Major League Baseball will start handing out the hardware for the 2019 season next week. The finalists for all the major awards have also been announced. The Blowhard has his opinions, and the finalists in real life won’t necessarily be the finalists in this “vote”. We will list out our picks like it was a real ballot. Meaning, 10 choices for MVP, 5 for Cy Young, etc. And let’s please remember, the postseason results don’t count. Real life ballots are finalized once the regular season ends. Let’s dive right in:
Most Valuable Player:
- Mike Trout, LA Angels
- Alex Bregman, Houston
- DJ LeMahieu, NY Yankees
- Xander Bogaerts, Boston
- Nelson Cruz, Minnesota
- George Springer, Houston
- Marcus Semien, Oakland
- Rafael Devers, Boston
- Carlos Santana, Cleveland
- Jorge Soler, Kansas City
This is what I wrote last year: “There will be at least one person upset that I put Trout third. Mikey may still yet be the best player in baseball. But again, for those who don’t remember, I am an advocate for giving the MVP award to the “most valuable” instead of the “best player”. You will see from the list above that there are no players from bad teams and only one (Trout) from a mediocre team. I know, these guys are only one of nine on the field at the same time. And it’s hard to “carry” a baseball team by yourself. But look at the difference J.D. seemed to make in the Boston lineup and maybe one player can?”
Welp, I give up. Trout is the best player in baseball. He looked like he was on his way to his best season before being shut down in early September with a foot injury…and by “best season”, that is really saying something with the career he has had. It may have been his best season anyway. His team still sucked, that is nothing new. It will always make one wonder how “valuable” he actually is to the team. But that matters not anymore.
Alex Bregman would be the only other real option. But how “valuable” was he to his team? Well, he had some great numbers and showed his defensive versatility when he played a great deal of the season at shortstop. But he also had guys like Jose Altuve, George Springer, Yuli Gurriel, Carlos Correa to go along with a top rookie and 2 Cy Young candidates that we will talk more about later. So even though Houston won 107 games, Bregman had a lot of help.
So Trout is the choice. Some people (Pete?) would say that is abundantly clear and always has been. Perhaps that is true…but moving on…
Semien is the third finalist in real life. Helluva a year for him for sure. But 3rd seems to be a stretch. LeMahieu is my choice. DJ wasn’t even going to necessarily have a full-time job when he first started the season with the Yanks. And, silly me, I thought once he left the cozy confines of Coors Field, his numbers would take a hit. Wrong again. With all of the Yankee injuries, DJ was out there every day and his numbers, specifically his power numbers, were the best of his career.
Maybe Xander is a little high at 4th, and if you switched him and Semien…I don’t know. X was 5th in the AL in OPS and as a shortstop, I felt like that meant something. We likely would have had Cruz and Springer higher than X, but they both missed about 40 games, so we pushed them back a bit.
8-10 could have been anyone. Per usual. I thought the three here should be recognized for their awesome seasons. Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Austin Meadows, Yoan Moncada, Jose Altuve, Matt Olson, a couple of pitchers…if you put any of those guys at the back of the top 10, I would not argue with you.
- Justin Verlander, Houston
- Gerrit Cole, Houston
- Charlie Morton, Tampa Bay
- Shane Bieber, Cleveland
- Lance Lynn, Texas
It’s really Verlander 1A and Cole 1B. It was THAT close. I guess the tiebreakers included Verlanders’ lower WHIP and more consistent year. Cole started a little slow and then dominated from June on in. But if you gave the award to either you wouldn’t be wrong. Morton is a distant 3rd. Bieber could have made that spot as well. I can’t believe I am writing Lynn into the last spot. But who else would it be? Mike Minor? Lucas Giolito? Eduardo Rodriguez? A closer like Roberto Osuna? I don’t know. Does it matter?
Rookie of the Year:
- Yordan Alvarez, Houston
- Eloy Jimenez, Chi White Sox
- John Means, Baltimore
Alvarez only played 87 games. But his numbers were so off the charts, he wins in a landslide. Eloy had a better year than people think. And Means actually made the All-Star team. Though, yeah, someone had to go from the Orioles.
There were some other exciting rookies in the league this year. But they either didn’t do as well as expected (Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, Oscar Mercado) or didn’t play enough (Bo Bichette). Brandon Lowe was an All-Star and is up for the real award, but he missed the majority of the second half. And didn’t have the numbers Alvarez had anyway. Michael Chavis also contributed as a rookie then he himself missed the last several weeks. Solid group here going forward though.
Manager of the Year:
- Rocco Baldelli, Minnesota
- Aaron Boone, NY Yankees
- Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay
I was tempted to give this to Boone with the way he had to navigate all the injuries the team had this year. But they are the Yankees. And have enough resources to combat injuries in the first place. It’s also impossible to ignore a 23 win improvement in your first year as manager, as the Twins did under Baldelli. Cash could win this every year. His team doesn’t spend and he has to have “bullpen games” like 3 days a week. Not to mention, his best starter, Blake Snell, missed significant time this year. But Cash always seems to keep the Rays in the mix. Bob Melvin deserves consideration for the job he did with the A’s as well. AJ Hinch gets penalized for his team being too good in the first place, unfortunately.
Next: The National League
…a month ago. The Boston Red Sox should have sold at the trading deadline. Even spelled out specific names that should go.
That 5-2 run in that first half of the 14 game stretch against the Tampa Bay Rays & New York Yankees that wrapped around the deadline? Had a lot of people jumping back on board. Not me. But I admit, I was teetering. And I wrote about that too. Based on the talent factor of this team, perhaps a few bullpen moves at the deadline would springboard this team going forward?
