…so now that the World Series has concluded, Major League Baseball is about ready to announce their award winners. The Gold Glove awards (yaaaaaaawn) were announced last night. The Blowhard of course feels like he should add his two cents, starting with the American League…and remember, the postseason does not count:
Most Valuable Player:
- Aaron Judge, NY Yankees
- Jose Altuve, Houston
- Jose Ramirez, Cleveland
- Carlos Correa, Houston
- Mike Trout, LA Angels
- Nelson Cruz, Seattle
- Brian Dozier, Minnesota
- George Springer, Houston
- Josh Donaldson, Toronto
- Corey Kluber, Cleveland
Again, a 10 person ballot, so we did what we needed to do here. Turns out MLB had the same top 3, though it appears there are really only two candidates in Judge and Altuve. Spots 3 through even 20, I suppose you could have all kinds of different orders. Since Ramirez had the same OPS as Altuve and was on the best team in the league, I went with him third.
Anyway, back to the top two candidates. It appears that Altuve may have a leg up on the real ballot, based on what is being talked about nationwide. And sure, he was consistent all year long, while Judge was miserable in August and not so good in July either. Altuve hit 62 points higher. And Judge struck out 124 more times. But if you take a deeper dive, Judge’s OPS was 92 points higher, he scored 16 more runs (with Altuve being probably in a better overall lineup), walked a ton more and of course…the 52 homers. For those of you who believe in sabermetrics and the WAR stat, Judge was on top 8.8 to 7.9.
You probably can’t go wrong either way. But what sealed it for me? Judge hit .311, with 15 homers, 32 RBI’s and a 1.352 OPS is September as the Yanks made their playoff push. I know, he may have been hitting some of those bombs against minor league callups. But one also probably should consider the pressure of a playoff race as a factor as well. Along with the fact that everyone else is hitting off the same bums too. Anyway…
As for the rest…the true MVP may well have been Correa if he hadn’t missed over 50 games. Trout obviously still stakes a real claim to being the best player in baseball. So despite Mikey missing almost 50 games himself, he’s still gotta be there. Another member of the “about 50 games missed” club is Donaldson. His team sucked after having high expectations at the start of the season. But his numbers were sick in the games he did play. So I found a place for him.
I felt that someone from that inexplicable Twin playoff team had to be in the Top Ten…so that’s why Dozier is here. And he won a Gold Glove too…YAAAAY! Cruz and Springer…I suppose Francisco Lindor, Gary Sanchez, Jose Abreu, Justin Upton, Jonathan Schoop, Edwin Encarnacion or whoever else could have filled those spots. Lastly, as I’ve said in the past, I don’t love including pitchers in the MVP race. Once every 5 days for a starter and once every 3 days or so for a closer aren’t the same as playing every single day. But for one, I included 3 guys that missed about a third of the season here. And for two, if a pitcher’s performance deserves consideration, then it deserves consideration. Kluber’s 5-0, 0.84 in September helped him to deserve consideration.
- Corey Kluber, Cleveland
- Chris Sale, Boston
- Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland
- Luis Severino, NY Yankees
- Craig Kimbrel, Boston
This race seems pretty cut and dried to me. As opposed to last year where Kluber, Rick Porcello or Justin Verlander were pretty tight and any one of them could have won. Porcello did and boy do the voters probably feel foolish about that now. Maybe not, since each year is different. But we all know Porcello was horrific this year. Kind of makes me personally want to take the award away from him last year.
As for this year, Sale had his 300 strikeouts and all and had probably had a healthy lead in this race as the summer wore on. But Kluber’s stretch run blew him past Sale to take the Cy. Severino will be third in the real world, as he has already been announced as the third finalist. I’m going with Carrasco though, maybe for the sole reason that I hate the Yankees, I don’t know. Kimbrel was pretty dominant this year, so even though I don’t love relievers in this spot, his performance was hard to ignore. If you put Verlander there, I could live with that. But Ervin Santana or Drew Pomer…nevermind.
