November 17, 2016

AL MVP: Mookie Betts Finishes Second To Mike Trout

Mike Trout has played five full seasons in the major leagues - and a very strong case can be made for him deserving the AL's Most Valuable Player award in all five of them. His finishes? 2nd, 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 1st.

They have not posted the voters' individual ballots, yet, so I don't know who is the mind-boggling dumb idiot who had Trout 7th on his ballot.

November 16, 2016

Rick Porcello Wins AL Cy Young Award

Rick Porcello has won the 2016 American league Cy Young Award.

Detroit's Justin Verlander received 14 first-place votes to only eight for Porcello, but the Boston right-hander got 18 second-place votes compared to Verlander's two to enable him to win in a very close race.
Pitcher, Team            1st   2nd   3rd   4th   5th   Points
Rick Porcello, Red Sox      8    18     2     1     1     137
Justin Verlander, Tigers   14     2     5     4     3     132
Corey Kluber, Indians       3     6    12     8     1      98
Zach Britton, Orioles       5     3     2     5     9      72
Chris Sale, White Sox             1     4     9     6      40
J.A. Happ, Blue Jays                    3     2     1      14
Aaron Sanchez, Blue Jays                1           3       6
Masahiro Tanaka, Yankees                      1     4       6
Andrew Miller, Yankees/Indians          1                   3
Michael Fulmer, Tigers                              1       1
Jose Quintana, White Sox                            1       1
The five-point differential is the second closest of any election since ballots permitted voting for more than one pitcher in 1970. Verlander, who was not listed on two ballots, also finished second in the 2012 election to the Tampa Bay Rays' David Price, 153-149.
Ian Browne,
In 27 of Porcello's 33 starts, he allowed three earned runs or fewer. In nearly half of his starts -- 16 of them -- he permitted two earned runs or fewer. And on nine occasions, Porcello gave up one or zero earned runs.

Then there was the durability. Not only did the 27-year-old make every start, but he never went fewer than five innings. In fact, he lasted fewer than six innings a remarkable three times all year. ...

Porcello led the Majors with 22 wins, the most by a Boston pitcher since Martinez's 23-4 masterpiece in 1999.

Check out various other portions of the leaderboard, and Porcello isn't hard to find. He was fifth in the AL in ERA (3.15), second in WHIP (1.01), fourth in innings (223), second in BB/9 (1.29) and first in the Majors with a 5.91 SO/BB ratio. ...

When the pennant race heated up, so did Porcello. From June 28 through the end of the season, Porcello turned in 17 quality starts in his final 18 outings.

November 14, 2016

Howard Bryant: "The Mascot Must Go"

Howard Bryant, ESPN:
[B]aseball apparently needs to be told right from wrong, as a kindergartner would be about calling people names. One ubiquitous image ran throughout the [World] Series, and it wasn't the video feed from some North Side tavern of delirious Cubs fans sloshing beer on one another after the eventual winners scored yet another run. It was the red face of Chief Wahoo emblazoned on the sleeves of the Indians' uniforms and on the front of their baseball caps, the caricature of big teeth and the untrustworthy smile preceding deception.

[Commissioner Rob] Manfred has said, completely unconvincingly, that there is no place for racism in the game of baseball. He is wrong, of course. There is a place for it in baseball, and that place is on the jerseys and caps of Cleveland's baseball club, the blankets, T-shirts and foam fingers it sells, along with virtually everything for sale in the team gift shop. Before Game 2, sitting next to Aaron and Ortiz, Manfred did the worst thing a white man in his position could do: He attempted to turn an obvious issue of simple decency into one of the great, complex and wrenching issues of our time. He said he and Indians owner Paul Dolan would "revisit the issue" of Chief Wahoo, as if an image borne from one of the most racist periods in American history required further review, discussion, caucus or, worse, some form of canvassing of an indigenous tribe to ask if it's offended by the use of the logo, as if the commissioner of a multibillion-dollar industry has no common sense of his own. ...

