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AL MVP: Joe Mauer & Everyone Else

I wasn’t surprised when Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer was announced as the 2009 AL MVP. I was surprised when he received only 27 of the 28 first place votes. When a catcher pairs gold glove defense with a bat that led the league in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, he’s the MVP. There isn’t even any question about it.

Yankee teammates Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter came in second and third while Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera and LA’s Kendry Morales rounded out the top 5. Six through ten were Kevin Youkilis, Jason Bay, Ben Zobrist, Ichiro and Alex Rodriguez.

Other than Mauer winning the award, I don’t agree with anything in this year’s result. I realize that pitchers have their “own” award in the form of the Cy Young, but you can’t truthfully tell me that Placido Polanco is more valuable than Felix Hernandez. Or that Cy Young winner Zack Greinke was the 17th most valuable player in the American League.

Here’s my AL MVP ballot.

1. Joe Mauer, MIN
Even having missed the first month of the season, Joe Mauer’s season was the single most impressive offensive campaign this year. He led the league in all triple slash categories. Mauer’s season was not simply good or great. It was historically great and there’s no one that was close to him this year.

2. Derek Jeter, NYY
Teixeira finished ahead of Jeter in the actual balloting, but not a soul who knows the Yankees would say that Mark Teixeira was more valuable to the team than the captain was. Switching from the number two hole to the leadoff spot, Jeter was the sparkplug for the best offense in baseball and had an outstanding year defensively as well.

3. Ben Zobrist, TB
Zobrist not only saved my fantasy team, he kept the Rays afloat despite predicted regression after their World Series run. He ranked fourth in OPS and third in Value Over Replacement Player (VORP).

4. Zack Greinke, KC
Pitchers get a short straw in this voting, mainly because they only play every fifth game. But, Greinke faced 915 batters this year. By comparison, the AL leader in at bats was Aaron Hill with 734. The amount of runs he prevented probably stacks up well with the amount that any hitter created.

5. Mark Teixeira, NYY
Teixeira bats third and plays first base for the game’s best offense. He’s expected to put up great offensive numbers and does. But players like him are fairly common. He led the league in homers and RBIs, and that’s probably why he fared so well in the actual vote.

6. Felix Hernandez, SEA
Same argument as with Greinke. Hernandez’s value to his team is very high and very real. A pitcher is nearly guaranteed to shut down the opponent every time he throws is of immense value to any team.

7. Roy Halladay, TOR
Halladay’s value is increased because of the fact that nine times out of ten he rests the bullpen. Plus, he’s one of the greatest pitchers in the game and performed like it despite dealing with circling trade rumors.

8. Kevin Youkilis, BOS
And here begins the run of players much like Mark Teixeira. Youkilis continued his impressive offensive work, improving on last year’s outstanding campaign. But disappeared in the playoffs (1-for-12).

9. Kendry Morales, LAA
Morales flew under the radar much of the season, but ended up nearly equally the production of the man he replaced in Anaheim.

10. Miguel Cabrera, DET
There’s no doubt that Cabrera’s on-field production throughout most of the year was incredible. But when his team needed him the most, he was out late, drunk and fighting his wife.


In 10 Words Or Less – 05/05/09

Happy Cinco de Mayo! In celebration of this wonderful Mexican holiday, this week’s In 10 Words Or Less will be brought to you by the language, Spanish! Feliz Navidad de Mayo!


Arrendajos azules (18-10): Golpear dudoso contestar.
Calcetines rojos (16-10): 4-0 contra yanquis siempre agradable.
Yanquis (13-12): Primero 5 en corre a pesar de ningún Rodriguez, desplomándose Teixeira.
Rays (11-16): Evan Longoria el trato verdadero.
Las oropéndolas: Adam Jones hace valor de comercio de Bedard cada vez.

Real (15-11): Zach mutha freakin’ Greinke.
Tigres (13-12): Verlander, Willis girando aparentemente cosas alrededor.
Gemelos (13-13): Joe Mauer sano y rastrillar.
Calcetines blancos (12-13): Los cántaros han permitido sólo cuatro Homers.
Indios (10-16): Victor Martinez que produce como normal otra vez.

