Eckstein: Pujols would stay if Jose Oquendo got the Cardinals managing gig

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Some very gritty insight from former World Series MVP David Eckstein:

“Albert would stay if (Jose) Oquendo got the job”

No word on whether Pujols’ agent agrees with that. Also no word on whether or not the Cardinals will lower their offer to Pujols to, say $16 million while hiring Oquendo to find out if Eckstein in right.

Whatever. The hook to all of that is Eckstein’s view that Oquendo is very popular among Cardinals players, particularly infielders who he helps coach, and that Oquendo has been groomed to replace La Russa. Which he may very well have been.

But just as it seems silly to suggest that La Russa’s leaving will impact Pujols’ free agency decision — La Russa wasn’t likely to manage the entire length of Pujols’ next contract anyway — it seems silly to say that the choice of new manager will influence Pujols’ decision making anywhere close to the nature of the contract offer will.

And remember: it’s not at all certain that they’ll hire a manager before Pujols’ contract is put to bed. They may want to — and it might make a lot of sense to — but it may not come down that way.

 

Once again, Cy Young votes from the Tampa Bay chapter were interesting

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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: