Baseblog casts ballot for #BBBA Awards


Baseblog has been a member of the Baseball Blogger’s Alliance for years. One of the perks (and responsibilities) of BBBA membership involves casting a vote for the organization’s year-end awards and Hall of Fame recommendations. Here’s my ballot.

AL Connie Mack Award (best manager):

1. Buck Showalter, Orioles

2. Lloyd McClendon, Mariners

3. Bob Melvin, Athletics

NL Connie Mack Award:

1. Bruce Bochy, Giants

2. Clint Hurdle, Pirates

3. Matt Williams, Nationals

AL Willie Mays Award (top rookie):

1. Jose Abreu, White Sox 1B

2. George Springer, Astros OF

3. Masahiro Tanka, Yankees SP

NL Willie Mays Award:

1. Jacob deGrom, Mets SP

2. Travis d’Arnaud, Mets C

3. Billy Hamilton, Reds OF

AL Goose Gossage Award (best reliever):

1. Wade Davis, Royals

2. Andrew Miller, Orioles/Red Sox

3. Sean Doolittle, Athletics

NL Goose Gossage Award:

1. Aroldis Chapman, Reds

2. Craig Kimbrel, Braves

3. Hector Rondon, Cubs

AL Walter Johnson Award (best pitcher):

1. Corey Kluber, Indians

2. Felix Hernandez, Mariners

3. Phil Hughes, Twins

4. Jon Lester, Red Sox/Athletics

5. David Price, Rays/Tigers

NL Walter Johnson Award:

1. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

2. Jake Arrieta, Cubs

3. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals

4. Jordan Zimmerman, Nationals

5. Adam Wainwright, Cardinals

AL Stan Musial Award (best player):

1. Mike Trout, Angels OF

2. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays OF/3B

3. Victor Martinez, Tigers DH

4. Adrian Beltre, Rangers 3B

5. Josh Donaldson, Athletics 3B

6. Jose Abreu, White Sox 1B

7. Robinson Cano, Mariners 2B

8. Ben Zobrist, Rays 2B/OF

9. Michael Brantley, Indians OF

10. Jose Altuve, Astros 2B

NL Stan Musial Award:

1. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates OF

2. Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers C

3. Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins OF

4. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs 1B

5. Anthony Rendon, Nationals 3B

6. Yasiel Puig, Dodgers OF

7. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies SS

8. Buster Posey, Giants C

9. Jayson Werth, Nationals OF

10. Matt Carpenter, Cardinals 3B

First Inning Strikeout 10/2/14: JABO on NLCS, Cubby Mascot Auction, and Grading Jake


Image from Wikipedia

Every morning here on Baseblog, I’ll briefly discuss three items on the topic of baseball, Milwaukee, Twitter, the Cubs, or anything else I feel like writing about. Welcome to First Inning (morning!) Strikeout (three stories!)… get it?

EXPERIENCE JABO ON OCTOBER 11th

This is pretty cool. Rob Neyer over at Just A Bit Outside (a new-age baseball site supported by FOX) announced yesterday that fans will have a choice how they experience Game 1 of the NLCS. Either you can watch the normal broadcast with Joe Buck, Harold Reynolds & company on FOX, or you can experience the first ever JABO simulcast on FOX Sports 1. The broadcast will “focus on statistics, sabermetrics, and graphics, with plenty of debate and conversation while the action plays out on the field.”

This sounds like the type of saber-friendly programming some of us have been waiting for. If you tune in, your television will be split-screen, with the complete game broadcast on one side and the saber-panel on the other. Analysts will discuss the pitching matchup, what’s happening in the game, and give you tons of stats and graphics to digest at the same time.

I shared this info with a few non-Twitter friends and they were a bit skeptical. They didn’t care for the split-screen idea, instead, they thought this content should be on the computer so you can mute the normal broadcast and watch on a second screen. I understand their point but the fact that this type of forward-thinking content will be presented in real time on the television is important. We’ve got tons of saber stuff on the internet, but nothing on TV. This is the first (awesome) step.

OWN YOUR VERY OWN CUBBY SUIT

Anyone who knows me is aware of my baseball memorabilia collection. I love acquiring game-used items and weird stuff from the baseball universe. Occasionally here on First Inning Strikeout I’ll share some things currently for sale on the internet.

