Your 2011 Managers of the Year: Kirk Gibson and Joe Maddon.
I don’t know what to make of the Manager of the Year Award. Never have. No one has yet shown me a good way to measure the candidates against one another. It usually ends up with a “who did the most with the least” analysis, but there is all kinds of subjectivity that can be brought into that.
Not the least of which is what the very writers who vote on the award thought about the winners’ teams before the season began. If the writers just totally misjudged a team and thought they would suck but they somehow didn’t suck, they turn around and name that team’s manager Manager of the Year. Maybe the writers just had it wrong and that team was bound to be good! Maybe the manager actually underachieved! There’s no way to know this stuff, of course and, yes, I’m just being a pain in the butt here.
I do know this, though: everyone — myself included — thought the Diamondbacks would stink. They did not stink. Far from it. And it was therefore inevitable that Kirk Gibson was going to be named NL Manager of the Year.
And there should be no complaining about that as far as I can reckon. More than just appear to greatly overachieve, Gibson really did change the tone around the Dbacks. One year removed from a clubhouse revolt that cost A.J. Hinch his job, the Dbacks had an air of top-down discipline from the day spring training started and it remained throughout the season. Gibson is responsible for that and with the Dbacks’ success, even if Kevin Towers made a strong assist by revamping the bullpen and stuff. It’s really darn hard to find any fault with Gibson winning.
In the AL, we also have a winner whose team bucked expectations. The Rays lost their entire bullpen and, as usual, had to fight the mighty Yankees and Red Sox with a fraction of the payroll. I’m pretty sure Maddon would have won even if the Red Sox’ collapse didn’t help the Rays snag the wild card on the last day of the season, but when that happened, the award was secured. Maddon is a smart guy and does make the most of everything he has. Absent some other well-accepted metric for judging managerial performance, that kind of thing is going to take it every time.
Congrats Gibby and Joe.
In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.
Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.
In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.
In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.
Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.
Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.
The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.
MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.
Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.
“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”
Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.
MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.
It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.