Navegantes (15-11): Golpear oportuno, el cabeceo Regio llave al plomo de la división.
Guardabosques (13-12): El alumbre de Mizzou Kinsler: yendo en bicicleta como Lance Armstrong.
Angels (11-13): Bobby Abreu que firma bueno hasta ahora.
Atletismo: (9-14) ¿Por lo menos Matt Holliday no es dolido, el derecho?

Marlins (15-11): Los jóvenes que echan tienen oponer azota la pesca.
Phillies (13-10): Ryan Howard grande.
Mets (11-13): La espalda de Beltran, no soplado guarda para Rodriguez más cerca.
Afronta (11-14): Jeff Francoeur no tan terrible como el año pasado.
Nacionals (7-17): Ryan Zimmerman y Adam Dunn impresionantes 3-4.

Cardinales (17-9): Comenzar cántaros tienen MLB-ALTO 14 victorias.
Cachorros (14-11): Es su época del año.
Cerveceros (14-12): Ryan Braun para pasar por encima de a bateadores menores.
Rojos (13-12): Johnny Cueto que se da cuenta de potencial.
Piratea (12-13): ¿Oye, ellos no están en último, el derecho?
Astros (11-15): El terreno no denominó Enron.

Marrulleros (19-8): Invicto en casa.
Gigantes (12-12): Lincecum que consigue caliente.
Espaldas diamantadas (11-15): No en posición terrible, golpear aún dado infortunios.
Capellanes (11-15): Comenzado 10-6, quizá hay más de ese juego.
Montañas rocosas (10-14): Imparmente, que rayó más corre que ellos han permitido.

MLB Free Agents – Where Did They Land

Back in early November, I predicted where 30 of MLB’s free agents would sign and how much they would sign for. Now I’m going back to that post and seeing how well I did.

I, like many free agents, agents and GM’s, did not anticipate the economy’s dip hitting baseball as hard as it did. As a result, only five of the thirty free agents signed deals worth more than I predicted for them.

I correctly pegged the teams for 14 of 30 free agents and got the years right for 12 of them. I didn’t get any of the money parts right but was within $5 million for five free agents (Burnett, Bradley, Moyer, Renteria and Affeldt)

Here’s a table outlining my predictions and what actually happened.


New York Yankee 2009 Season Outlook: Infield

FIRST BASE: The last-minute negotiations to bring Mark Teixeira to the Yankees solidified the position in a way that it hasn’t been since Tino Martinez’s first tenure in the Bronx. Teixeira is a classic two-way player and a switch-hitter to booth. His swing is remarkably consistent from both sides of the plate and his plate coverage and pitch recognition is superb. Teixeira will not only help fellow slugger Alex Rodriguez in the lineup, but also in the field as well. Teixeira bring with him gold glove caliber defense, something the Yankees haven’t seen consistently since again, Tino Martinez.

SECOND BASE: Robinson Cano was rewarded with a lucrative 4-year contract before the 2008 campaign, and then turned in his poorest season of his young career. Cano triple-slashed in at .271/.305/.410 in 2008 which was good for an OPS+ of 86. He continued a trend of low walk and strikeout rates, and his low BABIP may indicate a bit of bad luck in 2008, and give reason for a bounceback year in 2009. The Yankees certainly need him to justify his contract as they passed on every second base alternative in free agency. Cano retains immense potential, but must regain the edge he appeared to lose with the departure of infield coach Larry Bowa in 2008.

SHORTSTOP: There will come a time when Derek Jeter will no longer be able to handle the rigors and demands of being a full time shortstop, but it hasn’t come yet. Jeter battled through an injured hand for a majority of the 2008 summer, significantly cutting into his offensive numbers. With a full offseason to rest and rehab the hand, Jeter should return to being a premiere AL shortstop. His power numbers will probably not return to what they were five years ago, but his patented inside-out swing and gap power will continue to make Jeter an asset with the bat. His speed, much like his power, has regressed with age, but remains a strength nonetheless. Although not the fleetest of foot, Jeter remains one of the game’s smartest and instinctive players.

