October 2007

Black Sox, Red Sox

BuckminstersmBOSTON – On the way from my hotel to Fenway Park, you go right passed this fine little establishment, the Hotel Buckminster.

As a Chicagoan, I should’ve known the sigificance of this place (beyond the Pizzeria Uno located at the bottom, which is fitting, as it turns out), but it took Rangers beat writer T.R. Sullivan to remind me of its history. This is where, in 1919, the White Sox met and decided to throw the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Down Huntington Ave., which isn’t too far away from the Buckminster, is the spot where the first World Series was played in 1903. Now, though, a building stands on the spot with just a plaque to honor the site. One hundred and four years later, the World Series just might be back in Boston again.

I don’t see this Indians-Red Sox series ending in a sweep like three of the four first-round matchups. I think this ALCS is going to go at least six games, and seven doesn’t seem unlikely. Both clubs have solid lineups and good pitching staffs, led by Cy Young contenders. I like Cleveland’s rotation over Boston’s, but I like the BoSox bullpen better than the Tribe’s.

It’s a toss up, but since I originally posted somewhere on here that I think it’s going to be a Cleveland-Colorado World Series, I’ll stick to my guns. So, I pick the Indians to win in six. I think the Rox will win in five. We’ll see what happens.

Another fun little tidbit for you guys, this past week while in New York, Laz Diaz and some of the ALDS umps made their way to Foley’s irish pub in New York. If you ever are in the Apple, head to 33rd street at the base of the Empire State Building and check out Foley’s. It houses a ton of sports memorabilia, including a wall of baseballs signed by players, actors, and even sportswriters. Even I have a baseball on the wall.

Anyway, Diaz and some of the umps went in there and the Foley’s owner presented them with a can of bug spray, honoring the Bug Game aka Game 2 of the ALDS in Cleveland. The umps autographed the can and it will be displayed in Foley’s for good. That’s quality.

Bo Knows Baseball

Gary_denbo1BOSTON – I get done with a nice, relaxing train ride from the Big Apple to Beantown, swapping ball stories with Al from Philadelphia, who is in his 70s and was telling me about watching Ted Williams’ smooth stroke in games back in the day at old Shibe Park, and I step into my hotel room and imediately get a phone call.

The search is over. Your Toronto Blue Jays have hired the one and only Gary Denbo to replace the self-proclaimed goat, Mickey Brantley, as the club’s new hitting coach. Denbo comes to the Jays after serving as the Yankees’ roving hitting instructor and he’s now been given the task of righting the offensive ship that sunk and flat-out stunk during this past season for Toronto.

Denbo never played in the Majors and barely cracked the Mendoza line over four Minor League seasons in the Reds system back in the ’80s, but he’s maintained various coaching/managing/front office/scouting jobs with the Reds, Yankees, Indians, and even those pesky Ham Fighters over in Japan.

Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said the club had a list of names that they had interest in for the job, but the Jays only ended up interviewing Denbo and Toronto’s own roving hitting guy, Dwayne Murphy. Ricciardi received permission to talk to Denbo from Yanks GM Brian Cashman, received glowing remarks from the likes of Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada, and added that Denbo blew them away in the interview.

Ricciardi went on to say that the Blue Jays need to find their identity as an offensive club, much like the Yankees and Red Sox have done. Toronto likes the way Denbo focusses on preparation, and Ricciardi said his new hitting coach is big on breaking down video. Toronto’s GM also indicated that hiring Denbo was more his call rather than Gibbons, who was "on board" with the decision. Brantley was Gibbons’ pick at the time he was hired.

ALDS Game 4 pregame

ClemensNEW YORK – The Rocket may have launched for the last time. Not surprisingly, the Yankees announced today that Roger Clemens is being removed from their postseason roster. That could put the finishing touch on Clemens’ storied career.

With Clemens out of the picture for now — he’s not eligible until the World Series, should New York get that far — the Bombers added lefty Ron Villone to their bullpen. That helps New York, which had no lefties in the ‘pen in Games 1-3.

I’m not sure what to think of the Indians going with Paul Byrd here in Game 4 over C.C. Sabathia on short rest. Byrd may have won 15 games this year, but he also surrendered nearly 240 hits in 190 innings or so. That gives me the feeling that I may very well be heading back to Cleveland tomorrow morning. Also, starting Byrd puts Kelly Shoppach, his personal catcher, behind the plate, taking some pop out of the offense. We’ll see how it all shakes out tonight.

