What season is it?

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As I wait for the NL MVP to be announced — likely the only real news that will be had today — I find myself struggling with something:  when do we start calling 2010 “last season?”  When do we start calling 2011 “this season.”  More importantly, what do we call them now?

Let’s start easy: it’s probably safe to call 2010 “last season” now. The only possible issue with this will be when we talk about who just won the awards — I still think of Felix Hernandez as “this season’s Cy Young Award winner” — but that will end soon, and the award winners will be just as much a part of “last season” as Dallas Braden’s ridiculous references to the area code whence he came.

2011 is much harder.  My quick broaching of the topic on Twitter has made it pretty clear that people do not yet feel comfortable calling 2011 “this season.” Indeed, the consensus is that we’re in a dead zone when we can only have a “last season” and a “next season” and nothing in between.  This saddens me, because it just underscores how bereft of baseball we are.  What’s more, it’s not 100% accurate inasmuch as teams are assembling rosters as we speak, laying the important groundwork for 2011. Something is happening that part of me feels must be considered as a component of the active season.  Though the tree has shed its leaves and appears dead to the world, it still lives.

But my emotional needs aside, I’ll grant that 2011 is not yet “this season.”  But when does it become “this season?”

  • I will not be subject to the tyranny of the calendar. January 1st is a non-starter as far as I’m concerned, as it has no organic relationship to baseball, which has its own calendar that can be easily navigated without reference to the names of the months (“October” being the only possible exception).
  • Someone in the Twitterverse suggested Opening Day. This is far too late for me. We are way, way too invested in actual on-the-field activity before then.
  • Pitchers and catchers reporting, then?  It may be the majority position. It still feels too late for me, though. And it’s not like we’re sticking with it: “truck day” has become an increasingly big thing, and if we’re marking the departure of equipment, it must be significant.

I could go earlier than that, though. Sometime between now and early February is when the rhetorical calendar has to flip.  The sooner the better for me, as I dislike constructions such as “this upcoming season” or “the current offseason” or “that time, far off, when baseball begins anew and the long dreary winter has left us at last.”  Which comes up all the time, don’t you know.

Here’s my take:  I’m going to the Winter Meetings in a couple of weeks. When I’m down there, I’m going to perform a little pagan ceremony, the specifics of which will be between me, the beverage I am drinking and whoever happens to be within shouting distance.  When it’s over, 2011 will be referred to as “this season” on this blog.

Well, at least by me.  I’m guessing Gleeman, Pouliot, Short and Silva all feel differently about it.

Watch: Mike Trout ties MLB record with his 25th home run

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It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:

In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.

Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.

Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.

Blue Jays acquire Tom Koehler from Marlins

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The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.

The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.

Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.