Posts Tagged ‘Buck Showalter’

Good Bye to 2016

December 29, 2016
Hopefully I won't have to be this old before the Dodgers win

Hopefully I won’t have to be this old before the Dodgers win

Another baseball season is over. The winners are crowned, the loser mourned. The postseason awards are announced, the winter meetings are through, and the Veteran’s Committee has spoken. Here, in my usual nine things for nine innings format, are a few random thoughts on what we saw (and didn’t see) in 2016.

1. The Cubs finally won. It hadn’t happened in 108 years and the Cubs fans are joyous. But I wonder if some of the mystique that surrounded the Cubs wasn’t harmed. The “loveable loser” moniker is gone, as is the “sit in the sun, drink beer, and don’t worry about the score” motif of Cubsdom is over. Will it hurt the overall fan base, or not. I have no idea.

2. Can the Angels find a pitcher? They have Mike Trout, arguably the best player in the Major Leagues in a long time. They have Albert Pujols, a shadow of what he was at St. Louis, but still a formidable player (He had 119 RBIs and needs nine homers for 600). C. J. Cron is 26 and Kole Calhoun is 29. And they still can’t win. Maybe the problem is the staff, maybe it’s the coaching staff (Scioscia hasn’t led them very far in a while), but they just don’t win.

3. Sticking with the West Coast, but moving to Chavez Ravine, we say good-bye to Vin Scully who, for 67 years, graced us with his voice, his wit, his stories. I liked Jack Buck and Dizzy Dean. I liked Bob Prince and Russ Hodges, but there was only one Vin. Maybe he’ll be the first broadcaster elected to the Hall of Fame itself, not just to the broadcasters niche. And the Dodgers answered the question, “who needs an ace?” by rattling off a ton of wins with Clayton Kershaw injured.

4. I loved that Royals team that won in 2014 and 2015, but injuries and free agency have taken their toll. I’d love to see them back in the mix again, but I’m afraid it will have to be with a very different set of players. That’s a shame; they were fun to watch.

5. Then there’s Cleveland. They now have the longest streak of not having won the World Series (since 1948). It’s a good team with a very good manager and I’d like to see them break their streak (but not at the expense of my Dodgers). And sticking with the Indians, I hope the Terry Francona method of using his relievers in key situations, not just the ninth inning, catches on.

6. So Bud Selig is now a Hall of Famer. OK, I guess. There have been better choices and there have been worse choices. Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza also made it. They were better, and easier, choices.

7. We lost W.P. Kinsella this year. He gave us the book Shoeless Joe, which in turn gave us the movie Field of Dreams. We also lost Hall of Famer Monte Irvin and broadcast legend Joe Garagiola, and  current pitcher Felix Fernandez, among others.

8. Dan Duquette is an honest man. He told us that the Orioles weren’t interested in Jose Bautista because the fans didn’t like him. OK, I guess. It’s honest, but I don’t know how much baseball sense it makes. Thoughts, Bloggess?

9. Buck Showalter is getting another year. He’s a fine manager, but he’s gotta know when to bring in his relief ace.

And finally it’s time for my annual Dodgers rallying cry “Wait ’til next year.” Why change the cry now; it’s been good for 28 years.

 

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A Few Random Thoughts on the 2014 Postseason Awards

November 13, 2014
Sandy Koufax's 1965 Cy Young Award

Sandy Koufax’s 1965 Cy Young Award; note the trophy is right handed

 

Now that the postseason awards are over, here’s a few comments on them:

1. For American League Rookie of the Year, did anybody not have Jose Abreu? He had this thing locked up well before the season ended. As for Jacob DeGrom, my reaction is “why not?” MLB is full of Rookies of the Year who have the one great opening season (sometimes really just a handful of opening months) then flame out (Joe Charboneau, anyone?). I have no idea what will happen with these two, but I wish them luck and hope they have long and productive careers.

2. The Manager of the Year Award generally comes down to one of two types: the guy takes a team that’s done nothing and makes it a winner or the guy takes a team that is full of adversity and makes a winner out of it. This year adversity takes the prize. With multiple players injured both Matt Williams and Buck Showalter took teams to the playoffs. I think Showalter is one of the better managers in baseball and I’m glad to see him win. Williams? As with DeGrom, “sure, why not?” BTW in case you haven’t noticed, Showalter was Manager of the Year in 1994, 2004, and 2014. You might want to get a bet down on 2024.

3. Again, did anybody not have Clayton Kershaw for the National League Cy Young Award? If so, I have this great bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in. I’ll sell it cheap. I’m one of those who thought Corey Kluber should have won the AL Cy Young, so I’m happy there, but would have been neither upset nor surprised had Felix Hernandez gotten the award.

4. Over at ESPN there’s a story on Kershaw winning the award. It’s a nice little story and included with it is a factoid box that works as a great example of what’s wrong with cherry picking stats and facts. It states that Kershaw is one of six pitchers to win the Cy Young Award in three out of four years. Here’s the list: Sandy Koufax, Jim Palmer, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Kershaw. That’s nice, isn’t it? Well, it’s not really as great as it sounds. They fail to mention that both Maddux and Johnson won not three out of four Cy Young Awards, but actually won four out of four Cy Young Awards. They also don’t tell you that Koufax won his when there was only one Cy Young Award given, not one in each league (and he’s still the only pitcher to win three by unanimous vote). Kershaw is good enough without having to cherry pick stats. Writers (including me, unfortunately) tend to look for ways to make someone sound good and forget that you can use stats to prove about anything. I remember when George Brett was about to retire someone found out that he and Willie Mays were the only guys with a specific number of home runs and stolen bases who also hit .300 (I forget the numbers involved). Of course if you move one of the home run or stolen base numbers around (not to mention change .300) you can get Mays alone or no one at all or twenty different guys. I try not to do that (at least not too often) but we’re all prone to it.

5. So the third time really was the charm for Mike Trout. I always find it interesting when someone wins a big award for a year that isn’t his best when he’s previously failed to win for a better year. Happens all the time. Now it becomes interesting to see what happens. Frequently a player keeps getting touted for an award, finally wins one, then sort of gets forgotten by voters. Wonder if that will happen to Trout?

6. And the ugly “can a pitcher win an MVP award?” question is upon us again. I always figure that it’s for the “most valuable player” not the “most valuable hitter” or “most valuable fielder” or “most valuable pitcher.” And the idea that between 1968 and 2014 no National League pitcher was more valuable than all the league’s hitters each and every year is simply silly. Of course the key word is “valuable.” I’ll be the first to admit that I define “valuable” differently than others (and if you’re honest, so do you). That’s actually one of the great things about “valuable”, it’s not self-defining. That makes it just nebulous enough to make it worthwhile to debate.

 

2012 Awards Season: Managers

October 29, 2012

The first NL Manager of the Year winner: Tommy LaSorda

The playing part of the 2012 season is now over and congratulations are in order to the Giants. We now begin the second part of the season, the awards and honors section. This part of the season lasts until January and includes all the postseason awards plus the two Hall of Fame votes. I’m going to take some time to voice my opinion on the awards by letting readers know both who I think will win and who I think should win. Frequently those aren’t the same people. I start with the Managers. Let me remind you that all awards voting is done before the playoffs begin so nothing that happens in the playoffs can affect the awards.

AL–I presume Buck Showalter will win. The Orioles hadn’t won in the 21st Century, lost one of their best players (Nick Markakis), battled the Yankees with their overwhelming salary advantage, and made the playoffs as a  wildcard team. That’s worthy of Manager of the Year in the American League. But let me remind you about Oakland and Bob Melvin. The Athletics last made the playoffs in 2006, then wandered through a wasteland with one semi-winning  season (2010 when they finished at exactly .500). They hired Melvin with about 100 games left (actually 99) in 2011 and this year they won the AL West. In doing so they put up the second best record in the AL (one game better than Baltimore, one game less than New York. They also had to take on the reigning AL champion (Texas) and won the head-to-head matchup that propelled them to the division title (remember Baltimore won a wild card, not a division). I think Showalter will win, but I wouldn’t be upset if Melvin (my choice) won the award.

