Friday, November 18, 2016

Notes, quotes and comment

Gonna interrupt the stream of "Handbook" posts for a few days and catch up on the news.

Awards season

Nothing on the National League side to comment on: Everything is as it should be. Kris Bryant won the MVP as expected; Max Scherzer was certainly deserving of the Cy Young;  Corey Seager merited designation as the Rookie of the Year; and Dave Roberts works as Manager of the Year.

On the AL side, the voters acknowledged the obvious in ROY (Michael Fulmer) and Manager (Terry Francona). But the other two awards deserve some comment, in one case because of old-school voting and in the other for new-school voting.

Mike Trout -- clearly the best player in baseball the past five years --  won his second MVP. I expected it to go to Mookie Betts, who obviously had a superb season and played on a team that won. The writers, this time, gave it to the best player even though it wasn't anything resembling a career year for him and even though his team was far from contention. And even though a wide range of September game broadcasts, when discussing the MVP possibilities, excluded Trout from the possibilities.

Trout in the past five seasons has finished second, second, first, second and first in MVP voting. He could easily have won all five seasons; the competing metrics that attempt to merge fielding and hitting into one figure often disagree, but they all agree each year that Trout is the best player in the American League.

The Cy Young voting was interesting, not least because of the Tweet storm it provoked from model Kate Upton, who is romantically involved with runner-up Justin Verlander. Rick Porcello won, even though Verlander had more first-place votes (14 to 8).

Had I a vote, I probably would have put Verlander at the top, but I also would have researched the question more thoroughly. A quick glance at Porcello's numbers suggest a stronger statistical case than I realized when the award was announced Wednesday. He's not an embarrassment as the winner.

But the biggest piece for Porcello was probably the gaudy won-lost record (22-4). Verlander was "only" 16-9. Perhaps most telling were the voters who ranked J.A. Happ (20-4) ahead of Verlander -- or, in the case of the two Tampa Bay-chapter voters who provoked Upton's ire, left Verlander off their ballots completely but found room for Happ. The only thing Happ had going for him was the won-lost record.

Old-school voting prevailed in the Cy Young contest, new age in the MVP.

Gardy in a dugout

Arizona hired Ron Gardenhire, not as manager but as bench coach. So he will presumably be advising new skipper Torey Lovello -- supposedly the runner-up to Paul Molitor when the Twins were replacing Gardy -- on when to bunt or change pitchers.

I've been skeptical that Gardenhire would get another managerial post. Taking a bench job at least puts him back in the game.

Korn Ferry fired

The search firm the Twins used to find Derek Falvey as director of baseball ops got axed by MLB this week because it was basically going to the same well (the Cleveland organization) over and over again to find candidates.

There does seem to have been a lack of diversity, not only racially but in background, of the people Korn Ferry promoted to teams for important front office positions. But I also suspect that owners wanted the kind of people Korn Ferry provided -- young, analytic, educated. That's certainly what I expected the Twins to demand, because it's what was lacking in the previous leadership model.

The search that produced Falvey was one of the last Korn Ferry did, and it may be that it was the last straw. But Falvey seems to be what the Twins bosses wanted.

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