Kirk Gibson

Kirk Gibson, Joe Maddon named Managers of the Year

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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.

Report: Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on Sonny Gray

OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 06: Sonny Gray #54 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the first inning at the Oakland Coliseum on August 6, 2016 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
Jason O. Watson/Getty Images
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The Astros remain in contact with the Athletics on starting pitcher Sonny Gray, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. The Astros have added Charlie Morton this offseason, but the club has been trying to add a big-name starting pitcher to put at the top of the rotation behind Dallas Keuchel.

Gray, 27, was limited to 22 starts in the 2016 season due to a forearm issue. His stats left a lot to be desired, as he finished with a 5-11 record, a 5.69 ERA, and a 94/42 K/BB ratio over 117 innings. Considering how Gray pitched in the previous three years, he’s a good bet to bounce back.

Gray is under team control through 2019, which is a big draw for the Astros. Needless to say, the Athletics would want a haul in terms of prospects. Gray will earn $3.575 million in 2017, having avoided arbitration in his first year of eligibility.

President Obama Welcomes the Cubs to the White House

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As we noted last week, The Chicago Cubs took the unusual step of not waiting until the summer after winning the World Series to make their customary White House visit to meet the president. They did it today, seeing President Obama a few short days before he leaves office.

Despite the fact that Obama is a White Sox fan, he met the Cubs with diplomacy and grace. It’s almost as if he’s been in that business for the past eight years. In return, he was given some gifts by the Cubs: Theo Epstein presented Obama with a No. 44 Cubs jersey, a tile from the center field scoreboard at Wrigley Field, and a lifetime pass to Wrigley as well.

Obama is staying in D.C. after he leaves office this week, hanging around so his daughter can finish high school in the same place she started. Even so, he’s likely going to be back to Chicago a good bit over the rest of his life, so he’ll likely be able to put the free pass to work. Assuming it comes with, like, six companion passes for his Secret Service detail.