Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald tweeted this a couple of hours ago:
For any doubters about the Mike Lowell situation being a distraction, I’ve got two words for you: Already is.
Then he links the story he (apparently) wrote about Lowell in camp today. If you can find anything that constitutes a “distraction” in these quotes you’re a closer reader than I am:
“I think I’m pretty intelligent in the sense that there’s no real
playing time for me here, basically, barring a major injury, and I’m
not really in the business of hoping someone gets hurt just so I get
at-bats. For me, I feel like I’m more prepared and ready for a full
season than I was last year, so why shouldn’t I play more than I did
last year? Whether it’s here or somewhere else, I can’t control that.
“I have to separate two things. There’s the baseball aspect of it
and the real-life aspect of it. I’m very comfortable where I am in my
real life. I feel like I’m in a tremendously privileged situation. No
one needs to feel sorry for me in life. Is my baseball situation not
ideal? Yeah, it’s not ideal, and I don’t want to diminish the baseball
fact, but you never know what can happen.
“If I was on the trading block before, I can’t imagine that all of a
sudden I’m not now. I think my health is something obviously need to
show not only the Red Sox, but every other team. If that opens a door
to something else, I’ll go wherever I go or stay wherever I stay.”
Distraction? Seems to me like Mike Lowell has a pretty realistic view of things and that the only one making a big deal out of this is Mike Silverman.
Of course, the use of the word “distraction” should have tipped us all off anyway. Whenever a baseball writer uses that term it rarely means that there’s a real controversy afoot. Rather, it almost always means “I’m going to keep beating this dead horse until I can elicit a juicy quote out of someone and then say ‘AH HA!!’ look at that big, big distraction!”
In 2016, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello narrowly and controversially eked ahead of then-Tigers starter Justin Verlander in Cy Young Award balloting, winning on points 137 to 132. Verlander was not included at all in the top-five of two ballots, both coincidentally belonging to writers from the Tampa Bay chapter, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press. Verlander had more first-place votes than Porcello, but being left out of the top-five on two ballots was the difference maker.
In the aftermath, Verlander’s then-fiancée Kate Upton fired off some angry tweets, as did Justin’s brother Ben.
Verlander was again in the running for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award. He again finished in second place, this time behind Blake Snell of the Rays. Snell had 17 first-place votes and 169 total points to Verlander’s 13 and 154. There weren’t any ballots that made a big difference like in 2016, but there were two odd ballots from the Tampa Bay chapter again.
If a chapter doesn’t have enough eligible voters, a voter from another chapter is chosen to represent that city. This year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was a replacement voter along with Mark Didtler, a freelancer for the Associated Press. Both writers voted for Snell in first place, reasonably. But neither writer put Verlander second, less reasonably, putting Corey Kluber there instead. Madden actually had Verlander fourth behind Athletics reliever Blake Treinen. Didtler had Treinen in fifth place. Two other writers had Verlander in third place: George A. King III of the New York Post and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The other 26 had Verlander in first or second place.
Voting Kluber ahead of Verlander doesn’t make any sense, especially we finally live in a world where a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t valued highly. Kluber had 20 wins to Verlander’s 16 and pitched one more inning. In every other area, Verlander was better. ERA? Verlander led 2.52 to 2.89. Strikeouts? Verlander led 290 to 222. Strikeout rate? Verlander led 34.8% to 26.4%. Opponent batting average? Verlander led .198 to .222. FIP and xFIP? Verlander led both 2.78 and 3.03 to 3.12 and 3.08, respectively. And while Treinen had an excellent year, Verlander pitched 134 more innings, which is significant.
Upton had another tweet for the occasion: