Saturday, November 22, 2008

My CBA Award selections

It's that time of year again. I love how I just posted this to my other blog.

1) Player of the Year: Albert Pujols

There's no mistaking that the 2008 MVP is our player of the year.

2) Pitcher of the Year: Kyle Lohse

Lohse surprised us all this year. I'm actually glad that we extended his tenure with us. Dave Duncan does his magic as usual.

3) Game of the Year: September 9 vs. Chicago

I'm going with this one because it was one of the few that I was able to catch this season.

4) Surprise Player of the Year: Ryan Ludwick

No doubt.

5) Disappointing Player of the Year: Jason Isringhausen

He lost the role again...I think Joe Buck was examining his psyche after SLU gave him his honorary doctorate.

6) Cardinal Rookie of the Year: Joe Mather

7) New Cardinal of the Year: Kyle Lohse

8) Most Anticipated Cardinal: Colby Rasmus

Rasmus is still the most anticipated.

9) Best Individual Blog

I didn't do a good job at keeping up with the Cards blogs this season as much as I should have so I abstain.

10) Best Team Blog: VEB

11) Best Professional Blog: Bird Land

12) Best UCB Project: October Roundtables

13) Most Optimistic Blog: I don't know

14) Funniest Blog: I don't know

15) Best Blog Post/Series of the Year" Scott Rolen vs. Eddie Vedder

16) Rookie Blog of the Year: Pitchers Hit Eighth

Monday, November 17, 2008

NL Most Valuable Player: Albert Pujols

While I did not predict him during the original predictions or midseason, I can say that during my postseason predictions, I said it would be him or Ryan Howard. So, for the NL MVP award, I'm 1 for 3 this season. Given the weekend I had, it cheers me up a little bit.

Matthew Leach at MLB:
The National League's best player has also been named its most valuable.

Albert Pujols' magnificent season earned him his second NL Most Valuable Player Award. Pujols finished ahead of Philadelphia's Ryan Howard, who beat him out by a narrow margin to win the 2006 MVP.

Pujols has finished in the top 10 in the voting in every one of his eight Major League seasons, and has been fourth or better seven times. He is the 11th player to win two NL MVP awards.

As baseball waited to hear the results of the ballot, the discussion centered on the definition of "most valuable." Some argued that because Pujols' Cardinals did not make the postseason, he could not be the most valuable player in the league. It was the only possible case against Pujols, who was indisputably his league's best hitter and who plays Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base.

Pujols had already been recognized with virtually every other major individual award for which he was eligible. He was named National League or Major League player of the year by the Sporting News, the MLB Players Association and the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum, as well as NL MVP in Baseball Prospectus' Internet Baseball Awards.

In the end, the Baseball Writers' Association of America joined the chorus, choosing not to penalize Pujols for his team's fourth-place finish. In fact, it's quite possible that quite the opposite happened -- that Pujols was rewarded for the Cardinals' place in the standings.[...]

It was by some measures the slugger's best season. He hit .357, two points shy of his career high, and set new personal bests with a .462 on-base percentage, a 1.115 OPS and 104 walks. He slugged .653, nearly 30 points better than his career average, cranking 37 homers and 44 doubles. Pujols drove in 116 runs, scored 100 and struck out just 54 times.

It was not only a supremely productive season for Pujols, it was a consistent one as well. He never hit lower than .302 in any month, never had an OBP lower than .413 and never slugged below .558. He came on especially strong in the second half, batting .366 and slugging .706 after the All-Star break. Pujols finished seven points behind Chipper Jones in the race for the NL batting title.

Only four players -- Barry Bonds, Roy Campanella and Stan Musial -- have been the NL MVP three or more times. Musial had been the only Cardinal to win the award twice or more.

In the history of the award, 13 Cardinals have won a combined 16 times. In addition to Pujols and Musial, Willie McGee, Keith Hernandez, Joe Torre, Bob Gibson, Orlando Cepeda, Ken Boyer, Marty Marion, Mort Cooper, Joe Medwick, Dizzy Dean and Frankie Frisch all garnered MVP honors.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

AL Cy Young Award winner: Cliff Lee

While I did not predict him during the original predictions or midseason, I can say that during my postseason predictions, I said it would be him or Roy Halladay. So, for the AL Cy Young award, I'm 1 for 3 this season.

The constant quest for perfection drove Cliff Lee to great feats throughout 2008.

"Even if I had won every start, I don't know if I'd be satisfied," he said near the season's end. "There's always something you can do better. I don't know how to explain it other than that. It's just the way I am, I guess."

But even Lee has to be satisfied with what took place Thursday, when the Baseball Writers' Association of America named him the American League Cy Young Award winner.

