Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera

If it’s the Most Valuable Player, shouldn’t salary matter?


Miguel Cabrera will be named the American League Most Valuable Player again next week. There’s a good chance it will be unanimous, and if not, it will be pretty darn close. Yet, factoring in defense and baserunning, it’s very easy to come away with the idea that Mike Trout was the better player. Of course, many of those voting for the award believe that “best” and “most valuable” are not  synonymous.

So, let’s run with that idea — that the best player and the most valuable player aren’t necessarily one and the same — for a minute. I mean, I can go along with it, to an extent. If this other-worldly player was a derisive force in the clubhouse — say he was one of those guys drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse between DH at-bats — you could ding him. Or maybe if an outstanding player was credited with giving his teammate a tip that made him better… well, that would add to his value without affecting his WAR.

But how about money? It’s pretty much indisputable that the guy hitting 30 homers making $500,000 is helping his team more than the guy hitting 30 homers while earning $20 million (let’s give them the same WAR, too). But it seems completely verboten to discuss money in MVP talks. Certainly, I’ve never seen a voter bring up a guy’s salary in defending his vote.

I think that’s silly. If we’re going with the idea that it’s the Most Valuable Player and not the Best Player, then money absolutely should factor in. I imagine there are a couple holdout major league general managers who would still rate Cabrera as a better player than Trout, but even they wouldn’t actually trade Trout for Cabrera given the difference in salaries. No sane person would. Cabrera made $21 million last season. Trout earned $510,000. Why, if the Angels had to pay $21 million for Trout last year, they probably wouldn’t have been able to sign Josh Hamilton! Where would they be right now without him?

OK, bad example. It doesn’t destroy the point.

Personally, I’m in the Best Player camp, so I don’t care what kind of cash they’re making. But for those arguing that valuable means something different entirely (RBIs and good teammates, mostly) and that no stat could ever truly encompass it, well, salary needs to be factored into that value component, too.

Mariners trying to trade Mark Trumbo by Wednesday

Mark Trumbo

Seattle making Mark Trumbo available has been known for a while now, but Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that the Mariners are trying to trade the first baseman/outfielder before Wednesday.

That’s the deadline to tender 2016 contracts to arbitration eligible players and with Trumbo set to make around $9 million via that process the Mariners would rather move on before any decision needs to be made. In other words: They don’t want to be stuck with him.

Trumbo has elite power, averaging 30 homers per 160 games for his career, but that power comes with a .250 batting average, poor plate discipline and a .299 on-base percentage, and sub par defense. Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has already traded Trumbo once, dealing him to the Diamondbacks back when he was the Angels’ general manager, and now he’s working hard to part ways again.

Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Rockies are among the interested teams.

UPDATE: Red Sox sign outfielder Chris Young to a two-year, $13 million deal

Chris Young Getty

UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that Young will receive a two-year, $13 million contract from the Red Sox.

Monday, 1:47 PM: Veteran outfielder Chris Young thrived in a platoon role for the Yankees this past season and now he’s headed to the rival Red Sox to fill a similar role, signing a multi-year deal with Boston according to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com.

Young was once an everyday center fielder for the Diamondbacks, making the All-Star team in 2010 at age 26, but for the past 3-4 years he’s gotten 300-350 plate appearances in a part-time role facing mostly left-handed pitching. He hit .252 with 14 homers and a .773 OPS for the Yankees, but prior to that failed to top a .700 OPS in 2013 or 2014.

Given the Red Sox’s outfield depth–Mookie Betts, Rusney Castillo, Jackie Bradley Jr., and Brock Holt even with Hanley Ramirez back in the infield–Young is unlikely to work his way into everyday playing time at age 32, but he should get another 300 or so plate appearances while also providing a veteran fallback option. And it’s possible his arrival clears the way for a trade.

Marlins hire Juan Nieves as pitching coach

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This is not a terribly big deal compared to the rumors of who the Marlins want to hire as their hitting coach, but it’s news all the same: Miami has hired Juan Nieves as their pitching coach.

Nieves replaces Chuck Hernandez who was let go immediately after the season ended. Under Hernandez Marlins pitchers allowed 4.19 runs a game and had an ERA of 4.02, striking out 1152 batters and walking 508 in 1,427 innings. As far as runs per game go, that was around middle of the pack in the National League, just a hair better than league average. The strikeout/walk ratio, however, was third to last in the NL.

Nieves, a former Brewers hurler who once tossed a no-hitter, was most recently the Red Sox’ pitching coach, serving from the beginning of the 2013 season until his dismissal in May of this year.

In baseball, if you lose the World Series you still get a ring

ST. LOUIS - APRIL 3:  Detail view of the St. Louis Cardinals 2006 World Series Ring at Busch Stadium on April 3, 2007 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Scott Rovak/Getty Images)

“Second place is first loser” — some jerk, probably.

The funny thing about “winning is everything” culture in sports is that it’s revered, primarily, by people with the least amount of skin in the game. Self-proclaimed “Super Fans” and talk radio hosts and guys like that. People who may claim to live and breathe sports but who, for the most part, have other things in their lives. Jobs and families and hobbies and stuff. Winning is everything for them on the weekend at, like, Buffalo Wild Wings or in their man cave.

Athletes — whose actual job is to play sports — like to win too. They’re certainly more focused and committed to winning than Joe Super Fan is, what with it being their actual lives and such. But you see far less “winning is everything” sentiment from them. In interviews they talk about how they hate to lose but, with a little bit of distance, they almost always talk about appreciating efforts in a well-played loss. They rarely talk about big losses — even championship losses — as failures or choke jobs or disgraces of one stripe or another.

All of which makes this story by Tim Rohan in the New York Times fun and interesting. It’s about championship rings for the non-championship winners. The 2014 Royals — winners of the A.L. pennant but losers of the World Series — are featured, and the story of rings for World Series losers is told. Mike Stanton, who played on a ton of pennant and World Series-winning teams with the Yankees and Braves, talks about his various rings and how, even though the Braves lost in the World Series that year, 1991 is his favorite.

Also mentioned: George Steinbrenner’s thoughts about rings for World Series losers. You will likely not be surprised about his sentiments on the matter.