure, his numbers are once again great.  But again…Colorado.  I felt like Murphs deserved to be higher than Rizzo and it feels like 2-4 is the next “tier” after Bryant.

5-7…MVP’s?  I don’t know.  These guys all had great years, but their teams were awful.  I have friends that would probably put Freeman 2nd, since he was 3rd in both OPS and WAR and well, it doesn’t matter that his team finished 26 and a half games out of first.  They also probably would put Jon Lester 3rd, since he is…Jon Lester.  You know who you are.

8-10 I was just throwing darts.  Even considered Wilson Ramos.  Ryan Braun had some decent numbers, but…

Speaking of Lester, he may well have been worthy of a top 10 nod, along with Max Scherzer.  And perhaps Madison Bumgarner.  Didn’t feel it here though.  If you do, I wouldn’t argue with it.  Like I said, the whole list was basically a crapshoot anyway.

Cy Young:

  1. Max Scherzer, Washington
  2. Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs
  3. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco
  4. Johnny Cueto, San Francisco
  5. Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs

Here’s a ballot that could use the 10 spots.  Not that all of those 10 could be considered the winner of the Cy Young.  But there were several others in the league that warranted “end of ballot” consideration.  These include, Noah Syndergaard, Clayton Kershaw, Carlos Martinez, Jake Arrieta and the late Jose Fernandez.  Perhaps Kenley Jansen and Mark Melancon too, if you like your closers.  We know I don’t though.

I see this as between just Scherzer and Lester.  And, of course, as a Boston homer, I would’ve loved to give this to Jon.  But after going deeper into the numbers there was no way I could do it.  Lester had a better ERA by about a half a run.  But that’s where it ends.  Max had a better WHIP by a smidge, pitched about 26 more innings, had one more win, almost 90 more strikeouts…and for those who like WAR, it was 6.2 to 5.3 in favor of Max.  The competition in their divisions were similar with one playoff or near playoff team, one average team and 2 putrid ones.  Plus the Cubs won their division handily and surely faced less pressure…not a major consideration, but it was all part of the equation that added up to Max.

Bumgarner and Cueto were a pretty clear next tier to me.  Hendricks got the last spot largely because he led the league in ERA by a healthy margin and was 2nd in WHIP by a slim margin.  Pushed him ahead of Noah for me.  But I didn’t lose a ton of sleep over 5th place.

Rookie of the Year:

  1. Corey Seager, LA Dodgers
  2. Kenta Maeda, LA Dodgers
  3. Trea Turner, Washington

Seager was the clear-cut choice here.  No other hitter played enough to qualify, while Seager played the whole year at a high level.  I don’t love putting Maeda second, not after 8 years of pitching in the Japanese leagues.  Yes, Japan is not the majors.  But it’s probably better than Triple-A teams stateside.  Either way, the rules say he is eligible for this award.  Since he was also around for a full season and put up some pretty good numbers on a playoff team, he gets the runner-up position.

Third place could have gone a few ways, but I picked Turner.  Showed great speed (33 steals) and good power (13 dingers) in about half a season.  Throw in the high average (.342) and that sealed up third for me.  Trevor Story was on his way to throwing up some monster numbers before missing the last 2 months or so with injury, but…Colorado.  Aledmys Diaz also threw up decent numbers before he missed the better part of the last two months himself.  And he was an All-Star, for whatever that’s worth.  Seung-hwan Oh had a very nice year in relief for the Cards.  After 9 years in Korea and 2 in Japan.  Plus…reliever.  Junior Guerra, Steven Matz, etc.  There were a bunch of NL rookies who offered pretty good contributions for a half or three-quarters of a year.

Manager of the Year:

  1. Dusty Baker, Washington
  2. Joe Maddon, Chicago Cubs
  3. Bruce Bochy, San Francisco

Between Baker and Maddon and I hate Maddon, so gimme Baker.  Nah, that’s not the reason.  But it’s hard to vote for a guy that won the division by 17 and a half games and was on cruise control for pretty much the whole season.  That’s what I think anyway.  Sure, he had to keep the team full of All-Stars focused and all.  Sometimes that can be hard (see Francona, Terry and Torre, Joe, among others).  But I went with Baker for the top slot.  Dusty took over for Matt Williams and guided the Nationals to 12 more wins…despite a MAJOR drop off from 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper.

If you wanted to put Terry Collins of the Mets 3rd, that would be ok.  He had to deal with many injuries, specifically in his rotation, where among all his young studs 43-year-old Bartolo Colon ended up making the most starts.  The team suffered injuries in his lineup as well.  And Collins still got them to the playoffs.  Bochy didn’t necessarily have to deal with a boatload of injuries.  But he did have to deal with a subpar everything, other than Posey, Bumgarner and Cueto.  Either one works for 3rd for me.

That about sums it all up…

Bye Bye Jonny Lester

But is it a bad thing?

Well, it sure as hell is right this second.  Unless you love you some Clay Buchholz as your #1 starter.  And Joe Kelly as your #2.  And from the collection of Allen Webster, Brandon Workman, Rubby de la Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo, Steven Wright and several others, your #3-#5.

YIKES!!

