MLB Midseason Award Winners: Manager of the Year

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There was no baseball yesterday. There is no baseball today. There will be baseball tomorrow, but not until 7:05 PM, so it’s basically three days without anyone throwing a pitch in anger. Let’s kill the time, then, by arguing about who, if the season ended today, would be your award winners. Last up: Manager of the Year.

You’ve all heard my spiel about the Manager of the Year Award many times, but there’s nothing going on today, so I’ll offer it again.

The Manager of the Year Award says more about people on the outside, not the inside. On their expectations for a team as opposed to what the manager actually does. This is because a manager’s success is insanely dependent on his team’s talent level and health and because the things he actually does — motivation, clubhouse management, subtle pulls of the lever across a six month period, often involving data and background information of which we are not aware — are largely opaque to outsiders. If you do better with what outsiders thought you had six months earlier, hooray, you’re the manager of the year.

As such, the Manager of the Year Award does not really lend itself to analysis and prediction in the way the other awards do. The fact that the Giants suck does not mean that Bruce Bochy forgot how to be a good manager. The fact that the Cubs are underachieving does not mean that Joe Maddon has lost his way. The fact that the Twins and Brewers have exceeded expectations does not mean that Paul Molitor and Craig Counsell are now destined for Cooperstown. Stuff happens. Managers of the Year are picked either because their team is insanely dominant or because their team did better than most people thought they would.

Based on those factors, you could make a dominance case for A.J. Hinch of the Astros and Dave Roberts of the Dodgers. Or you could make an expectations case for Bud Black of the Rockies, Torey Lovullo of the Diamondbacks, Molitor or Counsell. I’d probably give it to Hinch and Roberts, but again, what does that really mean?

I’m sure you all have an idea about this. Let’s hear your arguments in the comments.

Ohtani keeping watch on Angels’ offseason moves from afar

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SAN DIEGO – Even though Shohei Ohtani is back in Japan for the offseason, he has been in frequent contact with Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian about the team’s offseason moves.

“We talk a lot. He’s asking me daily who we’re getting,” Minasian said during baseball’s winter meetings. “He’s into it. We have a lot of players like that. Mike (Trout) and Anthony (Rendon) are like that. I think it’s a very motivated group.

“They want to see activity. They want to see the organization making a commitment to making the team better. We’ll see how it shakes out when we get to spring training what exactly we have, but we’re going to continue to look for opportunities to improve,” he said.

Minasian also reiterated his support for Ohtani taking whatever role he deems best for Japan during the World Baseball Classic in March. Ohtani said he is open to being a reliever.

“I don’t have any issue with whatever he does. He’s not one I’m worried about,” Minasian said. “He knows what he needs to do to get ready for the season. I know when the bell rings, he’ll be ready to go. There’s a comfort and trust to that.”

The Angels’ offseason moves, their future owner and the team’s performance will all be under the microscope as the two-way Japanese superstar begins his final season before hitting free agency.

Ohtani agreed to a $30 million contract for next season in September. After winning the AL MVP award in 2021, Ohtani finished second to New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge after going 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA on the mound and batting .273 with 34 home runs and 95 RBIs.

Despite Arte Moreno putting the team up for sale, the Angels have been proactive since the season ended. They acquired outfielder Hunter Renfroe from the Milwaukee Brewers and infielder Gio Urshela from the Minnesota Twins. They upgraded the rotation by signing Tyler Anderson and added to the bullpen with Carlos Estevez.

Minasian said the message from ownership has been business as usual.

“I know we’ve spent more money, I guess. But I mean nothing’s been drastically different for me. I think there have been more things that have presented themselves that made sense, compared maybe in previous offseasons, where we were and what we were trying to do,” Minasian said.

Commissioner Rob Manfred said on Tuesday that multiple groups have expressed interest in the Angels with a possibility that a sale could be completed by opening day.

Manager Phil Nevin also is on a one-year deal as the Angels try to end a string of seven consecutive losing seasons and eight consecutive years out of the postseason after going 73-89 this past season. Both are the longest active skids in the majors.