Voter who kept Joe Mauer from unanimous MVP explains himself … sort of

Leave a comment

Just one vote kept Joe Mauer from joining Albert Pujols as a unanimous MVP last season and Tyler Kepner of the New York Times recently spoke to Keizo Konishi of the Kyodo News about why he cast his ballot for Miguel Cabrera instead.
In addition to going into some convoluted logic about the Twins’ lineup being better without Mauer than the Tigers’ lineup without Cabrera, Konishi also admitted to being “unaware of the details” surrounding Cabrera going 0-for-4 with six stranded runners after spending the night at a police station following a drunken altercation with his wife.
“If I had known what was going on there, my vote would probably be different,” Konishi said. “Or maybe, I don’t know. I would have to think about it again.”
Whether or not you think Cabrera’s off-field incident and subsequent struggles in the next game should impact his candidacy, my question is why one of just 28 votes for league MVP went to someone who didn’t pay enough attention to the league (or didn’t wait long enough to send in his ballot) to know “the details” of something like that involving a star player? MVP voters should know more than the average fan, right?
Konishi also explained that Mauer skipping the World Baseball Classic because of an injury played a part in his voting for Cabrera, because “the World Baseball Classic is a huge deal for the Japanese people” and “Cabrera played to the semifinals.” All of which might be somewhat relevant if the WBC was part of the MLB regular season, but it isn’t.
I appreciate Konishi’s willingness to explain his ballot in a public forum, but I certainly don’t appreciate the lack of insight and logic that went into his decision making. His vote made little sense, the reasoning behind his vote makes even less sense, and his having a ballot in the first place perhaps makes the least sense of all. Oh well.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.