Taking stock as the season winds down


I took stock on the season at the 1/3 mark, and then at the half way point.

I had promised to do so on Labor Day as the season goes into its final lap and here I am.

There’s not much suspense for the Yankees, Rays, Rangers and Reds who all seem to have their playoff spots locked up.

But looking at San Diego and their current implosion shows you can never be 100% sure who is going to end up where. (Has anyone else noticed the Rockies aren’t dead yet?)

There are injuries that make some of the awards up for grabs as well as some slumps that turned front runners into mere contenders… or in Tim Lincecum’s case totally off the board.

So with more or less a month to go, let’s take a look at the playoff picture and who should be in line for post season hardware (and compare those to my 1/3 picks and 1/2 way picks.)

If the playoffs started today…

AL East Champion New York Yankees
Would have home field advantage over
AL West Champion Texas Rangers

AL Central Champion Minnesota Twins
Would have home field advantage over
AL Wild Card Tampa Bay Rays

(The Chicago White Sox would be within 3 games in the loss column of a playoff spot.)

NL East Champion Cincinnati Reds
Would have home field advantage over
N. L. Wild Card
Philadelphia Phillies

NL East Champion Atlanta Braves
Would have home field advantage over
NL West Champion San Diego Padres

(The Giants are within 1 game of a playoff spot.)

(At the 1/3 Mark, The Rays had home field over Oakland, the Twins had home field over the Yankees. The Cardinals had home field over the Braves while the Padres still had home field over the Reds

At the 1/2 way mark, the Yankees had homefield over the White Sox while the Rangers would host the Rays. Meanwhile the Braves would have homefield over the winner of a Rockies and Dodgers playoff while the Padres would have homefield over the Reds.)

AL MVP:
MIGUEL CABRERA, Tigers
I had Josh Hamilton here, but his ribcage injury might take him out of commission. Cabrera has the OPS, the Average, the power and ranks at the top of W.A.R. It’s not his fault the Tigers faded.

In the running:
EVAN LONGORIA, Rays. ROBINSON CANO, Yankees. JOSH HAMILTON, Rangers.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Miguel Cabrera as the MVP.
At the 1/2 way mark, I had Josh Hamilton as the MVP.)

NL MVP:
JOEY VOTTO, Reds
He is pulling away from Pujols in OPS and is near the top in virtually every single offensive category. And oh yeah, his Reds have opened up a big lead with Joey Votto as their main man.

In the running:
ALBERT PUJOLS, Cardinals. CARLOS GONZALEZ, Rockies. ADRIAN GONZALEZ, Padres.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Albert Pujols as the MVP.
At the 1/2 was mark, I had Joey Votto as the MVP.)

AL CY YOUNG:
FELIX HERNANDEZ, Mariners
Yeah, I know his record is only 11-10. He also leads the league in ERA, strikeouts, innings pitched and a lot of other categories that I don’t understand. If the Cy Young goes to the best pitcher, then King Felix is the best.

In the running:
CLAY BUCHHOLZ, Red Sox. CC SABATHIA, Yankees. TREVOR CAHILL, A’s. DAVID PRICE, Rays.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Jon Lester as the Cy Young.
At the 1/2 way mark I had David Price as the Cy Young.)

NL CY YOUNG:
ROY HALLADAY, Phillies
The fascinating Cy Young chase could come down to the last few weeks. Right now Halladay has been the horse the Phillies need and has the gaudy stats to back up his “Ace” title. He right now is the pitcher to beat.
In the running:
UBALDO JIMENEZ, Rockies. ADAM WAINWRIGHT, Cardinals. CHRIS CARPENTER, Cardinals. TIM HUDSON, Braves. MAT LATOS, Padres.
(At the 1/3 mark AND the 1/2 was mark, I had Ubaldo Jimenez as the Cy Young.)

AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
NEFTALI FELIZ, Rangers
A couple of bad games made his ERA swell, but he has supplied the AL West leading Rangers were a steady hand at the back end of the bullpen.

In the running:
BRIAN MATUSZ, Orioles. AUSTIN JACKSON, Tigers. JEREMY HELLICKSON, Rays. JOHN JASO, Blue Jays.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Mitch Talbot as the AL Rookie of the Year.
At the 1/2 way mark, I had Brennan Boesch as the Rookie of the Year.)

NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
BUSTER POSEY, Giants
Posey has been everything and more that the Giants could have asked for. He hits for average, for power, gets on base and has supplied a team starved for offense a spark and a flair for the dramatic. Seems to be solid behind the plate as well.

In the running:
JAIME GARCIA, Nationals. GABY SANCHEZ, Marlins. JASON HEYWARD, Braves.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Jason Heyward as the Rookie of the Year.
At the 1/2 way mark, I had Jamie Garcia as the Rookie of the Year.)

AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR:
OZZIE GUILLEN, White Sox
I was leaning towards Joe Maddon, but the recent surge by Ozzie’s White Sox shows just how dangerous they can be. Could Manny’s prescience be a positive thing in Chicago. They just want him for a month (maybe two.)

In the running:
RON WASHINGTON, Rangers. RON GARDENHIRE, Twins. JOE MADDON, Rays. JOE GIRARDI, Yankees.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Joe Maddon as the Manager of the Year.
At the 1/2 way mark, I had Ozzie Guillen as the Manager of the Year.)

NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR:
DUSTY BAKER, Reds
The recent collapse by the Padres took Bud Black out of the running for top spot here. The Reds were supposed to be a fringe contender… not cruising to a Division title with home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

In the running:
BOBBY COX, Braves. JIM TRACY, Rockies. BUD BLACK, Padres.

(At the 1/3 mark AND the 1/2 way mark, I had Dusty Baker as the Manager of the Year.)

AL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
VLADIMIR GUERRERO, Rangers
How often do you pick up a 100 RBI guy from the scrap heap? There will me more responsibility on his shoulders with Josh Hamilton’s injury.

In the running:
VERNON WELLS, Blue Jays. ALEX RIOS, White Sox. EDWIN JACKSON, White Sox. FRANCISCO LIRIANO, Twins.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Vernon Wells as the Comeback Player of the Year.
At the 1/2 way mark, I had Vladimir Guerrero as the Comeback Player of the Year.)

NL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
TIM HUDSON, Braves
Forget comeback player… Hudson is making a run at the Cy Young Award. 15 wins and a 2.30 ERA will do that.

In the running:
SCOTT ROLEN, Reds. RICKIE WEEKS, Brewers. AUBREY HUFF, Giants.

BIGGEST BUST IN THE AL:
JAVIER VAZQUEZ, Yankees
He was brought back to the Bronx to be a solid #2 starter as Yankee brass was convinced he no longer had the jitters that he showed in his first Yankee tour. It turns out he still had them. His starting stats have been disastrous for the Yankees who need rotation stability in order to repeat.

In the running:
JOSH BECKETT, Red Sox. JOBA CHAMBERLAIN, Yankees. MILTON BRADLEY, Mariners.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Josh Beckett as the biggest bust in the AL
At the 1/2 way mark I had Milton Bradley as the biggest bust in the AL)

BIGGEST BUST IN THE NL
JASON BAY, Mets
Bay had become a symbol of how the Mets use money poorly while the Yankees (at least in 2009) spent wisely. Everyone and their dog knew Jason Bay would struggle in CitiField, except evidently the Mets front office. His season ended in late July with a concussion, but his stats were ordinary at best with the Mets.)

In the running:
AKI IWAMURA, Pirates. ARAMIS RAMIREZ, Cubs. MARK DeROSA, Giants.

(At the 1/3 point I had Carlos Lee as the biggest bust in the NL
And at the 1/2 way point I had Carlos Zambrano as the biggest bust in the NL)

So here we go… the players in the running can all win some off season hardware with a push in September.

I hope to be back here at the end of the regular season talking about the great Red Sox comeback.

Follow sullybaseball on Twitter

Jimenez vs. Mauer … YOU WOULDN’T WANT THAT Interleague Foes?

JUST as I finished typing my last entry about Jimenez pitching against the Twins, Joe Mauer came up to the plate.

The front runner of the 2010 National League Cy Young Award faced off against the defending American League MVP.

The crowd loved it… taking pictures of the match up.

It is PRECISELY the unorthodox head to head match ups that Interleague Play has in mind.

Mauer lined out in a bang bang play where the runner at first was doubled up.

Jimenez goes 8 strong with 1 run… ups his record to 13-1 and has a 1.15 ERA now. And Twin fans got to see on a beautiful June day a match up they wouldn’t normally see.

Ohhhh. So bad for baseball!

Follow sullybaseball on Twitter

Sully Basebal Says… BASEBALL NEEDS TO IMPROVE THEIR OFF SEASON SHOWMAN SHIP

Major League Baseball needs to find ways to make the off season more of a show!

Football has it down.

They are a year long event as a sport, even though each team only plays 16 regular season games.

Baseball plays 10 times as many games and yet sometimes has trouble staying on the national radar.

Football has made the draft a must watch TV event… they draw huge crowds to workouts and practices… their pre season games draw better ratings than some MLB playoff games…

Baseball needs to get some of the football showmanship that keeps it on the front page all year.

They are some small things they can do, like don’t hold the Winter Meetings until AFTER the Non Tendered Free Agents are announced. Or don’t announce you are thinking about contraction hours after a great World Series has been played.

