[MLB] Riding the Pine

“The way Buehrle pitched, it seemed like they didn’t need a sign. Everything Buehrle pitched was right down the middle of the plate–sinker, slider, changeup, whatever. He didn’t have the stuff. I asked him what happened, and he said because their average is better here than on the road.”
–White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, weighing in on the accusations by Mark Buehrle that the Texas Rangers were stealing signs and using a flashing light to communicate them to hitters(Chicago Tribune).

This week we have a baseball roundtable, where other writer on the site have given their opinions on who should win the post-season awards and what the playoff picture will look like.

Aaron Cameron: Albert Pujols-STL
Even though Derrek Lee of the Cubs has the better numbers (about a 10 point lead in BA and 60 points more in SLG, as I type this), I just don’t think he’s statistically *that* much better than Pujols. This isn’t about the Cardinals going to the playoffs and the Cubs staying home. Pujols deserves this simply because I’d rather have him on my team.

Slayer: Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
Triple Crown candidate and the best player on the best team in the NL for the past two years. But because the Cardinals are just that it may be the factor that sways voters away from him. I wouldn’t be surprised if Andrew Jones snatched it up though. I really think the top NL MVP candidates are pitchers, but it seems you can’t do that anymore.

Eugene Tierney: Albert Pujols, Cardinals
Pujols is doing the same thing that he has done for his whole career – put up numbers. While Derrek Lee is have the same type of year, Pujols had gotten his team to the playoff, and the best record in baseball. Last year he had help with Rolen, Edmonds and Walker, this year Rolen and Walker have been hurt and Edmonds has been a shell of himself.

Patrick Nguyen: MVP Criteria: Numbers, playoff contention value, and making players around him better.
Andruw Jones, Atlanta
Pujols seems to be the clear favorite with his numbers and his team dominating the NL, but I think the Cards are still strong without Pujols. Atlanta’s offense would be significantly weak without Jones, but would probably still be a Wild Card team.

Steve Price: Andruw Jones, Atlanta Braves
Derrek Lee is playing tremendously, but MVP doesn’t stand for the most statistically great player. It stands for the most valuable player, and Andruw Jones is more valuable a player than Lee (or Pujols) when you consider the load Jones had to carry through the dog days of summer. The NL East was by far the most competitive divisions in baseball when Andruw had to single-handedly carry his team. He not only kept them in first, but he helped increase their lead in the division. Albert Pujols is incredible, but he does play for St. Louis, only the best team in the big leagues.

Nick Pomazak: Andruw Jones, Atlanta Braves
It’s hard not to give this to Pujols, but when you post MVP numbers year after year people get bored and want to give the award to somebody else. Jones fell off the face of the Earth before this season, but has posted a monster year and has been the mainstay of a first place team ravaged by injuries.

Totals: Pujols 3, Jones 3

Aaron Cameron: Alex Rodriguez-NYY
In one of the most tumultuous seasons in recent Yankees history, A-Rod continues to be the best player in the American League. Top three in BA, OBP and SLG? Good enough for me.

Slayer: Vladimir Guerrero: (Angels)
Most likely A-Rod will win it because his numbers are gaudy, he’s become a ninja at third base, and he’s learned to play in New York. Plus the fact that the Yankees haven’t won an MVP since 1986. But I protest and I wouldn’t vote for him because you can’t be the MVP of the league if you’re not the MVP of your team (which would be Jeter, Sheffield, or Rivera). I would personally vote for Vladimir Guerrero but only if he has a good September to balance out his atrocious June and helps the Angels to clinch a playoff spot. Despite his inconsistency and the fact his stats don’t measure up with a few other players, I really don’t care. He’s won ten games for the Angels alone and without him, they would not be in the both the division and the wild card chase this late in the season.

Eugene Tierney: Alex Rodriguez, Yankees
A-Rod has been the only Yankee that has played at a high level for the whole season. Even when they were struggling at the beginning of the season, he was putting up great numbers. Most other players (Guerrero, Damon, etc) have had good season, but they weren’t the most valuable to their team.

Patrick Nguyen: Vladimir Guerrero, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
A-Rod’s numbers are amazing and consistent. But if the Yankees lose him, they’d still be alright. A-Rod does not make players around him better. Vlad does. He almost has the quality of “just pitch around the dude” that Barry Bonds had last year. This made Figgins, who bats behind Vlad, a star. If the Angels lose Vlad, they will not make the playoffs. Along with his glove and no need for karate chops, Vlad’s the MVP in the AL.

