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A guy who cheats in a friendly game of cards is a cheater. A pro who throws a spitball to support his family is a competitor.
-- George Bamberger

I know, I know. Jaret Wright returns to the Yankees rotation. How could I not want to talk about that...

There are six weeks left in the 2005 season, and it's time to start anticipating this year's hardware. So that's how I propose to occupy myself this week. Not that I have a vote...

Today, it's Manager of the Year and Rookie of the Year. Over the next couple of days, the Cy Young winners, and I'll wrap it up with the MVPs.

Somehow, I expect a few arguments...

NL Manager of the Year (Select the top 3)

1. Bobby Cox - "He can take his'n and beat your'n, or he can take your'n and beat his'n." I believe that was Bum Phillips talking about Don Shula, but whatever. John Schuerholz went and got Cox two lame corner outfielders (Jordan and Mondesi), and a closer of questionable qualifications (Kolb). Two 15 game winners from the 2004 rotation (Wright and Ortiz) didn't come back, although the trade for Tim Hudson made up for a lot of that.

What happened once the games started? Jordan, Mondesi, and Kolb all crapped out. Chipper Jones got hurt. Johnny Estrada got hurt. Three rotation starters - Hudson, Hampton, and Thomson - all went out at the same time.

It just doesn't matter. He can take his guys and beat yours, or he can take your guys and beat his. I think if he was managing the Royals, the White Sox would be in a pennant race.

2. Phil Garner - I've never been a Garner fan, and prior to this year, he'd managed just two winning seasons as a manager. But it would have been very easy for the Astros to fold the tent sometime around the end of May, especially with the prospect of Jeff Bagwell being done for the year. It didn't happen, and as we speak the Astros look to be headed for the post-season again. Well done, Phil.

3. Tony LaRussa - Sure, he's got an awfully good team. Not screwing it up is worthy of all kinds of respect on its own, and the Cardinals have actually had a number of issues, mostly injury-related, to deal with. I don't think LaRussa wanted to play Abraham Nunez and So Taguchi more than Scott Rolen and Larry Walker. He's had to, but the Cards kept humming right along anyway.

Apologies to Frank Robinson and Charlie Manuel. And this year's Jeer and Hoot goes out to...well, it's tempting to pile on Dusty Baker or Jim Tracy. But both the Cubs and Dodgers have had a cope with a lot of injuries to key people, so I'll cut them a little slack. The Marlins and Padres have both disappointed me, as well.

AL Manager of the Year

1. Ozzie Guillen - I absolutely guarantee that Ozzie is going to win this award. While Guillen irritates me in so many ways, you really can't argue with what he's done or how his team has played. They haven't won with "small-ball" or "Ozzie-ball" - they've won with pitching and defense. It's worked out much better for them than trying to club the other guys into submission, which had been the prevailing strategy before this year. He's obviously done a very fine job handling his pitchers - the starters have stayed healthy, and he's used his relievers quite effectively.

2. Ken Macha - Their season has been exactly like Houston's, except their turnaround has been even more impressive. The A's fell back in the early going on after a few key injuries - Bobby Crosby, in particular - but they didn't throw in the towel, and here they are.

3. Joe Torre - Yeah, he's got a $210 million dollar team. Yeah, his bullpen management is, frankly, insane and self-destructive. But so many things have gone wrong for the Yankees this year. The entire starting rotation, all five guys, have been let him down. On the scale of disappointment, they range from "kind of" disappointing (Mussina) to "quite" disappointing (Johnson) to "oh-my-God-NO" disappointing (Pavano, Wright, Brown). He doesn't have anything on his roster remotely resembling a major league centre fielder. And he works for George Steinbrenner. He's been able to cope.

Honourable mention - Eric Wedge, John Gibbons, Mike Scioscia. Hoots and Jeers for Lou Piniella, who doesn't even seem to be trying anymore, and Buck Showalter. I think the Texas heat, or maybe just the Texas ballaprk, has gotten to Buck's brain. Either that, or he can no longer distinguish a useful major league pitcher from a guy on the street.

