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When fringey players demand trades

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One of my favorite things in baseball is when a guy who has no business making demands of his team makes demands of his team.

Maybe the most famous example of this was when Derek Bell told the Pirates in early 2002 that he was NOT a bench player and that if they didn’t start him he was going to go into “Operation Shutdown.” The Pirates eagerly took him up on that offer. As of this writing, Operation Shutdown is fifteen and a half years old and still going strong.

More often you see marginal guys demanding trades, as if they had some sort of leverage. Today over at Baseball Prospectus Ben Carsley chronicles some of the more notable recent examples of that dynamic. The most recent one being Asdrubal Cabrera. Carsley analyzes these instances to determine whether the player had a legit gripe and tells us what ended up happening with our presumptuous heroes.

Oh, and he leads with Operation Shutdown, which I must once again stress, is one of the best stories in baseball in the past quarter century.

Justin Verlander named 2019 American League Cy Young Award winner

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Astros starter Justin Verlander was voted by the Baseball Writers Association of America as the 2019 American League Cy Young Award winner. Teammate Gerrit Cole finished in a close second place at 159 points. Charlie Morton finished third at 75 points, Shane Bieber fourth at 64, Lance Lynn fifth at 18, Eduardo Rodríguez and Lucas Giolito sixth at eight, and Mike Minor eighth at seven.

Verlander, 36, won the AL Cy Young Award (and AL MVP Award) in 2011 with the Tigers). He and Cole became the first pair of teammates to finish first and second on the ballot for the AL Cy Young Award. Four NL teammates accomplished the feat: Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2001 and ’02, Don Newcomb and Sal Maglie in 1956, and Mike Marshall and Andy Messersmith in 1974.

During the regular season, Verlander led all starting pitchers in wins (21), games started (34), innings pitched (223), and WHIP (0.803). He also compiled a 2.58 ERA with a 300/42 K/BB ratio. Along with a 300-strikeout season, Verlander achieved other milestones, including reaching 3,000 strikeouts for his career and 200 career postseason strikeouts (an all-time record).

2019 was not without controversy for Verlander, a future Hall of Famer, as he had a well-publicized disagreement with Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press. He tried to have Fenech barred from the clubhouse during media availability despite the collective bargaining agreement ensuring access to BBWAA-credentialed reporters. It was one of many Astros-related scandals in 2019.

Verlander is the first Astro to win the Cy Young Award since Dallas Keuchel in 2015. Roger Clemens (2004) and Mike Scott (1986) also won the award back when the Astros were in the National League.