Cleveland’s Bieber, Cincinnati’s Bauer win Cy Young Awards

Indians name change
Getty Images
1 Comment

Cleveland Indians ace Shane Bieber was the unanimous winner of the AL Cy Young Award on Wednesday night, and Trevor Bauer became the first player to take home the NL honor for the Cincinnati Reds.

Using a versatile repertoire that includes a looping curveball and a wipeout slider, Bieber went 8-1 with a 1.63 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 77 1/3 innings during the pandemic-shortened season, leading the majors in ERA and strikeouts and tying Yu Darvish for the most wins.

Bieber became the second player in franchise history to win the pitching AL Triple Crown, joining Hall of Famer Bob Feller in 1940. He also was the first pitcher to lead the majors in all three categories since Johan Santana for Minnesota in 2006.

Bauer went 5-4 with an NL-best 1.73 ERA in 11 starts, helping the Reds reach the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The 29-year-old right-hander struck out 100 in 73 innings and led the majors with two shutouts, a pair of seven-inning performances on doubleheader days.

The brash Bauer is the first Cy Young winner for Cincinnati, the majors’ oldest franchise. He became a free agent after the season and turned down the Reds’ qualifying offer, but left the door open for a return.

Chicago Cubs right-hander Yu Darvish finished second in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. New York Mets ace Jacob deGrom was third, ending his bid for a third consecutive NL Cy Young Award.

Bieber was the first unanimous AL winner since Justin Verlander for the Detroit Tigers in 2011. It was the 10th time that an AL pitcher was a unanimous choice for the award.

Minnesota Twins right-hander Kenta Maeda was second in AL voting, followed by Toronto Blue Jays left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu.

The BBWAA will announce the MVPs on Thursday night.

The 25-year-old Bieber was selected by Cleveland in the fourth round of the 2016 amateur draft. He made his major league debut in 2018 and went 11-5 with a 4.55 ERA. But he really started to show off his potential last year, winning the MVP award at the All-Star Game and finishing with 15 wins and a 3.28 ERA.

“I was kind of a late bloomer in high school, so I feel like I had to learn how to pitch and let my stuff come to me,” Bieber said last week when he was announced as a Cy Young finalist. “Continue to work hard, continue to develop in the latter half of high school and going into college, was to able some velocity and kind of refine my game.

“But in terms of development, I wouldn’t trade my process for anything. I felt like my early years learning how to pitch, learning how to change speeds and locate the ball has paid dividends in the long run.”

Bieber gave Cleveland its fifth Cy Young Award since CC Sabathia won in 2007. Cliff Lee won in 2008, and Corey Kluber took home the honor in 2014 and 2017. Gaylord Perry in 1972 is the only other Cy Young winner for the Tribe.

It’s the first Cy Young for Bauer, who tied for sixth in the AL voting in 2018 after he went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA for the Indians. He was traded to Cincinnati as part of a three-team deal at last year’s deadline that moved Yasiel Puig to Cleveland.

Bauer struggled after he was acquired by the Reds, going 2-5 with a 6.39 ERA in 10 starts. But he returned to form when this season finally started in July.

He allowed just two runs and eight hits in 26 1/3 innings over his first four starts. He also closed out the season with a flourish, recording a 1.29 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 35 innings over five September starts.

Bauer pitched Game 1 of the playoffs at Atlanta and struck out 12 in 7 2/3 innings. But the Reds lost 1-0 in 13 innings and failed to score during the Braves’ sweep.

Bauer, who has his own YouTube account and nearly 400,000 followers on Twitter, was selected by Arizona with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 draft. He is 75-64 with a 3.90 ERA in 205 career games, including 195 starts.

Brown hired as general manager of Houston Astros

astros general manager
Logan Riely/Getty Images
1 Comment

HOUSTON — In joining the World Series champion Houston Astros, new general manager Dana Brown’s goal is to keep the team at the top of the league.

“I’m coming to a winning team and a big part of what I want to do is sustain the winning long term,” he said. “We want to continue to build, continue to sign good players, continue to develop players and continue the winning success.”

Brown was hired by the Astros on Thursday, replacing James Click, who was not given a new contract and parted ways with the Astros just days after they won the World Series.

Brown spent the last four seasons as the vice president of scouting for the Atlanta Braves.

“He is very analytic savvy,” Astros’ owner Jim Crane said. “He’s a great talent evaluator based upon what we’ve seen at the Braves, seasoned at player acquisitions, seasoned at player development and retention. They were often able to extend some of their player contracts… he’s got great people skills, excellent communicator and, last but not least, he’s a baseball player and knows baseball in and out and we were very impressed with that.”

The 55-year-old Brown becomes the only Black general manager in the majors and joins manager Dusty Baker to form just the second pairing of a Black manager and general manager in MLB history. The first was general manager Ken Williams and manager Jerry Manuel with the White Sox.

Brown said he interviewed for GM jobs with the Mets and Mariners in the past and that MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told him to stay positive and that his time to be a general manager would come.

“It’s pretty special,” he said. “We understand that there are a lot of qualified African Americans in the game that know baseball and that could be a big part of an organization and leading organization in baseball operations. So at the end of the day, I think it’s good for our sport to have diversity and I’m really excited for this opportunity.”

Crane was asked about having the league’s only Black general manager.

“Certainly, we are very focused on diversity with the Astros,” he said. “It’s a plus, but the guy’s extremely qualified and he’ll do a great job. It’s nice to see a man like Dana get the job and he earned the job. He’s got the qualifications. He’s ready to go.”

Brown doesn’t have a lot of connections to the Astros, but does have some ties. He played baseball at Seton Hall with Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, who spent his entire career with the Astros and serves as special assistant to the general manager. He played against fellow Hall of Famer and special assistant to the general manager Jeff Bagwell in the Cape Cod league during a short minor league career.

Brown said he spoke to both of them before taking the job and also chatted with Baker, whom he’s know for some time.

“Dusty is old school, he cuts it straight and I like it,” Brown said. “And so that means I can cut it straight with him.”

Brown worked for the Blue Jays from 2010-18 as a special assistant to the general manager. From 2001-09 he worked as director of scouting for the Nationals/Expos. He began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he spent eight years as their area scouting supervisor and East coast cross checker.

Click had served as Houston’s general manager since joining the team before the 2020 season from the Tampa Bay Rays.

Brown, who has been part of drafting a number of big-name players like Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman and last season’s National League rookie of the year Michael Harris, is ready to show Crane that bringing him to Houston was the right choice.

“Baseball is all I know, it’s my entire life,” he said. “So I want to empty myself into this city, the Astro fans and let Jim Crane know that he made a special pick.”