Steve Price: David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
I don’t buy into this whole “Manny vs. David Split the Vote” argument that people use to hand this award over to A-Suck, because David Ortiz has been the premiere big bat in the Red Sox lineup, a lineup that needs the powerful stroke. With Manny underperforming through most of the first half, and all his off-the-field antics in the second half, David Ortiz has come through like a champ again, leading the league in RBIs and placing second in home runs. What pushes Ortiz ahead of A-Rod in my opinion, however, is this: Ortiz is more clutch than A-Rod is, and I don’t know if anyone can argue that point. Ortiz is playing for the division leaders, yes, but if you had one bat to save your life, who would you choose? Big Papi, or Karate Chop Lipstick Man?

Nick Pomazak: Vlad Guerrero, Angels
Since the award is for most “valuable” I’ve got to go with Vlad. Where would the Angels be without him? You could take away Ortiz, Manny, A-Rod from the Red Sox or Yankees and they would still be good teams. Take Vlad away from the Angels and they’re a sub .500 team.

Totals: Guerrero 3, A-Rod 2, Ortiz 1

NL Cy Young
Aaron Cameron: Chris Carpenter-STL
I guess Roger Clemens picked a bad year to have a good year. Chris has a deserving ERA in the low 2’s. He’s walked fewer batters per nine innings than the Rocket and, while not really a measure of a pitcher’s “greatness”, Carpenter’s got 20 wins.

Slayer: Chris Carpenter (Cardinals)
Much like the Pujols situation, being the Ace on the best starting rotation in baseball usually disqualifies you for this reward, but I don’t think Chris Carpenter can be denied. I give him the edge over Clemens because he has been the most consistent winning pitcher in all of Major League Baseball, and he’s arguably the main reason why the Cardinals clinched the division back in May.

Eugene Tierney: Chris Carpenter, Cardinals
This is tough, since Carp is up against Roger Clemens. While Clemens has the better ERA, Carpenter has more strike outs and wins (and his ERA is second). Overall, Carp’s numbers slightly edge out Clemens.

Patrick Nguyen: Cy Young Criteria: Playoff contention value to the team and general badassness while on the mound
Roger Clemens, Houston Astros
This guy is actually practicing less to spend more time with his kids’ sports careers. Couple that with the fact that he has a winning record despite one of the lowest run support averages in the MLB, I don’t care if you win 20 games, Clemens deserves to receive the Cy Young. The Astros feed off this guy and are in playoff contention because of him.

Steve Price: Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
I’m going to play favorites here, since Carpenter autographed my hat in elementary school way back when. Carpenter has just been incredible. He leads the world in wins, third in the majors in strikeouts, second in ERA at a fabulous 2.28 showing. If Clemens were on a better team, he’d be the hands down winner. If Dontrelle Willis could lower his ERA below 2.40, I might go with him. Otherwise, Carpenter takes it.

Nick Pomazak: Chris Carpenter, St. Louis Cardinals
Best pitcher on the league’s best team. 21-4 record right now, this is pretty much a no-brainer. Roger Clemens and Dontrelle Willis are in the team picture, but Carpenter is an easy choice.

Totals: Carpenter 5, Clemens 1

AL Cy Young
Aaron Cameron: Bartolo Colon-ANA
I was in the stands on August 30, when Colon and Zito pitched one of the best duels all year. Colon pitched into the 10th that night for a no-decision, but he’s been “on” all year, in a relatively weak season for AL hurlers.

Slayer: Mariano Rivera (Yankees)
You know when a director/actor does their best work and then they get jipped from the Oscar, but a few years later they make it up to him with a lesser work, think about that scenario. But this isn’t that scenario, not only is he overdue for one, he’s having the best regular season in his career. If he doesn’t get the Cy Young award this year, then it’s obvious writers have taken things into their own hands with this reward, much like they did with the MVP.

Eugene Tierney: Johan Santana, Twins
While he hasn’t looked the same as last year, Santana has still had a season that most pitchers would dream of. He leads the league in strikeouts, and still has a good ERA and win total.

Patrick Nguyen: Bartolo Colon, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Where would the Angels pitching staff be without this guy? The same place they would be if Vlad wasn’t in the line up: taking a vacation during the playoffs.

Steve Price: Jon Garland, Chicago White Sox
I refuse to award the Cy Young to anyone other than a starting pitcher (sorry, Mo). Garland has probably become the best pitcher in the American League with Halladay going down. His ERA, strikeouts, and 17 wins are good enough for government work.