NL–I presume this is Davey Johnson’s award. He took a team that had never won a thing, led it to the best record in baseball, had to put up with the Strasburg circus, and still found a way to win. Certainly nothing wrong with those credentials and ultimately I’d probably vote for him, but take a look at the following candidates. Bruce Bochy saw his ace, a two-time Cy Young winner, fall apart, replaced him with pitchers who were over the hill (Zito), or had twenty total wins going into the season (Bumgarner), or whose claim to fame was that he was pretty good in Japan (Vogelsong) and had only one decent year in the US. Then he has a team that finishes dead last in power (only two players available for the Series had double figure home runs). Finally, his best player and All Star game MVP (Cabrera) is banned for 50 games. The result of all this is a first place finish. Also take a look at Mike Matheny. I know he manages the reigning World Champions, but it’s not the same team as last season. Three quarters of his infield  is new. Pujols is gone replaced by Craig who isn’t a first baseman, Furcal goes down and is replaced by a rookie, Descalso has moved from third to second (but at least is still in the infield), Craig is on outfielder moved to third. That’s messing with half the starters. Top that off with losing his ace (Carpenter) and still the Cards made the playoffs. Not bad for a rookie manager.

I think that Showalter and Johnson will win and if they do they won’t be bad choices, but don’t forget the others. They deserve a lot of  credit for the success of their team.

Random Thoughts for the Midpoint of the 2012 Season

June 13, 2012

As I will be gone for the period leading up to the Fourth of July, I decided to post my midseason thoughts a little early, realizing that they may be out of date by the Fourth.

1. The American League East is starting to come around to what we expected. Tampa and New York are in first, Toronto is falling back. The strange teams are Baltimore and Boston. Did you really think Baltimore would be only one game out this late in the season or that Boston would be last? Both fooled me. Of course if you think about it Buck Showalter is a heck of a manager and the Red Sox are really starting to age. So maybe I shouldn’t have been fooled.

2. Whatever happened to Detroit? Weren’t they supposed to run away with the AL Central and then pummel the opposition in the playoffs? There are three aspects to baseball: offense, defense, and pitching. Someone forgot to tell Detroit you had to be able to catch and throw the ball. Oops. I’m not surprised by what’s happened to the Twins, but I’m saddened. They traditionally do more with less than anyone else and it’s finally caught up to them. Joe Mauer has his average back above .300, but the power seems to be gone. He’s 29 and that’s getting into the age range where catchers start imploding. And Justin Morneau seems to suffer a power drought also, although his average has begun climbing in the last month. Even Ron Gardenhire, a really good manager, isn’t going to get this team into contention.

3. So Albert Pujols was a bust was he? OK, he’s no longer Superman, but he’s not Clark Kent either. It looks like he’ll keep the Angels in contention and maybe get them to either a division title or a wildcard. Can Texas be stopped? Maybe. They remind me a lot of the 1950s-1960s Yankees. The ’50s-’60s Yankees had a series of good enough pitchers who could hold the other team down until the hitters simply bashed the opposition to death. Sound like the Rangers? The difference is that Texas has no Whitey Ford and I don’t know how much that will hurt them when the season draws down. Right now, Josh Hamilton is my MVP.

4. Does anyone understand what’s going on in the National League East? I’m not surprised that Philly is in trouble. Other than their pitching they weren’t all that strong anyway. The team is aging and Chase Utley can’t stay healthy. Hunter Pence isn’t going to be able to carry them and Jim Thome is apparently through (although I’d like to see him catch Sosa on the home run list). It seems the Mets have peaked (sorry, Bill) but maybe I’m wrong on that. I say that because I’m not really sold on either Washington or Atlanta so it’s possible the Mets will come back to win the division. If either they or the Nationals do, it will be one of the season’s great stories. And R. A. Dickey, my current Cy Young favorite is another great story for 2012. I’m not certain a knuckleballer can maintain the pace Dickey is setting.

