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Posts Tagged ‘Most Valuable Player’

Alomar is officially out.  Technically Lovullo is still in contention, but a second interview has yet to be scheduled, and that appears unlikely since Lamont is coming back for a second interview.  And of course we have Valentine to deal with.  Something of note is that Ben and the front office introduced Sveum to the brass.  Ben and the front office did not introduce Valentine to the brass.  The brass introduced Valentine to Ben and the front office.  Obviously that says something about who’s in the driver’s seat when it comes to Valentine.

Ben made some internal promotions, although obviously none to manager quite yet.  Mike Hazen, who’s run our farm system since 2006, is now Ben’s assistant GM.  Brian O’Halloran, a veteran of the organization, was promoted to Assistant VP of Baseball Operations last spring and is now the other assistant GM.  There were also several promotions in the departments of player personnel, Major League operations, player development, and scouting.

Ben also offered arbitration to Papi and Wheeler.

Justin Verlander stole Ellsbury’s MVP award.  Make no mistake.  Verlander may have the hardware, but Ellsbury was really the Most Valuable Player in every sense of the phrase.  He was absolutely brilliant.  I don’t care if the writers voted him in second place.  He finished the season with a .321 average, thirty-two home runs, 105 RBIs, fifty-two walks, thirty-nine steals, and a perfect fielding percentage of 1.  In fact, he hasn’t made an error since 2009.  That sounds like an MVP to me.  At least he was the top position player on the ballot.

Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association have signed a five-year deal.  It includes mandatory HGH testing, an even fifteen teams in both leagues by the 2013 season, more Wild Card teams and playoff rounds, expanded instant replay, and a worldwide draft by the 2014 season.  Everything seems good to me except the playoff and Wild Card expansions, which seem iffy.  The playoffs are already enormous, and the playoffs are supposed to mean something.  Do I wish that we made the playoffs every single year? Absolutely.  But I don’t want to increase our probability of losing and exhaustion if we do.  Plus, aren’t the playoffs supposed to mean something?

In other news, the Pats absolutely buried the Chiefs under their copious badness, 34-3.  It was a cakewalk.  The B’s had to eke out all of their wins this week.  We squeaked past the Habs, 1-0, and we bested the Sabres, 4-3, in a shootout.  The Red Wings snapped our winning streak at ten in a shootout, but we ended on a high note by besting the Jets.

Boston Globe Staff/Jim Davis
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Congratulations to Joe Mauer on winning the American League’s MVP award.  Youk and Bay didn’t fair too badly, taking sixth and seventh respectively, but they didn’t have the .365 average with the twenty-eight home runs and ninety-six RBIs to go with the starting catcher position.  Mauer took all but one first-place votes and was only the second catcher to win it in thirty-three years.  (It’s no secret that catchers usually can’t hit.  Which explains why Victor Martinez is next season’s top priority.) And those numbers also earned him the Ted Williams Award, given to baseball’s leading hitter.  And of course who but Albert Pujols won it for the National League.  Obviously.

Jonathan Papelbon was the club’s Fireman of the Year.  Daniel Bard was the club’s Rookie of the Year.  Nick Green won the Jackie Jensen Award for spirit and determination, and let me tell you something: any shortstop who goes from non-roster invitee to four-month starter has no shortage of spirit and determination.

As far as the stove is concerned, it’s still not too hot.  We acquired Royals infielder Tug Hulett for a player to be named later or cash considerations.  Alex Gonzalez signed a one-year deal with the Jays for about three million dollars, with a club option for two and a half million.  Now that he’s unfortunately out of the picture, we’re showing interest in Marco Scutaro, who says it’s either us or the Dodgers.  We’re also shopping Mike Lowell.  Surprise, surprise.  Even if we do end up shipping him off, it won’t even be a fair deal, because the recipient club would be getting a top-notch, albeit health-wise unpredictable, third baseman for fifty percent off, because we’d have to swallow at least that much of his salary to make him palatable.  It’s really just sad.  He had a phenomenal season (and postseason) in 2007 and amble moments of brilliance in 2008, especially in the ALDS.  But he is getting older, and that was in California where the weather is warmer, so perhaps a team from a city with a warmer climate would be a better fit for him.

But a few big names have surfaced.  The Tigers are apparently interested in trading Miguel Cabrera (with Detroit’s financial situation, who wouldn’t be?), and we’ll probably get first dibs.  Also, it’s official: we are going for Roy Halladay and going big.  The problem is that, to close both of these deals, we’ll almost certainly have to part with Clay Buchholz.  We’d also have to part with Casey Kelly, at least, to land Halladay.  And after the performance Clay Buchholz gave in Game Three of the ALDS (walking into an elimination game as a young pitcher with no postseason experience after having seen the lineup put up zero run support), I don’t know how comfortable I would be with giving him up.  I think we owe it to him, the organization, and ourselves to see more of what he’s got before we decide that he is not, in fact, one of the greats in the making.  But the plot thickens: Halladay said he’d waive his no-trade clause to go to the Bronx.  I’m not saying we should engage in prevention via irresponsible acquisition, but I am saying that we need to weigh our actions very carefully.  Especially since Halladay is getting older.  That’s something that seems to be lost amidst the sensation of it all.  The man is not immortal.  He ages.  And while he ages, his abilities will decline.  And right now, he’s at a point in his career where we can expect his next four or five years to be considerably different from his last four or five.

Turns out that Ron Johnson is not our new bench coach.  DeMarlo Hale is.  Ron Johnson joined the Major League staff to coach at first in replacement of Hale.  I have to say I feel more comfortable with Hale as bench coach than I did when I thought Johnson would be doing it.  Not that I don’t think Johnson would be a good bench coach, but if we’re talking about the importance of knowing the players and the franchise inside-out, Hale, who’s been coaching first base for a while now, clearly has the edge there.

