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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…

2016 MLB National League All-Stars

In honor of the Major League Baseball All-Star game selections being announced today, I present my National League All-Star picks.  21 position players, 13 pitchers, with each team represented (I don’t necessarily love this rule…but…it is the rule).  (S) for starter.  Comments below each position.

C:  Wilson Ramos, Was (S), Buster Posey, SF, Jonathan Lucroy, Mil

Surprisingly a lot of options here, compared to the AL.  Wellington Castillo and J.T. Realmuto actually earned some consideration in addition to the three I selected.  Yup, I am serious.  Anyway, I was tempted to once again go with Posey as the starter.  But I couldn’t ignore Ramos’ superior numbers.

1B:  Anthony Rizzo, CHC (S), Paul Goldschmidt, AZ, Wil Myers, SD

You can probably pretty much pencil in Rizzo and Goldy every year for the forseeable future, barring injury or change in leagues.  Myers is the Padres rep, but if you’ve been paying attention, he’s had a pretty good year regardless.  Last year somehow I took 6 first basemen.  Three here seems about right.  Brandon Belt is 12th in the NL in OPS, so maybe he has a case.  Freddie Freeman isn’t awful, but also isn’t lighting the world on fire.  His atrocious team does not help.  I decided on someone else for the Braves rep however.

2B:  Daniel Murphy, Was (S), Ben Zobrist, CHC

Murphy has carried over his performance in last year’s playoffs for the Mets right into this year.  Pretty much a no-brainer here.  Zobrist cost the Cubbies more than you would think this past offseason.  But it’s worked out great so far.  Not a lot of other candidates.  Couldn’t do DJ LeMahieu here at all.  Because, as you know, I penalize players a smidge for playing in Colorado.  Dee Gordon is serving a PED suspension.  Jean Segura?  Nope.

3B:  Kris Bryant, CHC (S), Matt Carpenter, StL, Nolan Arenado, Col, Jake Lamb, AZ

Did you know Carpenter leads the NL in OPS at 1.008?  And that Lamb is 2nd at .974?  Neither did I.  I was aware that Carpenter was having a pretty good year, but shocked at seeing where Lamb stands.  Bryant is 6th at .948, but he’s still my starter.  One of those guys you can pencil in for multiple All-Star selections before he is done.  Another monster year for Arenado, but you know…Colorado.  Puts him on the team regularly, but not as a starter.

SS:  Corey Seager, LAD (S), Aledmys Diaz, StL

Thin here again this year.  Trevor Story has been a nice…ahem…story, but I’m not putting him at this level yet.  106 K’s so far this year.  To put that in perspective, Chris Carter has 103.  Yikes!  Brandon Crawford deserved a look as well, but no room at the Inn for him this year.  Especially when his OPS is lower than a guy like Jonathan Villar.  Anyway, Seager is one of those potential stars and at 22 years old, he may be that already.  Diaz came out of nowhere earlier this year and kept Jhonny Peralta’s job when Peralta came back from his injury.  And he hasn’t missed a beat.

OF:  Yoenis Cespedes, NYM (S), Marcell Ozuna, Mia (S), Bryce Harper, Was (S), Carlos Gonzalez, Col, Gregory Polanco, Pit, Adam Duvall, Cin, Odubel Herrera, Phi

Seven outfielders, but since no DH’s are selected in the NL, 2 or 3 of these guys could rotate in there.  Another takeaway?  No Giancarlo Stanton or Andrew McCutchen.  I do like to try to include real “superstars” in these games, even if they are not performing to their usual standards in a specific year.  The All-Star Game is really an exhibition, even though it decides home field advantage in the World Series, as foolish as this decision continues to be.  Fans want to see these types of players though and that’s why the superstars get voted in regularly, regardless of current performance.  Unfortunately, those guys have been less than good this year.  On top of that, they may be the 3rd best option at OF on their own teams this season (Ozuna & Christian Yelich in Mia; Polanco and Starling Marte in Pit).  I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of them though.  Ryan Braun’s numbers are pretty good and he is 11th in OPS.  But since he is a “convicted” liar and cheater, he doesn’t make my team.  Ok, I am sure there are other scumbags on this team too.  But that’s what I’m going with.