Also, yours truly will be bringing more playoff insight during the American League Championship Series. So, whether or not the Yankees stun the Indians here over the next few days, I’ll be heading to Boston to help cover the next round. I’ll have to pop some champagne later.

Today’s lineups:

INDIANS
Grady Sizemore, CF
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
Travis Hafner, DH
Victor Martinez, 1B
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Kenny Lofton, LF
Franklin Gutierrez, RF
Casey Blake, 3B
Kelly Shoppach, C

PITCHING: RHP Paul Byrd

YANKEES
Johnny Damon, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Bobby Abreu, RF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Jorge Posada, C
Hideki Matsui, DH
Robinson Cano, 2B
Melky Cabrera, CF
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B

PITCHING: RHP Chien-Ming Wang

I believe someone asked me to link to stories I’ve written in the playoffs, so here goes:

Oct. 7: Hughes unlikely hero with relief gem
Oct. 7: Wang gets chance to show true ability
Oct. 7: Yankees short hops: Game 3
Oct. 6: Needing a win, Yankees go with Clemens
Oct. 5: Yankees spoil Pettitte’s gutsy effort
Oct. 5: Yankees short hops: Game 2
Oct. 4: Unfinished rallies costly for Yankees
Oct. 4: Yankees short hops: Game 1
Oct. 4: Pettitte assumes familiar Game 2 role
Oct. 3: Wang given critical test

As a bonus to the Lebowski fans out there, here’s the script from the movie. We’ve been killing time here reading it and annoying everyone in the work room with our laughter. You’re entering a world of pain. –JB

ALDS Game 3 pregame

Lemme_1NEW YORK – You never know who you might run into while making your way around the Big Apple. Last night, a few of us dotcomers realized we were parked a few bar stools away from the one and only Steve Lemme, of Super Troopers and Beerfest fame.

The man was actually nice enough to buy a few rounds for us, too. Quality. Prior to making it down to Chelsea to hang with a B actor, I was at a different spot with Anthony Castrovince of indians.com. Who woulda guessed we’d run into a local high school spanish teacher who has Yankees closer Mariano Rivera’s son as a student. Small world.

Today, it’s back to the ol’ ballpark, where the Empire is trying to stave off elimination in the first round for the third straight season. Earlier today, the Boss — Yanks owner George Steinbrenner — said in one publication that manager Joe Torre’s job status after this year hinged on winning the ALDS. I don’t know if I agree with judgin’ Joe on this series. The fact that New York made the playoffs after being 14 1/2 back at one point should be enough to bring Torre back, in my book.

If the Bombers do indeed lose today, the fallout will definitely be interesting. Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte will mull retirement again, Jorge Posada and Rivera are free agents, and A-Rod may opt out. Speaking of which, I’m sick of these nicknames like "A-Rod", or "V-Dub" for Vernon Wells in Toronto. I suggest we start getting a little more creative with our monikers. For Rodriguez, I’ll throw this one out there and see if it sticks: The Brinks Bomber. Any takers?

Today’s lineups:

INDIANS
Grady Sizemore, CF
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
Travis Hafner, DH
Victor Martinez, C
Ryan Garko, 1B
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Kenny Lofton, LF
Trot Nixon, RF
Casey Blake, 3B

PITCHING: RHP Jake Westbrook

YANKEES
Johnny Damon, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Bobby Abreu, RF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Jorge Posada, C
Jason Giambi, 1B
Hideki Matsui, DH
Robinson Cano, 2B
Melky Cabrera, CF

PITCHING: RHP Roger Clemens

Buzz Kill

BugsNEW YORK – At least the Attack of the Midges didn’t make its way up to the Jacobs Field pressbox on Friday night. What an unreal scene in Cleveland last night. One minute there are no insects in sight, and the next they are swarming around the mound and sticking to Joba Chamberlain’s neck at the game’s most integral moment.

The bugs that Yankees fans will surely blame for this postseason collapse (that is, if the Indians close the deal) made their first appearance in the top of the eighth inning, when New York first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz was at bat. He kept stepping out of the batter’s box and shooing the pesty buggers away before grounding out.

"I got a lot of phone calls, people thought I was senile at bat in the eighth," Mientkiewicz joked in a press conference at Yankee Stadium on Saturday. "The joke around the guys was that we all had Derek Jeter’s ‘Driven’ on, and all the bugs were attacking us."

