Joe Maddon is the new Angels manager

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UPDATE, 11:38 AM: It’s official. The Angels have announced that Joe Maddon has been hired and has agreed to a three-year contract. There will be a press conference next week.

9:54 AM: Jon Heyman reports that the Angels are close to a deal with former Cubs’ manager Joe Maddon.

Not a shock.

Ever since Maddon left the Cubs it’s been strongly suspected that the Angels wanted him and that he wanted to work for them. Indeed, it was only when it became clear that the Cubs would let Maddon walk that the Angels fired Brad Ausmus after only one year on the job.

Maddon, 65, spent 31 years in the Angels organization as a player, scout and minor and major league coach before moving into managing at the big league level with the Tampa Bay Rays, leading them to the 2008 AL pennant. After that, of course, he moved on to the Cubs where he led them to a World Championship in 2015.

The Angels job is not going to be an easy one for Maddon and wouldn’t be easy for anyone else for that matter. The club has posted four straight losing seasons despite employing the best player in the game in Mike Trout. Pitching has been a major problem and it will take considerable work, likely over multiple seasons, for that to turn around. And that’s before one takes into account the current scandal rocking the organization in the wake of Tyler Skaggs’ death, which has led to an ongoing legal investigation and general turmoil.

Still, an organization in crisis is better served with a strong leader, and Maddon’s reputation in that regard is plain. It’s also a plus that he, quite clearly, wants to be in Anaheim. All of which is to say that this will be a good hire for the Angels, even if the club faces challenges that merely hiring a good manager cannot address.

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.