THIRD BASE: Steroid admission aside, Alex Rodriguez remains one of the game’s top five players. His ability to jump on mistakes in addition to being able to handle the top-of-the-line stuff sets him apart from just about every other player. He’s a threat to go deep every time up and can handle anybody’s best fastball, but can be fooled by effective offspeed offerings. He still needs to address concerns about his ability to hit in the postseason, but the Yankees are banking on him answering those questions to the tune of nine more years and over $250 million. While A-Rod’s range is about average, his arm allows him to make plays that other third basemen may not be able to. Rodriguez remains a twister of rumors and gossip among sportswriters and tabloids, but as long as he continues to produce ungodly numbers year in and year out, the Yankees will be able to put up with him.

CATCHER: The Yankees have started stockpiling young catchers through the draft and international free agency, but most of these young prospects are younger than me and still quite a few years away from making any major impact in the majors. Therefore, the Yankees will rely heavily on the surgically repaired shoulder of Jorge Posada. A mainstay behind the plate for nearly a decade, Posada spent his first stint on the disabled list last year and was effectively a nonfactor the entire season. The Yankees struggled to find an adequate replacement and nothing worked out. Posada will not need to return his contract-year 2007 numbers, but will need to control the opponent’s running game, manage the new starting rotation and contribute something above replacement level offensively. Even an 80% Posada is leagues better than Jose Molina at full bat strength.

Boston’s Reaction to Mark Teixeira

I’m unbelievably happy that the Yankees sneaked Mark Teixeira out from Boston’s Christmas Tree. Words can’t properly describe my excitement. I love the fact that my team is willing to take the money the make and invest it back in the on-the-field product.

Boston fans however, aren’t so enthralled by what the Yankees and Mark Teixeira have just done. After I settled down a little, I moved from reading constant Teixeira-to-New York coverage to reading comments on The Boston Globe’s online article about New York’s Teixeira signing. And needless to say, it’s entertaining. A week ago, and as recently as this morning, Boston fans across the country were praising Mark Teixeira as the second coming of Ted Williams.

And now this afternoon, he’s the second most hated person in the history of the world. Ahead of Hitler, but sitting just behind Alex Rodriguez. I collected some comments from Boston fans and thought I’d give my own opinion on them.

Typical Yankee BS…..hope he chokes on the extra cash. Reminds me of the Giambi signing, we all remember how that turned out.

Maybe a little bit, but Jason Giambi was one of the biggest beneficiaries from the Steroid Era. Mark Teixeira has put together his career entirely on talent, and unlike Giambi, is a superb defender. I guess just because two first basemen both get on base at a high clip and sign large contracts with the Yankees, that automatically makes them the same.

It’s time that a salary cap has to come in baseball. Even if it means that baseball falters and a new league has to start up. Nobody can compete with a team that has a bottomless pit of money.

So .. the best thing for baseball would be to create a salary cap, even if it makes the league collapse? Oh, and don’t let a team’s perceived financial limitations fool you. Every major league baseball owner has nearly unlimited funds, they just choose how much they’re willing to allocate for their team’s payroll.

There must be a plan. here is what i think it is:
Let Tek go… lay the prospects (Lowrie plus a pitcher) on Florida for Hanley. Press on.

Ah .. I see. John Henry passed on Mark Teixeira because he’s planning on trading Jed Lowrie (a backup infielder) and a pitcher to Florida for Hanley Ramirez. Unless that pitcher is Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson, Florida laughs as they tell Henry they’re sending him the phone bill. Press on!

CC Sabathia = Jose Contraras

AJ Burnett = Carl Pavano

Mark Teixeira = Jason Giambi

Jose Contreras was a Cuban defect, unproven in America. CC Sabathia is a workhorse Cy Young winner. CC Sabathia is also quite a bit younger than Contreras and doesn’t have to deal with language barriers.

AJ Burnett and Carl Pavano both came to the Yankees with significant injury problems, but Carl Pavano’s stuff and AJ Burnett’s stuff don’t even begin to compare. Pavano had one good season in a pitcher’s park and a pitcher’s league before cashing in. AJ Burnett has arguably the nastiest pure stuff in all of baseball and has shown extended success in the toughest of divisions in baseball.

Jason Giambi made his money by investing in steroids and hanging out with Mark McGuire a little too much. Mark Teixeira has an insane work ethic and has had success for three different teams, on talent alone. Jason Giambi always was and is, a one-dimensional player. Teixeira plays both sides of the ball equally well and projects better than Giambi ever did.

