Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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Diamondbacks name Ron Gardenhire bench coach


The Arizona Diamondbacks have made a bunch of coaching announcements: Ron Gardenhire is the new bench coach, Tony Perezchica is the third base coach, Mike Fetters is the bullpen coach and Robby Hammock is the quality control coach. All will serve under new manager Torey Lovullo.

Gardenhire was, of course, the Twins manager for 13 seasons. He recently served in a front office assistant role with the club. I suspect that certain dictionaries have a photo of him next to the entry for “bench coach.” It’s the role he was born to play. I predict a Don Zimmer-like third act to his baseball career. They’re going to be selling bobbleheads or Garden(hire) Gnomes in his likeness one day.

Perezchica has served in various roles in the Dbacks’ organization for 15 years. Hammock has managed up and down the Dbacks organization in which he, likewise, has served for years and years. Fetters used to have Hammock’s new job as quality control coach, so he shuffles down to the pen.

Meanwhile, Tony La Russa just had his desk moved to a far corner of the basement and has misplaced his red stapler.




Lew Wolff out as the A’s managing partner

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Lew Wolff is stepping down as the managing partner of the Oakland Athletics. The club’s majority owner, John Fisher, is taking over the lead role. Wolff is selling most of his shares in the club. He only owned about 10% of the club, though, with Fisher owning 80 percent and being content to be a silent partner.

Meanwhile, team president Michael Crowley will move into an advisory role to the ownership group. The new A’s team president will be Dave Kaval of the San Jose Earthquakes.

Wolff has been the control person of the organization for 11 years. Crowley has been the team president for 19 years. Under their leadership the A’s have had some success on the field — three American League West titles and four playoff appearances — but they’ve finished last for the past two years and,  as the years go on, have become known more for their budget-conscious management and seemingly never ending quest to get a new ballpark for the club than for baseball excellence. A fan base once understanding of the A’s limitations has become increasingly annoyed as other traditionally lower-revenue clubs like the Royals and Indians have made World Series appearances while the A’s sell off players each year.

Slusser and the Chronicle suggest that the impetus for this move is that, under the forthcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Athletics may no longer be recipients of as much revenue sharing money as they’ve received in the past, making the ownership of the low-revenue A’s a far less pleasant experience than it was prior. In recent months, Fisher, though a silent presence, has been reported to be more active in looking for a new home for the A’s in Oakland.




Who should win the MVP Awards? Who will?


This first ran on September 29. In light of today’s MVP Award announcment, we figured we’d give it a bump. 

Who should win the AL MVP Award? 

We at HBT have tended to lean toward the idea that the best player should win the MVP Award, regardless of whether his team wins or not. It’s not an iron-clad thing, of course. In the past I’ve supported some more narrative-driven MVP candidates and, more importantly, deciding who is “the best player” in an objective sense is not always a cut-and-dried endeavor. Defense is an inexact science. Players often have competing apples and oranges arguments for their candidacies.

If you look at “best overall player” this year, however, it’s hard to say that Mike Trout and his line of .318/.441/.556 with 29 homers and his usual solid-to-outstanding center field defense is not that guy. Yes, his team stinks, and no, his 2016 season isn’t head and shoulders above any number of his other excellent seasons, making him a less-than-sexy choice in a lot of ways. But it’s hard to stand head and shoulders above uniform excellence and no matter what you think of stuff like WAR and all that goes into it, Trout has a 1.5 WAR lead over Mookie Betts according to FanGraphs and 1.3 according to Baseball Reference. It’s a pretty significant separation, especially when you realize that, dang, Betts is having a whale of a season himself (.320/.365/.538).

Still, Trout isn’t a unanimous pick even with the HBT team, which has it this way:

Craig: Trout
Bill: Trout
Ashley: Betts

Who will win the AL MVP Award?

There has been a lot of talk about Betts and his teammate, David Ortiz, splitting the vote, as it were. Maybe that was a thing that happened more often back in the day when narrative-driven awards were more common, but I think today’s BBWAA voters are way more savvy than that. I think that Ortiz will get some votes thrown his way by virtue of his outstanding offensive season (.316/.401/.622, 37 HR, 124 RBI) and the storybook ending to his career, but I think Betts will ultimately carry the day with the better overall and all-around performance. MVP PREDICTION: MOOKIE BETTS.

Who should win the NL MVP Award?

There are a lot of guys putting up years that, under different circumstances, would be MVP worthy. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Freddie Freeman, Nolan Arenado, Daniel Murphy, Joey Votto and Corey Seager are all having outstanding campaigns. Most of them are bunched up as far as WAR goes, more so with’s version, a little less so with FanGraphs. Bryant leads both versions and is putting up outstanding offensive numbers. Murphy, Freeman and Votto are hitting a tad better than him depending on how you measure it, but have less defensive value. Seager’s mix of defense and offense may be closer to what Bryant is doing, although Arenado might have something to say about that. There are a lot of good choices.

Bryant is the best choice, however. His hitting — .293/.387/.560, 39 HR, 101 RBI — is better than the other all-around candidates and his defensive versatility — he’s played all three outfield positions as well as his usual third base — sets him apart. He’s been the best player in the NL this year.

Craig: Bryant
Bill: Bryant

Who will win the NL MVP Award?

This is one of those years where I suspect our views will match that of the voters. MVP PREDICTION: Bryant, possibly unanimously.