Moving on, Harper isn’t having the best year.  But he’s the reigning MVP and putting up fairly decent numbers.  See the explanation above on why he starts on my team.  Gonzalez can be basically lumped in with Arenado…on the team every year, but playing in Colorado makes me never put him as a starter.  Cespedes and Ozuna seem like obvious starters to me.  Polanco is 5th among NL OFs in OPS.  Duvall and Herrera are their teams reps.  Since Jay Bruce and Joey Votto have slightly higher OPS’s than Duvall, you could argue either of them as the rep.  But I’m not.  Especially since Votto had a horrendous start.  The only other true candidate from the Phillies was Jeanmar Gomez.  No thanks.

P:  Clayton Kershaw, LAD (S), Max Scherzer, Was, Jake Arrieta, CHC, Johnny Cueto, SF, Madison Bumgarner, SF, Jon Lester, CHC, Jose Fernandez, Mia, Noah Syndergaard, NYM, Stephen Strasburg, Was, Julio Teheran, Atl, Kenley Jansen, LAD, Mark Melancon, Pit, Jeurys Familia, NYM

Probably like 5 or 6 of the above named starters have a legitimate claim to start the All-Star Game, but I’m going with Kershaw.  ERA is under 2.00 and of course he is his usual dominant self so far this year.  But he is hurt in real life, so if I had to choose a backup starter it would have to be Arrieta.  Since he is the reigning Cy Young award winner, maybe I should have picked him anyway.  Cueto is 12-1, Strasburg is 10-0, etc.  Lot of studs on this staff.  Well, Teheran is 3-7, but since his ERA is 2.72 and the Braves are really an AAAA-level team, he is here as their rep.

There was some talent left off here too.  Cases could be made for Jacob deGrom, Carlos Martinez, Kenta Maeda, the old John Lackey and the really old Bartolo Colon…if you can believe that.  Toyed with Drew Pomeranz as the Padres rep.  But felt like Myers was the better choice considering all the pitching options available in the NL.

The way I feel about closers, with all the options for starters, it is somewhat surprising that I didn’t go with 13 starters and no relievers.  But I felt the 3 closers selected were worthy.  Jansen and Melancon have ERA’s around 1.30 and Jansen, in particular, has been dominant.  Familia is 29-29 in save opportunities.  Speaking of dominant, it’s a little bit of a shame that Fernando Rodney got traded from San Diego to Miami…going from closer to setup man.  Yes, this just happened recently, but it did impact my thinking.  Rodney gave up ONE run in three months for the Padres, going 17 for 17 in saves opps in the process.  Sure, he only pitched a shade under 29 innings, but impressive nonetheless.  He may have been my Padres rep if he remained in SD.  But no way he is Miami’s.  Probably should have found a spot for him anyway.  Maybe we can pretend he will be Kershaw’s injury replacement…now there’s a win-win, right?!

The only other closers I gave consideration to were A.J. Ramos and Hector Rondon.  But Ramos didn’t quite do it for me.  And since Theo Epstein apparently is trying to pry one of the Yankees’ three bullpen studs to presumably unseat Rondon, I dismissed him as an option.  The only middle man I considered was Sadaharu Oh…ummmmm, I mean, Seung Hwan Oh of the Cards.  He appears to now be their closer, with Trevor Rosenthal being awful.  But the competition was too tough for him to have a realistic shot.

That about covers it…so let’s see how mine compares to the real selections…

Playing catch-up…baseball edition…

*David Price.  A couple of weeks ago, I said I wasn’t concerned about Price, despite his bad numbers.  I still can’t say that I am concerned.  But I have to tell you, we really need to see more…and soon.  13 starts into the season, 7-3, 4.63 just ain’t gonna cut it for $31 mil.  Especially when the rest of the staff sucks, other than a knuckleballer that could implode himself at any time now.

I know he’s pitched better recently.  But take the other night.  I know it sounds stupid to get on a guy that threw a complete game 3-hitter and only lost 2-1.  But let’s look a little deeper.  Price has had some games in which he got bombed, inflating the ERA.  He also has had some games where he gave up some runs right out of the gate.  This game?  A few things that an bona-fide ace should just not let happen.

