Friday, October 26, 2012

Major League Baseball's winners & losers of 2012

The postseason awards won't be officially handed out for at least another week or two, but it wouldn't hurt to guess who could get what.

AL Cy Young Award: Jared Weaver, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. So what if the Halos didn't get into the postseason despite acquiring C. J. Wilson from division rival Texas and all-world slugger Albert Pujols from St. Louis? Weaver was the closest they had to a sure thing on the hill every 5 days for most of the season. If only he had some support, Wilson aside, in the rotation.......!

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers. He won the Triple Crown, becoming the first player in 45 years to accomplish the feat, and yet a lot of wags want to hand the MVP to Mike Trout of the Angels. Cabrera led the offensive charge that put the Tigers in the World Series, overtaking Chicago to win the Central Division. Enough said.

AL Rookie of the Year: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. This wasn't even close. In fact, I can't think of anyone else that would've been in shouting distance.

AL Manager of the Year: Buck Showalter, Baltimore Orioles. Hired during the 2011 season, Showalter continued the job he started and got the Birds within an eyelash of the Eastern Division title, snagging one of the two Wild Cards in the process, only to lose to division rival New York, his first employer as a manager, mind you, in the ALDS. The Orioles, of course, in order to get to the ALDS, eliminated two-time defending AL champion Texas, which was a feat unto itself. As long as management doesn't screw up, and since owner Peter Angelos is a George Steinbrenner wannabe, it's almost certain he will, Baltimore will contend for a while.

NL Cy Young Award: R. A. Dickey, New York Mets. Of course, I'm being a bit biased here. A knuckleball pitcher has never won the Cy Young, and Dickey had a season for the ages, winning 20 games and leading the league in complete games, among other games. Never mind that the Mets imploded right after the All-Star break. I'm still trying to figure that one out, but Dickey was their most consistent starter. The Mets will reward him with a new deal. They have to.

NL MVP: Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals. LaRoche, son of former pitcher Dave LaRoche, proved that even a veteran can have a breakout season deep into his career. LaRoche first came up with Atlanta at the end of their dynasty, and has bounced around since, including an all-too-brief stop in Boston a couple of years back. It was LaRoche, not Bryce Harper or Jayson Werth, who carried the Nats on his back, leading the team in homers. If he doesn't get this, there should be an investigation.

NL Rookie of the Year: Wade Miley, Arizona Diamondbacks. Bryce Harper got all the hype and the headlines, but had also suffered from bouts of immaturity. Never mind that the D-Backs fell out of contention during the summer. Miley was to Arizona what R. A. Dickey was to the Mets, their most consistent performer in the rotation, and he will be a key cog in the Arizona rotation for a while to come. 

NL Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson, Washington Nationals. Like his counterpart across the Potomac, Buck Showalter, Johnson took the Nationals from the outhouse to the penthouse, winning the East rather handily, ending Philadelphia's 5 year run. There are parallels to his early years with the Mets in the 80's. A mix of veterans (Werth, LaRoche, Ryan Zimmerman) and rising young stars (Harper, Ian Desmond, Stephen Strasburg) coming together at just the right time. Johnson & GM Mike Rizzo will still be castigated in the media for ending Strasburg's season a wee bit early in the name of future health, but in the long run, they may actually be right.

And, then, there are the losers, who only wound up with fool's gold.

Boston Red Sox: Ok, they got rid of Bobby Valentine after 1 season, and some say they shouldn't have hired him in the first place. They wanted Valentine for the rivalry with the Yankees, more than anything, and the media exposure he'd get in the larger markets. However, Valentine's style is so last century. Trading for former pitching coach John Farrell, who spent the last two years in Toronto as their manager, to fill the void, is a risk, but Farrell isn't the long term answer.

Miami Marlins: Jeff Loria spent all that money like it was water out of a faucet, and at the end, Miami sank like a stone. Ozzie Guillen's gone, and good luck finding someone to repair the damage done. Loria should've paid closer attention to the fact that it took the Heat two years to win a title with their all-star team instead of one. The Philadelphia Eagles are still trying to find the right formula. The tabloid media in NYC tried to suggest trading for Alex Rodriguez, a Miami native, getting him from the Yankees, but even with the Bombers footing most of the bill anyway, it's throwing more bad money on top of bad money. Here's a better idea. Sell the team to someone who knows what they're doing.

New York Yankees: Yes, they won the AL East---again---but their bats were MIA in the playoffs, and it didn't help that they were psychologically crushed when Derek Jeter went down in Game 1 vs. Detroit with a broken ankle. "A-Rod" being a distraction didn't help, either. How could they take their collective foot off the gas pedal? Easy. They took it for granted they'd persevere and reach the Series. Such thinking really doesn't work anymore. Here's a thought. Instead of W. B. Mason sponsoring some of their programming on YES next season, they should sign a deal with Geritol.

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: So owner Artie Moreno emptied his expense account to acquire Albert Pujols & C. J. Wilson, and what happens? The Angels open the season in the AL West basement. No one thought to foresee Oakland having a better season than anyone thought, leaving the Halos to finish in 3rd. What does this tell us? Money doesn't always equal championships, and the fact remains that owners are the last ones to realize it. Especially when it's too late.

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