At the end of my recent posts, I’ve usually said something like, “All we can do now is wait and see.” I say that because it’s true.  But it’s also true that the suspense is killing me.  I keep getting this feeling that the offseason won’t come to a close until Theo Epstein does something big, but I can’t figure out what that’ll be.  A trade? A signing? Another starting pitcher? A new power hitter? It’s too hard and too early to tell.  But one thing’s for sure: something’s definitely brewing.  The front office has something up its sleeve.  The foundations have been laid for some sort of shake-up, even if we can’t quite figure out what it’ll be.

But before we conclude, I would like to report that Bud Selig will be retiring after the 2012 season.  It’s been one interesting ride.  He was named acting commissioner in 1992 and official commissioner in 1998, and since then we’ve seen a growth in the baseball market, an expansion of the postseason via the Wild Card, the introduction of revenue sharing, Interleague, a players’ strike, the first World Series cancellation since 1904 (ten years shy of a century), and the steroid era.  There was good, there was bad, and there was most definitely ugly.  What do we need in a successor? That’s an extremely open-ended question, but whoever it is will be charged with the difficult task of cleaning up baseball’s public image.  So much controversy occurred during Selig’s tenure that MLB will probably look to someone with a hard-line streak, someone who can keep the sport in line while still bringing revenue in.  We’ll see what happens.

The B’s beat the Blues, Wild, and Sens and lost to the Devils in sudden death.  The Pats beat the Jets.

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If you look up the phrase “pitcher’s duel” in the dictionary, last night’s box score is next to the definition.  That was a duel if I’ve ever seen one.  The score was 0-0 through seven and a half innings.  Lester pitched beautifully.  He was eating the Royals for breakfast.  Batter up, batter down.  Everything was on.  Through eight, he allowed four hits but not one run.  Only two walks.  Eight strikeouts.  Seven were swinging.  One was looking.  Either way the Royals had nothing on him.  He threw 115 pitches and used his full mix: straight four-seam, changeup, cut fastball, slider, curveball.  You name it, he threw it.  For a strike.  This was not the Jon Lester who’s been struggling this year.  This was the Jon Lester who no-hit these folks a little over a year ago.  Easily his best outing of the year.  Easily.

We’ll go in order.  First was Jacoby Ellsbury’s ejection after being called out at home to end the fifth inning.  He swiped second base earlier and tried to score from third while Mark Kotsay was caught in a rundown.  Billy Butler threw home and home plate umpire and crew chief Derryl Cousins called him out.  Furious, he threw his helmet to the ground and was ejected for that.  Derryl Cousins then ejected him.  First of all, he was safe.  He was absolutely safe.  His left foot reached the bag before Miguel Olivo applied the tag.  He was perfectly safe.  Derryl Cousins was so wrong.  Tito came out to defend Ellsbury, of course, and had a very heated exchange with the erroneous umpire, and thankfully Tito was not ejected.  But yeah, Derryl Cousins was wrong.  That was Ellsbury’s first ejection, and if you ask me I agree with Francona; it should’ve been an equipment violation and one-hundred-dollar fine, not an ejection.

But we can’t even technically complain about that, because Ellsbury’s ejection brought Rocco Baldelli into the game.  It’s no secret that Rocco Baldelli has a better arm.  In the top of the seventh with nobody out, Mark Teahen stood at first, Jose Guillen stood at second, and Miguel Olivo stood at the plate.  Olivo launched a fly ball right at Rocco Baldelli, who hauled it in for the first out and then threw it for all he was worth to Dustin Pedroia, gunning down Teahen who was trying to make second.  A very unconventional double play, but a double play nonetheless, and perhaps one Ellsbury couldn’t have made.  Some fantastic baseball right there.

Dustin Pedroia the Destroyah, reigning American League Most Valuable Player, won it for us.  Rule number one of life: never, ever, under any circumstances, try to sneak a fastball by Dustin Pedroia.  Because it will end up bouncing off the wall and plating the game-winning run, which was scored by Bates.  That’s suicide.  That’s, “Actually, I’ll save you the trouble; I’ll just take the baseball and throw it at the Monster myself.”  Incredible.

Then came the ninth inning, and with the extremely close score of 1-0 on the line, Tito brought in Papelbon.  I know he’s been struggling a bit of late, but honestly who else would you go with.  Ramirez? Okajima? Masterson? You can’t not go with Papelbon.  Sometimes when a closer pitches with a big lead, their control and concentration wear down because it’s not the same high-pressure, adrenaline-rush situation.  But still, I think I speak for all of Red Sox Nation when I say we were holding onto our hats.  But Paps did not disappoint.  That also was easily, hands-down, his best outing of the year.  He threw eleven pitches: ten four-seams and a slider.  He went as high as 97 miles per hour and as low as 85.  And he got that job done.  Lock it up, throw it in the win column.  The final score stayed at 1-0, Lester got the win and improved to eight and six, Paps got his twenty-third save, and it was like watching the closer this  time last year or two years ago.  The man was on fire.

Bill Cosby visited the booth in the fourth, which was very entertaining as always and a pleasant surprise.  Lowell is right on schedule with his rehab and will be returning to the lineup soon.  And finally, with this win we are now back to being the sole possessors of a first-place lead.  It’s ony one game, but it’s better than a tie.  And we’ll build on it.  See that? I told you it was temporary.  We all knew it.  And soon we’ll be cruising into the much-needed All-Star break and come out nice and refreshed and ready to go in the second half.  Gil Meche at Smoltz tonight; maybe this’ll be that highly-touted start we’ve been waiting for since the signing.

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