The honor was well-deserved. Lee led the AL in wins with a 22-3 record and in ERA with a 2.54 mark, posted the third-highest winning percentage (.880) for a 20-game winner in baseball history and became the Tribe's first 20-game winner since Gaylord Perry in 1974. The voters took notice. Lee received 24 of 28 first-place votes and finished with 132 points in balloting. He beat out the Jays' Roy Halladay, who finished second with 74 votes.

Lee followed the trail of former teammate and fellow left-hander CC Sabathia, who, one year ago, became the Indians' first Cy Young winner since Perry in 1972. Lee, Sabathia and Perry are the only Tribe pitchers to win the prestigious award.

Lee captured his in dramatic fashion, having been banished to the Minor Leagues and left off the Indians' playoff roster in '07. He was 5-8 with a 6.29 ERA in that '07 season, which was marred by a right abdominal strain he suffered in Spring Training.

In Spring Training of this year, Lee had to fight for a spot on the Tribe's roster. Because of the $3.75 million Lee was set to make, it was generally assumed he was the front-runner to beat out young left-handers Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers, but the Indians nonetheless wanted him to earn the job.

Lee earned it all right. He looked confident and in command of all his pitches in spring camp, and the fifth starter's job was his.

But Lee wouldn't be the Tribe's fifth starter for long. He began the season 6-0 with a 0.81 ERA in his first six starts and never looked back.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Managers of the Year: Joe Maddon and Lou Piniella

The ballots are in and the winners of both leagues have been named.
Joe Maddon and the man he succeeded as Tampa Bay manager, Lou Piniella, were named Managers of the Year in the American League and National League, respectively, by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, announced Wednesday afternoon.

Both were recognized for leading their teams to 2008 glory, with Maddon's Rays reaching a destination that remained out of the reach of Piniella's Cubs for a 63rd straight year -- the World Series.

Maddon's selection had been long anticipated, ever since he put the Tampa Bay Rays on track for their first playoff appearance following a 10-year existence of losing.

The honor is the first for the 54-year-old Maddon, who assumed his first managerial job when he was hired by Tampa Bay in November 2005, taking over after Piniella had guided his hometown team to 200 wins in three seasons.

And, typical of the blithe spirit that is often associated with the manager, Wednesday's announcement caught Maddon on a European honeymoon with his bride of a few days, Jaye.

Piniella, a two-time winner of AL honors in 1995 and 2001 with the Seattle Mariners, prevailed in a more competitive NL race after guiding the Cubs to the Central Division title with a 97-64 record.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

NL Cy Young Award winner: Tim Lincecum

While I did not predict him during the original predictions, I did have him predicted at midseason. During my postseason predictions, I said it would be him or Brandom Webb. So, for the NL Cy Young award, I'm 2 for 3 this season.

Tim Lincecum has been called "The Freak," "The Franchise" and "Seabiscuit."
Now he can be called something else: The National League's Cy Young Award winner.

The Giants right-hander earned the prestigious honor, emblematic of the league's best pitcher, in voting conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America and announced Tuesday.

Lincecum received 23 of 32 first-place votes, seven second-place votes and one third-place vote for 137 points, which were assigned on a 5-3-1 basis. He outdistanced Arizona's Brandon Webb (73 points), the New York Mets' Johan Santana (55), Philadelphia's Brad Lidge (10), Milwaukee's CC Sabathia (9) and the Chicago Cubs' Ryan Dempster (4).

Lincecum became only the second Giant to capture the Cy Young, joining 1967 winner Mike McCormick, and the first second-year player to earn the distinction since right-handers Dwight Gooden of the Mets and Bret Saberhagen of Kansas City secured the 1985 awards in their respective leagues.

At 24, Lincecum already has earned a place in Giants lore alongside Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry, San Francisco's Hall of Fame right-handers. Marichal somehow never received a Cy Young first-place vote in his six 20-win seasons, and Perry twice won the award after leaving the Giants.

Despite Lincecum's sustained excellence, he faced formidable competition for the award. Santana's 2.53 ERA led the NL, Webb's 22 victories paced the league, Sabathia performed in otherworldly fashion after being traded from Cleveland (11-2, 1.65 ERA) and Lidge converted all 41 of his regular-season save opportunities.

But none of them matched Lincecum's overall dominance. He compiled a league-best .783 winning percentage with his 18-5 record and amassed 265 strikeouts to become the first Giant in baseball's modern era (since 1900) to earn that distinction. Against Lincecum, opponents hit .221 overall and .167 with runners in scoring position while averaging 7.22 hits per nine innings -- all league lows. And his 2.62 ERA was the NL's second best.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Evan Longoria and Geovany Soto take home Rookie of the Year honors

Evan Longoria, the third baseman whose powerful bat keyed the Rays' remarkable turnaround season, and Cubs catcher Geovany Soto were named Monday the 2008 winners of their respective leagues' Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award.