Rookie of the Year:
- Aaron Judge, NY Yankees
- Trey Mancini, Baltimore
- Andrew Benintendi, Boston
There really is no 2nd and 3rd here. Judge will be unanimous. Mancini had a higher OPS than Benintendi (.826 to .776), so I went with him 2nd. Plus, I was continuously furious with Andrew for all the boneheaded plays he made on the bases this season. Deserves to be knocked down. There really weren’t any other choices here. Yuli Gurriel is apparently technically a rookie this year. But since he is 33 years old, has played professionally since he was about 8 and had exactly 130 at-bats in 2016 (if he had 131, he would not have been considered a rookie in 2017), I’m passing on him for my ballot. Honorable mention goes to Matt Olson of Oakland here, since he hit 24 bombs in only 59 games and 216 plate appearances this year. Maybe I should have put him second…
Manager of the Year:
- Paul Molitor, Minnesota
- A.J. Hinch, Houston
- Terry Francona, Cleveland
Hinch’s Astros won the World Series. Tito’s Indians had the best record in the league. But Molitor is the ONLY choice here. The Twins made the playoffs this year after losing 103 games in 2016. How did they do that? I have no idea. Have you seen that squad?
Dozier had a good year. Miguel Sano was having a good year…until he missed the last 6 weeks or so with some sort of shin problem. Byron Buxton woke up in the second half (and won a Gold Glove…YAAAAY). Jose Berrios developed some and Santana had a nice year leading the rotation.
But the rest? Brandon Kintzler was an All-Star closer for the team…then was dealt to the Nationals at the trading deadline. The corpse of Joe Mauer is still around…and did hit .305. Kind of an empty .305 though. The rest of the pitching staff was pretty horrendous…and they actually gave a 44-year-old Bartolo Colon 15 starts, AFTER he went 2-8, 8.14 in 13 starts for the Braves.
I can’t see how this team finished anywhere near the playoffs. So Molitor should win this thing unanimously. Though I’m sure some idiot voted for John Farrell because the Red Sox finished first this year. After all, Nick Cafardo probably has a vote, eh?
Next: The National League
…so now it’s up to Clay Buchholz.
Think about that for a second.
Ok, that’s enough of that. Now get your head out of the oven.
The good news? This series is not over. The Red Sox are coming back home and that, in and of itself, should create a glimmer of hope. Cleveland is barely a .500 team on the road. They also score about a run and a half less per game away from their friendly confines. Their offensive numbers overall are much worse on the road, though the pitching splits are admittedly pretty similar. But Josh Tomlin should not be unbeatable either.
You would assume the Sox offense will wake up at Fenway. Well, they certainly can’t be any worse. The only guy who has shown up so far is Brock Holt. I suppose Andrew Benintendi too. But that is it. Similar to Cleveland, the Sox’ offensive numbers spike upwards at home. Though not the same as the Indians, their pitching stats do get worse at Fenway.
The bad news? Where do we start?
The Sox obviously have a good team and have the capability to not only come back in the series, but also take three in a row to win it. But does anyone have that vibe now? I don’t.
After winning 11 in a row to seal up the AL East, the Sox dropped 5 of their last 6 regular season games. This obviously cost them home field, at least for this series. How big was that really? Didn’t think it was a huge deal before the series. Feeling like that was the wrong assumption now.
People may write off the end of the season too. Players were tired, they wrapped up a playoff spot and lost focus, home field wasn’t THAT important, etc. But most of the regulars played most of those last 6 games. So John Farrell must have though they still did have something to play for. And then they didn’t get the job done in that respect.
This may have carried over to the first 2 games of this series. We have seen an alarming number of brain cramps and bad plays in a mere two games: Dustin Pedroia with an uncharacteristically brutal error in Game 2. Benintendi being lazy on a fly ball in Game 1, allowing a catcher to tag from first to second. Jackie Bradley Jr. with some terrible throws from the outfield, not to mention some horrific at-bats. Sandy Leon with a bad throw or two. David Price walking a the #9 hitter Roberto Perez, who hit .183 this season, TWICE in two at-bats. Rick Porcello giving up three bombs in one inning. Maybe even Marco Hernandez not taking third on a loose ball at the plate in the eighth inning in Game 1 (though there was only 1 out and he may not have made it, so maybe I’m being picky on this one). This is only to name some.