Jeter’s signature cologne aside (I made that same joke in the ballpark last night, but Mientkiewicz will get all the credit now for saying on camera. Way to steal my thunder, dude), the bugs were reeking some major havok when Chamberlain took the mound for the Yankees in the bottom of the eighth, leading by one run.

Bugs2_1Chamberlain didn’t give up a single hit, but he threw two wild pitches, hit one batter and walked two to allow the tying run to score — all while trying to stop the bugs from flying in his mouth and after being sprayed with bug repellant.

"Just when you think you’ve seen it all," Jeter said. "I guess that’s home-field advantage for them — just let the bugs out. It worked. It was annoying. They were all flying around and I think it was worse on the pitcher’s mound. I haven’t experienced that anywhere. There’s been times when there’s been a group of bees that have come, but not that. I’ve never seen that before."

Twice this spring, the Yankees met up with some annoying bees — once in Lakeland and once in Sarasota. On Saturday, the gnats attack had Mientkiewicz citing the 1998 movie "Bees," tagline: "They outnumber us 100 million to one. If they wanted to, they could destroy the Earth. Bee afraid…"

"Joba looked like the movie ‘Bees,’" Mientkiewicz said. "He had them all over his neck and his back. But, then again, so did their guys. We don’t want to make excuses."

Bugs3 That was the exact point that Cleveland’s Ryan Garko made on his MLBlog, where he wrote: "…the other guys on the Yankees were acting like there were bullets flying around their heads, not gnats. I mean… this is the big leagues."

"The only chance we had was to get some bug spray out there," Chamberlain said. "That helped a little, but I came in and there was a million. That’s just a part of it and everybody else had to deal with it, too. I wasn’t the only person that had to deal with it. Obviously, they did fine."

One of our writers actually received an e-mail from a college professor who said that the type of bugs that were pestering the Yanks were attracted to moisture, and NOT steered away by the bug spray. Whoops. They also weren’t Canadian Soldiers, as reported by TBS, which tried to blame Canada.

In his press conference on Saturday, Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens said that things might have gone differently if he had any control over the situation:

"I would have probably pulled us off the field," Clemens said.

ALDS Game 2 pregame

Wahoo_1CLEVELAND – Not a whole heckuva lot going on right now minus waiting for the first pitch here at Jacobs Field. Word has it that Queen Latifah is in the house — maybe she’ll don a Yanks’ cap like LeBron did here last night.

The most entertaining thing that’s happened here pregame was myself and a couple other writers spending about 15 minutes quoting the Big Lebowski — the single greatest comedy of all time. If you’re not down with the Dude, well then, obviously, you’re not a golfer. In honor of the Big Lewbowski, a few of us might actually go bowling tonight.

080306ny_yankees_logo2022504_2Of course, maybe the highlight was actually last night after Game 1, when Bryan Hoch — our Yankees’ writer — busted out quite an impressive impression of Anchorman’s Ron Burgandy (You know I don’t speak spanish). Hoch was also quick to bring up a picture on his phone, showing him dressed as San Diego’s favorite anchorman for Halloween. Quality.

When we’re not quoting our favorite flicks, we do actually run around and do some work, though. On the Yanks’ side, Hideki Matsui is still in the lineup, despite a recent slump and some right knee issues. New York manager Joe Torre said Matsui was fine to play, and he didn’t want to make a decision to bench him based on one game. For the Tribe, Kenny Lofton (3-for-4 with four RBIs on Thursday) started in left field against lefty Andy Pettitte, sending Franklin Gutierrez to the bench.

Abide_poster_3Here’s today’s lineups:

YANKEES
Johnny Damon, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Bobby Abreu, RF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Hideki Matsui, DH
Jorge Posada, C
Robinson Cano, 2B
Melky Cabrera, CF
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B

PITCHING: LHP Andy Pettitte

INDIANS
Grady Sizemore, CF
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
Travis Hafner, DH
Victor Martinez, C
Ryan Garko, 1B
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Kenny Lofton, LF
Jason Michaels, RF
Casey Blake, 3B

PITCHING: RHP Fausto Carmona

AnkleGate Part 2

CLEVELAND – It was a pretty embarrassing scenario for that camera man to suddenly be thrust into the spotlight by tripping and falling on Doug Mientkiewicz, injuring the first baseman’s left ankle. That doesn’t mean Mientkiewicz was happy to hear the guy got fired for it.

"Did he really?," Mientkiewicz said after New York’s 12-3 loss. "I didn’t want that, by any means. Accidents happen. I hope they come back and — that’s kind of harsh, isn’t it?"

