Shin-Soo Choo gets boned, and other thoughts on the Silver Slugger Awards

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The Silver Slugger Awards were announced last night. Like the Gold Gloves, the Silver Slugger is voted on by managers and coaches and stuff. Which makes little damn sense. We’ve long been in a world where offensive contributions can be quantified objectively — especially compared to defense — so why there’s a vote involved is beyond me.  What’s next? Voting for the winner of the 100 meters?

But they still do it, so let’s see how they did.  In the AL we have:

1B — Mark Teixeira
2B — Aaron Hill
3B — Evan Longoria
SS — Derek Jeter
OF — Ichiro Suzuki
OF — Torii Hunter
OF — Jason Bay
C —  Joe Mauer
DH –Adam Lind

Teixeira is the right choice. Youkilis had a great season but didn’t have the plate appearances to match Teix’s overall production. Miguel Cabrera is in the conversation too, but Teix edges him almost everywhere it matters, and had the big RBI numbers that catch the voters’ eyes.

Same story could be told at third, where A-Rod had better rate stats but missed too much time. Ben Zobrist brought way more to the table than Aaron Hill did. I suppose he was docked because he only played 91 games at second base, but Adam Lind only DH’d for 95 games and he made the grade. 

Shin-Soo Choo was boned in the outfield. He created more runs than any AL outfielder and was third in OPS. Torii Hunter missed time a la A-Rod and Youkilis, but unlike them, he wasn’t docked. I’d give it to Choo over Hunter. And before you say anything, no, they didn’t need one representative from each outfield position. They could have given it to three leftfielders if they wanted to.  Apparently Indians fans weren’t the only people who ignored what was going on with the Indians this year.

In the NL it’s:

1B — Albert Pujols
2B — Chase Utley
3B — Ryan Zimmerman
SS — Hanley Ramirez
OF — Ryan Braun
OF — Andre Ethier
OF — Matt Kemp
C — Brian McCann
P — Carlos Zambrano

The NL is pretty darn good.  Pujols, Utley and Ramirez are no-brainers. Brian McCann is the right call too. I think Pablo Sandoval might have been a better choice than Zimmerman, even if he spent time at other positions (120 games at 3B). I’m sure a lot of it has to do with Zimmerman’s scorching-hot start, whereas Sandoval was more of a solid, hoo-hum producer throughout the year. I wonder if there wasn’t a little bit in the way of seniority-preferences or east coast bias at work too.

Either and Kemp are a tossup from a purely offensive perspective, but I can’t help but think that one of them should have made way for Jayson Werth.

Why they give a Silver Slugger to a pitcher is beyond me, but sure, give it to Zambrano. If you don’t he may hit you or have a nervous breakdown or something.

Of course no one ever fights over the Silver Slugger Award. We’ll save that for later this month when the BBWAA awards are announced.

There will be no criminal charges arising out of Curt Schilling’s video game debacle

Curt Schilling
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In 2012 Curt Schilling’s video game company, 38 Studios, delivered the fantasy role-playing game it had spent millions of dollars and countless man hours trying to deliver. And then the company folded, leaving both its employees and Rhode Island taxpayers, who underwrote much of the company’s operations via $75 million in loans, holding the bag.

The fallout to 38 Studios’ demise was more than what you see in your average business debacle. Rhode Island accused Schilling and his company of acts tantamount to fraud, claiming that it accepted tax dollars while withholding information about the true state of the company’s finances. Former employees, meanwhile, claimed — quite credibly, according to reports of the matter — that they too were lured to Rhode Island believing that their jobs were far more secure than they were. Many found themselves in extreme states of crisis when Schilling abruptly closed the company’s doors. For his part, Schilling has assailed Rhode Island politicians for using him as a scapegoat and a political punching bag in order to distract the public from their own misdeeds. There seems to be truth to everyone’s claims to some degree.