Sox have fallen behind Tampa Bay and now NYY. Time for something bold. How about:
Lowell, Bucholz, Del Carmen a pitching prospect and Bay to Texas for Josh Hamilton, Salty and Hank Blalock. Blalock could man 1B until Lars Anderson is ready, Yuk moves to 3B and Josh Hamilton to Left. Personally I think Hamilton is becoming the best player in the game, and IMO a bigger impact bat than Tex. One on par with Manny.

Here’s another brilliant trade proposal from one of Boston’s finest, I’m sure. Lowell is coming off surgery, has a no-trade clause and a burdensome contract, which gives him NO trade value whatsoever. Buchholz’s trade value is very low now, after a disastrous second half last year. Delcarmen is a middle relief pitcher, and they have no trade value either. So unless that pitching prospect is a combination of Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax and in-his-prime Greg Maddux, forget about it.

Buchholz, Bay and a pitching prospect might you Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but that package won’t even initiate conversations for Josh Hamilton. Too many fans assume that their team can get a really good player (or three in this case) for spare parts. They think that they can fool a team into the mindset of “OMG! We’re getting five players for three!!!!”

Josh Hamilton may very well be becoming the best player in the game, he’s certainly in the debate. But that’s just another reason Texas isn’t going to ship him up to Boston for an assortment of broken pieces.

They won with their homegrown talent, not free agents.

True, but I would argue that the Yankees won with the best players, regardless of where they came from. It just so happened that in the late 90s, they produced some very good homegrown players that helped them win championships. But they also had men that did not come up through the farm system.

Look at the Pirates. They seem pretty committed to homegrown players and they’re not exactly a title contender. It’s all in the players you have and the team you assemble, and it doesn’t make an ounce of difference whether those players are ones you drafted, or ones you signed.

You have teams that should be playing in little league and 3-4 that are going to actually compete every year

Good logic, but eight different teams have won World Series since 2000.

Teixeira is a howdy-doody character with the personality of a face cloth.

My face cloth and I have deep and meaningful conversations every morning in the shower.

tex’s #’s and sabathia #’s come mostly for the n.l.

This is a really good one. Sabathia has tossed a grand total of 130.2 of his 1659.1 career innings in the NL, while Mark Teixeira has 589 at bats in the NL as opposed to 2,825 American League at bats. And this same guy also pointed out the fact that “mucina’s” gone .. whoever that is.

And I can’t put my finger on it, talented or not, but Texeira would have bored the crap out of me.

And now he’ll beat the crap out of you.



These big name Yankees free agents ring a bell? Giambi, Randy Johnson, Bobby Abreu, A-Rod

Actually, not really. Of the four players listed above, only Jason Giambi was a big name Yankee free agent. The other three arrived in New York via trade.

Good, I don’t nkow how to spel that ahole’s last name neway

Probably because Teixeira is much harder than “know” or “spell”

I wont be surprised if they win 130 games.

I would be.

Santa just pooped in my stocking.

This one really has no bearing one way or the other, but I found it hilarious.

Mark Teixiera’s nipples.

That’s it?

But there are some rational Boston fans out there, as well:

Come on everyone. We all wanted him.

Yeah, you did.

If we got Sabathia, Burnett and Tex we would be dancing in the streets. Instead we are crying in our Sam Adams because once again the Yanks did what they needed to do to get back in the AL East. Don’t blame them for wanting to get better. When we spend money its fiscal responsibility. When the MFY do it its a Mortal Sin. I don’t get it. You cant have it both ways. Quit crying and be happy we have a team that competes EVERY year. We were one game from the World Series last year, we have one of the best farm systems in baseball and a great Front Office.

That’s probably the most accurate explanation I’ve seen from a Boston fan. No one complained when Boston outbids someone for a free agent (JD Drew, Matsuzaka) but when the Yankees do, everyone yells for a salary cap. Every team tries to improve their team, and they do it in the most effective way for them. Some teams develop young players while others spend the money necessary to bring in players that are already developed. The Yankees, and the Red Sox, spend a lot of money to make sure they’ve fielded a competent team.

This is what happens when an organization wins two world series in 90 years and think they have all the answers.