Price: Felix is the Cy Young winner, but Sabathia should be the AL MVP

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That’s an argument you don’t hear very often, but Ed Price of FanHouse made it today.  After noting that people like me are probably going a bit too nuts in our Felix Hernandez campaigns — Price thinks Hernandez should and will win the award easily — he throws this out there: CC Sabathia is his MVP choice:

Can we really say that someone who isn’t the best pitcher in the league is the MVP? Yes. Looking at the Yankees rotation over the past two months, it’s pretty clear how much it has
meant to that team to have Sabathia pitch every fifth day — giving them
a much better chance to win and eating up innings so the bullpen was
fresh for the other 80 percent of the games.

I’m always open to novel arguments, but I still think this leans way too heavily on the “where would the team be without him” argument that I criticized Jon Paul Morosi for last week.  As Morosi himself noted, the two key measures of value as supplied in the actual MVP voting rules of the BBWAA are (1) games played; and (2) “actual value of the player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.”

I’m not sure why those who take a shine to the “where would the team be without him” measure read the “strength of offense and defense” clause out of it so completely. Value is being defined for you right there. Sure, there are many ways to measure offensive and defensive contributions — and viva la difference when it comes to that — but I don’t see how trying to guess how screwed a team would be without a guy measures “strength of offense and defense.”

When you consider a pitcher for the MVP — which you should, and which the BBWAA rules say you must — you have to value defense by run prevention, don’t you? I mean, that’s the pitcher’s job. And if you concede that Felix Hernandez is a better at that than Sabathia, I don’t see how you can then logically vote for Sabathia for the MVP without ignoring the rules of the BBWAA.

Not that I think either Hernandez or Sabathia have an MVP argument this year, but still.

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.

According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.

Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.

Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.