Thursday, November 17, 2011

Around the Diamond

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The Los Angeles Dodgers 23 year old southpaw brought home his first Cy Young Award yesterday easily beating out Philadelphia's Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, and Arizona's Ian Kennedy for the honor. Kershaw, tied for the National League lead in wins (21), and led the league in ERA (2.28) and strikeouts (248) and received 27 of a possible 32 first place votes. Halladay received 4 while Kennedy received 1. The last starting pitcher to win the Cy Young for the Dodgers was Orel Hershiser back in 1988. Speaking of the 1988 Dodgers...

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The Arizona Diamondbacks were just 65-97 a year ago finishing in last place in the NL West with the 2nd worst record in the National League. In his first full season as Diamondback manager, Gibson led them to a division title and 94 wins. Apologies to Cardinal fans who think the award should've gone to Tony La Russa for leading his team into the playoffs after being left for dead in early September and dealing with injuries to Adam Wainwright, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday among others, but consider this: Gibson won 94 games - a 29 win improvement - with a starting rotation of Ian Kennedy (10 career wins before this season started), Josh Collmenter (made his major league debut in 2011), Daniel Hudson (9 career wins before this season), Joe Saunders (a 17 game loser in 2010) and a combination of Barry Enright, Zach Duke, Wade Miley and Armando Galarraga in the #5 spot. The Diamondbacks were also forced to start Willie Bloomquist at shortstop for the majority of the year after Stephen Drew was lost for the season. Let's give credit where credit is due. Meanwhile, on the other side...

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Tampa Bay's Joe Maddon won his second AL Manager of the Year Award leading the Tampa Bay Rays through a dramatic wild card race and into the playoffs. Despite competing with a small budget against the titans of the AL East, Maddon's Rays surged to the finish line erasing a 7-0 lead on the final day of the regular season and winning on a dramatic extra inning walkoff home run by Evan Longoria. Maddon grabbed 26 of a possible 28 first place votes beating out Detroit's Jim Leyland and Texas's Ron Washington for the award. Which means...


So far I've successfully predicted the Rookies of the Year, Cy Young Award Winners and Managers of the Year. So all that leaves are the MVPs. I said Verlander and Braun. I'm less confident in those two picks. I would not be surprised to see either Curtis Granderson or Jacoby Ellsbury win it in the American League or Matt Kemp take home the honors in the National League. We'll see I guess.

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Dale Sveum has been named the new manager of the Chicago Cubs. The former big league infielder has been involved in coaching since 2001. He started his coaching career as the AA manager for the Pittsburgh Pirates, a position he held for three years. Sveum followed that up with a 2 year stint as the Boston Red Sox 3rd base coach where he worked under Terry Francona, his former Brewers teammate. After his two years in Boston he returned to the Brewers organization where he started his big league career. Sveum was the team's bench coach in 2006 and 2007, the third base coach for most of 2008 before briefly taking over as the interim manager after Ned Yost was fired, and then took over as hitting coach at the start of the 2009 season. I was a little surprised that Theo Epstein opted to go with someone was as little managerial experience as Sveum has, but by all accounts he's a true baseball guy, has a good rapport with the players, and is an excellent communicator, so in that sense he should be a breath of fresh air for the Cubs organization. I still maintain that Bobby Valentine would have been a good choice for the Cubs, but speaking of Mr. Valentine...

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Apparently Valentine has a meeting set up with the Red Sox. For every reason I thought he'd be a great manager for the Cubs, you could state the same thing for why he'd be a good fit with the Red Sox. Don't be surprised if he gets the job.

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Starting in 2013, the Houston Astros will be playing in the American League West. One of the conditions for the sale of the team to businessman Jim Crane was for the Astros to make the move to the American League. This creates six 5-team divisions instead of having the AL West at four teams and the NL Central at six teams. I have mixed feelings about the move, but this really deserves its own blog entry so we'll try and hit that this weekend.

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