Nick Pomazak: Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox
He is second in the AL in ERA, and first in innings pitched. Jon Garland has more wins, but I see this as a lifetime achievement award for Buehrle, being one of the better unrecognized pitchers in recent years. The White Sox are on top of the AL this year, and he deserves to be the guy getting the trophy for it.

Totals: Colon 2, Rivera 1, Santana 1, Garland 1, Buehrle 1

NL Rookie of the Year
Aaron Cameron: Willy Taveras-HOU
Ugh. His 30+ stolen bases don’t look so hot next to an OBP in the .320s and no power. But, since Atlanta’s Jeff Francoeur will have played less than half the year, Willy wins out in an otherwise weak field.

Slayer: Clint Barmes (Rockies)
Only if he can get healthy and return to everyday status by, well…next week. He was in the lead before his injury and since then no other Rookie has really claimed it. If Barmes can show something in September, expect the writers to revert back to their first choice.

Eugene Tierney: Clint Barmes, Rockies
Even with missing half the season, Barmes has been the best rookie in a weak class. Rickie Weeks, Jeff Francoeur, and Wily Taveras have been impressive, but they don’t have the all around numbers Barmes did (and he is back now).

Steve Price: Jeff Francoeur, Atlanta Braves
With such a week field otherwise, I have no problem offering up this award to Francoeur, because he has stepped up in a way that few rookies have, despite only playing half the season. In a little under two months time, he nearly as 40 RBIs, 12 home runs, and a hefty average that has hovered between .335 – .360 for the last month. With his glove and arm in right, we may be looking at an early candidate for a Gold Glove next season, with big things after that. Props to Zach Duke of Pittsburgh as well.

Nick Pomazak: Jeff Francoeur, Atlanta Braves
He’s “The Natural”. At least so far he is. The fact that it’s a weak crop of rookies in the NL makes this an easy choice.

Totals: Francoeur 2,Barmes 2, Taveras 1,

AL Rookie of the Year
Aaron Cameron: Huston Street-OAK
As much a reason for the A’s resurgence from June 1 on, as anyone. He’s been nails all season, just a year removed from the University of Texas. Arguably the most consistent closer the team has had since Dennis Eckersley’s heyday.

Slayer: Huston Street (A’s)
You would have to give one of the Oakland rookies this award, and I think Street gets the nod only because without him, the A’s while competitive would have not caught up with the rest of the pack. Don’t overlook Robinson Cano though if he has a hot September only because everyone is shocked he did so well in such a precarious situation.

Eugene Tierney: Huston Street, Athletics
No rookie has had an instant impact like Street. As the set up man early in the season, Street was automatic. Once Octavio Dotel went down, Street was even better as the closer. Also, remember he was drafted last year.

Steve Price: Huston Street, Oakland Athletics
The rookie field is rather then this year, no?

Nick Pomazak: Gustavo Chacin, Toronto Blue Jays
Huston Street and Nick Swisher have come on for Oakland in the second half, but Chacin has brought it from day one this year. He’s put up good numbers for a team that has to face the Red Sox and Yankees a million times a year too, which is hard for any pitcher to do.

Totals: Street 4, Chacin 1

NL Manager of the Year
Aaron Cameron: Bobby Cox-ATL
Sure, they’re going to flameout in October, again, but Cox should get some love here. The pitching staff has been patched together all year from the infirmary and the offense had all the wrong personnel throughout the first half. Yet, the Braves still win.

Slayer: Bruce Bochy (Padres)
Only if the Padres can pull it out. Once again, Bochy has done something without much. He keeps things optimistic in the locker room and has the team believing they can win. He is also one of the best with NL strategy and uses pinch players and double switches to his advantage without turning it into a disadvantage…unlike some managers we know!

Eugene Tierney: Bobby Cox, Braves
Cox has shown year after year that he is a great manager. This year was supposed to be the year the Braves didn’t win the division. Cox took a sub-par team and has won with them. Whether it is re-treads like Raul Mondesi and Brian Jordan or rookies like Jeff Francoeur and Kelly Johnson, Cox has gotten the most out of them.

Patrick Nguyen: Manager of the Year Criteria: Wins and doing more with less.
Phil Garner, Houston Astros
Streaky ass team, pathetic hitting line up, and injuries galore yet he has a strong record and are in playoff contention. HUH? (We’re not talking Dodgers-like playoff contention either.)

