Albert Pujols doesn’t have to look up to anyone

You can write it in ink… Albert Pujols is winning the 2010 National League MVP.

Oh right now it is close between Pujols and Joey Votto with about 30% of the season left. It also looked like Mechagodzilla was going to beat Godzilla with 30% left in THAT fight too.

At the 1/3 mark, I wrote that Pujols was the MVP until someone else proved otherwise.

Well, Joey Votto answered the bell and is having an outstanding season… and right now it would look like it would be a neck and neck vote.

Votto is #1 and Pujols #2 in on base percentage, slugging and, it would make sense, OPS.
Votto is second in hitting. Pujols fifth.
Pujols is second in home runs. Votto third.
Pujols is first in RBI. Votto third.
Votto is first in runs scored. Pujols fifth.
Pujols is first in total bases. Votto third.
Pujols is second in walks. Votto third.
Votto is first in runs created and offensive win percentage. Pujols second.

Votto is also first in situational wins added. Pujols second.

I have no clue what situational wins added means, but damn it sounds impressive.

Remember how this was supposedly a down year for Pujols?

With a race this tight, why am I writing Pujols’ MVP in ink?

Have you SEEN how Pujols has been playing? He’s batted .442 since July ended with 5 homers, 13 RBI, has an OPS of 1.327 and in 47 plate appearances has 1 strikeout.

And oh yeah the Cardinals leap frogged the Reds into first place during that stretch.

Yeah, I know… we aren’t supposed to look at anything other than stats for MVP… but going on a tear as his team takes over the top spot SHOULD count for something!

It’s safe to say that he is heating up and Votto has as much chance to stop his momentum as Tia Leoni and Maximillian Schell had to stop the tidal wave in Deep Impact.

It’s Albert’s award to lose and when the waves subside, he should have his 4th MVP and 3rd overall.

Man how great would it be to HIS agent!

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The Twins blew it on announcing the Joe Mauer contract

About a week ago, the Twins did what many people thought would have been impossible:

They found a way to keep hometown hero Joe Mauer from leaving via free agency and going into a bidding war between both New York teams, the Red Sox, Cubs, Angels and any other big rollers!

Now it’s not like he is going to go broke as his deal averages $23 million a year, but the Twins have come a long way from being a team that players automatically leave.

But how was this monumental event in the franchise’s history become public?

Through a release and a press conference in Florida.

I’m sorry but the Twins dropped the ball to have a tremendous theatrical event with this contract.

Nick Blackburn signing for 4 years? Sure, send out a press release and have a meeting in Florida.

But Joe Mauer staying with the Twins? That is a gigantic middle finger to everyone who said the Twins couldn’t compete and should be contracted?

The Twins needed to announce this with a little bit of flair.

You may not have liked how Roger Clemens appeared in the Steinbrenner box in 2007 to announce he was coming back to the Yankees.

But it was memorable.

It was a secret and it was announced not via a press release but in front of a huge crowd who went berzerk.

The Twins might not be the Yankees… I know Minnesotans are more low key people than New Yorkers.

But this needed a little bit of Broadway showmanship.

Just imagine…

The Pohlads and GM Bill Smith strike a deal with Joe Mauer during spring training… but they keep it under the TC on their hats. Reporters continue to hound everyone about the extension, but they stay mum.

Then it is opening day at the new Target Field.

The place is packed and Twin fans are going nuts for their new home… but there is still the apprehension in the air about their hometown hero staying long term.

Flags of past titles are raised by Twins heroes of the past. Play by play announcer Dick Bremer introduces each of the legens.

“Hey, it’s Harmon Killebrew! It’s Rod Carew! It’s Kent Hrbek! It’s Frank Viola! It’s Gary Gaetti!”

The players are introduced… and no doubt Mauer will get the biggest applause. (And also there will be certainly people holding up signs saying things like “Don’t Go Joe!”)

Then Joe is called to home plate.

He is handed his AL MVP Trophy by the Pohlad’s and Bill Smith. Mauer holds it up (like Justin Morneau did when he won his a few years ago.)

The crowd goes nuts… but in the back of everyone’s mind they wonder “is this all fleeting.”

Remember Johan Santana raised a pair of Cy Young Awards at home plate himself.

So the ceremony wraps up… until Dick Bremer says “Wait, I think we have one more thing to take care of.”

Then Catherine Puckett and Kirby Puckett Jr., the children of Kirby, walk out with a rolled up piece of paper ink well and a quill.

A small table and chair are set up behind home plate.

The Puckett kids hand the piece of paper to GM Bill Smith who reveals that it is an agreement for an 8 year contract extension for Joe Mauer.

Crowd starts to buzz.

“Do you want to sign it Joe?” asks color commentator Bert Blyleven.

Joe takes the microphone. “I don’t know.” Then looking to the crowd. “Do YOU want me to sign it?”


Now the place goes ape.

The right field scoreboard starts flashing “SIGN IT, JOE!”

The crowd starts chanting it.

He takes the quill and signs it… right there at home plate where he will call his home for the next 8 years. And when the contract ends, he would have spent 13 1/2 seasons as a Minnesota Twin.

