Midseason Awards: AL Rookie of the Year

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The AL ROY class looks a little stronger now than it did a third of the way through the season, when I had Rick Porcello edging out Elvis Andrus
for the top spot, but it’s all because of the pitchers. The rookie
position players have been a truly dreadful lot. According to VORP, not one AL rookie hitter has been worth one win over a replacement player:

1. Brett Gardner – 8.9
2. Elvis Andrus – 6.5
3. Nolan Reimold – 5.8
4. Oscar Salazar – 5.7
5. Clete Thomas – 5.3

Salazar made the list based on all of 33 plate appearances. VORP
doesn’t account for what Gardner and especially Andrus have done
defensively, but it’s still an exceptionally weak class.

Matt Wieters, for what it’s worth, currently comes in at 2.5. Gordon Beckham is at 2.7.

So, any current AL ROY ballot has to be comprised entirely of
pitchers. Fortunately, there are some nice ones to choose from. Let’s
start with VORP, in order to fairly compare them with the hitters:

1. Ricky Romero – 27.7
2. Brad Bergesen – 24.5
3. Andrew Bailey – 21.3
4. Scott Richmond – 18.0
5. Jeff Niemann – 17.7
6. Alfredo Aceves – 14.6
7. Josh Outman – 13.2
8. Sean White – 12.3
9. Darren O’Day – 12.3
10. Rick Porcello – 11.9

Porcello can still figure into the race, but a run of short, mediocre outings have hurt his candidacy.

Moving on to the more traditional numbers of the top five candidates:

Romero – 7-3, 3.00 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 69/30 K/BB in 87 IP
Bergesen – 6-4, 3.54 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 53/25 K/BB in 104 1/3 IP
Niemann – 8-4, 3.73 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 52/38 K/BB in 91 2/3 IP
Richmond – 6-5, 3.69 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 71/30 K/BB in 85 1/3 IP

Bailey – 4-1, 10 Sv, 1.92 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 60/19 K/BB in 51 2/3 IP

Richmond has pretty much matched Romero aside from ERA, but the runs
are what matter and Richmond has allowed eight more (six of them
earned). It looks like VORP has the top three correct: Romero, Bergesen
and Bailey in some order.

In comparing Romero and Bergersen, Bergesen has advantages in
quantity and in strength of schedule. He’s also amassed his numbers in
front of a weaker defense. Romero’s remaining advantage is that he’s
given up no unearned runs to Bergesen’s three. I think Bergesen’s
performance rates the edge, though I definitely prefer Romero for the
rest of the season.

Bailey is currently on pace to throw 97 innings, and he’s dragged
his ERA back under 2.00 while working on a string of 11 straight
scoreless appearances. What does need to be held against him is that
he’s blown four saves, three of which have resulted in losses for the
A’s. He wasn’t a closer early on, so it’s not at all fair to judge him
on his 71-percent save percentage. Also, two of his blown saves came in
games in which he didn’t give up a run. Still, I don’t think he’s been
quite as valuable as Romero and Bergesen. It’s close, but I’m placing
him third.

Midseason AL ROY

1. Bergesen
2. Romero
3. Bailey

Clayton Kershaw’s initial prognosis: 4-6 weeks on the disabled list

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Some seriously bad news for the Dodgers: Ken Rosenthal reports that the initial prognosis on Clayton Kershaw is that he will miss 4-6 weeks with his bad back. A final determination will be made after he gets a second medical consultation.

Kershaw exited Sunday’s start against the Braves with back tightness after just two innings of work. He was seen talking with trainers in the dugout after completing the top of the second inning and did not return to the mound for the third. Kershaw has a history of back problems. Last year he missed over two months with a herniated disc in his back.

Assuming the preliminary schedule holds, Kershaw would be on the shelf until late August at the earliest, but more likely early-to-mid September. The Dodgers currently hold a 10.5 game lead in the NL West so they can withstand his absence. But if they have any hopes of advancing in the playoffs, they’ll need a fully armed and operational Clayton Kershaw to do it.

David Price was a complete jackass to Dennis Eckersley

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In late June, Red Sox pitcher David Price confronted Hall of Famer and NESN analyst Dennis Eckersley during a team flight to Toronto. The circumstances of the argument were not clear at the time and at least one report said that it was a “back and forth,” presumably about some critical comments Eckersley made on the air about Price. We learned a few days after that it was less of a “back and forth” than it was Price merely berating Eckersley.

Now, via this story from Dan Shaugnessy of the Boston Globe, we get the true flavor of the exchange. It does not reflect well on Price or his teammates:

On the day of the episode, Price was standing near the middle of the team aircraft, surrounded by fellow players, waiting for Eckersley. When Eckersley approached, on his way to the back of the plane (Sox broadcasters traditionally sit in the rear of the aircraft), a grandstanding Price stood in front of Eckersley and shouted, “Here he is — the greatest pitcher who ever lived! This game is easy for him!’’

When a stunned Eckersley tried to speak, Price shot back with, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

Many players applauded.

Eckersley made his way to the back of the plane as players in the middle of the plane started their card games. In the middle of the short flight, Eckersley got up and walked toward the front where Sox boss Dave Dombrowski was seated. When Eckersley passed through the card-playing section in the middle, Price went at him again, shouting, “Get the [expletive] out of here!’’

Assuming this account is accurate, Price’s behavior was nothing short of disgraceful. Disgraceful in that Price was too much of a coward to take his issues up with Ecklersley one-on-one. Beyond that, it’s classic bully behavior, with Price waiting until he was surrounded by lackeys to hurl insults in a situation where Eckersley had no opportunity to effectively respond.

But it’s mostly just sad. Sad that David Price is so painfully sensitive that he cannot handle criticism from a man who is, without question, one of the best who has ever played the game. One of the few men who has been in his shoes and stood on that same mound and faced the same sorts of challenges Price has attempted to face. And, it should be noted, faced them with more success in his career than Price has so far.

No one likes criticism, but David Price is at a place in his life where he is, inevitably, going to receive it. And unlike virtually every other person who may offer it to him, Dennis Eckersley knows, quite personally, of what he speaks.

Shame on David Price for acting like a child. Shame on his teammates for backing him up. Shame on John Farrell and the rest of the Red Sox organization for not sitting Price down, explaining that he messed up and encouraging him to apologize. And, of course, if he apologizes now, it’s not because he means it. He’s had a month to reflect. It’s simply because his disgraceful behavior is now all over the pages of the Boston Globe.

What a pathetic display.