Keith Law: “Miguel Cabrera is the third-most valuable player on his own team”

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Keith Law is still catching hell from Cardinals fans over his 2009 Cy Young Award ballot which they (erroneously) believe screwed Adam Wainwright and/or Chris Carpenter out of the Cy Young Award. That’s not his problem. He’s wrongfully accused of hating every team’s fans at some time or another, but Keith votes his mind and his conscience on such things. And given that he and the rest of the old Baseball Prospectus folks made their bones by going against the often-faulty conventional wisdom, it’s not at all surprising that his take on such matters pisses people off.

Well, it’s gonna happen again. This time with Detroit fans who really, really love their Miguel Cabrera. Here’s Keith:

“One of the most popular questions I’ve gotten recently is whether Miguel Cabrera will win the AL MVP award. I don’t presume to know what the voters will do, but I know that as it stands right now, he shouldn’t appear in the top three spots on any ballot.

“Cabrera’s offensive performance has been solid, but he’s a major negative on defense at third base, so a player like Cano, a good defender at a position (second base) where offensive levels are lower, is more valuable overall even though Cabrera has slightly higher raw rate stats.

“Cabrera is the third-most valuable player on his own team, behind Verlander and Jackson, the latter of whom has completely transformed himself at the plate this year and is a plus defender in center.”

I see his argument. I don’t have much intelligent to say about it one way or the other apart from the fact that, if you don’t look too deeply into defense, you’re never going to agree with Keith here given Cabrera’s offensive production, but I do see what he’s saying. He’s not trying to hate here because I know Keith a little bit and he doesn’t hate on anyone like people claim he does.

But, yeah, I do not think that these comments — which are now being repeated in the Detroit Free Press — are going to endear him to Tigers fans.

The most interesting question — the answer to which I don’t think Keith will ever tell us — is whether, motivated by it or not, Keith actually kinda likes it when the mob goes after him. I’ll admit that I kinda like it. It can be a lot of fun. I could be wrong, but I sort of picture Keith cackling at this a bit.

Nationals GM Rizzo won’t reveal length of Martinez’s new contract

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WASHINGTON — Dave Martinez spoke Saturday about managing the Washington Nationals for “many, many years” and over the “long term” and “quite some time,” thanks to his contract extension.

Sharing a table to a socially distanced degree with his manager on a video conference call to announce the new deal – each member of the duo sporting a 2019 World Series ring on his right hand – Nationals GM Mike Rizzo referred to the agreement’s “multiyear” nature, but repeatedly refused to reveal anything more specific in response to reporters’ questions.

“We don’t talk about terms as far as years, length and salaries and that type of thing. We’re comfortable with what we have and the consistency that we’re going to have down the road,” said Rizzo, who recently agreed to a three-year extension of his own. “That’s all we want to say about terms, because it’s private information and we don’t want you guys to know about it.”

When Martinez initially was hired by Rizzo in October 2017 – his first managing job at any level – the Nationals’ news release at the time announced that he was given a three-year contract with an option for a fourth year.

That 2021 option had not yet been picked up.

“The partnership that Davey and I have together, our communication styles are very similar. Our aspirations are similar, and kind of our mindset of how to obtain the goals that we want to obtain are similar. I think it’s a good match,” Rizzo said. “We couldn’t have hit on a more positive and enthusiastic leader in the clubhouse. I think you see it shine through even in the most trying times.”

The Nationals entered Saturday – Martinez’s 56th birthday – with a 23-34 record and in last place in the NL East, which Rizzo called “a disappointing season.” The team’s title defense was slowed by injuries and inconsistency during a 60-game season delayed and shortened by the coronavirus pandemic.

World Series MVP Stephen Strasburg threw just five innings because of a nerve issue in his pitching hand and players such as Starlin Castro, Sean Doolittle, Tanner Rainey, Adam Eaton and Carter Kieboom finished the year on the IL.

“This year, for me, we didn’t get it done. We had a lot of bumps in the road this year. But I really, fully believe, we’ve got the core guys here that we need to win another championship,” Martinez said. “I know Mike, myself, we’re going to spend hours and hours and hours trying to fill the void with guys we think can potentially help us in the future. And we’ll be back on the podium. I’m really confident about that.”

Rizzo was asked Saturday why the team announces contract lengths for players, as is common practice around the major leagues, but wouldn’t do so in this instance for Martinez.

“The reason is we don’t want anybody to know. That’s the reason,” Rizzo said, before asking the reporter: “How much do you make? How many years do you have?”

Moments later, as the back-and-forth continued, Rizzo said: “It’s kind of an individual thing with certain people. I don’t want you to know what I make or how many years I have. Davey doesn’t want you to know. And I think that it’s only fair … when people don’t want certain information out there, that we don’t give it.”

There were some calling for Martinez to lose his job last season when Washington got off to a 19-31 start. But Rizzo stood by his manager, and the team eventually turned things around, going 74-38 the rest of the way to reach the playoffs as an NL wild-card team.

The Nationals then beat the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals to reach the World Series, where they beat the Houston Astros in Game 7.

Washington joined the 1914 Boston Braves as the only teams in major league history to win a World Series after being 12 games below .500 during a season.

“Everything from Day 1 to where he’s gotten to now, he’s grown so much. He’s really become one of my favorite managers of all,” three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer said after helping Washington win Saturday’s opener of a doubleheader against the New York Mets. “Davey really understands how to manage a clubhouse, manage a team. We saw it in the postseason. He knows how to push the right buttons when everything is on the line.”