It’s officially “so and so should be considered” season

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I had a go at this concept last year. The concept that, when it comes to postseason awards, it’s somehow a legitimate argument to say “so and so should be considered” when the person advocating such a position doesn’t actually think they should win it. That he should be “in the conversation.”

Person 1: I think Joe Shlabotnik should be given consideration for the MVP.

Person 2: OK, do you think Shlabotnik deserves to win? Is he going to be given your first place vote?

Person 1: No, but he should get consideration! He should be in the conversation.

Smack my head.

If I think Fetzelrod is the MVP, why should I “consider” Shlabotnik?  In reaching my decision isn’t it understood that I’ve considered and rejected Shlabotnik? I’m a Fetzelrod man! Don’t waste my time with this Shlabotnik tomfoolery!

Anyway, here’s Richard Justice today at MLB.com:

There can’t be a conversation about the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award without including Derek Jeter, and doesn’t that make this whole season even better?

Starting off well!  Then, after going through the stronger cases for Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera and Josh Hamilton he adds:

Regardless of how it plays out, it’s fun just having him in the discussion.

This after he says Jeter’s MVP credentials are “doing his job at the top of the lineup,” “playing nice defense,” “winning” and “leadership.”  Of course Trout has done a better job at the top of the lineup, plays better defense and plays for a team with only two fewer wins than Jeter’s (and more since Trout came up from the minors).  Leadership: OK, such as it can be known, we’ll give it to Jeter.

But the point here isn’t that I think Jeter isn’t as good as Trout. Opinions vary. The point here is that Justice makes no effort to argue it himself, which suggests that, had he an MVP vote, he would not have Jeter above Trout.  Rendering the whole “Jeter should be in the conversation” conversation pointless.

Guess what: Jeter has had a kickass season, especially for a player his age. This is late career stuff we usually only see from inner-circle Hall of Famers. It is notable and worthy of great kudos and praise. But there is nothing which says that praise may only be given to a guy in the context of a “who should win the MVP” article.  Just write the “hey,  Jeter is great” article. You can actually do that. There is nothing to stop you!

But by not doing it, you muddy the MVP waters and either actively our passively encourage sloppy reasoning when it comes to the MVP.  “In the conversation?”  Bah.  Either a guy is or is not your MVP choice.

Andrelton Simmons is absolutely freaking ridiculous

Associated Press
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I’ve been watching Andrelton Simmons play shortstop since he came up with the Braves back in 2012. From the moment he burst onto the scene it was clear that he was an otherworldly defensive talent. His arm was incredible. His range was astonishing. His sense of where he was on the field and his instincts about what to do with the ball were unmatched.

I’ll admit, however, that I’ve seen him less in the past couple of seasons than I used to. It’s understandable: he no longer plays for my favorite team and he now plays most of his games after old men like me go to bed back east. The numbers have shown that he’s still the best defensive shortstop around and the highlights which get circulated are still astounding, but I’ve not appreciated him on a day-to-day level like I once did.

But that just makes me more grateful for the highlights when I miss him in action. Like this one, from last night’s game against the Astros. You can see it in high resolution here, but if you can’t click over there, here’s the play as it was tweeted around:

I didn’t see last night’s game, but my friend Dan Lewis tweeted this out a bit. His observations about it in this thread explain why what Simmons is doing here is so amazing:

The lay-outs, the bobble-saves, the jump-throws and all of that spectacular stuff are understandably appreciated, but the various skills Simmons displayed in just this one play — not to mention the freakin’ hustle he displays backing up third base after it all — is just astounding.

There hasn’t been one like him for a while. We should all appreciate him while he’s still in his prime.

The Braves are leaning toward keeping Brian Snitker as manager

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Mark Bradley of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported over the weekend that the Braves are leaning toward keeping Brian Snitker as manager. Part of that comes after team meetings between Snitker and top brass. Some of it, however, is likely attributable to player sentiment, with Bob Nightengale of USA Today reporting this morning that Freddie Freeman and several Braves players have told the Braves front office that they want Snitker back.

Is it a good idea to bring Snitker back? Eh, I’m leaning no, with the caveat that it probably doesn’t make a huge difference in the short term.

The “no” is based mostly on the fact that Snitker has had a disturbing trend of preferring veterans over young players, as Bradley explains in detail here. For a brief moment this summer the Braves seemed surprisingly competitive. Not truly competitive if anyone was being honest, but they were hovering around .500 and were arguably in the wild card race. Around that time he made a number of questionable decisions that favored marginal and/or injured veterans over some young players who will be a part of the next truly competitive Braves team, likely messing with their confidence and possibly messing with their development.

These moves were not damaging, ultimately, to the 2017 Braves on the field — they were going to be under .500 regardless — but it was the sort of short-term thinking that a manager for a rebuilding team should not be employing. Part of the blame for this, by the way, can be put on the front office, who only gave Snitker a one-year contract when they made him the permanent manager last year, creating an incentive for him to win in 2017 rather than manage the club the way a guy who knows when the team will truly be competitive should manage it. Then again, if Snitker was so great a candidate in the front office’s mind, why did they only give him a one-year contract?

I suspect a lot of it has to do with loyalty. Snitker has been an admirable Braves company man for decades, and that was certainly worthy of respect by the club. That he got the gig was likewise due in part to the players liking him — the veteran players — and they now are weighing in with their support once again. At some point, however, loyalty and respect of veterans has to take a back seat to a determination of who is the best person to bring the team from rebuilding to competitiveness, and Snitker has not made the case why he is that man.

Earlier, of course, I said it probably doesn’t matter all that much if they do, in fact, bring Snitker back. I say this because he will, in all likelihood, be given a short leash again, probably in the form of a one-year extension. It would not surprise me at all if, in the extraordinarily likely event the Braves look to be outclassed in the division by the Nationals again in 2018, they made a managerial switch midseason, as they did in 2016. If that is, indeed, the plan, it seems like the front office is almost planning on losing again in 2018 and using the future firing of Snitker as a time-buying exercise. Not that I’m cynical or anything.

Either way, I don’t think Snitker is the right guy for the job. Seems, though, that he’ll get at least an offseason and a couple of months to prove me wrong.