NL Rookie of the Year

The three most impressive NL rookies this year - by a mile - all have serious playing time issues. One because of injury (Clint Barmes), the other two because they arrived a little more than a month ago (Jeff Francouer and Zach Duke.) So, these are a little provisional, I suppose...

1. Jeff Francouer, Atlanta - I know, he's only had 102 at bats in 28 games, since arriving in the Show in early July. But his performance has been just so insanely, ridiculously good... Yesterday he hit a 3-run homer and gunned down two baserunners at home plate. He has 8 BaseRunner Kills already, and is just 2 back of the league leaders. The kid has been unbelievable. The Braves have 44 games remaining, and Francouer doesn't have to keep hitting .382, with an RBI every day, and a homer every three games. If he can hit.. oh, .270 with 1 HR and 3 or 4 RBI every week... he'll be a no-brainer. Because .300 with 15 HR and 50 RBI in less than half a season is pretty good, too.

2. Jeff Francis, Colorado - If you're a rookie pitcher, and you play for the Rockies, a 5.77 ERA is worthy of respect. Francis has actually been getting killed on the road this year - he's 8-3, 4.44 pitching at altitude, but just 3-5, 7.24 on the road. I'm inclined to think the home stats give us a better idea of how good he is.

3. Ryan Church, Washington - Actually, he looked like he might be the best candidate of all for the first half of the season. But since returning from his rib injury about a month ago, he's stopped hitting. He can still put himself back into contention.

Honourable mention - Lance Niekro of the Giants can hit, and he seems to be making J.T. Snow redundant. Brad Hawpe and Garret Hawkins are two more Colorado rookies - I'm much more impressed with Hawpe, but like Barmes, an injury has cost him a lot of playing time. Wilson Betemit of Atlanta stepped in and did a nice job when Chipper Jones went down, and fills in at short and second as well.

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Gustavo Chacin, Toronto - A rookie starter who's currently 6th in his league in ERA, with an 11-6 record, who hasn't missed a start? At the moment, this is a pretty easy choice. Jays fans seem worried that he's doing it with mirrors, and that he doesn't miss enough bats - he's striking out 5.37 per 9 IP, which is enough to get by (and will probably go up over the next few years), and he keeps the ball in the park.

2. Nick Swisher, Oakland - Doesn't hit for a big average, but he leads all major league rookies in homers and RBI. His teammate Dan Johnson has been even more impressive with the stick, but over quite a few less at bats.

3. Russ Adams, Toronto - I'm torn between Adams and Johnson - but I'll take the shortstop. He's settled in defensively after a lot of erratic throws early on, and since being installed as the leadoff hitter, he's scoring almost a run a game.

Honourable mention - Johnny Gomes of Tampa Bay (this guy can hit, people); Huston Street and Dan Johnson of Oakland have both been super but in somewhat limited playing time; Tadahito Iguchi has been just fine in Chicago; and Robinson Cano stood up to all the heat that New York has to offer. Aaron Hill's looked pretty good, too. Pretty decent rookie crop.

Who did I completely, unaccountably, just forget? Must be someone...

Tomorrow: the NL Cy Young Award.

The Monday schedule:

Boston (Arroyo 10-7, 4.28) at Detroit (Douglass 4-2, 4.08) 7:05
New York (Wright 2-2, 9.15) at Tampa Bay (Fossum 6-9, 4.47 ERA) 7:15
Minnesota (Lohse 7-11, 4.21) at Chicago (Contreras 7-6, 4.18) 8:05
Toronto (Chacin 11-6, 3.39) at Los Angeles (Santana 6-5, 4.63) 10:05
Baltimore (Lopez 11-6, 4.77) at Oakland (Zito 11-8, 3.62) 10:05
Kansas City (Hernandez 8-10, 4.93) at Seattle (Hernandez 1-1, 0.69) 10:05