Manfred took the question of Chief Wahoo with a head shake and a flash of temper, as if he were the one being inconvenienced by baseball's willful racism. There is a difference between difficult and complicated, and the issue of Native Americans as caricatures for sports teams might be difficult because the white men in charge have no interest in the courage it would take to retire top-selling images or confront the appearance of succumbing to public pressure, of being told what to do and to alienate the overwhelmingly white season-ticket base. But it is not complicated. ... The mascot must go.

November 12, 2016

Mookie Betts Has Surgery On Right Knee

Mookie Betts underwent successful right knee arthroscopy, chondroplasty, and a loose body removal on Thursday. He should be fully recovered by spring training. Betts was also named as the best defensive player in baseball, which is amazing since he moved from second base to the outfield very recently (2014).

Gary DiSarcina will be the Red Sox's new bench coach. He managed the Lowell Spinners from 2007-09 and was Pawtucket's manager in 2013.

The 2017 spring training schedule has been released. ... Truck Day is Monday, February 6.

November 5, 2016

Red Sox Pick Up Buchholz's 2017 Option

Various bits of news as the offseason gets underway:

The Red Sox picked up Clay Buchholz's $13.5 million option for 2017. WEEI's Rob Bradford explains why that was a good move.

On the other hand, the team decided not to exercise catcher Ryan Hanigan's option.

The Arizona Diamondbacks hired Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo as their manager. Lovullo had been John Farrell's bench coach in Boston for the past four seasons and he stepped in as interim manager late in 2015 when Farrell underwent treatment for lymphoma.

JetBlue Airlines announced that it was naming Gate 34 in Terminal C at Logan Airport after David Ortiz. Big Papi's reaction? "You mean I'm going to have my own gate at the airport? You're [messing] with me, aren't you?"

November 4, 2016

Thomas Boswell Shares The Game 7 Column That He Did Not File

A look behind the typewriter: Washington Post columnist Thomas Boswell has posted the column he would have filed had the Cubs lost Game 7 of the 2016 World Series.

First Boswell explains:
When Game 7 of the World Series ends in the 10th inning at 12:47 a.m. — and every print journalist in the press box has a deadline that just became . . . 12:47 a.m. — you have to have two completely opposite versions of reality operating in your mind simultaneously, each given equal authority because both truly are possible. So below is the beginning of the column that I had written, but of course never filed, about Cleveland's wonderful world title — and Chicago's almost unthinkable blown lead.
Then, a key portion:
The foolish overuse of Chapman in Game 6 by Cubs Manager Joe Maddon will now, with hindsight, be the future measuring stick for fretful over-managing. In Game 5, Chapman got a career-high eight outs to save a 3-2 win, using 42 pitches. On Tuesday, Maddon used the southpaw for a crucial out in the seventh inning. That should have been enough, since the Cubs took a five-run lead into the eighth. Yet Chapman pitched the entire eighth inning.

Then, almost inconceivably, Maddon left Chapman in to face the first hitter of the ninth inning, despite a 9-2 Chicago lead. Remember, Chapman also threw a total of 24 warmup pitches in those three innings, most of them close to 100 mph.

After that game, Tribe Manager Terry Francona had said, "We hung around enough so at least Chapman had to pitch. You never know; that might help us."

Indeed. Maddon has done what seemed impossible. He's made former Boston manager Grady Little look like a genius for leaving Pedro Martinez in too long against the Yanks with the 2003 pennant on the line.
And here is the column Boswell was writing at the same time, the one in which the Cubs won.

In Chicago, Five Million Attend Cubs Parade

The World Champion Chicago Cubs had their victory parade today - and five million people showed up.

The Cubs Finally Won The World Series, And It Took One Of The Best Baseball Games Ever To Do It
Grant Brisbee, SB Nation
The Chicago Cubs, the best team in baseball, won the World Series. This is going to look a lot less mysterious to future generations, when they look back at the standings, the stats, the eventual careers these players will have. Decades from now, the future folk might not remember what a Bryan Shaw is, but they might know Kris Bryant, and they’ll look at the 2016 Cubs and nothing will seem out of place. What a fine team, they might remark.

