Matt Wieters headlines 2011 class of “Fielding Bible Awards”

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It’s tough to take the Gold Glove awards too seriously these days. Fortunately we also have the Fielding Bible Awards around to recognize the best defensive players at each position.

For those unfamiliar, the Fielding Bible Awards are voted on by a 10-person panel of experts, including Bill James, Peter Gammons, Rob Neyer, Joe Posnanski, John Dewan and the Baseball Info Solutions (BIS) scouting team. This is the sixth edition of the awards, which recognizes players from both leagues.

Below are your 2011 winners:

C – Matt Wieters, Orioles
1B – Albert Pujols, Cardinals
2B – Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
SS – Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
3B – Adrian Beltre, Rangers
LF – Brett Gardner, Yankees
CF – Austin Jackson, Tigers
RF – Justin Upton, Diamondbacks
P – Mark Buehrle, White Sox

Hard to find much to complain about here, as all are considered elite defenders. The biggest news here is that Wieters supplants Yadier Molina, who won the previous four Fielding Bible awards at catcher. Mark Buehrle takes the prize for a third straight year while Troy Tulowitzki and Brett Gardner also repeat at their respective positions.

By the way, we won’t have to wait too long to find out who the Gold Glove winners are. While MLB has traditionally announced them via press release, ESPN2 will unveil the winners for each league with a live one-hour telecast tomorrow night at 10 p.m. ET. Finalists for each position were announced earlier today, presumably in an effort to increase the drama, which is yet another first. Of note, last year’s Gold Glove award winner Derek Jeter is not among the finalists for shortstop in the American League while 2011 Fielding Bible award winners Albert Pujols and Justin Upton were also left off.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.