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Nelson Cruz wins the Edgar Martinez DH of the year award

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Major League Baseball announced this afternoon that Nelson Cruz has been voted the winner of the 2017 Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award. It’s the first time he’s won the award. He’s the third Seattle Mariner to take the honor, following Martinez himself, who won it five times, and Willie Horton who won it in 1979.

Cruz hit .293/.378/.556 with 38 homers, 114 RBI, 28 doubles and 88 runs scored in 142 games.  Edwin Encarnacion of the Cleveland Indians finished second in the voting. Ballots are cast by club beat writers, broadcasters and AL public relations departments with nominees including all players with a minimum of 100 at-bats as a designated hitter.

Neither the DH nor the DH award are new — each just completed their 44th season — but the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award was renamed the Edgar Martinez award in 2004. Here are the past award winners:

1973 – Orlando Cepeda (Boston)
1974 – Tommy Davis (Baltimore)
1975 – Willie Horton (Detroit)
1976 – Hal McRae (Kansas City)
1977 – Jim Rice (Boston)
1978 – Rusty Staub (Detroit)
1979 – Willie Horton (Seattle)
1980 – Hal McRae (Kansas City)
1981 – Greg Luzinski (Chicago)
1982 – Hal McRae (Kansas City)
1983 – Greg Luzinski (Chicago)
1984 – Dave Kingman (Oakland)
1985 – Don Baylor (New York)
1986 – Don Baylor (Boston)
1987 – Harold Baines (Chicago)
1988 – Harold Baines (Chicago)
1989 – Dave Parker (Oakland)
1990 – Dave Parker (Milwaukee)
1991 – Chili Davis (Minnesota)
1992 – Dave Winfield (Toronto)
1993 – Paul Molitor (Toronto)
1994 – Not awarded
1995 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
1996 – Paul Molitor (Minnesota)
1997 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
1998 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
1999 – Rafael Palmeiro (Texas)
2000 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
2001 – Edgar Martinez (Seattle)
2002 – Ellis Burks (Cleveland)
2003 – David Ortiz (Boston)
2004 – David Ortiz (Boston)
2005 – David Ortiz (Boston)
2006 – David Ortiz (Boston)
2007 – David Ortiz (Boston)
2008 – Aubrey Huff (Baltimore)
2009 – Adam Lind (Toronto)
2010 – Vladimir Guerrero (Texas)
2011 – David Ortiz (Boston)
2012 – Billy Butler (Kansas City)
2013 – David Ortiz (Boston)
2014 – Victor Martinez (Detroit)
2015 – Kendrys Morales (Kansas City)
2016 David Ortiz (Boston)

John Henry tries to justify the Red Sox’ trade of Mookie Betts

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Red Sox owner John Henry issued a lengthy statement to fans today trying to explain and justify the team’s trade of Mookie Betts. It’s a master class in distortion that will, in all likelihood, make no one happy.

Henry starts by talking about “challenges.” The “particularly challenging” offseason the Red Sox had, the “extraordinary challenges” the Red Sox faced, and the front office’s handling of these “challenges.” He goes on to talk about how he knows the “challenges” affect the fans and how he sees it as his job to protect the organization from these “challenges.”

There’s a lot of passive voice here, and at no point does Henry note that the primary challenge at play here was the team’s decision to cut payroll and get it below the Competitive Balance Tax threshold. It’s just a thing that happened to the Red Sox, apparently. They had no agency in this at all.

For what it’s worth, the team keeps denying that the CBT was the motivating factor:

This is laughable, of course, given that Henry himself began the Red Sox’ offseason by specifically saying the team needed top do just that. His exact words from late September:

“This year we need to be under the CBT . . .  that was something we’ve known for more than a year now. If you don’t reset there are penalties so we’ve known for some time now we needed to reset as other clubs have done.”

Three days later, Kennedy himself said it’d “be difficult” to keep both Betts and J.D. Martinez and accomplish that goal. When that all went over like a lead balloon with the fans Henry and everyone else tried to walk it back, but you have to be an idiot not to see what happened here:

  1. Owner demands team get under CBT;
  2. Team president says it’ll be hard to do that without one of the superstars leaving;
  3. Martinez declines to op-out of his deal;
  4. Betts is traded.

They can cite all the “challenges” they want, but they traded Betts in order to slash payroll and they slashed payroll simply because they wanted to, not, as we and many others have demonstrated, because of any compelling reason.

Instead of talking about that, Henry spends the bulk of the statement talking about how baseball’s financial system — free agency, basically — requires teams to make tough choices. Henry:

In today’s game there is a cost to losing a great player to free agency — one that cannot merely be made up by the draft pick given. . . . we felt we could not sit on our hands and let him go without getting value in return to help us on our path forward.”

Losing a player to free agency stinks, but nowhere in the entire statement does Henry mention that the Sox could’ve, you know, not lost Betts to free agency next November.

Nowhere does he note that the Sox had a full year to talk to Betts about a possible extension nor did he mention that the Sox — who print money at a faster rate than anyone except the Yankees — could’ve bid on him in free agency too. He simply does not allow for the possibility that a 2021 Boston Red Sox team could’ve done what the 2020 Washington Nationals did, for example, and sign one of their big, would-be departing free agents in Stephen Strasburg. Nor, for that matter, does he allow for the possibility that they could do what the 2019 Washington Nationals did with their all-but-certain-to-depart superstar in Anthony Rendon: hold on to him in his walk year and win a damn World Series. Guess it was a “challenge” to go into all of that.

Of course, as we’ve seen across baseball this past week, it’s really, really hard to explain something when you don’t want to admit the facts and accept the consequences of it all. That’s maybe the toughest challenge of them all.

The full statement: