Baseball announces Roberto Clemente Award nominees

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The Roberto Clemente Award goes to the Major Leaguer who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team.”  Tim Wakefield won it last year.  The 2011 nominees — one per team — were just announced. They are as follows:

Arizona Diamondbacks – Joe Saunders
Atlanta Braves – Tim Hudson
Baltimore Orioles – Adam Jones
Boston Red Sox – David Ortiz
Chicago Cubs – Ryan Dempster
Chicago White Sox – Juan Pierre
Cincinnati Reds – Jay Bruce
Cleveland Indians – Justin Masterson
Colorado Rockies – Troy Tulowitzki
Detroit Tigers – Justin Verlander
Florida Marlins – Gaby Sanchez
Houston Astros – Jason Bourgeois
Kansas City Royals – Billy Butler
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Torii Hunter
Los Angeles Dodgers – Clayton Kershaw
Milwaukee Brewers – LaTroy Hawkins
Minnesota Twins – Michael Cuddyer
New York Mets – Mike Pelfrey
New York Yankees – CC Sabathia
Oakland Athletics – Josh Willingham
Philadelphia Phillies – Ryan Howard
Pittsburgh Pirates – Jeff Karstens
St. Louis Cardinals – Albert Pujols
San Diego Padres – Orlando Hudson
San Francisco Giants – Jeremy Affeldt
Seattle Mariners – Felix Hernandez
Tampa Bay Rays – James Shields
Texas Rangers – Michael Young
Toronto Blue Jays – Ricky Romero
Washington Nationals – Ian Desmond

While the award itself is cool, the part that confuses me about it all is that there is a fan voting aspect to all of this, with dedicated website for it and everything. I’m not sure how fans can properly gauge a player’s community involvement, and I’m not sure how overall popularity should have any bearing on this award. I suppose Major League Baseball just can’t help itself when it comes to throwing interactivity — and a chance for people to see the ads of a the award’s sponsors — into the mix.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.