K-Rod and the Mets settle

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Francisco Rodriguez and the Mets have settled the grievance K-Rod filed after the team tried to make his deal non-guaranteed. The settlement: his deal is still guaranteed, but he drops his challenge to the Mets placing him on the disqualified list for the end of the 2010 season. That means he basically forfeits the $3.1 million he was owed for that last month and a half or so. He’ll be back on the Mets, deal in place, for the 2011 season.

Thus concludes a really weird chapter in Mets history.  I’m certainly no fan of K-Rod’s in light of this whole incident, and if the allegations about his history with his girlfriend that have emerged in preliminary hearings related to his criminal case are true, he can drop dead as far as I’m concerned. At the same time, I think the Mets approached all of this pretty poorly.

The Mets’ get-tough-stance with K-Rod was one of financial opportunism, not disapproval of his actions.  After the incident in the clubhouse, but before it was revealed that K-Rod hurt his hand, the Mets used him in a game. If he had not been hurt, they no doubt would have continued to use him in games. The extent of the punishment they would have leveled against him was that game or two suspension he served prior to his final appearance. The idea of disqualifying him and then seeking to void his contract — or, at the very least, render it non-guaranteed — was in no way a statement regarding his actual behavior. Just the results.

Nor do I know for certain that the Mets were even viewing it as some kind of stand against that behavior. I’m not accusing them of anything. It may be the case that the team merely saw this as a situation in which they were trying to recoup losses from a player who could not perform as contracted to and the domestic violence stuff didn’t enter into it at all.  I’m just saying that I wish the Mets would have viewed it as a serious situation before they realized K-Rod was hurt — I wish they would have considered his outburst, and not just his injury worthy of punishment — and acted to suspend him then.

I would applaud any team that wanted to take a stance against domestic violence, even if doing so meant going up against the union on what may have been a lost cause. I don’t think the Mets were doing that here, and that bums me out a little.

Mookie Betts, Christian Yelich win MVP Awards

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Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts and Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich were announced on Thursday evening as the winners of the 2018 Most Valuable Player Awards as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Betts, 26, led baseball with a .346 batting average, a .640 slugging percentage, and 129 runs scored. He also put together a .438 on-base percentage with 32 home runs, 80 RBI, and 30 stolen bases while ranking among the best defensive outfielders. According to Baseball Reference, Betts was worth 10.9 WAR, the highest total by a position player since Barry Bonds in 2002 (11.8). It was the 21st time a player compiled a 10.9 WAR or better since 1871. The others to do it along with Betts and Bonds: Cal Ripken, Jr., Joe Morgan, Carl Yastrzemski, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner.

Betts is the first Red Sox player to win the MVP Award since second baseman Dustin Pedroia in 2008. Other members of the Red Sox to win the award include Mo Vaughn (1995), Roger Clemens (1986), Jim Rice (1978), Fred Lynn (1975), Carl Yastrzemski (1967), Jackie Jensen (1958), Ted Williams (1946, ’49), Jimmie Foxx (1938), and Tris Speaker (1912).

Angels outfielder Mike Trout and J.D. Martinez each received one first-place vote with Betts receiving the other 28. Trout finished in second place with 265 overall points, Indians infielder José Ramírez finished third with 208, and Martinez finished fourth with 198. They were followed by Alex Bregman, Francisco Lindor, Matt Chapman, Khris Davis, Blake Snell, Justin Verlander, Mitch Haniger, Aaron Judge, Xander Bogaerts, José Altuve, Blake Treinen, Andrelton Simmons, Whit Merrifield, Edwin Díaz, Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius, Jed Lowrie, Trevor Bauer, Aaron Hicks, and Chris Sale.

Trout is now one of four players to finish second in MVP Award voting four times, joining Stan Musial, Ted Williams, and Albert Pujols. Trout was the runner-up behind Miguel Cabrera in 2012-13 and Josh Donaldson in 2015.

Yelich, 26, led the National League with a .326 batting average, a .598 slugging percentage, and a 1.000 OPS. He also put up a .402 on-base percentage with 36 home runs, 110 RBI, 118 runs scored, and 22 stolen bases while playing above-average defense in the outfield.

Yelich is the first member of the Brewers to win the MVP Award since outfielder Ryan Braun in 2011. The other Brewers to have won the MVP Award are Robin Yount (1982, ’89) and Rollie Fingers (1981).

Nearly a unanimous choice, Yelich was voted in first place on 29 of 30 ballots with NL Cy Young Award winner getting the other first-place vote. Cubs infielder Javier Baéz finished in second place with 250 points and Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado finished in third place with 203 points. They were followed by Freddie Freeman, deGrom, Paul Goldschmidt, Lorenzo Cain, Trevor Story, Matt Carpenter, Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon, Ronald Acuña Jr., Aaron Nola, Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Jesús Aguilar, Anthony Rizzo, Nick Markakis, and Eugenio Suarez.

Coincidentally, both MVP Award winners hit for the cycle this season. Betts achieved it on August 9 while Yelich did it twice, on August 29 and September 17. Yelich also finished two home runs and one RBI short of the Triple Crown.

The BBWAA voters submitted their ballots before the start of the postseason, so the fact that the Red Sox won the World Series and that the Brewers made it to Game 7 of the NLCS had no impact on the award results. That the Red Sox won a franchise record 108 games during the regular season and the Brewers won the NL Central tiebreaker over the Cubs certainly could have been factors for many voters, however.