Dustin Ackley

Hank Aaron Award nominees announced (and then picked apart)


The Hank Aaron Award nominees were announced on Monday.  The award is meant to honor the best offensive performers in each league.  As always, there’s one nominee from every team and the winner will be selected by a fan vote in combination with a vote of select Hall of Fame players.

Here are the nominees:

American League
Baltimore: J.J. Hardy
Boston: Adrian Gonzalez
Chicago: Paul Konerko
Cleveland: Asdrubal Cabrera
Detroit: Miguel Cabrera
Kansas City: Alex Gordon
Los Angeles: Mark Trumbo
Minnesota: Michael Cuddyer
New York: Curtis Granderson
Oakland: Josh Willingham
Seattle: Dustin Ackley
Tampa Bay: Evan Longoria
Texas: Michael Young
Toronto: Jose Bautista

Of course, with one player from every team nominated, the fans can vote for Ackley for AL offensive player of the year, but not Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz or Robinson Cano.

The pretty awful pick here was Trumbo over Howie Kendrick on the Angels. Of course Kendrick didn’t match the first baseman when it came to RBIs, but he hit .285/.338/.464 to Trumbo’s .254/.291/.477.

Young was the Rangers’ fourth best hitter, but he played in 159 games, while Mike Napoli, Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton played in 113, 124 and 121 respectively. Napoli still deserves the nod, though. He hit .320/.414/.631 to Young’s .338/.380/.474.

National League
Arizona: Justin Upton
Atlanta: Brian McCann
Chicago: Aramis Ramirez
Cincinnati: Joey Votto
Colorado: Troy Tulowitzki
Florida: Mike Stanton
Houston: Carlos Lee
Los Angeles: Matt Kemp
Milwaukee: Ryan Braun
New York: Jose Reyes
Philadelphia: Ryan Howard
Pittsburgh: Andrew McCutchen
St. Louis: Albert Pujols
San Diego: Cameron Maybin
San Francisco: Pablo Sandoval
Washington: Michael Morse

Things were cut-and-dry for a lot of NL teams. It’s a shame Hunter Pence couldn’t get a nomination, considering that he was better than Lee in Houston and Howard in Philadelphia. Shane Victorino probably should have been the Phillies’ selection, but… yeah, fat chance.

St. Louis was the one I’d most argue against. Lance Berkman hit .301/.412/.547 to Pujols’ .299/.366/.541. That nearly 50-point difference in OBP is very significant, and Berkman only played in two fewer games over the course of the season.

I’m not going to complain about Maybin (.716 OPS). Chase Headley (.773 OPS) and Nick Hundley (.824 OPS) were considerably better hitters, but they played in 113 and 82 games, respectively.

The international draft is all about MLB making money and the union selling out non-members

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 13:  A fan flies the Dominican Republic flag during the game against Cuba during Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic on March 13, 2006 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Getty Images
1 Comment

On Monday we passed along a report that Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are negotiating over an international draft. That report — from ESPN’s Buster Olney — cited competitive balance and the well-being of international free agents as the reasons why they’re pushing for the draft.

We have long doubted those stated motivations and said so again in our post on Monday. But we’re just armchair skeptics when it comes to this. Ben Badler of Baseball America is an expert. Perhaps the foremost expert on international baseball, international signings and the like. Today he writes about a would-be international draft and he tears MLB, the MLBPA and their surrogates in the media to shreds with respect to their talking points.

Of course Badler is a nice guy so “tearing to shreds” is probably putting it too harshly. Maybe it’s better to say that he systematically dismantles the stated rationale for the international draft and makes plan what’s really going on: MLB is looking to save money and the players are looking to sell out non-union members to further their own bargaining position:

Major League Baseball has long wanted an international draft. The driving force behind implementing an international draft is for owners to control their labor costs by paying less money to international amateur players, allowing owners to keep more of that money . . . the players’ association doesn’t care about international amateur players as anything more than a bargaining chip. It’s nothing discriminatory against foreign players, it’s just that the union looks out for players on 40-man rosters. So international players, draft picks in the United States and minor leaguers who make less than $10,000 in annual salary get their rights sold out by the union, which in exchange can negotiate items like a higher major league minimum salary, adjustments to the Super 2 rules or modifying draft pick compensation attached to free agent signings.

Badler then walks through the process of how players are discovered, scouted and signed in Latin America and explains, quite convincingly, how MLB’s international draft and, indeed, its fundamental approach to amateurs in Latin America is lacking.

Read this. Then, every time a U.S.-based writer with MLB sources talks about the international draft, ask whether they know something Ben Badler doesn’t or, alternatively, whether they’re carrying water for either the league or the union.

President Bill Murray speaks about the Cubs from the White House

CHICAGO - APRIL 12:  Celebrity Bill Murray clowns around with Chicago media before the opening day game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 12, 2004 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Pirates defeated the Cubs 13-2.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Getty Images

I don’t know why Bill Murray is in Washington today. I don’t know why he’s at the White House. But I do know that he was there in Chicago Cubs gear, standing at the lectern in the press briefing room, voicing his full confidence in the Cubs prevailing in the NLCS, despite the fact that Clayton Kershaw is going for the Dodgers tomorrow night.

“Too many sticks,” president Murray said of the Cubs lineup. And something about better trees in Illinois.

Four. More. Years.