Top of 4, Chris Young gives the Sox a 1-0 lead by dropping one in the seats.  What does Price do?  Gives it right back in the bottom of the 4th when he hangs one to Brandon Belt.

Bottom of the 7th.  Price is at 60-something pitches and cruising right along, despite the blip to Belt.  Then he throws like 30 pitches against the murderer’s row of Matt Duffy, Brandon Crawford, Trevor Brown and Jarrett Parker.  No runs, but…he should be blowing those guys away on at least half the pitches.

Bottom of the 8th.  Gives up leadoff homer to .190 hitting (.208 in 53 career at-bats) Mac Williamson.  Who??!

A three hitter against a National League team without Buster Posey and basically only Belt as a real threat is no huge accomplishment.  I’ll take it…but combined with his postgame comments about how “I have 7 wins and about a 5 ERA, I will get better.”  Should he be happy he has a near 5 ERA in the middle of June?  I don’t think anyone else is.

*This is why the Sox need to go get Yordano Ventura.  Well, there are many reasons.  The rotation stinks.  The organizational pitching depth is thin.  But most importantly, you may be able to get Ventura cheap…or cheaper than previously anyway.

If Kansas City truly does want to unload him, then he is worth a shot.  Sure, the numbers are down and he is flammable.  But he is still only 25 and throws gas.  Supposedly he is being “mentored” by Pedro Martinez.  Can that be a bad thing?  Pedro was a hothead and threw gas.  I’m not saying Yordano is going to be Pedro.  But I am saying Ventura is absolutely a risk worth taking, if the price is right.

*Hey, did you all know that Ichiro Suzuki is only 5 hits away from tying Pete Rose’s all-time hit record of 4,256?  Haha, no he isn’t.  I am combining his 1,278 hits in Japan with the 2,973 he has in the States.  And no, for the record, I don’t count his Japan hits.  Those are equivalent to hits accumulated in the minor leagues.

I broach the subject simply because for the past couple of years I have anticipated a lot of hoopla around Ichiro once he got “close” to Rose.  I figured a lot of jamokes would try to combine the totals and make a huge deal of it as he approached the number.  Especially since most of the people related to baseball would love for any way to erase Charlie Hustle from the record books.  I figured they’d be all over this…as bogus as it would be.  I am actually amazed I haven’t heard a peep.

That being said, being 27 hits away from 3k in the States alone is pretty impressive after his late start in the country.

*Madison Bumgarner in the Home Run Derby during the All-Star Game festivities?  Sign me up!!  Why the hell not?  The stodgy old baseball people will never let this happen.  But the game is for the fans and I guarantee the fans would eat it all up.  Just do it!!

*Joe Kelly to Pawtucket, Clay Buchholz to the bullpen.  I still want John Farrell fired…more on that later.  But I’ll give him some credit for making these moves, and the Fat Panda move at the start of the season, among other moves that he normally wouldn’t make.  Of course, Dave Dombrowski most assuredly gave Farrell his approval to make them.  But still…Farrell isn’t kowtowing to the veterans, as he has historically done.

In any event, Kelly stinks.  This has been no secret.  The St. Louis Cardinals always seem to know the right guys to get rid of (hello, Allen Craig!).  Why he has not been tried in the bullpen for one inning max is beyond me.  Maybe it’s because Curt Schilling is right.  Schilling, you say?  Pfffft…that guy is a gasbag!  That may be true.  But he knows pitching.  And in an interview earlier this week, he said “there is no ceiling to the numbers if Kelly had a baseball IQ.”  Ouch!  Schill then went into detail for his claim, basically saying that he doesn’t learn, but has amazing stuff.  So why aren’t coaches straightening this stiff out?  Got me.  Seems that it is then on the player.  And at 28 years old (Happy Birthday yesterday Joe!), that is not going to change.  Time to try something else…like the bullpen.

As for Bucky, I honestly can’t believe they went this route…to mop-up man.  I didn’t think they would release him.  And they can’t send him to the minors.  Perhaps a trade, but that wouldn’t happen overnight.  And with the organizational pitching depth being so thin, unfortunately, it is probably a good idea to keep him around…because when he is right (physically AND mentally), he can be dominant.