Some of the latter names, as well as some kids not mentioned, may well turn out to be great major league pitchers.  But they aren’t close right now.  So when you spend jillions of dollars to beef up your lineup with the Fat Panda and Hanley Ramirez, the pitching staff should follow suit, no?

But I am not panicking yet.

Listen, I have said all along I wanted Lester back and would have overpaid to do just that.  Although I’ve never considered him a true ace and under normal circumstances, I would not in a million (pun intended) years give him a 6-7 year contract for 150 mil plus at the age of almost 31.

But as I have also explained, these are not normal circumstances.  Look at the rotation names above.  That’s pretty much all you need to see.

Too late now.  It actually may have been too late once the Red Sox management, in their infinite wisdom, decided to start the negotiations at 4 years, 70 million back in the spring.  Look how close that was.  Fair negotiations are one thing.  Lowballing is another.  Being total morons are completely another.

Bashing the ownership trio of John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino, however easy it seems to be to do, is somewhat difficult for me actually.  After all, these guys have brought Red Sox fans THREE World Series Championships in the last decade.  After having none for 86 years.  Can’t really complain about that.

But you have to wonder about them sometimes.  That initial offer to Lester is laughable, these days even for a back end rotation guy it seems.  No less a guy that has come through your system, helped win 2 of those World Series’ (not to mention being lights out in them), overcome cancer while here, also has overcome the whole “chicken and beer” smear and blah, blah, blah.  These guys are businessmen, I get it.  They are trying to negotiate a deal that works in their favor, while also hoping that Jonny would give them the ol’ “hometown discount” (banking on something that Lester himself had said he would likely consider).

Sometimes you just have to ante up though.  Pinch your pennies elsewhere.  If they anted up in the spring, Lester may have signed for something along the lines of 5/100.  Once he had the great year and generated a ton of interest, that price obviously went up.  5/100 would have been reasonable.  6/155 that the Cubs gave him is downright stupid.  But also necessary, based on the market this winter.  If the Cubs get 4 pretty good years out of that, the deal is likely a good one for them.  Curious to see what triggers the 7th year at 15 mil.  A little excessive, if you ask me.  But the Cubs didn’t, so whatever.

I actually think that Lester wanted to return here.  He left them in the loop until the end.  And in the end the Sox offered 6/135.  Jon wasn’t leaving 20 mil (potentially 35 mil) on the table for sure, so he moved on.  Can’t blame him for that.  On top of that, makes you wonder if the Sox owners actually wanted him here in the first place.  Starting with the lowball offer last spring.  Along with the fact that they absolutely could’ve come up and matched the Cubs offer.  But they didn’t.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, John Henry went down and met with Lester and talked legacy and all that stuff.  I’m thinking right now though that it was all for show.  Make the Sox fans believe they tried to sign him and make them look good.

I’m not buying “the recruiting” right now myself.  Listening to Ben Cherington talk today and him saying stuff like “we went as far as we could go” and “we were looking for more dialogue, but we didn’t get it”.  Makes me want to vomit.  Are people really going to buy this crap?  I guess Ben is just reading off the script the trio gave him.  But still…

Anyway, back to the “not panicking” comment.

It’s December.  Still plenty of time to mold the roster for April.  Still plenty of available players, both free agents and through trades.  The Sox have plenty of “assets” to deal.

I’m not ruling out a run at Max Scherzer either.  Yes, he would be more expensive than Lester.  And he is about the same age.  Scott Boras represents him.  All of that.  But he is probably the better pitcher overall.  He has pitched pretty well in the postseason as well.  Would be a true #1 ace.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not expecting it.  But it wouldn’t surprise me.  Since he will be out there for a while since that is how Boras does business, it may depend on how desperate the Sox get.

I think they will investigate other (read:  cheaper) options first however.  I was screaming for them to deal some of the kid pitchers LAST offseason.  They had plenty with good prospect rankings.  And they had yet to be potentially exposed in the majors to that point.  But they didn’t make deals.  Of course then some of them were exposed in the majors a little last year…and not in a good way.  Hopefully all the shine is not off of all of them for good however.

They also have a glut of position players on the roster.  OK, so I am not necessarily counting guys like Jackie Bradley Jr., Will Middlebrooks & Allen Craig.  Or even Daniel Nava or Brock Holt…who are nice pieces, but aren’t exactly going to bring you an ace back…or anyone close to that.

But they have Yoenis Cespedes to start.  Even with only one year left on his deal, and sure to command big dough after that, he should bring you a significant return.  Then you can try combinations of others to make something work.  I’m not interested in trading guys like Blake Swihart, Xander Bogaerts, Mookie Betts or Henry Owens.  But if someone blows you away, all bets are off.  Everyone should be available for the right price.

I’m also in favor of building a great bullpen.  Overpaying for relievers is much different than overpaying for starters.  The back end consists right now of Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa and Edward Mujica.  Maybe Brandon Workman goes back to the late innings in 2015, where he had so much success at in late 2013.  This is a nice start, but a lot more work needs to be done here.  As silly as that Andrew Miller contract was, I probably would’ve signed him for that (4/36).  Sox can afford it if he washes out.  Guys like Luke Gregerson and David Robertson are no longer available.  So to get an impact reliever, the Sox may want to act fast in this area…for free agents anyway.

But there is time for the rest.  Let’s see what happens and then we can judge it when all is said and done.

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