We argue about every possible award around here because, heck, what else is there to do when there are no baseball games going on? But while it’s easy to come up with any kind of argument for one guy over another for the MVP or the Cy Young or whatever, it’s not easy — and most folks don’t even try — to argue about who wins humanitarian awards.
Stuff like the Clemente Award, which goes to “the player who best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship and community involvement.” Most of us have no way of measuring even one player’s level of community involvement, let alone compare him to 29 other nominees, all of whom have clearly shown great sportsmanship and have made humanitarian efforts or else they wouldn’t have been nominated. Which is one of the reasons why the fact that the Clemente Award has a fan vote component makes little sense.
But that doesn’t stop T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com from saying that Michael Young was jobbed when Clayton Kershaw won it the other day:
Young has been the Rangers nominee for four straight years. He has yet to win it, unlike Pete Rose , Sammy Sosa or Curt Schilling …
It is one that Young richly deserves. If Young doesn’t represent everything that Clemente Award embodies then they might as well stop giving it because their standards are way too high.
I appreciate that Sullivan sees Young and his charitable work up close and has a greater appreciation for it than any of us do, but I really don’t know how one can talk about this sort of thing like a gold glove or something. To say, as he implicitly does, that Kershaw is somehow not as deserving seems, well, kind of rude given that we’re talking about humanitarian things here and not objective baseball value. And when Sullivan throws in Young’s “day-to-day accountability with the media,” — which is not something the Clemente Award is designed to reward — one wonders what the heck the motivation is for this in the first place.
I’m sure Michael Young is a good guy and embodies the things the Clemente Award values and honors. But to argue about the Clemente Award as if it’s like any other award seems rather awkward.
Steve Gilbert of MLB.com reports that the Diamondbacks and outfielder A.J. Pollock have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year extension. The deal is worth $10.25 million, per ESPN’s Buster Olney.
Pollock was arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. The 28-year-old requested $3.9 million and was offered $3.65 million by the Diamondbacks when figures were exchanged on January 15. It wasn’t much of a gap, but the two sides were ultimately able to find common ground on a multi-year deal. Pollock will still be under team control for one more year after this new deal expires.
Pollock is coming off a breakout 2015 where he batted .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBI, and 39 stolen bases over 157 games. He ranked sixth among position players with 7.4 WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to Baseball Reference.
The Blue Jays and 2015 American League Most Valuable Player Josh Donaldson have avoided arbitration by agreeing to a two-year, $29 million contract, reports Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca.
Donaldson was arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter. He filed for $11.8 million and was offered $11.35 million by the Blue Jays when figures were exchanged last month. It wasn’t a big gap, but since the Blue Jays are a “file and trial” team, they bring these cases to an arbitration hearing unless a multi-year deal can be worked out. As opposed to last winter, they were able to avoid a hearing this time around. Donaldson was originally a Super Two player, so he’ll still have one year of arbitration-eligibility once this two-year deal is completed.
The 30-year-old Donaldson is coming off a monster first season in Toronto where he batted .297/.371/.568 with 41 homers while leading the American League with 123 RBI.
Brandon Belt filed for $7.5 million and was offered $5.3 million by the Giants when arbitration figures were exchanged last month. That’s a pretty sizable gap. While there’s still a chance that an agreement will be worked out at the last minute, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that an arbitration hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
The Giants haven’t gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when they lost to catcher A.J. Pierzynski. Schulman hears from one person involved that because of the gap between Belt and the Giants, there’s a real chance this will break that string and require a hearing.
Belt batted .280/.356/.478 with 18 home runs and 68 RBI over 137 games in 2015, but he dealt with concussion symptoms for the second straight season. An arbitration hearing could bring some unpleasant conversation to the surface.
The Padres have inked veteran utility player Skip Schumaker to a minor league contract, per FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.
Schumaker, who turned 36 last week, has spent the last two seasons with the Reds. He batted .242/.306/.336 with one home run and 21 RBI over 131 games last season while making starts between all three outfield spots and second base. Cincinnati cut ties with him in November after declining a $2.5 million club option for 2016.
While Schumaker had to settle for a non-guaranteed deal here, it would be no surprise to see him land a bench job with the Padres come Opening Day.