At that point, one of the reporters in the crowd surrounding Mientkiewicz’s locker pointed out that the camera man was just a freelancer — not a full-timer for his network.

"Still, that doesn’t matter," Mientkiewicz said. "Trust me, there’s a lot better players he could’ve sabotaged than me. That shouldn’t happen. It was a mistake and people make mistakes. I feel bad. He doesn’t deserve that. He deserves better than that."

Mientkiewicz was pulled from the game early, but Yankees manager Joe Torre said that had nothing to do with the sore ankle. Although, torre did say it appeared as though Mientkiewicz was hobbling some during the game. The first baseman didn’t agree.

"I play when I’m told to play," he said with a shrug. "If I looked like I was hobbling around, I didn’t feel like I was hobbling around. I was totally fine."

Maybe he wasn’t hobbling, but the Yankees as a whole sure went limp against the Indians. They drove C.C. Sabathia’s pitch count up early and chased him from the game, but New York couldn’t turn one of Sabathia’s six walks into a run and Cleveland’s bullpen overpowered the Yanks in the final four innings.

On the Blue Jays’ front, here’s the 2008 home schedule:

April
4-6 Red Sox
8-10 Athletics
16-17 Rangers
18-21 Tigers

May
2-5 White Sox
6-8 Devil Rays
20-22 Angels
23-26 Royals

June
6-8 Orioles
9-11 Mariners
13-15 Cubs
24-26 Reds
27-29 Braves

July
8-10 Orioles
11-13 Yankees
25-27 Mariners
28-30 Devil Rays

August
4-7 Athletics
8-10 Indians
19-21 Yankees
22-24 Indians

September
2-4 Twins
5-7 Devil Rays
16-18 Orioles
19-21 Red Sox
23-25 Yankees

Thrown Under the Bus

CLEVELAND – There’s always something with the Yankees. When the Bombers arrived at Jacobs Field this afternoon, first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz had quite the run-in with a camera man. The photog was filming and walking with his back to Mientkiewicz, when he tripped and fell, landing on top of the first baseman’s left ankle. Mientkiewicz rolled his ankle — which has been troublesome in the past — but he said he still plans on starting for the Yankees. Welcome to the postseason.

AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES
at 6:37 p.m. ET at Jacobs Field

Game 1 lineups:

YANKEES
Johnny Damon, LF
Derek Jeter, SS
Bobby Abreu, RF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Jorge Posada, C
Hideki Matsui, DH
Robinson Cano, 2B
Melky Cabrera, CF
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B

PITCHING: RHP Chien-Ming Wang

INDIANS
Grady Sizemore, CF
Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
Travis Hafner, DH
Victor Martinez, C
Ryan Garko, 1B
Jhonny Peralta, SS
Kenny Lofton, LF
Franklin Gutierrez, RF
Casey Blake, 3B

PITCHING: LHP C.C. Sabathia

Working It Out

CLEVELAND – What better way to spend a day than standing around at Jacobs Field, watching professional athletes stretch and take batting practice with hundreds of media types huddled along the base lines. Minus the surplus of scribes, this is normally called pregame, though usually there’s a game afterward.

The highlight of my day actually came at lunch, when I grabbed some grub at the Fourth Street Bar and Grill with Toronto Sun’s Mike Rutsey. We walked into the restaurant and were led to our table in what appeared to be a normal little joint. Turns out, when you round the corner, there’s a bowling alley in the place! I mean, it’s one thing to have a bar in a bowling alley, but to have lanes in a bar? That’s quality.

Nothing out of the ordinary happened during the workout today at The Jake. Yankees manager Joe Torre revealed his roster, which includes exactly zero left-handers in his bullpen for the ALDS. Torre also opted to stick with his typically lineup, instead of tweaking it to account for facing tough left-hander C.C. Sabathia.

I was assigned to do a piece on New York’s Chien-Ming Wang (a headline writer’s worst nightmare), who is starting in Game 1 for the Bombers. Wang is basically the Yankees’ Roy Halladay — a groundball pitcher who tries to induce early contact. Interestingly enough, Cleveland grounded into the fewest double plays in baseball this year, while Wang created the most. That should make it an interesting pairing.

I’m going to get back to taking in the final frames of this D-backs vs. Cubbies contest. Tomorrow, I’ll be at the ballpark here around 1:30 and will have a few stories I’ll be working on. Before this series is over, I plan on asking Travis Hafner how he plans on fixing John McDonald’s swing this winter. Talk about an odd pair to be workout partners in the offseason. Then again, maybe working out with Mac is what led to Pronk’s dimished stats this year…food for thought.