The Daytona Cubs (whom the Chicago Cubs just ended their minor league affiliation with after two decades) once had a mascot named Cubby. That mascot is no longer relevant as Daytona is now affiliated with the Reds and no longer called the “Cubs.” So, what do they do with the old mascot suit? Put it up for auction, of course.

You can bid on the Cubby mascot here. The lot includes the “Head, Padded top & bottom, Oversized shoes, Bear arms, Stir-ups, Home pants & home jersey.” The auction ends in a little over a week and a half and the bidding is currently at $400.

CUBS INSIDER GRADES JAKE ARRIETA

CI’s offseason grading continues with newfound ace Jake Arrieta. Ryan Davis takes the ball on this one and describes Jake’s awesomeness. As with Castro yesterday, the email with my vote must have been late or something because my A++ does not show up on the article. Oh well. Just like Castro, the only thing I didn’t like about Arrieta’s season is it was shortened by injury, but I don’t want to fault a guy in the grade for that. Head over to Cubs Insider and take a read.

Baseblog Quick Hits 10/1/14: 2015 Goals, Wild Wild Card Game, Grading Castro


Image from Mike McGinnis/Getty Images North America

Cubs, Milwaukee, baseball, Twitter, and whatever else I feel like mentioning. Name still a work in progress.

EPSTEIN, RIZZO SET SIGHTS ON DIVISION IN 2015

Over the weekend, Cubs president Theo Epstein was asked about the 2015 season, eventually saying the goal is to win the National League Central division title. ESPN followed up with Anthony Rizzo who echoed his boss’ comments: “That’s where you start, you goal is to get [to the playoffs] and then anything can happen.”

I absolutely love this line of thinking. Ryan Dempster famously predicted a World Series championship for Chicago back in 2008, only for his team to fall short against the Dodgers in the Division Series that October. Rizzo’s prediction is smarter, and better, in my opinion.

Yes, the ultimate goal is to win the World Series. That’s the primary measure of success. But teams still fly flags in their stadium for each year they make the playoffs … that’s a big accomplishment as well. Over 162 games, the best teams make the postseason. But once you’re in October, anything can happen, which is part of the season it’s so exciting. So, I like this goal of winning the division – something they can “control” more by being the best team they can be – instead of winning the World Series, an accomplishment that is much harder to predict.

ROYALS WIN A WILD WILD CARD GAME

The Oakland A’s and Kansas City Royals met up last night for the AL Wild Card game. People complain about the one-game nature of the dual wild card era, but I like it, personally. It rewards the division leader for actually winning the division, instead of putting them on equal footing with the wild card (leading to boring final weeks of the season like we’ve seen in the AL East a few times recently). The Ace vs Ace matchup is exciting, it’s win or go home … agonizing for fans, I’m sure, but from the couch I love it.

Several former Cubs and Brewers took part in the Wild Card game. Former Cubs included Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, Sam Fuld, Geovany Soto, and Josh Donaldson on the A’s, and Dale Sveum on the Royals. Former Brewers included Norichika Aoki, Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain, Ned Yost and Dale Sveum on the Royals. Ultimately, the former Brewers beat the former Cubs as the Royals are headed to the ALDS.

I was pulling for the A’s, mostly to see Samardzija pitch in the playoffs and support my Navy friend, but I’m happy to see the Royals advance. What I’m not happy about, however, is falling asleep during last night’s game. The past few days have been exhausting being at the ballpark all weekend and then attending a funeral on Monday, and I started to snooze in the 8th inning with the Royals down by 1. When I woke up, I saw Pedro Martinez on my TV talking about Ned Yost. The Royals walked off, and the A’s are done.

CUBS INSIDER GRADES STARLIN CASTRO

We’re rolling out a new offseason feature over at Cubs Insider entitled “Grading the 2014 Chicago Cubs.” Essentially, one writer takes the helm recapping a player’s season, and the others contribute a letter grade. First up was Tommy Cook and his recap of shortstop Starlin Castro. Head over to Cubs Insider to read Tommy’s thoughts.

I missed the deadline to submit a grade during the funeral, but I give Castro an A for the season. I don’t want to knock guys due to injuries, and more playing time was just about all I wanted out of Castro. He was smart on the field and returned to form with the bat. I’m looking forward to watching him in 2015.

FINAL LINKS OF THE DAY

  • Sahadev Sharma makes his Baseball Prospectus debut. His column is called “Daisy Cutter.” (Beer joke.)
  • The Milwaukee Brewers thanked their fans for a great season.

I’ll have a series recap of the Cubs’ final games in the coming days. Thanks for reading.

