Jose Fernandez AP

Jose Fernandez wins National League Rookie of the Year Award

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Marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez was announced as the winner of the National League Rookie of the Year Award by the BBWAA this evening, beating out finalists Yasiel Puig and Shelby Miller. Fernandez received 26 out of 30 first-place votes while Puig received the other four.

Fernandez becomes the first Cuban-born player to win the National League Rookie of the Year Award. Tony Oliva won the American League Rookie of the Year Award in 1964 as a member of the Twins.

The National League produced an impressive crop of rookies this season — and the vote likely would have been much closer if Puig was around for the entire season — but Fernandez was the best of the bunch. While the Marlins surprised many around the game by including him on their Opening Day roster despite no experience above High-A, he quickly established himself as a legitimate ace, finishing second in the majors (behind the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw) with a 2.19 ERA to go along with a 187/58 K/BB ratio over 172 2/3 innings. He ranked first in the majors with a .182 batting average against while his 9.75 K/9 was second-highest in the National League behind the Pirates’ A.J. Burnett.

Fernandez got better as he adjusted to major league lineups, putting up a 1.50 ERA over 18 starts after June 1. Nobody was better in that time. He also thrived at the spacious Marlins Ballpark, going a perfect 9-0 with a 1.19 ERA. And given the lack of offense from the Marlins this past season, that’s pretty impressive. His ERA was the lowest by a rookie since Dave Righetti (1981) and the lowest by a pitcher in his age-20 season since Dwight Gooden (1985). As a result of his historic rookie campaign, Fernandez is a finalist for the National League Cy Young Award, which will be announced on Wednesday. While Kershaw is considered a near-lock for the award, Fernandez should be a serious threat in future seasons if his health cooperates.

Complete voting results for the National League Rookie of the Year Award can be found at BBWAA.com.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
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The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
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There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.