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.

Brandon Belt signs $6.2 million deal, avoiding arbitration with Giants

Brandon Belt
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In a last-second compromise before a scheduled heading today, first baseman Brandon Belt and the Giants have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year, $6.2 million deal.

Belt requested $7.5 million and the Giants countered at $5.3 million, so they’ve settled slightly on the team-friendly side of the midpoint. Belt will be arbitration eligible again next season for the final time before hitting the open market as a free agent.

He’s coming off a very good season in which he hit .280 with 18 homers and an .834 OPS in 137 games and Belt has a lifetime .803 OPS through age 27, making him one of MLB’s most underrated all-around first baseman.

Orioles sign ex-Padres reliever Dale Thayer

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Right-hander Dale Thayer and the Orioles have agreed to a minor-league contract that includes an invitation to spring training.

Thayer had a rough 2015 season for the Padres, posting a 4.06 ERA and spending time in the minors, but he was a solid part of San Diego’s bullpen from 2012-2014 with a combined 3.02 ERA and 173/50 K/BB ratio in 188 innings.

At age 35 there’s no guarantee that Thayer will look good enough to claim a spot on the Opening Day roster, but he’s got a strong chance to wind up pitching middle relief for Baltimore.

Phillies acquire Taylor Featherston from Angels

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Taylor Featherston, who was designated for assignment by the Angels last week, has been traded to the Phillies for a player to be named later or cash.

Featherston stayed in the majors with the Angels for all of last season due to being a Rule 5 pick from the Rockies organization, but the 25-year-old infielder hit just .162 in 169 plate appearances.

He’s been much better in the minors, but nothing about his track record there screams quality regular and the Phillies are likely viewing him as a defense-first bench option for now.

Keith Law: The Braves have the best farm system in baseball

Braves 2
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Flags fly forever! Hooray for The Process championship!

Ah, sorry. This is about as much rooting as I’ll get to do this year, so cut me some slack.

This is the week when ESPN’s Keith Law releases his prospect and farm system rankings. He kicks off his content this week with a top-to-bottom ranking of all 30 farm systems. As a rule he limits his analysis to players who are currently in the minors and who have not yet exhausted their rookie of the year eligibility. The top system: the Atlanta Braves. The bottom: the Los Angeles Angels, about whom Law says “I’ve been doing these rankings for eight years now, and this is by far the worst system I’ve ever seen.” Enjoy Mike Trout, though, you guys.

If you want to know the reasons and the rankings of everyone in between you’ll have to get an ESPN Insider subscription. Sorry, I know everyone hates to pay for content on the Internet, but Keith and others who do this kind of work put a lot of damn work into it and this is what pays their bills. I typically don’t like to pay for content myself, but I do pay for an ESPN Insider subscription. It’s worth it for Law’s work alone. And though he drives me crazy sometimes, Buster Olney’s daily column/notes thing is also worth the money over the course of the year.