Has the season-long farewell tour caught up to David Ortiz as well? Especially with all of the events last week? Perhaps.
More bad news? You got it! Due to Corey Kluber’s performance in Game 2, the Cleveland bullpen will be fresh for Game 3 on Sunday. Specifically Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. So if Tomlin gets ripped, Terry Francona can do a similar thing Sunday that he did Thursday. And doesn’t everyone expect Buchholz to get blasted too? So Game 3 could very well play out exactly like Game 1. Not good for the Sox.
I would very much like to blame John Farrell for this series. But I can’t really. His two “aces” lasted 7 2/3 combined innings. His offense completely shut down. He has seemed to make the right bullpen moves. People may have complained about moving Holt to 2nd in the batting order and Xander Bogaerts down to 6th, but Holt has performed. I’m honestly not sure what else he could have done differently across the board. As much as I would like to bash him, I really can’t.
One thing I would consider though: Moving Benintendi to center and inserting Chris Young in left for Game 3. Bradley is 0-6 with 5 strikeouts. Probably would be 0-7 with 6 K’s if he didn’t get hit by a 0-2 pitch in his last at-bat Friday. He doesn’t look right any way you slice it. But what else can you do with the team? Not much I am afraid. Just have to hope the home cooking helps win Game 3. Then maybe bring Porcello and Price back on short rest and hope the results in their second starts in the series are vastly different than their first ones. Though how can we really expect that with Price’s career futility in the postseason?
I’m not packing it in, but it really does look like a lifeless team now, no? And then to have to rely on Buchholz. Yikes! But we’ve seen them do it before. Just have to hold out some hope for that.
The best thing about coming back to Fenway? No more shots of LeBron James and the rest of the Cavalier clowns in their luxury box. Please TBS, how many times did we really have to see that?
Speaking of TBS…I think we’ve had enough of them too…
…if the Big Papi tributes ever end, that is. Hey, don’t get me wrong, David Ortiz has made a tremendous impact on the Boston sports scene over his career. Big part of the Red Sox’ three World Series Championships…and hopefully soon a fourth. Tremendous in the community. Goodwill ambassador for the game. And all that. Can’t possibly say enough positive things about the man (“The Man”?). I just hate “farewell tours”, that’s all. My apologies. This applies to everyone, in any sport. It was silly to see these pregame charades going on in opposing cities during the season. Especially in cities Papi barely played in (San Diego? San Francisco? Please). Ortiz should absolutely be honored. And it should be huge. But do it some other time. And then do it again when he gets in the Hall of Fame.
Let’s really just be thankful that Jeremy Giambi was, well, Jeremy Giambi and that Ortiz got a chance to be in the lineup every day. Remember, the genius Theo Epstein loved him some Jeremy. Most of the “Theo” apologists had forgotten this long ago though.
While we are at it, you know what’s worse than farewell tours for players? Honoring broadcasters. Holy Vin Scully! Sure, Vin may have been great as what he did. But he is an ANNOUNCER! It’s not like he ever split the atom or cured cancer. He didn’t even make a difference on the field in any of the games he covered. Enough already. I’m sure he did a lot of great things for the community as well and is generally a good man. But he is just relaying what he sees on the field. Maybe throwing some cute anecdotes or something in there as well. Awesome. Hopefully the 48-year-old Scully was better than the 88-year-old Scully I heard on ESPN doing the 4th inning of a game a week or so ago. Wow. Mistakes and non-stop rambling. Kind of like all of the announcers who stay on too long…which is about every one of them actually. Jealousy? Maybe. And I sure hope to be as active as Vin at 88. But just how I feel.