Washington (Hernandez 13-5, 3.51) at Philadelphia (Myers 10-5, 3.46) 7:05
San Francisco (Correia 1-3, 4.84) at Cincinnati (Harang 8-10, 3.90) 7:10
Chicago (Rusch 5-4, 3.98) at Houston (Rodriguez 7-5, 6.18) 8:05
Milwaukee (Sheets 8-8, 3.02) at Colorado (Cook 0-1, 5.94) 9:05

This Day In Baseball: 15 August 2005 | 22 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Pistol - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 12:19 PM EDT (#125571) #
I think you have to give some consideration for NL ROY to Rickie Weeks. He's 3rd among rookie position players in VORP right now behind Francoeur and, believe it or not, Barmes.

It's not a strong NL class this year.
Nigel - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 01:00 PM EDT (#125573) #
Pistol - I know what you mean by calling the NL group weak (i.e. playing time); but five years from now I think that the 3 or 4 best rookies this year will have started in the NL - Weeks; Duke; Francis (maybe Francouer - I'm not sold yet). I think the AL's got some good solid everyday players in Adams, Hill, Johnson, Cano and Chacin - but no real stars.
Mike Green - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 01:00 PM EDT (#125574) #
Weeks has a fine shot at winning the award.
John Northey - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 01:00 PM EDT (#125575) #
For NL Manager of the Year I suspect Garner will get it, but Cox really has been amazing. I'm beginning to think they should rename it the Bobby Cox award even though he has 'only' won it twice. Sigh. If only the Jays could've convinced him to stay after '85.
Joseph Krengel - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 02:03 PM EDT (#125591) #
Is Jorge Cantu eligble for ROY consideration?
Magpie - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 02:10 PM EDT (#125592) #
Who did I completely, unaccountably, just forget?

Rickie Weeks! But the playing time works against him (so far, anyway - he's played about as much as Barmes).

By weird coincidence, Weeks and Francouer have exactly the same number of HR and RBI. Which isn't going to work in Weeks' favour.

Brenske - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 02:13 PM EDT (#125594) #
From the CBC: No August Halladay for the Jays.
Sorry if its been posted! Glum news indeed... GO McGowan!
Magpie - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 02:28 PM EDT (#125596) #
Cantu is not eligible for ROY. Too many at bats in 2004.

CBC appears to be quoting Allan Ryan in today's Star, and the context doesn't completely suggest that September is when he's coming back. Just that if it takes that long before he's ready, then that's how long it's going to take.

Unless I'm just grasping at straws here...

Nigel - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 02:44 PM EDT (#125597) #
I read it the same way - but the reality of taking 4-5 days off right now is that that likely means September (or close to it) before he gets back. He takes 4-5 days off now. Then he will likely pitch a simulated game. Even if that goes perfectly he would need another 3-5 days before he starts. This set back means that the earliest he could come back is around Aug. 25-26.
hugh - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 02:47 PM EDT (#125599) #
Anyone else really worried about Lilly? That Allan Ryan article says he's going for a second opinion, and knowing Lilly's reputation for claiming to be healthier than he is doesn't exactly inspire confidence.
Mick Doherty - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 02:50 PM EDT (#125601) #
I take issue with your dissing of Showalter. I think he's done a fine job with a team that had (way too) high expectations.nd they have managed to dump all their high-priced failed experiments on the Padres.
Ron - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 03:05 PM EDT (#125603) #
If Doc gets injured again next season I wonder if he will get the injury prone label.

Since the Jays aren't going to make the playoffs this season I would rather have the Jays play it safe and not rush him back. There's no need to risk further injury.

All this means is a bigger opportunity for guys like Bush and McGowan to show what they can do.
Magpie - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 03:21 PM EDT (#125607) #
dump all their high-priced failed experiments on the Padres.

Well, they turned Chan Ho Park into Phil Nevin, anyway. Nevin's 34 years old and makes almost $10 million a year. It's considerably less than Park, though, so I suppose that's progress.