As a result of all of this, there have been several investigations and lawsuits into 38 Studios’ collapse. In 2012 the feds investigated the company and declined to bring charges. There is currently a civil lawsuit afoot and, alongside it, the State of Rhode Island has investigated for four years to see if anyone could be charged with a crime. Today there was an unexpected press conference in which it was revealed that, no, no one associated with 38 Studios will be charged with anything:

An eight-page explanation of the decision concluded by saying that “the quantity and qualify of the evidence of any criminal activity fell short of what would be necessary to prove any allegation beyond a reasonable doubt and as such the Rules of Professional Conduct precluded even offering a criminal charge for grand jury consideration.”

Schilling will likely crow about this on his various social media platforms, claiming it totally vindicates him. But, as he is a close watcher of any and all events related to Hillary Clinton, he no doubt knows that a long investigation resulting in a declination to file charges due to lack of evidence is not the same thing as a vindication. Bad judgment and poor management are still bad things, even if they’re not criminal matters.

Someone let me know if Schilling’s head explodes if and when someone points that out to him.

Andrew Miller for Lucas Giolito: WHO SAYS NO?!!

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 28:  Lucas Giolito #44 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the first inning during a baseball game against the New York Mets at Nationals Park on June 28, 2016 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
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The rumor mongers are churning up some good stuff about the Yankees and the Nationals maybe talking about an Andrew Miller for Lucas Giolito deal. It started with Jon Morosi saying that the Nationals were willing to trade Giolito, one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball, to the Yankees for Miller straight up.

Taking two steps back, the idea of a Miller-for-Giolito deal seems like it’d be something the Yankees would jump at in a heartbeat. Giolito would, in the normal course, be worth more than a relief pitcher. Even a good one under team control like Miller is. So if the Nats were willing to do this, the Yankees would be fools not to accept, right?

Well, no. Jon Heyman and Joel Sherman are saying that the Yankees are looking for a massive return for Miller, more than what Cubs gave them for Aroldis Chapman. That deal netted New York prospect Gleyber Torres and three other players who have future value. Gioloto is worth more straight up than Torres, but the Yankees want another big package, not just one guy. Assuming those reports are true, are the Yankees being greedy?

Maybe not! Maybe it’s not about the Yankees’ eyes being wide. Maybe it’s about the nature of prospects and how all of our eyes get a bit wide over them, especially when national rankings are released each spring. We see Giolito or someone like him named the top prospect — or maybe a top-3 prospect — and immediately believe they are untouchable or, at the very least, close to invaluable.

But here, if the rumors are to be believed, the Nats are offering him for a relief pitcher. And the Yankees are saying “nah, we need more.” Maybe they both see something the prospect raters and coveters don’t. Maybe, in the abstract, they’re just as high on him as the raters and coveters are but maybe they don’t live in the abstract. Maybe they have the added benefit of (a) experience with the fortunes of young pitching prospects; and (b) a downside risk in loving them too much that the raters and coveters don’t have. No prospect rater risks being fired if the guy they rank #1 in any given year blows his shoulder out. Team employees have been.

I have no idea if there are legs to these rumors. I know that I like Giolito as a prospect, for whatever that’s worth, and the Yankees definitely have a need for young, projectable and controllable pitching talent. Likewise, given that they’re in a transitional period right now and given that they Have Dellin Betances, they could do without Andrew Miller if they needed to. He’s someone they could deal in order to get a guy in Gioloto who would instantly become their top prospect.

But it’s the deadline and people get a bit nuts. Teams ask for the stars, yes, but those of us on the outside tend to forget that a huge number of prospects, especially pitching prospects, never pan out. For all of the hype a deadline occasions and for as much as we see a beautiful future for each and every young hurler that comes down the pike, there are no clear answers about who is or who isn’t being unreasonable here. That is, if any of this stuff is true.

Enjoy the trade deadline, everyone. Just remember that no one knows anything and everyone, on some level, is making a bet.