The rest of us will just sit here, blinking a lot and shivering, until the future folk find us and give us water and sustenance. Because the Cubs just won the World Series, and the fabric of reality is in tatters, and there are kittens playing with the tatters. The Cubs. The Cubs won the World Series.
In Chicago, The Final Wait For A Cubs Win Mixes Joy And Sorrow
Wright Thompson, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
CUBS FANS awoke Wednesday to one last wait, with little to do before Game 7 but think, about themselves and their families, about the people who've come and gone during these 108 years of failure. Hundreds found themselves drawn to Wrigley Field, where workers were already breaking down the concessions and cleaning out the freezers. Some people said they didn't even mean to come. They started off on a trip to the store and ended up standing in front of the stadium's long brick wall facing Waveland Avenue. Many wrote chalk notes to the dead. Some dedicated messages. This one's for you, Dad. Others wrote names. Dan Bird. Ben Bird. Eugene Hendershott. A man with a bright smile but melancholy eyes wrote the name of his late wife, Andrea Monhollen. They met four blocks from here, on Racine. She's been gone six years.
Cubs' WS Win Has '04 Sox Reflecting On Title
Ian Browne,
Gabe Kapler: "When the cameras flashes to the fan base and you see how desperately they are hanging on every single pitch, it all looked so familiar. I remember how we would look out into the stands at Fenway and how emotional the mothers and the fathers and the grandmothers and the family members were. They were deeply, deeply invested in the outcome of even the tiniest nuances of the game. That was the same sort of investment happening in Cleveland and in Chicago."

Maddon Nearly Choked Away Cubs' Chances With Bad Bullpen Decisions

Joe Maddon Did His Best To Try And Add To Cubs' Misery, 'He Choked' As Manager In The World Series
Andy Martino, Daily News
"It's amazing to say, but they won despite him, not because of him," said one rival scout Thursday morning, echoing an opinion that bounced around baseball all Wednesday night and into the morning. "He choked."

Wednesday night, Cubs starter Kyle Hendricks was cruising, and Maddon decided to get cute. Like a child demanding a new toy, even though the one he had was perfectly fine, the antsy manager started warming up Jon Lester, and called on him with two outs in the fifth inning ...

[E]ven though Lester ended up pitching effectively, the manager's early hook on Hendricks set into motion a complicated bullpen mess that was entirely avoidable, and led to an exhausted Chapman allowing a game-tying homer to Rajai Davis. Maddon merely needed to stay inside himself and manage as if this were a regular game, and he likely would have won easily.
The Inning The Cubs Stole
Dave Cameron, Fangraphs
I don't know if there's any way to tell the story of Game 7 without talking about how that game was almost lost in the bottom of the ninth on multiple occasions. An overworked pitcher with nothing left, throwing meatballs to Cleveland's best hitters, and it somehow resulted in a 1-2-3 inning. That's baseball for you.

The Cubs absolutely deserve to be champions today. They were the best team of 2016, and this time, the postseason rewarded season-long excellence. But man, that bottom of the ninth. That could have so easily gone differently. That probably should have gone differently.

November 2, 2016

World Series 7: Cubs 8, Cleveland 7 (10)

Cubs      - 100 221 000 2 - 8 13  3
Cleveland - 001 020 030 1 - 7 11  1

Kyle Hendricks / Corey Kluber

This is the 38th World Series Game 7. In the previous 37, the home team has won 19 times, the road team 18.

Billy Witz, New York Times:
The Chicago Cubs, who have endured 108 years without a championship, and the Cleveland Indians, who have waited a mere 68, are nothing if not patient.

So what's one more day?

All those decades of disappointment and heartbreak will be washed away for one of these franchises on Wednesday night as the 112th World Series culminates in a Game 7. ...