I’ll definitely give the radio guys more props than the TV guys. Radio voices have to paint a sort of picture for the listener. Tougher job than just seeing what transpires on the field directly from the television set, where the viewer can already see the action. But still…
I’ll also give some props to some of the classic calls, such as Al Michaels’ “Do you believe in Miracles?!” Though nowadays when those calls are made they seem previously prepared and then when delivered therefore sound somewhat forced. Especially Jack Edwards’ ridiculous flow of words after a Boston Bruin’s victory. Half the time no one knows what the hell he is talking about.
Sssssssooooo…now that I have gone waaaaay off topic and likely pissed a lot of people off…let’s get to the upcoming matchup!
The Boston Red Sox will be playing the Cleveland Indians in one of the AL Division Series. Will Terry Francona come back and haunt his former team? One he won 2 World Series with? He might. And in reality a lot of people would love to see that due to how the team’s head honchos ran Tito out-of-town. Thanks Tito for the 2 rings…but a bad month with some chicken, beer and pain killers…and possibly a rendezvous or two with Hazel Mae (& others?)…so get the hell out? In truth, Tito had been here for 8 years and sometimes it is just time to move on. But his departure did leave a bad taste in many people’s mouths. They would love to see Tito stick it to John Henry and Tom Werner. Too bad Larry Lucchino technically isn’t involved here anymore. Because when you throw in the fact Uncle Larry essentially picked Francona’s successor doesn’t help. Most people haven’t forgiven any of the brass for the Bobby Valentine disaster.
On to the matchups on the field:
John Farrell can say what he wants about not knowing who is going Game 1 or Game 2. But with Rick Porcello going yesterday and David Price tomorrow…it’s pretty obvious. Cleveland will counter with Trevor Bauer in Game 1 and Corey Kluber in Game 2. Conventional wisdom says Sox win Game 1 and the Tribe Game 2. Trevor Bauer in Game 1??? Yikes!! Kluber is a possible Cy Young winner (again) and Price is 2-7, 5.12 career in the playoffs. BUT…Kluber hasn’t pitched since straining his quad a week or so ago and maybe Price finally finds postseason success with his 31 mil? Your guess is as good as mine.
I’m guessing Clay Buchholz in Game 3 (another Yikes!!) and Eduardo Rodriguez in Game 4. Looks like Josh Tomlin in Game 3 and no idea Game 4. Mike Clevinger? Ryan Merritt? Bauer? The Tribe suffers a lot here without Carlos Carrasco and Danny Salazar. If those 2 guys were healthy, the Indians roll. Then again, the Sox have a history of making no-names look like household names. Wouldn’t surprise me if someone like Merritt blanks them. Steven Wright is a no-go for the Sox and Drew Pomeranz is unlikely as well. Despite Wright’s All-Star first half, these 2 guys don’t compare to the 2 injured Indian starters. Any way you look at it, the pitchers available for this matchup look like a wash to me.
I would say the Sox carry 7 arms here for the first round. One less than the regular season. Craig Kimbrel, Koji Uehara, Brad Ziegler, Matt Barnes, Robbie Ross Jr., Joe Kelly (over Heath Hembree) and Robby Scott (over Fernando Abad) would seem the logical choices. Though it would not shock me in the least if Farrell thought it was 2013 and kept Junichi Tazawa either as the 12th or at the expense of one of the above. Scott is unproven, but lefty. And since Abad has pitched only once since September 16th, looks like he is out. Kelly still stinks. But they do still like him…better than Hembree anyway.
I’m not going to pretend I know a ton about the Indian bullpen. But what I do know is that Andrew Miller is better than anyone the Sox have. And they aren’t even using him as closer. 2 walks and 43 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings since joining the team. 9/120 in 72 2/3 IP overall. Wow. From a guy that used to never be able to find the plate earlier in his career. Compare him to Kimbrel, who this week has come in throwing gasoline on the fire and throwing the ball anywhere BUT over the plate. Just lost the game again tonight. Not encouraging.