Bastian's 2007 Award Winners

CLEVELAND – Greetings from Ohio, where I’m staying just a few blocks from The Jake. Out my hotel window, I can see a giant "Go Tribe!" sign plastered across a store front. The Indians worked out today and I’ll be heading over to the ballpark for Yankees coverage tomorrow. Yep, yours truly drew the GA tag for the New York beat during the ALDS.

Before I head down the street for a cool brew at an Irish Pub tonight, I figured I’d toss up my year-end picks for this season’s awards. My No. 1 choices probably won’t stray too far from who you’d expect me to say, but I’ll put my top three choices in each category to stir some debate. In the "Apologies to" category, the names are listed in no particular order.

Bastian’s 2007 MLB Award Winners:

AMERICAN LEAGUE

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
1. Alex Rodriguez, NYY — .314 AVG, 54 HR, 156 RBIs, 143 R, 1.067 OPS
2. Magglio Ordonez, DET — .363 AVG, 28 HR, 139 RBIs, 54 2B, 1.029 OPS
3. David Ortiz, BOS — .332 AVG, 35 HR, 117 RBIs, 52 2B, 111 BB, 116 R, 1.066 OPS

APOLOGIES TO: Vladimir Guerrero, LAA; Carlos Pena, TB; Curtis Granderson, DET; Victor Martinez, CLE; Jorge Posada, NYY

COMMENT: Having A-Rod and Maggs finish one and two for this accolade seems pretty straight forward. As much as people may loath Rodriguez, he had a season of historic proportions. In another season, Ordonez might’ve netted the MVP. You could make an argument for a number of guys for the three spot, but Ortiz still put up a monster season while battling a leg injury.

CY YOUNG AWARD
1. C.C. Sabathia, CLE — 19-7, 3.21 ERA, 209 K, 37 BB, 241 IP, 4 CG
2. Josh Beckett, BOS — 20-7, 3.27 ERA, 194 K, 40 BB, 200.2 IP, CG
3. Fausto Carmona, CLE — 19-8, 3.06 ERA, 137 K, 61 BB, 215 IP, 2 CG

APOLOGIES TO: Roy Halladay, TOR; John Lackey, LAA; Kelvim Escobar, LAA; Chien-Ming Wang, NYY; Justin Verlander, DET

COMMENT: This should be a very tight race between Sabathia and Beckett. I give the edge to C.C. based on complete games, innings, and having fewer walks with 40 more IP to his credit. Having watched Halladay (16-7, 7 CG) all season, I’d love to list him third. The season he had despite missing three weeks was amazing. But, even Roy said there were more deserving guys. That said, you’ve got to like the year Carmona had for Cleveland.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
1. Dustin Pedroia, BOS — .317 AVG, 8 HR, 50 RBIs, 39 2B, .380 OBP, .442 SLG
2. Delmon Young, TB — .288 AVG, 13 HR, 93 RBIs, 38 2B, .316 OBP, .408 SLG
3. Hideki Okajima, BOS — 3-2, 2.22 ERA, 63 K, 17 BB, 69 IP, 66 G, 27 HLD

APOLOGIES TO: Daisuke Matsuzaka, BOS; Reggie Willits, LAA; Jeremy Guthrie, BAL; Brian Bannister, KAN; Billy Butler, KAN; Alex Gordon, KAN

COMMENT: Young could easily win this award, and the Rays have certainly been pumping him up. When they were in Toronto, the Rays handed out a release detailing Young’s season, trying to perhaps sway the writers. BUT, Pedroia has been phenomenol this season, and as a second baseman, he has a better OBP and SLG than Delmon — not to mention Pedroia’s strong D. You could argue Dice-K could rank third here, or even Willits for that matter, but I was more impressed with Okajima this season.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR
1. Joe Torre, NYY (94-68)
2. Eric Wedge, CLE (96-66)
3. Terry Francona, BOS (96-66)

APOLOGIES TO: Mike Scioscia, LAA (94-68)

