November 12, 2003

News and notes (in need of a good name)

I think it's time for another bit of Aaron's Baseball Blog reader participation. On occasion, I do an entry that basically features a whole bunch of relatively short (for me, at least) comments on various stories around baseball.

I've titled these entries "Deep Thoughts" and "News and notes" and similar things in the past, but it seems like I should come up with one concrete name to use every time. Good names like "Around the Majors" are already snatched up and "News and notes," while good, is much too boring. I sort of like "Deep Thoughts" and, while that's not really taken by anything or anyone else in the baseball world, it isn't exactly an original idea.

So, I turn to you, my loyal readers. What should something like today's entry be called in the future? Email me any and all suggestions.

Oh, and speaking of reader participation, long-time readers of Aaron's Baseball Blog may remember the "1st Annual Aaron's Baseball Blog Pre-Season Predictions Contest" from way back in late February and early March. Fear not, I have everyone's predictions stored somewhere on this computer and at some point I will calculate the winners and losers and post them for all to look at. But, the way I have all the entries (basically just lists emailed to me) makes it a very long process involving re-reading each email and hand-counting all the points for each set of predictions. But don't worry, it's a long off-season and I will get motivated to sit down and get it done at some point (I think).

Now, onto the news and notes for which a better name is hopefully forthcoming...

Rookie of the Year reflux

Yesterday I criticized a local writer, Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, for ignoring the voting criteria set forth by Major League Baseball when he filled out his AL Rookie of the Year ballot. Souhan responded to such criticism with a column in yesterday's paper. As I said yesterday, I enjoy Souhan's work and I generally find him to be very good at his job, but I think his actions were completely uncalled for and I think his response makes very little sense, if any.

Rather than quote from it, here's the link, so you can judge for yourself:

Baseball Insider: Steinbrenner ire affirms writer's vote

Souhan's main premise seems to be that George Steinbrenner getting angry at him validates his decision to ignore the rules. I find that idea to be extremely illogical and quite frankly nothing more than a cop-out. Like I said, read the article and see for yourself.

Over on the NL side of things, I have yet to see a response from any of the seven voters who left Brandon Webb completely off their ballot. I'm not quite sure what the worse offense is, purposely ignoring the rules like Souhan did or being so out of touch with reality that you leave someone like Webb off the ballot.

Other awards

Roy Halladay won the AL Cy Young in a landslide on Tuesday and Jack McKeon and Tony Pena were announced as the Manager of the Year winners yesterday. I have no problem whatsoever with Halladay winning, although he is not the guy I would have voted for. To me, the top AL pitchers this year were extremely close and a decent argument could be made in favor of no less than four guys.

I looked at the complete voting results and noticed that someone gave Johan Santana a completely undeserved third-place vote. Johan is and always will be The Official Pitcher of Aaron's Baseball Blog and you all know I am a bigger supporter of his than probably most of his actual family, but there's just no way he was the third-best pitcher in the AL this season. It did make me smile though.

As for the Manager of the Year, I honestly couldn't care less. McKeon and Pena are certainly fine choices. In general though, it strikes me as a fairly silly award, mostly because it is essentially given to the manager of whichever team surprises people the most each year. Now, in some cases, that is the same manager who was the best manager that year. In other cases, managers from good teams who were expected to have good seasons and did have good seasons are also worthy. In other words, just because a team was expected to be good before the season started shouldn't preclude that team's manager from contention, and it seems to me that that's exactly what happens every year.

Plus, really, how can you judge a manager's performance with any sort of accuracy? I wouldn't even know where to begin. A team's record? A team's record compared to the payroll? A team's record compared to the previous year? Who knows. I think there is enough trouble trying to judge players, and we have incredibly detailed stats telling us exactly what they did the entire year.

I do think it's a little ridiculous that someone like Bobby Cox, who has managed the Atlanta Braves to 12 straight trips to the post-season, has exactly one Manager of the Year award during that time, and he got that one in the very first of those 12 seasons, 1991.

