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.

It’s the tenth anniversary of the biggest rout in baseball history

Associated Press
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Ten years ago today the Rangers and the Orioles squared off at Camden Yards. The Orioles built a 3-0 lead after three innings and then all hell broke loose.

The Rangers scored thirty (30!) unanswered runs via a five-spot in the fourth, a nine-spot in the sixth, a ten-spot in the eighth and a six-spot in the ninth. That was . . . a lot of spots.

Two Rangers players — Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ramon Vazquez — hit two homers and drove in seven runs a piece. The best part: they were the eighth and ninth hitters in the lineup. There was plenty of offense to go around, however as David Murphy went 5-for-7 and scored five times. Travis Metcalf hit a pinch-hit grand slam. Marlon Byrd drove in four. It was a bloodbath, with Texas rattling out 29 hits and walking eight times.

On the Orioles side of things, Daniel Cabrera took the loss, giving up six runs on nine hits in five innings. That’s not a terribly unusual line for a bad day at the office for a pitcher — someone will probably get beat up like that in the next week or so — but the Orioles’ relievers really added to the party. Brian Burres was the first victim, allowing eight runs on eight hits in only two-thirds of an inning. Rob Bell gave up seven in an inning and a third. Paul Shuey wore the rest of it, allowing nine runs on seven hits over the final two.

The best part of the insanely busy box score, however, was not from any of the Orioles pitchers or any of the Rangers hitters. Nope, it was from a Rangers relief pitcher named Wes Littleton. You probably don’t remember him, as he only pitched in 80 games and never appeared in the big leagues after 2008. But on this day — the day of the biggest blowout in baseball history — Wes Littleton notched a save. From Baseball-Reference.com:

Three innings and 43 pitches is a lot of work for a reliever and, per the rules, it’s a save, regardless of the margin when he entered the game. Still, this was not exactly a game that was ever in jeopardy.

When it went down, way back on August 22, 2007, it inspired me to write a post at my old, defunct independent baseball blog, Shysterball, arguing about how to change the save rule. Read it if you want, but know that (1) no one has ever paid attention to such proposals in baseball, even if such proposals are frequently offered; and (2) the hypothetical examples I use to illustrate the point involve an effective Joba Chamberlain and Joe Torre’s said use of him, which tells you just how long ago this really was.

Oh, one final bit: this massacre — the kind of game that the Orioles likely wanted to leave, go back home and go to sleep afterward — was only the first game of a doubleheader. Yep, they had to strap it on and play again, with the game starting at 9PM Eastern time. Baltimore lost that one too, 9-7, concluding what must have been one of the longest days any of the players involved had ever had at the office, both figuratively and literally.

Hall of Fame baseball announcer Rafael ‘Felo’ Ramirez dies

Associated Press
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MIAMI (AP) Rafael “Felo” Ramirez, a Hall of Fame baseball radio broadcaster who was the signature voice for millions of Spanish-speaking sports fans over three decades, has died. He was 94.

The Miami Marlins announced Ramirez’ death Tuesday.

Ramirez, who died Monday night, began his broadcasting career in Cuba in 1945 before calling 31 All-Star games and World Series in Spanish. He was the Marlins Spanish-language announcer since their inaugural season in 1993 and was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2001.

He was known for an expressive, yet low-key style and his signature strike call of “Essstrike.”

Several Spanish-language broadcasters, including Amury Pi-Gonzanez of the Seattle Mariners and San Francisco Giants, have admitted to emulating his style.