I think everyone fully expected him to get yet another phantom injury and spend a month on the DL and then several more weeks in Pawtucket on rehab…until he felt like he wanted to pitch up here again probably.  I would’ve likely still done that.  Because now you may completely lose the fragile (physically AND mentally) Bucky by burying him at the back of the ‘pen.  Maybe it was a new method to get him to take his head out of his arse.  We will see how it works out.

Unfortunately, I bet we see how Bucky responds to the demotion sooner rather than later.  The next time the Sox need a 5th starter, I would bet good money it is him.  Sigh…and I’m not going to expect different results.

*Psycho Steve Lyons said on a recent broadcast that “Hanley Ramirez is a Gold Glove first basemen.”  Also, “Name me who’s better out there now?”  ALSO, “He has made the infielders around him BETTER.”  Ummmmmm…Hanley has been serviceable at first.  But those comments from Lyons are borderline grounds for termination.

*Something that may only interest me…but I found it funny.  A week or so ago, the Sox called on the immortal Noe Ramirez to close out a blowout loss.  Noe comes in and can’t see the signs Vazquez is throwing down.  So Vasky wipes his hand in the chalk around home plate.  Presumably he can now see them.  I thought he had glasses?  Anyway, Noe then proceeds to give up back-to-back bombs.  I found a lot of humor in that for some reason.  Guess actually seeing the signs didn’t matter…

*If Jackie Bradley Jr. and some other prospects that are highly touted but have been deemed expendable can get me a legitimate #2 starter, I am doing it.  I’m still not buying in, sorry.  He’s gotta do it at the plate for a longer stretch than a month at a time.

I don’t dislike the guy, but I also don’t like him now being lumped into the “untouchable” group with Xander and Mookie.  He is not on the same level and too many people are putting him there.  Sure, he has value if he hits .250 and plays his exceptional defense.  But maybe Andrew Benintendi can do that too.  Or some other dude.  I’m striking while the iron is hot.  Let’s see what’s out there.

*Carson Smith is out for the year, Roenis Elias is in Pawtucket and as previously mentioned millions of times, the Sox rotation is not good.  But don’t tell me that Wade Miley is the answer.  5.27 ERA in Seattle as we speak.  Seattle…isn’t that a pitcher’s park?  I’m all set, but thank you.

*Finishing up with more Johnny Farrell.  God, I hope he never has to manage in the National League at all.  We saw what that would be like in the 2013 World Series, when it looked like he had no idea what a double-switch was, among other head-scratchers.  And we were then reminded on Wednesday night.

Tight game in San Francisco.  No need to go to your bench early.  Just because they took Bumgarner out and put in a righty, in a 1-1 game, there was no need to hit Travis Shaw for Josh Rutledge in the 7th inning.  Rutledge is not all that great, but Shaw has been slumping.  What’s the difference at that point?  Maybe later in the game for Rutledge, sure.  But when you have Vazquez and Price “hitting” also, it would’ve likely been better to save Shaw for later regardless.

Then the 9th.  Hanley gets on 2nd with no out, as Williamson drops his fly ball.  Nice gift.  I’m not sure I would’ve had Bradley bunt next, but probably would’ve leaned that way.  A hot hitter in Chris Young was up next and with one out a fly ball gets the tying run home.  With cool bats behind Young, it may have been the best move.  I guess you can’t blame Farrell for Bradley taking two close strikes to fan, but still…

So Young is due and Farrell HITS for him.  The guy is on fire, but just because it is supposed to be a righty-righty matchup and he still had David Ortiz at his disposal, Farrell feels like it is the move to make at this time.  Stupid because 1.  Young is hot, against lefties and righties.  2.  They would undoubtedly bring in a lefty to face Papi.  3.  They wouldn’t pitch to Papi regardless, with first base open and cold or terrible bats to follow.  How does he not see this?

Papi predictably walks.  Shaw predictably K’s against the lefty Lopez.  Marco Hernandez, hitting for Vasky, probably predictably grounds out and the game is over.  And Rusney Castillo was used as a pinch runner for Ortiz, so the only bat left on the bench to bat for Price if it got to that point?  Sandy Leon!  No one left if necessary for extra innings either.  Solid effort…keep up the great work Johnny…



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