Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina finished in third place in the National League MVP voting, ever so slightly behind Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in second place. Pirates center fielder and winner of the NL MVP Andrew McCutchen received 28 of 30 first-place votes; the remaining two were given to Molina by two St. Louis area writers: Rick Hummel and Derrick Goold, both of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In fairness to Goold, he was very open about his thought process in arriving at his conclusion to place Molina first, even putting together a “matrix” comparing the various stats compiled by all of the contenders and joining Brian Kenny on Clubhouse Confidential to defend his ballot.
However, as Reuben Fischer-Baum of Deadspin shows, St. Louis has been the most homerish in MVP voting since balloting was made public prior to the 2012 festivities. Molina benefited from it not only with the two first-place votes, but also Hummel’s decision to list McCutchen third behind Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter.
It is worth reiterating, however, that we have had only two years and the Cardinals’s recent success does bias the sample. It could be the case that another city’s writers are bigger homers, we just don’t see it because the team they cover doesn’t have players in the mix for the MVP award, like the Cubs.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.