Matthew Pouliot

St Louis Cardinals v Washington Nationals - Game Five

Davey Johnson named National League Manager of the Year

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Fresh off his new one-year deal and retirement announcement, the Nationals’ Davey Johnson claimed 23 of the 32 first-place votes to win his first National League Manager of the Year award on Tuesday.

Johnson also won the American League award with the Orioles in 1997. He’s the first Expos/Nationals manager to win the award since Felipe Alou in the strike-shortened 1994 season.

Johnson’s Nationals won 98 games in his first year of the helm, 18 more than in 2011. The team lost the NLDS in five games to the Cardinals.

The Reds’ Dusty Baker finished second to Johnson, claiming five first-place votes. The Giants’ Bruce Bochy got four first-place votes and finished in third place.

According to the BBWAA, Johnson joins Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa, Jim Leyland and Lou Piniella as the only managers to win the award in both leagues.

Mike Trout is unanimous AL Rookie of the Year winner

Mike Trout
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There’s plenty of room for debate when it comes to this year’s BBWAA awards, but there was one certainly; despite an historically awesome crop of competitors, Mike Trout would win American League Rookie of the Year honors in a landslide.

The official announcement came Monday, with Trout claiming the top spot on all 28 ballots. Yoenis Cespedes finished second, followed by Yu Darvish in third.

Left out of the mix were pitchers Jarrod Parker (13-8, 3.47  ERA), Wei-Yin Chen (12-11, 4.02 ERA), Tommy Milone (13-10, 3.74 ERA), Ryan Cook 2.09 ERA, 14 Sv), Matt Moore (11-11, 3.81 ERA) and Scott Diamond (12-9, 3.54 ERA), all of whom would have strong threats to finish in the top three most years.

Trout hit .326/.399/.564 with 30 homers and 83 RBI last season despite spending most of the first month in the minors. He finished second in the AL to Miguel Cabrera in both average and OPS. He led the league with 129 runs scored and 49 steals.

It would have been a much more intriguing vote had MLB not restored Trout’s rookie eligibility after it was originally ruled to have expired. Trout spent 38 non-September days on the Angels’ active roster in 2011, which is under the 45-day limit for rookies, but he was credited with an extra 17 days of service time because of a quick recall from the minors following a demotion. MLB correctly decided that the extra service time, while officially part of his record, shouldn’t count against his rookie status.

Next up for Trout is a likely second-place finish to Cabrera in the AL MVP balloting. That announcement got a whole lot more interesting today with the news that the BBWAA will be releasing the individual ballots for each award.

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Update: The BBWAA has released the ballots.

Cody Ross would be a waste of money for Orioles

Cody Ross
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Based on the strength of a .267/.326/.481 campaign with Boston, free agent Cody Ross is seeking a three-year deal worth at least $6 million and maybe as much as $8 million per season. Word is that the Orioles are one of the teams pursuing him.

They shouldn’t be.

In Nolan Reimold, the Orioles have a right-handed-hitting outfielder with a career line of .261/.338/.455 in 808 major league at-bats.

Ross, the older of the two by nearly three years, has a .262/.324/.460 line in 2,912 at-bats. And he’ll probably make at least five times as much as Reimold next year.

The only reason for the Orioles to consider Ross is if they don’t think Reimold can come back from last year’s neck surgery to fuse together two vertebrae. Reimold, though, has resumed working out and is expected to be ready to go in spring training. If Reimold is back at 100 percent, then Ross isn’t any kind of upgrade for Baltimore. He’d probably be a downgrade.

By signing Ross, the Orioles would simply be paying for certainty. And it’s not worth it, particularly not with a $20 million price tag. Ross isn’t any sort of star. He hammers left-handers, but he’ll probably revert to being below average against right-handers outside of Fenway Park next season (Ross hit .298/.356/.565 in Boston last season and .232/.294/.390 everywhere else). He’s a career .253/.312/.415 hitter against righties.