Astacio and Ryan Drese, however, were both making less than $1 million a year. I can see the point in finding out if C.J. Wilson can pitch for you (the early returns are not encouraging, but he's still young.) But Ricardo Rodriguez? John Wasdin? James Baldwin?

Well, in fairness to Buck who I've always admired, much of 2004's success came from a very fine bullpen - Cordero, Mahay, Francisco, Shouse, and Almanzar. All of those guys, except Cordero, either went missing or returned to earth this year.

The_Game - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 04:14 PM EDT (#125621) #
I just found an interesting site about the 2005/2006 free agents in baseball. It describes most of them as well, Konerko is looking good in a Jays uniform if you asked me.
binnister - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 05:07 PM EDT (#125630) #
RE: Free Agents, etc.

You know, a name I didn't think about for the Jay's is Frank Thomas.

Rotoworld speculates that the Sox's will not keep him next year, and that he'd be a prime candidate for a 1-Year inscentive ladden contract. He also does have some connection to Toronto (i.e. part of the Jay's system), eventhough it was a long time ago.

An off-season of:
-Frank Thomas
-A.J. Burkett
-Austin Kearns

Would make me VERY exited for 2006.

Mick Doherty - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 06:26 PM EDT (#125634) #
I can see the point in finding out if C.J. Wilson can pitch for you (the early returns are not encouraging, but he's still young.) But Ricardo Rodriguez? John Wasdin? James Baldwin?

Rodriguez is only 18 months older than Wilson, and neither is yet 28. I like the fact that Wasdin and Baldwin are getting starts rather than hurrying Thomas Diamond or John Danks into a lose-lose proposition. Props to Buck for not demanding the top kids be promoted, like, right now.

Rob - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 06:32 PM EDT (#125636) #
When was Frank Thomas part of the Toronto system?

He was drafted out of Auburn in 1989; debuted with Chicago in 1990. If there's a connection to the Jays, I don't see it.
Braby21 - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 07:22 PM EDT (#125647) #
Not a lot of great free agents out there this off season. I'd much rather see JP keep some cash to keep the young guys around for the future then go over spending trying to win next year. I'm not too worried though, I trust JP.
VBF - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 09:01 PM EDT (#125655) #
I think the Jays should set two targets and sign them as fast as humanly possible. I believe they are two players away from serious contention, so if they have to overpay, they have to overpay.

We saw what happened last offseason with Delgado and Ordonez. The longer it takes, the higher the stakes, the more competition and a greater chance to come back with nothing.

You can still be smart with money and act quickly.
VBF - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 09:07 PM EDT (#125656) #
so if they have to overpay, they have to overpay.

You can still be smart with money and act quickly.

Okay, I contradicted myself. To keep this team together should cost about 56 million with arbitration. Am I correct in saying that we have 24 million to sign? For most players, Toronto is not always the highest on players' wish lists. But to pick up a bat and a top arm with 25 million to spend can be done, and heck, should be done. Sometimes you have to overpay, and if we did, we would still be in good shape financially.

Pistol - Monday, August 15 2005 @ 11:28 PM EDT (#125668) #
I had estimated the current roster in 2006 to come in around $56 million several months ago. However, that had the team not re-signing Hillenbrand which seems pretty likely now, and Lilly getting $7 million in arbitration which seems high given his performance this year. I'd say the payroll with the current roster would be about $58-$60 million.

Regardless of who the Jays sign it will appear to be overpaying to most people. But when you sign a FA it's generally because you're the highest bidder among the 30 teams.
Ron - Tuesday, August 16 2005 @ 12:01 AM EDT (#125670) #
If Lilly was to get around 7 mil next season than the Jays are much better off spending that money elsewhere.

I figure the Jays will sign a number 2 starter (AJ, Morris?)and then we still have Bush,McGowan,Chacin,Towers, and Doc.
This Day In Baseball: 15 August 2005 | 22 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.