The winner will relish what will surely be viewed as a transformative victory in either city. The loser will be left with another chapter of anguish — perhaps the cruelest one in a history of them.
Zack Meisel,
This is it. There's no Game 8. There's no next round. There's only a long, bone-chilling winter ahead for one team and a long off-season marked by championship splendor for the other.
Rick Morissey, Chicago Sun-Times:
A Game 7 involving the long-suffering Chicago Cubs and the long-suffering Cleveland Indians to decide which team finally gets sprung from its respective prison cell. Who thought up this ridiculous storyline? Someone with a sense of humor and a mean streak. When it's all over, one team is not going to know what to do with itself, and the other is going to walk away crushed – again.
Richard Sandomir, New York Times:
Through five games, the World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians has attracted the most viewers for the Series since 2004, when the Boston Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals to win their first title in 86 years.

November 1, 2016

World Series 6: Cubs 9, Cleveland 3

Cubs      - 304 000 002 - 9 13  0
Cleveland - 000 110 001 - 3  6  1
Addison Russell drove in six runs, with a two-run double and a grand slam, as the Cubs forced a Game 7 in Cleveland. Tomorrow night's game will be the third Game 7 in the last six seasons; the 2011 and 2014 World Series also went the distance.

Jake Arrieta (5.2-3-2-2-9, 102) pitched very well, although he did leave the bases loaded in the fourth. He was pulled after issuing a two-out walk in the sixth.

Before that, though, Chicago battered Josh Tomlin (2.1-6-6-0-1, 48). Tomlin began the game by getting two outs on only five pitches, but Kris Bryant (4-for-5) homered to left. After singles by Anthony Rizzo (3-for-5) and Ben Zobrist (2-for-4), Russell lifted a fly ball to right center. There was miscommunication between center fielder Tyler Naquin and right fielder Lonnie Chisenhall and the ball fell untouched between them, and two runs scored.

In the third, Kyle Schwarber walked and after Bryant popped to right, Rizzo and Zobrist singled, loading the bases. Cleveland manager Terry Francona yanked Tomlin and brought in Dan Otero. Russell blasted Otero's 2-0 pitch to left-center for the 19th grand slam in World Series history. Russell's six RBI also tied a World Series record (Bobby Richardson (1960), Hideki Matsui (2009), and Albert Pujols (2011)).

In the first five games against Cleveland, the Cubs were 12-for-77 (.156) with men on base. In the first three innings tonight, they went 5-for-7.

Chicago manager Joe Maddon made a curious decision to use Aroldis Chapman in the seventh inning. Lefty Mike Montgomery had put two men on and even though the Cubs led by five runs, Maddon went with the fireballer who had thrown 42 pitches in grabbing an eight-out save in Game 5. Chapman got the final out of the seventh on a grounder to first, taking the underhanded toss from Rizzo and stepping on the bag a split-second before Francisco Lindor. Actually, the initial call was safe, but that was overturned when the Cubs challenged. (That was really the only time that Cleveland had a chance to come back. If the initial call had stood, Cleveland would have had the potential tying run on-deck.)

Up by five and with six outs to go, Maddon seemed over-cautious in tapping Chapman for the eighth. After a strikeout, he gave up a single to Jose Ramirez, then got pinch-hitter Yan Gomes to ground into a double play. Maddon, after the game: "It was just the middle of their batting order. There was just no other way to look at that and feel good, man. That could have been the ballgame right there."

Rizzo hit a two-run homer in the top of the ninth, giving Chicago a seven-run advantage, and Maddon still had Chapman start the ninth. The move really made no sense, since Maddon could need Chapman for multiple innings in Game 7. (And if Maddon doesn't trust his other relievers to get three outs before allowing seven runs, why are they even on the roster?) After Chapman walked Brandon Guyer to start the inning, Maddon went to Pedro Strop and Travis Wood to close out the game. Chapman ended up throwing 20 pitches.

Bryant and Rizzo are the first 3-4 hitters in World Series history to have a combined seven hits.

The Cubs (1945) and Cleveland (1997) have each played one World Series Game 7 - they both lost.
Jake Arrieta / Josh Tomlin