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.
Dodgers’ left fielder Andrew Toles crushed his first spring training home run on Saturday afternoon. With the bases loaded and a two-run deficit hanging over their heads in the fourth inning, Toles stepped up to the plate against Oakland right-hander Jesse Hahn and unloaded a grand slam on the second pitch he saw.
Third baseman Justin Turner was quick to follow up with a solo jack of his own, bringing the score to a comfortable 7-4 lead by the end of the fourth. Another three-run outburst in the fifth and an eighth-inning RBI single by Austin Barnes raised the final score to 11-6… which, coincidentally, was the same score the Reds used to defeat the Athletics’ second split-squad lineup on Saturday (albeit with a few more RBI walks than grand slams).
Toles, 24, is approaching his sophomore season with the Dodgers in 2017. He slashed .314/.365/.505 with three home runs and an .870 OPS in his first major league season in 2016 and is expected to platoon with the right-handed Franklin Gutierrez in left field this year.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.