COMMENT: There was a point earlier this season when it seemed ludicrous that the Yankees would make the playoffs. Still, New York climbed back into the race after being 14 1/2 back of the Red Sox at one juncture and the Bombers gave Red Sox Nation quite a scare in September. Then again, you could easily give this award to Wedge for leading the Indians to the Central title or to Francona for helping Boston finally dethrone the Yankees in the East.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
1. Matt Holliday, COL — .340 AVG, 36 HR, 137 RBIs, 50 2B, 216 H, 120 R, 1.012 OPS
2. Prince Fielder, MIL — .288 AVG, 50 HR, 119 RBIs, 109 R, 1.013 OPS
3. Hanley Ramirez, FLA — .332 AVG, 29 HR, 81 RBIs, 52 SB, 125 R, 212 H, .948 OPS

APOLOGIES TO: Jimmy Rollins, PHI; Chase Utley, PHI; Ryan Howard, PHI; Chipper Jones, ATL; David Wright, NYM; Albert Pujols, STL

COMMENT: No, I am not hopping on the Jimmy Rollins bandwagon, and I’ll tell you why. A) I’m not convinced he’s the best shortstop in the league. If Hanley Ramirez weren’t on the Marlins, I think everyone would be talking about him right now instead of Rollins — and, yes, I know Rollins became the first player ever to have 30 HR, 20 3B, 20 2B, 20 SB. B) I’m not convinced Rollins is the most valuable player on his own team. You could easily make arguments for Howard and Utley. So, I split the votes between the three and Ramirez gets the nod for the three spot in my book. In fact, Ramirez is arguably the top shortstop in all of baseball. I think Holliday deserves the MVP, especially after the way the Rox stormed into the playoffs, and Fielder was the youngest ever to hit 50 bombs — Nuff said.

CY YOUNG AWARD
1. Jake Peavy, SD — 19-6, 2.54 ERA, 240 K, 68 BB, 223.1 IP
2. Brandon Webb, ARI — 18-10, 3.01 ERA, 194 K, 72 BB, 236.1 IP, 4 CG
3. Brad Penny, LAD — 16-4, 3.03 ERA, 135 K, 73 BB, 208 IP

APOLOGIES TO: Jeff Francis, COL; Carlos Zambrano, CHC; Aaron Harang, CIN; Cole Hamels, PHI; Ted Lilly, CHC (Did I just type Ted Lilly’s name into a Cy Young Award list? That’s strange)

COMMENT: Throw out that meltdown Peavy had against Colorado on Monday. He simply had a dominant year and finished with pitcher’s Triple Crown (first in wins, strikeouts and ERA) in the NL. Webb finishes second for me based on his high innings total and logging 4 complete efforts in the NL, where CGs are rare nowadays. If Penny had more offense, he might’ve had 20 wins this season. His stats are pretty impressive, giving him the edge over the rest of the pack.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
1. Troy Tulowitzki, COL — .291 AVG, 24 HR, 99 RBIs, 33 2B, 104 R, .987 FP
2. Ryan Braun, MIL — .324 AVG, 34 HR, 97 RBIs, 26 2B, 15 SB, 91 R, 1.004 OPS
3. Hunter Pence, HOU — .322 AVG, 17 HR, 69 RBIs, 30 2B, .899 OPS

APOLOGIES TO: Chris Young, ARI; Tim Lincecum, SF; Kevin Kouzmanoff, SD; Peter Moylan, ATL

COMMENT: Why even include more than two names in this race? The award is going to come down to Tulowitzki and Braun, and Braun may just get the edge in the actually voting. Braun’s season didn’t start until May and he still put up a season’s worth of bloated numbers. I lean toward Tulowitzki, though, and it’s because of his defense. Tulo’s .987 fielding percentage at shortstop was the best mark in all of baseball. Braun was a liability at times in the field. One rook that stood out to me, too, is Moylan. He appeared in 80 games and posted a 1.80 ERA over 90 innings for the Bravos.

MANAGER OF THE YEAR
1. Bob Melvin, ARI (90-72)
2. Clint Hurdle, COL (90-73)
3. Charlie Manuel, PHI (89-73)

APOLOGIES TO: Lou Piniella, CHC (85-77); Ned Yost, MIL (83-79)

COMMENT: Early in the year, Yost looked like the frontrunner for this award, but the Brewers sure faded in the second half. You could also lobby for Sweet Lou, who led the Cubbies from worst to first in his first year at the helm on the North Side. I like Melvin, who defied mathematics in leading the D-Backs to the best record in the NL. The Snakes hit .250 as a team and gave up more runs (732) than they scored (712). How does that net 90 wins? Hurdle will also get votes for the Rockies’ late push and Manuel may get the nod in the actual voting for exploiting the Metro’s collapse.

Well, there you have it. Let the discussion begin. Feel free to tell me just how wrong I really am. — JB

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