Cody Allen is the closer. Not a lot of fanfare nationally it appears. But seems to be having a solid season. After all, they kept him at closer after the arrival of Miller. Koji has been getting the job done since his return from the DL. But hasn’t necessarily been untouchable. Farrell seems afraid to use Ziegler as much as he should. I like the Indian late inning guys a whole hell of a lot better than ours.
The rest of the Tribe bullpen? Dan Otero, Bryan Shaw, Zach McAllister…possibly Salazar. Looks like a pretty decent edge to the Indians here.
We know the Sox lineup has put up some runs this year. Looks like Brock Holt and Andrew Benintendi will be the primary 3B and LF, respectively. Don’t need to say anything about Mookie Betts, Papi, Hanley and Dustin Pedroia. JBJ had a surprisingly nice year of course. Xander Bogaerts disappointed in the second half, but still needs to be considered a factor. Sandy Leon rounds it out…in the middle of a .216 September.
Cleveland has some pop in Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli (34 homers and 101 RBI for Nap? Wasn’t he DONE last year?). Some speed and a little pop in Jason Kipnis, Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor. Tremendous speed in Rajai Davis. A couple of serviceable players in Lonnie Chisenhall and Tyler Naquin. And a catcher worse than the Sox’ (Roberto Perez). Yan Gomes is usually their catcher. But he just came back from injury and was atrocious this year anyway. Looks like it will be Perez.
The Red Sox SHOULD have a decided advantage here. What with them scoring over a hundred more runs than Cleveland. Just listing the opposing names really kind of covers the analysis here. But, as noted, the Indians do have a little power and can impact some games with their legs. Even Napoli and Santana have 5 stolen bases! If the Sox can jump out early, they should be able to keep the Tribe at bay. But any close games could result in Cleveland “stealing” games. Get it! Haha…I’m here all week…
Chris Young, Aaron Hill and Travis Shaw are the main dudes. Young and Hill specifically will play left and third, respectively, against lefties. But only Merritt is a (potential) lefty starter in this series. Backup catcher? I’d take Christian Vazquez. But guessing Farrell takes Bryan Holaday. As long as it’s not Ryan Hanigan. None of them really matter actually. 25th guy? A perfect pinch runner would be Yoan Moncada. But since he is nowhere near ready for the major leagues and made some baserunning mistakes when he did play in the final month to boot, I’m guessing Marco Hernandez takes this spot. Not to mention that I just found out they shipped Moncada back to minor league camp yesterday anyway. For what? I don’t know. I would’ve kept him along for the ride. Along with Bryce Brentz. But you already knew that.
Indians bench? Gomes or Chris Giminez at catcher. Brandon Guyer, Coco Crisp, Michael Martinez, Abraham Almonte, whoever. Uninspiring.
I’d give the edge to the Sox here. But if anyone makes any kind of contribution here on either side this series, with the possible exception of Young, I’d be a little surprised. Hill may get into games late, but hasn’t done a whole lot in the AL. Shaw has completely fallen off the map and out of the “rotation” altogether. It’s possible the Indian’s bench makes some impact with their legs, but not likely their bats. But who knows with postseason heroes coming from nowhere often.
As we speak, Cleveland has a half game lead for home field. They have one of the best home records in the majors so you may think this is a concern. The Sox have the 2nd best road record in the majors though, so it may not be. Not liking the way the Sox are choking games down the stretch, especially Kimbrel. But Farrell has been lifting Ortiz, batting Xander 6th, pitching Kelly in a save situation, etc. So he may not be that concerned about it. But speaking of Farrell, it is no secret that I don’t love him. Seems as if the Sox should have a few more wins under their belt this year. He could cost them a game in this series. The Tribe will really be hurt by not having a healthy Carrasco and Salazar, not to mention Michael Brantley. Though Brantley essentially hasn’t been there all year, so maybe his injury is irrelevant for these purposes. Indian speed could cause problems. And the bullpens could play a huge role. If Kluber can’t go or is far less than 100%? Not good.
That all being said, I’ll take the Sox in 5. Praying that Farrell keeps the bonehead moves to a minimum…