When it comes to left field, the Orioles either need to go big or stay home. It’s worth weighing the pros and cons of Josh Hamilton and maybe seeing if they have the right pieces to intrigue the Diamondbacks on a Justin Upton trade. But unless they can get a star, they should stick with Reimold and maybe re-sign Nate McLouth as a fallback. If that doesn’t work out, they can trade for another solution come June or July. But even in the worst case, it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which they’re going to be really disappointed about missing out on Cody Ross.

Report: The Mets truly are flat broke this time

Mayor Bloomberg Makes Announcement With MLB Commissioner Bud Selig And Mets Owner CEO Fred Wilpon
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That’s what Michael Salfino, a writer for the Wall Street Journal and Yahoo! Sports has to say:

As Salfino admits, he’s a writer, not a news-breaker. Still, while it’s entirely possible his source is incorrect, this isn’t a case of a writer making something up for publicity.

That said, I still wouldn’t buy the idea that a David Wright extension can’t happen because the Mets have no money. An extension wouldn’t up Wright’s 2013 salary, and having Wright in the fold would likely make the team more attractive to a buyer should the Wilpons be forced to sell.

But let’s assume the report is true. How stubborn must the Wilpons be? The fans want them gone and they could pretty much solve their personal financial problems by selling, yet they’ve been entirely content to drag the team down with them.

Update: Salfino has since deleted the above tweets, though he didn’t disavow the contents of them. Judging by his followup tweets, he put his status as a Wall Street Journal freelancer in jeopardy with his attempt to break some news.

Rays should trade James Shields to fill holes

James Shields
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That the Rays will trade a starter this winter seems like a given. With David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore, Alex Cobb, Jeff Niemann and Chris Archer all under contract, the Rays possess both quality and quantity in the rotation.

What they don’t have are bats and a lot of money, so with holes at first base, catcher, one middle infield spot and one outfield spot, dealing a starter for a hitter or two makes all of the sense in the world.

In terms of return, Moore and Price undoubtedly have the most trade value in the group, with Hellickson not too far behind. That’s why it might be tempting to deal from that trio.

Shields, though, has plenty of value himself. His two club options call for him about $24 million the next two years. That’s pretty expensive for the Rays — in fact, his $10.25 million salary in 2013 will be the highest in club history — but it’s palatable compared to what inferior free agents will command this winter. If Shields were a free agent, he’d probably be in line for $16 million-$18 million per year in a five-year deal.

And I just don’t trust Shields to keep this up. He’s been one of baseball’s best starters the last two years, but he’s also thrown 477 innings between those two seasons. He’s reached 215 innings five of the last six years, missing only when he finished at 203 in 2010.

That durability has given him a ton of value in Tampa Bay, but he’s on the wrong side of 30 now. Dan Haren had a very similar streak to Shields from ages 25-30 before suddenly taking a dive last season. It was probably different back in the 1970s, but in the last 30 years, the list of the pitchers who have been most durable before age 30 doesn’t match up very well with the list of pitchers durable after age 30.

There’s talk about the Rays perhaps dealing Hellickson to Arizona for Justin Upton, and I don’t think that’d be a bad idea at all. But if they’re looking at lesser names to fill the gaps, they might as well save as much money as they can in the process. They still have Price for three more years, and while he’s going to get expensive in a hurry — he could command more than Shields in 2014 — he’ll still have plenty of trade value in a year or two if they want to go that route. Hellickson is four years away from free agency.

If the Rays trade Shields for a young regular, they’ll suddenly free up $10 million they can spend on one of the other holes. It’d be like trading for an extra player. Shields might bring back a Josh Reddick from Oakland, a Travis d’Arnaud from Toronto or a Wil Myers from Kansas City.  Then the Rays could use the salary to sign Mike Napoli to play first and catch or Stephen Drew to start at short. They’d have plenty of options.