Trade winds blowing in New York

There are about 100 different trade rumors flying around right now and many of them involve the Yankees dealing either Alfonso Soriano or Nick Johnson, and maybe even both.

I heard they might be sent away in a deal that gets New York Curt Schilling or Jim Edmonds or Carlos Beltran. If/when any of these deals actually become reality, I will obviously have a whole lot more to say about the issue, but my first reaction to this news is that the Yankees will be making a big mistake if they deal Johnson and Soriano.

The Yankees are currently constructed with what is a very old core of players. Mike Mussina is 34, Mariano Rivera is 33, Jorge Posada is 32, Bernie Williams is 35, Jason Giambi is 32. Even Derek Jeter turns 30 next year. The only real young players they have on the entire team right now are Soriano and Johnson, who are both just 25.

Playing with a payroll approaching $200 million will cure a lot of problems, but there is going to come a time when that aging core of veterans just isn't going to be able to get the job done any more. And while trading for Curt Schilling or even Jim Edmonds may be an okay move for the short-term, not having Nick Johnson and Soriano around in 3-4 years is going to come back to bite them in a big way.

I personally think that if Nick Johnson can find a way to stay healthy he is going to be become one of the elite offensive players in all of baseball. He has an incredible minor league track-record and his performance this year (.282/.422/.472 in 96 games) was great. He's a walking-machine and I can definitely see him adding some power in the near future. You just don't trade 25 year olds with .422 on-base percentages. Or at least I don't.

With Soriano, I get the feeling that he is catching a ton of unfair heat from Yankee fans across the country. Soriano has several big faults as a player and those things are being magnified more and more right now it seems. But something I have said numerous times on this blog is that a good evaluator of talent will look at a player and see what he can do, not what he can't. Alfonso Soriano won't take a walk to save his life at this point and his defense at second base leaves an awful lot to be desired. At the same time, he's a 25 year old who has hit 77 homers over the last two years while stealing 76 bases.

Even with his complete lack of walks, his on-base percentage over the last two years is still slightly above league-average and he has been one of the best offensive second basemen in baseball. He's got some very noticeable faults, but so do a lot of great young players. I honestly don't see what the big need to trade him is.

ARod available?

I also read a rumor yesterday that the Texas Rangers have made it clear to other teams that they are willing to at least try to work out a deal for Alex Rodriguez.

I've heard both sides of the debate over whether or not Alex Rodriguez is worth trading for, despite his massive contract. I am of the belief that yes, he certainly is. Is $25 million too much to pay him every year? I think so. But this guy is probably going to go down as the one of the greatest players to ever play the sport and it's worth overpaying a little bit to get your hands on him.

The Rangers are often said to be hamstrung by Rodriguez's large salary. I say give me the best player in the league at $25 million a year and I'll find a way to surround him with a good team for whatever money there is left in the budget. In Texas' case, there was another $50 million or so to spend on ARod's teammates last year, which is more than enough. Or at least it should have been.

I would love to see Rodriguez get traded, if for no other reason than it might give him a chance to play on a team that might give him the opportunity to win. I think it would be great to see him go to the Red Sox and reel off six or eight straight playoff appearances. Then maybe the bullsh-- about him not being a "winning player" can be exposed as nothing more than mindless crap.

It'd be funny to see just how quickly all those MVP voters suddenly appreciate the "value" Rodriguez brings to a team when he's got some quality teammates around him.

The Periodic Table of Bloggers

If you follow the following link...

Periodic Table of Bloggers'll notice that world-renowned baseball-poet "Score Bard" has put together a rather amusing page featuring a periodic table of elements with different blogs in place of all the actual elements.

You'll also notice Yours Truly is listed as "Ag" (it's at the top of the table, right in the middle). I actually had to look up what element I am (what can I say, I hate science). Turns out "Ag" is silver, which is pretty good, right?
*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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