Manny Machado

Projecting the 2013 Gold Glove winners

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Let’s go down the list:

AL, catcher: Matt Wieters, Joe Mauer, Salvador Perez

Mauer is still the AL’s best defensive catcher, but he played a mere 660 innings behind the plate this year, compared to 1,200 for Wieters and 1,115 for Perez. Wieters has won the last two, so he’s the favorite here. Still, I think Perez gets the nod.

AL, first base: Chris Davis, James Loney, Eric Hosmer

Even is his league-leading UZR oversells it a bit, Mike Napoli deserved a nomination over Davis or Hosmer. Loney will claim this one, and it probably won’t be particularly close. Weak field.

AL, second base: Robinson Cano, Ben Zobrist, Dustin Pedroia

Both Pedroia and Cano have two Gold Gloves to their credit. The tie will be broken this year, and I imagine Pedroia will be the choice.

AL, third base: Manny Machado, Evan Longoria, Adrian Beltre

This is easily the AL’s strongest position. Josh Donaldson was probably the best defender at any position not to get a nomination, and Matt Dominguez is no slouch in Houston. It will be interesting to see if the voters make the right choice with Machado. I think they will, but Beltre was the Platinum Glove choice the previous two years, marking him as the league’s overall best defender.

AL, shortstop: Yunel Escobar, Alcides Escobar, J.J. Hardy

Alcides Escobar’s defensive numbers finally match his rep this year, and he’s probably the best choice. Still, it’s hardly a slam dunk. My guess is that Hardy gets his second Gold Glove in a row.

AL, left field: Yoenis Cespedes, Andy Dirks, Alex Gordon

Gordon has won both years since the Gold Gloves separated out the outfield positions (though Brett Gardner deserved it in 2011). He’s the likely choice again, and I don’t see any better options. He played 500 more innings in left than either of the other nominees here.

AL, center field: Adam Jones, Lorenzo Cain, Jacoby Ellsbury

The numbers say Cain, but he played just 760 innings in center and he was shifted to right when both he and Jarrod Dyson were in the lineup at the same time. That makes him kind of a tough sell. Jones is a terribly weak nomination; Mike Trout, Gardner, Colby Rasmus, Michael Bourn, Coco Crisp and Austin Jackson are all better defenders. I guess Ellsbury is the choice of this trio, but really, Cain is the best of the bunch.

AL, right field: Nick Markakis, Josh Reddick, Shane Victorino

Markakis too? Did the Orioles grease some palms? Anyway, Victorino is the most obvious winner at any AL position.

AL, pitcher: Mark Buehrle, R.A. Dickey, Doug Fister

Buehrle has won four Gold Gloves in a row, including last year in the National League. Still, Fister deserves to win this award and I think he’ll get it.

NL, catcher: A.J. Ellis, Russell Martin, Yadier Molina

Martin was the last catcher to beat out Molina, doing so in 2007. It’s a given that Molina will keep the crown for a sixth straight year, and he deserves it, but Martin was really good, too.

NL, first base: Paul Goldschmidt, Adrian Gonzalez, Anthony Rizzo

The last two NL Gold Glove winners (Joey Votto in 2011, Adam LaRoche in 2012) weren’t even nominated. Gonzalez has the rep and will claim the award. Rizzo’s turn could come next year.

NL, second base: Darwin Barney, Mark Ellis, Brandon Phillips

Phillips won two in a row before Barney overtook him last year. The difference between 2012 and 2013 was that Barney was competent offensively last year. Since he wasn’t this year, the award is more likely to go back to Phillips.

NL, third base: Nolan Arenado, Juan Uribe, David Wright

How about a trade? The AL gets both Gold Glove third basemen and the NL gets both for center field. Uribe and Arenado both actually had pretty exceptional numbers. Personally I buy Uribe’s a bit more. Still, my guess is that Wright wins on name recognition. After all, Uribe and Arenado could split the analytical component of the vote.

NL, shortstop: Ian Desmond, Andrelton Simmons, Troy Tulowitzki

Andrelton.

NL, left field: Carlos Gonzalez, Starling Marte, Eric Young Jr.

Gonzalez’s arm would have earned him the award if he had been able to play in the second half. Marte, though, was the better choice regardless, and since he did play an extra couple of hundred innings, I think he’ll be the pick.

NL, center field: Carlos Gomez, Andrew McCutchen, Denard Span

McCutchen can have the MVP, but Gomez is far more deserving of the Gold Glove. Of course, that was true last year, too, and McCutchen was still the choice. I’m not sure the analytics component of the vote will sway that. I’m guessing McCutchen.

Also, Juan Lagares deserved a nomination here. He played more innings in center than Young did in left or Jason Heyward did in right.

NL, right field: Jay Bruce, Jason Heyward, Gerardo Parra

Heyward won last year, but he was limited to 104 games this year and started just 76 in right field. He is great, but so is Parra and Parra was out there for an extra 350 innings. Still, I imagine Heyward will be the selection.