Longoria was the unanimous American League selection of the 28 voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, for the 27 homers and 85 RBIs that followed his delayed addition to the Rays' lineup on April 12.

Longoria, also the only player named on all 28 ballots, and White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez, who drew 18 second-place votes and 59 total points, reigned over a deep influx of first-year players.

An unusually high number of 10 different rookies, half of them pitchers, attracted votes.

But none of them wowed voters like Longoria, the first unanimous AL winner since Nomar Garciaparra in 1997 (Albert Pujols took NL honors unanimously in 2001).[...]

Soto was nearly as popular a choice in the NL, getting 31 of the 32 first-place votes after minding the critical defensive position for the Central Division champs while putting up 23 homers and 86 RBIs.

He was the only player named on each of the 32 ballots, his 31 firsts and one second resulting in a total of 158 points. Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto finished second with 76 points and was followed by Atlanta pitcher Jair Jurrjens (34).

"I feel very honored," said Soto, speaking from his homeland of Puerto Rico, calling the moment he learned he'd won the award "very emotional. It was a very good moment in my life.

"I worked really, really hard. And now I feel all the work paid off."

The Reds had the distinction of placing three young talents among the top five, with right-hander Edinson Volquez and outfielder Jay Bruce following Jurrjens.

Volquez's presence on that list is definitely unique: No longer a rookie, the pitcher was mistakenly placed on the ballot and received three votes for second, thus there was an obligation to include him in the final results.
Postseason predictions aside, I am one for two in the ROY predictions. I had correctly predicted Evan Longoria as the AL recipient of the Rookie of the Year award.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Around the interwebs...

Derrick Goold looks at the price of pitching.

Six Cardinals filed for free agency after the end of the World Series.
The six Cardinals who filed Thursday were: RHP Braden Looper, SS Cesar Izturis, INF Felipe Lopez, C Jason LaRue, LHP Ron Villone and veteran righthanded reliever Russ Springer. Springer, who threw the final pitch of the 2008 season, recently told senior baseball writer Joe Strauss that he is leaning toward pitching again in 2009 and would prefer to return to the Cardinals.
The Cards have their own plans for the offseason.
"It's a great opportunity to get a grasp of what teams are looking for and if there are areas to address your own needs," says Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak, who actually arrived with several lieutenants Saturday. "It's an important time period. It's not make-or-break. But it can really help set what direction we go in."

Coming off their most prolific regular season since 2005, the Cardinals are admittedly in search of a middle infield makeover, help for the left side of their bullpen and perhaps another starting pitcher.

A persistent search for another "impact bat" to better protect first baseman Albert Pujols goes on but probably falls far down Mozeliak's shopping list.
Larue has been resigned for a one year deal.

This is an interesting take on the past election and how it impacts the Cardinals over the next season and future seasons to come.
When a new President is elected, the Cardinals have had a losing record only once in the 14 seasons that coincide with the first year of a new administration. But they have never finished better than second place in those seasons, and they have only once made the postseason. (It took a Wild Card berth in 2001 to accomplish that.) In the nine times that there has been a change of President AND a change of party — as is the case, of course, this coming 2009 — the Cardinals have never had a losing record with a new party and new President in office.[...]

The Yankees have won six of their 26 championships in the year after a Presidential Election. Not all tha striking considering the odds are better than 1-for-4 in the last century that the Yankees won. But as detailed earlier this year by The New York Daily News, the Yankees success with a Democrat Commander in Chief borders on uncanny. (Bettered only by the Green Bay Packers’ 12 championship titles — nine with a Democrat in office and three with a Republican President. So, chin up, Dad.) The Yankees have won 22 of their 39 pennants with a Democrat in office. They’ve gone 7-10 in World Series with the GOP in the White House, and a remarkable 19-3 with a Democrat sitting there.

Two of those three losses were to the Cardinals, in 1942 (FDR) and 1964 (LBJ).

The past five National League pennants the Cardinals have won came with a Republican in the Presidency (1982, 1985, 1987, 2004 and 2006). But they’ve been rather bi-partisan with their trips to the World Series. The Cardinals have gone to a World Series nine times with a Republican in office and eight times with a Democrat. The biggest difference: They win when it’s a Democrat.

DEM … 6-2 (.750)

REP … 4-5 (.444)
Yadier Molina took home a Gold Glove!