5. OK, tell me you had Pittsburgh. Sure you did. Me too. I think the Pirates will fall back, but maybe they’ll finally finish over .500 this season (and I’ve got this great bridge in Brooklyn that I’ll let you have for a song). I still think the Cardinals take it, but Cincinnati might prove me wrong. Geez, is Joey Votto having a great season. I guess he’s my MVP right now, but then Lance Berkman was my MVP midway through last season.

6. The Dodgers are in first. Read that again. The Dodgers are in first. See what happens when you get rid of Frank McCourt and his wife. Maybe Magic Johnson is really “magic”. Actually it’s a really weak division and Arizona was a fluke last season. Maybe San Francisco can catch LA (please, God, anybody but the Giants) but they’ve still got to learn to hit. I’ve never been a particular fan of Tim Lincecum, but I’d hate to think he’s through already. So right now, is Don Mattingly manager of the year?

7. As of now my choice for biggest surprise of the year is LA and Detroit gets the nod as the biggest disappointment.

8. There used to be a saying that whoever was in first on the Fourth of July would win the pennant. As we’ve gotten more and more playoffs that saying has gone the way of the dinosaur. My guess is that about half the teams currently in first will win the division and maybe one or two others will get a wildcard. Don’t ask which because I don’t have a clue.

Picking the Winners: Managers

November 12, 2010

The final of my thoughts on the next round of postseason MLB awards. I’ve said before that I have little idea how to evaluate managers, so this post is more in the nature of who I think should win rather than who I think will win. As to the latter, I have no idea.

NL-Bud Black. I think deep down inside that Dusty Baker will probably win this or maybe it will be Bobby Cox or yet again Bruce Bochy. All of them led their team in the playoffs and that’s generally rewarded. Baker took a team that wasn’t supposed to win and took down the favored Cardinals. For Cox it was his last season and he got the Braves to the wildcard. Sentiment alone might get him the award. Bochy took a team that didn’t hit a lot, but pitched well and won the division on the final day of the season (remember the voting is done before the playoffs begin so the writers don’t know Bochy’s team is going to win the World  Series). As I said, Bochy won on the last day of the season. He did it by beating the Padres, Bud Black’s team. The Padres were picked dead last in an already weak division. With good pitching, decent enough hitting to win close games, and a reasonably decent defense, the Padres took it to the last day. Baring that horrendous 10 game losing streak, they would have won the west. The manager of the Padres, Bud Black, gets my vote for the manager of the year. He had almost nothing to work with and came within an ace of knocking off the pitching rich Giants. He’d get my vote, but if pressed to pick who I think the writers will choose, I guess I’d go with Baker.

AL-Terry Francona. He has no chance, but you have to give him credit for the Red Sox successess this season. Do you know how many of the Red Sox first line everyday players played at least 130 or more games? Exactly four (Marco Scutero, Adrian Beltre, JD Drew, and David Ortiz). That means that half the team was out of the lineup for long periods of time and they still ended up 89-73. Only Drew started more than 50 games in the same outfield position (McDonald and Hall started 50, but not in the same position). A manager has to get some credit for keeping a team like that in contention until late in the season. Only Jon Lester and John Lackey started 30 or more games. Try winning with 60% of your starters getting into less than 30 games. Frankly, as I stated earlier, I don’t think Francona has a chance of winning, but he probably should. Francona is using mirrors and sitll winning. Not bad. And speaking of mirrors, the other guy I’d look at seriously is Buck Showalter. He was there a third of a season in Baltimore and that will surely hurt him. But he won with that team; something no one’s done for a long, long time. I keep asking myslef, “Did he really win with those guys?” Again, if pressed, I’d probably say the writers will pick Joe Maddon, but I wouldn’t. I’d also love to see Ron Gardenhire finally get the credit he deserves.