Listen, the Sox are my team. As much as they had underachieved from the beginning of the season until the trade deadline, I truly did not want them to sell off parts and kind of give up on the season. I mean, I want this team competing for a World Series every single year. They have the resources (and allegedly the front office and coaching talent) to put together a great team every year. And they actually SHOULD have a great team this year, closer or no closer.
Watching them play listlessly from April through June led me to believe the best business decision would be to sell at the deadline. In my head, I still felt that was the best move at the end of July. But my heart had me holding onto hope after that 5-2 run (of course this was right after losing 2 of 3 to the wretched Baltimore Orioles, so how rational was even I at that point?).
Boy were all the optimists wrong. And the semi-optimists like myself were also wrong. This team simply quit after the deadline. 0-7 in the last seven against the Rays and Yanks. Even had trouble hanging on in the first game last night against the pathetic Kansas City Royals.
Popular opinion seems to be that the team has kind of quit because the front office kind of quit by not acquiring help at the deadline.
True, President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski did zero on July 31st. He only added Andrew Cashner beforehand.
But honestly, do you blame him??
Realistically, Dombrowski should have sold off the parts at the deadline. Mitch Moreland, Steve Pearce, Rick Porcello, perhaps even Brock Holt are going to be free agents after the season and I would say are unlikely to be back. Jackie Bradley Jr. stinks but will still get over 10 mil in arbitration next year. No one thinks Mookie Betts wants to be here after 2020, so perhaps he could get a haul. J.D. Martinez may opt-out after 2019 (though his numbers are down and injuries are up, so maybe not?). The minor league system is bare. The bullpen is putrid, would an arm or two really help?
As bad as the bullpen has been, the gazillion dollar rotation has been just short of a disaster. Chris Sale has been a colossal disappointment. David Price had pitched well for most of the season, but ever since he went after announcer and former Red Sox Dennis Eckersley kind of needlessly, he has gone in the tank. Nathan Eovaldi has been hurt and now is in the bullpen. Porcello has been atrocious. Eduardo Rodriguez has been pretty good for a while, but he also started out bad.
Maybe the bullpen would be better if the starters could go more than 4-5 innings a game? And we wouldn’t have had to see Colton Brewer, Josh A. Smith, Ryan Weber, Mike Shawaryn, et al, as much as we have?
It’s hard to repeat. And this team did not have “IT” this year for whatever reason. Blame Cora and his approach this spring. Blame Dombrowski for not getting a closer. Blame the players’ attitudes. Blame the schedule…no, not that…nor the umps. And don’t blame John Henry, believe it or not. He spent plenty of money on this team. I don’t blame him for not wanting to go over the luxury tax either. In other years, I may have blamed him. Not this year.
Also, look at the landscape. The Yankees have 100 guys on the DL, yet they still keep trucking along. Need to look no further than Sunday night when they rolled out their AAA lineup and still pummeled Price and the Sox. The Houston Astros are a juggernaut. The Minnesota Twins are having a great year and Tampa and Oakland are up there as well. People are waiting for all three to go away. But they aren’t. Not to mention the Cleveland Indians have heated up and are squarely in the mix.
Based on all of the above, if you were Henry or Dombrowski, would you have emptied the cupboard for an arm or two or some other “help”?
Dombrowski’s press conference may have rankled some fans. But the more I thought about it, the more I was on board with him.
He said stuff like “if we were better in the standings, we would have been more aggressive”. “We like the guys we have”. “This team should be better”. Paraphrasing, but I think we all got the gist.
The Sox are on target to play in the one game wild card tilt if of course they even get there. When your starters have been so bad, what if they get to that game and one of them gets shelled and then the team is done? Was it worth making trades at the deadline?
Most would say “yes”. I may even say “yes” in most years.
But not this year. It’s just a different feel.
I do understand completely also how the team didn’t sell off parts at the deadline as well. Dombrowski and Henry would have been SKEWERED by the fans if they had done so. Plus, this team should be in the mix as currently constructed, closer or no closer.
The offense has a ton of talent, even with Betts, J.D. and Andrew Benintendi slightly underachieving. Xander Bogaerts, Rafael Devers and Christian Vazquez have blossomed. Brock Holt is capable at 2nd. Michael Chavis has emerged. You can live with Bradley if all these guys are going.
The rotation should be one of the better ones around. Contrary to popular belief, there are a few useful arms in that bullpen.
This team should have still been able to make some noise, even without any additions at the deadline.
Dombrowski was in a little bit of a tough spot.
I know I wasn’t in love with the available closer options. Does anyone think that journeyman Shane Greene is really any better than, say, Brandon Workman? I personally don’t think so. But emptying the farm for Greene or Kirby Yates or Kenny Giles? I am ok with not doing that.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, maybe they should have re-signed Craig Kimbrel last offseason. Even though he was shaky in the postseason, he’s still elite in the regular season. His contract demands were insane though. Of course, they could have spent other peoples money (Pearce, Eovaldi, others) on Kimbrel. But then again, NO ONE gave Kimbrel what he wanted. Initially anyway. So who knows?
One thing we do know, the Sox will get hot again against some weaker competition in the next few weeks. With this team, you can almost set your watch to it.
Does that mean they will be back in the race? Well, they are only 5.5 games out of the wild card, so I guess we can’t rule that out. There are 47 games left after all.
And yes, I do expect them to tease us once again.
But I am not expecting much more than that. A tease.
I think it’s actually time to get ready for the “Dustin Pedroia Farewell Tour” when rosters expand in September. Sad to say…not that I will be looking forward to it. But Sox fans will eat that up, guaranteed…and it’s sure to sell some tickets anyway…