Of course that would mean having an actual Commissioner, but I digress.

The staff at Sully Baseball has been compiling ideas of ways MLB can put on a few shows and stay in the public eye, even when games AREN’T being played.

THE BASEBALL AWARD SHOW


Why they don’t do this now completely baffles me.

Think of it… one night, we learn the Rookie of the Year, the Manager of the Year, the Comeback Player of the Year, the Gold Gloves, the Cy Young and the MVP are all awarded on the same night.

We get to see A-Rod, Pujols, Lincecum and Ryan Howard in a tux.
We get to see former baseball greats paired up with entertainers to present awards.

“Ladies and Gentlemen…
Bob Feller and Lady Gaga!”

It would be worth it to cut to Jim Leyland squirming in his seat uncomfortably during the song and dance number that starts the show.

You get a comic who loves baseball to host it… Jerry Seinfeld? Chris Rock? ME!!!!

You show clips, have reunions on stage. “Ladies and Gentlemen… welcome all the closers Bobby Cox used from 1991-2005.”

Wouldn’t that be a more fun way of learning about the awards than a press release?

THE HALL OF FAME ANNOUNCEMENT

The way the Hall of Fame is announced now is so anti climactic. A phone call is made, a press release is faxed or put on a website and it gets leaked.

Not neatly dramatic enough.

I say they channel their inner Publishers Clearing House notifiers.

Each of the Hall of Famers on the ballot… from Bert Blyleven to Jay Bell… need to be home between 12 AM and 3 PM EST. We see a van drive but we’re not sure where we are…

Then they pull up to a house, ring the door bell. Who could it be?

JIM RICE ANSWERS THE DOOR!!!!
JIM RICE IS A HALL OF FAMER!!!!

He hugs his wife and kids. We see the actual moment it happens!

But wait, we’re going back to the next van driving up…

I’m telling you it is a wonderful new baseball tradition we can unleash!

REVENUE SHARING SPENDING SPREE

The Yankees, Red Sox, Mets and other big market teams need to cough up money to revenue sharing and teams like the Marlins, Reds and Pirates collect… but what do the teams DO with the money.

Forget this vague “putting it back into the team” promise. Let’s see it!

They have 24 hours to spend all of the revenue sharing money.

And have it be just as the free agents are announced.

Each team has to spend EVERY SINGLE DIME in 24 hours. It will be like Supermarket Sweep, except with baseball players!!!

If it is going into scouting, then they have to show which scouts are getting paid.
If it is going into draft picks, they have to produce one of those big ass Ed McMahon checks that they present on draft day.

And if it going into free agents, they have the 24 hours to spend it.

After 24 hours, they money goes back to the original team.

Wouldn’t it be funny to see GMs turn into the equivalent of Richard Pryor in Brewster’s Millions? And those lose revenue teams would get a chance to have money put into their teams… and there is the chance for some REALLY strange signings!

THE SALARY FLOOR


While some people yap about baseball needing to limit spending, I say some teams need to step up! Each team should have a minimum payroll… let’s say $50 million.

$50 million isn’t outrageous. I’m not asking teams to crack nine digits. But teams like the Marlins taking the field with a $36 million are asking for trouble. (Granted they put a winning product on the field while the Mets flopped with a payroll 4 times that… but again I digress.)

Now in 2009, only 3 teams would have been affected by the salary floor… the Pirates, the Padres and the Marlins.

But they’d each have to pony up some cash on the day before Spring Training… and they’d have to do it at a live workout at the Walt Disney Complex in Orlando.

Imagine it… all of the unsigned free agents working out and showing what they got.

Basically every year you’d have the opening of Major League.

You’d get some cut superstars… and Jose Canseco would inevitably show up.

Who knows? Maybe Billy Crystal can try out again!

Make it a reality show… “SO YOU THINK YOU MAKE THE BIG LEAGUES!

And then at the end of the day, live on TV, the teams that need to work up to the salary floor start handing out contracts to get the payroll to $50 million.

A Marlins team with $14 million more talent on the roster last year could maybe have won 90 games.

And hey… how could a show that gets baseball chatter going on in small markets be a bad thing?

The strange thing is, even though my tongue is firmly in cheek as I write this, I am also being serious! I would watch every single one of these programs.

They would be TV events and internet events for baseball during the off season… and get some markets that aren’t thinking about baseball at least chatting for a day or two.

And before you dismiss all of this as just Sully being crazy, remember… when ESPN approached the NFL with their idea of broadcasting the Draft, it was dismissed as just another piece of cable filler.

Now it is an event on the sports calendar.

Time to have a few more for baseball!

article_url = location.href;article_title = document.title;