Mike Trout

A note on awards season


I had some fun with the Ted Williams post this morning, but I would like to make one observation about the upcoming MVP debates and awards season in general:  they matter and they don’t. And that’s not necessarily a contradiction.

Remember that time when the voters got the MVP vote wrong and we all died? God, that sucked.  Oh, wait, that didn’t happen. Because no one is truly harmed if the MVP voters screw up. Amazingly, that even held when Alan Trammell was ripped off in 1987, and I was pretty sure that was going to kill me. In that sense, no, the awards debates don’t truly matter.

At the same time, the opposite reaction — that since it’s just baseball awards these debates are not even worth having — is also dumb.  We’re baseball fans. Arguing about awards is the best possible way to spend one’s time when actual games aren’t on. What the hell else should we do? Pretend there isn’t interesting baseball stuff to consider? Act like we’re above having a time-worn bar argument about which player is better than another? Jeez, that would make us friggin’ communists.

Where to find the balance? I think it’s just like anything else: we should jut be suspicious of extremists. People who think the wrong guy winning is tragedy of some kind are silly. If you’re a Mike Trout guy, the world is not going to end if Miguel Cabrera wins the award and vice-versa.  At the same time, however, people who tell me that it’s not worth even engaging in the exercise are off base too.  Go not have fun someplace else, please.

Anyway, I’ve not sat down and considered any award fully. I’m seriously leaning Mike Trout for the MVP, of course, but I could theoretically have my mind changed. And if that doesn’t happen I’m not gonna consider it an atrocity if Cabrera wins.  It’s just baseball.

But dude, if a bunch of writers try to argue that base running and defense is some sort of esoteric sabermetric invention, I will take up arms and fight until either death or glory is achieved.

Wait … gotta re-read my own post again.  Damn.

There’s no one to blame in Yankees’ loss

Joe Girardi

You’re going to boo All-Star Brett Gardner for striking out against a Cy Young contender?

You’re going to bash Alex Rodriguez for going hitless in another postseason game, three years after his last one?

Maybe you’d prefer to put it all on Masahiro Tanaka for giving up two solo homers to a lineup full of 20-homer guys?

The truth is that the Yankees were supposed to lose tonight. They were facing an outstanding left-hander with their forever-lefty-heavy lineup, and they simply didn’t have anyone pitching like an ace to set themselves up nicely for a one-game, winner-take-all showdown. The 3-0 result… well, that’s how this was supposed to go down.

It didn’t necessarily mean it would; what fun would it be if the better team always won? And the Astros might not even be a better team than the Yankees. However, the Astros with Dallas Keuchel on the mound were certainly a better team than the Yankees with whoever they picked to throw.

I just don’t see where it’s worth putting any blame tonight. Joe Girardi? He could have started John Ryan Murphy over Brian McCann against the tough lefty, but he wasn’t willing to risk Tanaka losing his comfort zone by using a backup catcher.

The front office could have added more talent, perhaps outbidding the Blue Jays for David Price or the Royals for Johnny Cueto, and set themselves up better for the postseason. However, that would have cost them Luis Severino and/or Greg Bird, both of whom went on to play key roles as the Yankees secured the wild card. Would it really have been worth it? I don’t think so.

Tanaka gave the Yankees what they should have expected. Had Keuchel’s stuff been a little off on short rest, Tanaka’s performance would have kept the Yankees in the game.

Keuchel, though, was on his game from the first pitch. The Astros bullpen might have been a bit more vulnerable, and late at-bats from Gardner, Carlos Beltran, Rodriguez and McCann definitely left something to be desired. Still, on the whole, the lack of offense was quite a team effort.

The Yankees got beat by a better team tonight.  I’m not sure the Astros would have been better in Games 2-7 in a longer series, but they had everything in their favor in this one.

Keuchel, Astros cruise past Yankees in AL Wild Card Game

AP Photo/Kathy Willens

Dallas Keuchel faced the Yankees two times during the regular season and was fantastic in each outing, striking out 12 in a complete-game shutout on June 25 and whiffing nine batters over seven scoreless frames on August 25.

The 2015 Cy  Young Award candidate continued that trend in Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card Game, limiting the Yankees to three hits and one walk over six innings of scoreless ball as the Astros earned a 3-0 win and advanced to a best-of-five ALDS with the top-seeded Royals.

Keuchel was working on three days of rest but didn’t show very many signs of fatigue, whiffing seven and needing only 87 pitches to get through six. He sure looked like he could have gone an inning longer, but Astros manager A.J. Hinch decided to turn the game over to his bullpen and they added three more big zeroes to the scoreboard at a very loud then very boo-heavy Yankee Stadium. Tony Sipp worked around some early jitters to throw a scoreless seventh, Will Harris kept the Yankees off the bases entirely in a scoreless eighth, and closer Luke Gregerson went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the ninth.

Impending free agent outfielder Colby Rasmus provided the first burst of offense for the Astros in the top of the second inning with a leadoff homer against Masahiro Tanaka. And then deadline acquisition Carlos Gomez, who missed a bunch of time down the stretch with an intercostal strain, got to Tanaka for another solo shot in the top of the fourth. Houston scored its third run on a Jose Altuve RBI single in the top of the seventh.

This is a young, talented Astros team with an ace at the head of its rotation.

Kansas City could have a problem.