Now the crowd goes nuts.

The Twins have a new home and a legit superstar to call their own. A Minnesotan who will STAY in Minnesota!

Mauer takes a Cal Ripken-esque lap around the ballpark, high fiving the fans who will cheer him on at least through 2017!


Then he gives one last wave to the crowd and the Twins play ball.

I’m actually not kidding.

I didn’t suggest that Prince is lowered onto the pitchers mound or someone busts out a Ouija board to get the financial approval of the ghost of Carl Pohlad.

I didn’t have a Big Paul Bunyon and Babe the Blue Ox wander onto the field.

I had a small table, a chair and a signing of a piece of paper. (Clearly it will be a ceremonial contract. The real one would have been signed in secrecy.)

I feel a moment like this should have been played to the crowd. This is a unique signing and the joy of it should have been a collective outburst shared by tens of thousands of Minnesotans… sitting OUTSIDE together… in early April.

You Christen the new park with a moment Twins fans will remember forever on the very first day.

Provided they aren’t under 9 feet of snow.

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Who the hell is the American League MVP this year?


Tomorrow it will be late August, and the NL MVP is all but sewn up.

Albert Pujols leads the league in homers, is second in RBI, 4th in batting average, has the leagues highest on base percentage and in slugging percentage. And you don’t need to be a sabermatrician to know that means he leads the league in OPS. And he has done all of this without protection the first half of the season and has the Cardinals with the biggest lead in the NL.

No matter what your criteria is, Albert is the man.

Now the AL is a little trickier.

There is no cut and dry candidate running away with it like Albert… so with a little more than a month to go, let’s figure out who the candidates are based on the different criteria.

OLD FASHIONED NUMBERS CRITERIA
The “I like Average, Homers, RBI” candidate is

MIGUEL CABRERA

He’s batting .334 with 24 homers and 72 RBI for the first place Tigers. And Cabrera is doing it all with Magglio Ordonez struggling.
I originally had Justin Morneau here, but he might be missing some time with that ear infection thingee and no doubt Cabrera will pass his power numbers.
STAT HEAD CRITERIA
The “OPS and VORP make it a scientific process” candidate is

He could set the highest batting average ever for a big league catcher. But forget batting average. He has the highest OPS in the league as well. And according to Baseball Prospectus, he is the only American Leaguer in the top 6 of VORP.
Now I still have no clue how VORP is or how it is calculated… but it sounds impressive.
Granted Mauer missed the first month of the season and the Twins are fading fast… but that evidently isn’t calculated into VORP. Or maybe it is. I am confused.

CAREER ACHIEVEMENT CRITERIA
The “Hey, he’s never won it before and this is as good a chance as any” candidate is

For all the talk of New York bias in the press, it is amazing to think that Jeter has never won it. He was robbed in 2006 by Twins first baseman Justin Morneau (who after Joe Mauer and Johan Santana was only the 3rd most valuable player on his own team.)
Jeter’s average is up, he is a lock to hit 20 homers for the first time since 2004 and the Yankees are the best team in baseball.
That has to reflect well on the Captain!
TRUE MEANING OF VALUE CRITERIA
The “When he heated up the team heated up” candidate is
MARK TEIXEIRA

On May 12, Teixeira was hitting .191 with an OPS of .747.
The Yankees had a losing record and were 6 1/2 game behind Toronto.

Since then his batting average is up to .283. His OPS is .934. He is among the leaders in homers and RBI.
And oh yeah… the Yankees are 60-28 since then.

Granted that was also around the time A-Rod came back, but there is no way A-Rod is winning it this year.

PLAYING ON A TEAM WITH LOW EXPECTATIONS CRITERIA
The “Who would have guessed this team would be contending” candidate is

He moved to third to make room for Elvis Andrus. And along the way is batting .320 with a .900 OPS. And the 5 time All Star has the Rangers as of this writing tied for a playoff spot in mid August. I bet you didn’t see THAT coming!
THE “PITCHERS ARE PLAYERS TOO!” CRITERIA
The “I don’t care if they aren’t every day players” candidate is
Yeah I’ll say it… Rivera is having an MVP caliber season as a closer.
He should have won the Cy Young AND the MVP in 2005. But there are still nitwits out there who believe the following three things:
1. A Pitcher can not be more important than an every day player.
NONSENSE
2. The Closer position is easy and can be filled by anyone
NONSENSE
3. Mariano Rivera is overrated
ADMIT THIS PERSON TO BELLEVUE
The Yankees have put Rivera into 36 save opportunities and save for the Jason Bay homer, he has converted them all. His ERA is sub 2.00. His WHIP is sub 1.00 and his BAA is around .200.
And he has 57 strikeouts in 51 innings and have walked only 8 all year.
I think Papelbon walked 8 YESTERDAY!
So chances are the MVP will come from this crop of players.
And before anyone can accuse me of being such a Red Sox homer that I can never tip my cap to the Yankees, please note… I have 3, count em, THREE Yankees as MVP candidates and zero Red Sox.
I don’t have a vote. But I should.

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