Series Review: Brewers and Marlins split


The Milwaukee Brewers hosted the Miami Marlins this past week, and I managed to attend every game. The Marlins won the first two games rather handily – I felt like they had a shot to sweep – until the Brewers won the final two for a series split.

Here’s my Series Review:

FRANCHISE RECORDS AT STAKE

Fans who attended Monday’s series opener witnessed history: Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo struck out his 1,207th opponent, setting the all-time franchise record for punchouts in a Milwaukee uniform. The old record belonged to Ben Sheets. Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the (un)lucky foe. He K’d for the first out in the second inning.

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From CI: Cubs “Star Wars Night” a Good First Foray Into the Force


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This post first appeared last week on Cubs Insider. Click to check out our new home.

A few nights ago, in a ballpark not too far away…the Chicago Cubs hosted their first ever Star Wars special event.

While teams in the minors have been hosting Star Wars games for years, it feels like only recently that Major League ballclubs have gotten into the action. The Cubs’ first attempt to bring the Force to Wrigley Field was a good time, but left room for improvement.

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From Cubs Insider: Cubs Prospects Clogging the Top Lists


This blog post originally appeared on the ChicagoNow website Cubs Insider.

The Cubs made a huge and inevitable deal this holiday weekend, sending Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland A’s for shortstop Addison Russell and a few other young pieces. Many of my Cubs Insider colleagues have chimed in with their thoughts and analysis on the deal so far; take a look here, here, here, and here if you need to catch up.

(I have a friend who just shipped off to the Navy a few weeks ago, and he’s a huge A’s fan. For that reason – as well as a desire to see good ol’ Shark succeed, even if it is not with the Cubs – I will be heavily cheering on Oakland this postseason. Go A’s.)

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From Cubs Insider: Perhaps the Cubs Add a Big Money Bat at the Trade Deadline


This blog post originally appeared on the ChicagoNow website Cubs Insider.

The Cubs had some big money to spend this offseason (Tanaka!), but ended up putting it back in the bank.

The Cubs have a wave of young talent (Baez! Bryant! Alcantara!) knocking on the door of the majors.

The Cubs probably would like to add a veteran or two to the mix to help alleviate some of the pressure on the kids.

A combination of these factors (and more) lead many to believe the Cubs are going to spend some money and add some pieces this offseason. As Tom heard and wrote last week, this winter could signal the end of tanking and the start of spending.

“I think that’s going to be a significant focus of our next 18 months,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Dave Kaplan when asked about possibly adding players.

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From Cubs Insider: Why I Want Ryne Sandberg and the Phillies to Crash and Burn


This blog post originally appeared on the ChicagoNow website Cubs Insider.

The Chicago Cubs won their series against the Philadelphia Phillies this weekend. Jake Arrieta and Travis Wood bookended the set with two stellar performances that had overly-eager folks like myself thinking “no-hitter.” Highlights from the home dugout included Jimmy Rollins becoming the all-time Phils hit leader (cool for him), an aging, slumping lineup beating up on Edwin Jackson, and Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg getting tossed after a questionable ejection of his starting pitcher.

(Side comment about the ejection: Roberto Hernandez hit Starlin Castro, who had homered earlier. I don’t think it was intentional judging by the look on Roberto’s face. That being said, no fault to the umpire for having a short rope with all the dangerous projectile shenanigans going around baseball lately.)

Speaking of Sandberg, I’d like to confess an unpopular opinion around Cubdom. Since the Phillies and Cubs don’t play one another again this season, my confession is losing relevancy by the day and I’d like to get it out now.

I want the Philadelphia Philles and their manager, Ryne Sandberg, to crash and burn.

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From Cubs Insider: Could More Outings Like His Last One Hurt Jason Hammel’s Trade Value?


This blog post originally appeared on the ChicagoNow website Cubs Insider.

The Cubs couldn’t have asked for a better situation than the one they got with Jason Hammel.

The righty signed with the Cubs just before Valentine’s Day 2014 on a one-year, Scott Feldman-esque “flip” contract. It sounds like a great setup to me: $6 million for a guaranteed spot in the rotation to rebuild your value, a probable midseason trade to rid you of that nasty draft pick compensation, with an opportunity this winter to cash in. Meanwhile, the Cubs can use him to add some young pieces in July.

At just 31, the Cubs don’t really have to flip Hammel. An extension is possible, in theory. But pardon me for not holding my breath.

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