NL, pitcher: Patrick Corbin, Zack Greinke, Adam Wainwright

No Mike Leake? Anyway, Wainwright was the only pitcher in either league to be involved in six double plays, and he didn’t commit a single error. Botched World Series popup not withstanding, he should be the pick. Greinke can settle for the Silver Slugger.

Breaking Down the Today’s Game Hall of Fame Ballot: Lou Piniella

TORONTO - JULY 9:  Manager Lou Pinella of the Cincinnati Reds looks on during batting practice prior to the1991 All-Star Game at the Toronto Sky Dome on July 9, 1991 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
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On Monday, December 5, the Today’s Game committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame — the replacement for the Veterans Committee which covers the years 1988-2016 — will vote on candidates for the 2017 induction class. This week we are looking at the ten candidates, one-by-one, to assess their Hall worthiness. Next up: Lou Piniella

The case for his induction:

He notched 1,835 wins, made seven postseason appearances, a won a World Series as a manager. That win total is good for 14th all time. Of the 13 men ahead of him, 12 are already in the Hall. The only who isn’t is Gene Mauch, who was under .500 for his career. Connie Mack and Bucky Harris are in that crowd and they were under .500 too, but Mack is kind of a special case as the all-time wins leader and Harris, well, I dunno, he hung around forever and the Veterans Committee was a different beast back in the 1970s. Point is, if you have Piniella’s win total and you’re over .500, as Piniella is, you’re probably getting in, at least eventually.

A lot of those wins came in some good places and at some good times, adding some psychological weight to that record. Taking the 1990 Reds to the World Series and beating the heavily favored A’s was a great story and, as the Reds’ last title for 26 years and counting, stands as a more memorable accomplishment than doing it someplace else. Likewise, his next job, in Seattle, coincided with the franchise’s best seasons thanks to the emergence of Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson and Edgar Martinez under Piniella’s command. Mariners’ history fundamentally changed during the Piniella era and he will always be associated with that. Oh, and his 2001 team set the single season record for wins with 116. He made two playoff appearances with the Cubs too. That’s been eclipsed by the 2016 team’s exploits, but it was a pretty big deal at the time.

It’s also worth noting that Piniella likewise had a very fine playing career, with 18 seasons of 109 OPS+ hitting, a Rookie of the Year Award and a couple of World Series rings on his resume. That’s not enough by itself to get him in the Hall, but he presents a nice total package as a Baseball Man Supreme who has been thought highly of for close to 50 years now.

Oh, one other thing: he was colorful. He had a temper and a repuatation as kind of a red ass, with a good number of on-the-field incidents which stick in people’s minds. That sort of thing doesn’t necessarily make someone a good manager or a good person, but Piniella has been seen as a guy who mellowed with age and, at various times in his career, showed that he had a sense of humor about all of that stuff which makes it play a heck of a lot better. For Hall of Fame purposes, it certainly plays a heck of a lot more memorably.

The case against his induction:

His years in Tampa Bay weren’t all that great and, by the time his days in Chicago were over there was a sense that he was sort of running on fumes and padding that win total to get him into that top 14. In both places Joe Maddon eventually came along and did better things and, in some cases, undoing some bad things Piniella did. Some believe he should’ve won another pennant or two and, yes, some of those Mariners teams disappointed in the postseason. Some people look less amusingly on his temper tantrums over the years and, I suppose, one could characterize them a bit more sinisterly than I did above without being too dramatic.

Would I vote for him?

I think so. As I mentioned in the George Steinbrenner entry, when it comes to managers and executives, I put a lot of weight on whether one could tell the story of baseball in a guy’s era without mentioning his name. Piniella is no Joe Torre, Bobby Cox of Tony La Russa in that regard, but he’s pretty close to that group in terms of the figure he cut in the game and, as I mentioned, he’s critical to the story of a couple of franchises. Certainly the Mariners but also the 1970s Yankees as a player and, possibly, the 1990 Reds. I tend to be a softer Hall of Fame touch than a lot of people, so I get that people may disagree, but I’d put him in.

Will the Committee vote for him?

Hard to say. On the one hand, Piniella feels like the sort of baseball man that gets rewarded by the Veterans Committee. On the other hand, the Veterans Committee took ages to vote in some other notable managers such as Whitey Herzog, suggesting that maybe Piniella will have to wait. This is the first year for the new composition of the Veterans Committe, however, so it’s hard to say if they’ll be tougher or easier graders. He may be the hardest call of all of the guys on this year’s ballot.

Twins hire James Rowson as their hitting coach

BOSTON, MA - June 4: The Minnesota Twins logo is seen during the fifth inning of the game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on June 4, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Winslow Townson/Getty Images)
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The Minnesota Twins have announced that they have hired James Rowson as their hitting coach.

Rowson was the minor league hitting coordinator for the New York Yankees for seven of the last nine seasons, interrupted by a short stint with the Chicago Cubs as minor league hitting coordinator. He also worked at the minor league levels with the Los Angeles Angels. He played in the minors for the Seattle Mariners and Yankees.

Rowson replacesTom Brunansky, who was hitting coach for the past four seasons.