Steve Price: Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves
People have been writing this team off for years now, and they keep winning. What’s most impressive about Cox’s latest miracle is the fact that, outside of the Rockies, no other team sports as many rookies as do the Braves. McCann, Francoeur, Langerhans, Johnson, Kyle Davies… Cox may be winning with smoke and mirrors, but damned if he isn’t winning.

Nick Pomazak: Bobby Cox, Atlanta Braves
He’s got something figured out about baseball that the rest of us don’t. What is that thing? I told you, I don’t know.

Totals: Cox 4, Bochy 1, Garner 1

AL Manager of the Year
Aaron Cameron: Ken Macha-OAK
A flawed manager, to be sure, but let’s face it: who thought this team would contend into September without Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder? Throw in season-ending injuries to their starting DH and closer with an arctic-like slow start offensively…hey, why not Macha?

Slayer: Ozzie Guillen (White Sox)
I would think Ozzie Guillen basically has this clinched unless you want to give some love to Macha but that is dependant on what happens the rest of the season. At the end, Guillen deserves this reward because the baseball club gave him everyone else’s expendable players. He instilled confidence in the pitching staff (which had some bruised egos) and turned it into the best in the AL. And his little-ball management has gotten this offensively weak team to come up on the winning end of games.

Eugene Tierney: Ozzie Guillen, White Sox
Crazy Ozzie and his Southsiders took the Twins division and ran away with it. Ozzie may not be the most restraint manager (see any quote from him this year), but he gets his players to give a full effort.

Patrick Nguyen: Ozzie Guillen, White Sox
If you ask a casual fan who’s good on the White Sox, they will tell you Frank Thomas. He isn’t really good. If you ask who else plays on the team, they would say, “Eight other players.” Guillen’s job reminds me of Nate McMillian, Larry Brown, or THAT COACH FROM THE SUNS’ job at their respective NBA teams. Good players; phenomenal coaching. The same idea applies with Guillen.

Steve Price: Ozzie Guillen, Chicago White Sox
Some might object to his managerial style. I think he’s exactly what the White Sox needed, and what they still need as they trudge towards the postseason. Without Ozzie, the White Sox were a leaderless team in dire need of a fireplug manager that could corral the talent they had and transpose it into a winning formula. Guillen has become one of the most talked about managers in all of baseball.

Nick Pomazak: Ozzie Guillen, Chicago White Sox
The Tony Montegna of MLB has transformed the Sox, when he’s not calling people he doesn’t like homosexual child molestors.

Totals: Guillen 5, Macha 1

Playoff Teams
Aaron Cameron:
AL East-Boston Red Sox
AL Central-Chicago White Sox
AL West-Anaheim Angels
AL Wildcard-New York Yankees

NL East-Atlanta Braves
NL Central-St. Louis Cardinals
NL West-San Diego Padres
NL Wildcard-Florida Marlins

AL Post Season
Chicago White Sox (Central) vs. New York Yankees (WC)
Boston Red Sox (East) vs. LA of Anaheim (West)
Ok, no surprises here. I just think at the end, it will be status quo despite Cleveland and Oakland giving it one hell of an effort.

NL Post Season
St. Louis Cardinals (Central) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (WC)
Atlanta Braves (East) vs. San Diego Padres (West)
I’m giving it to the Phillies only because I chose them at the beginning of the year and I killed the entire NL Central in my column several months ago. No reason to change my tune now.

Eugene Tierney:
AL East-Boston Red Sox
AL Central-Chicago White Sox
AL West-Anaheim Angels
AL Wildcard-Oakland Athletics

NL East-Atlanta Braves
NL Central-St. Louis Cardinals
NL West-San Diego Padres
NL Wildcard-Philadelphia Phillies

Patrick Nguyen:
AL East-New York Yankees
AL Central-Chicago White Sox
AL West-Anaheim Angels
AL Wildcard-Cleveland Indians

NL East-Atlanta Braves
NL Central-St. Louis Cardinals
NL West-San Diego Padres
NL Wildcard-Houston Astros

Steve Price:
AL East-Boston Red Sox
AL Central-Chicago White Sox
AL West- Oakland Athletics
AL Wildcard-Cleveland Indians

NL East-Atlanta Braves
NL Central-St. Louis Cardinals
NL West-San Diego Padres
NL Wildcard-Houston Astros

National League Championship
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Atlanta Braves

American League Championship
Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox

World Series
Boston Red Sox def. Atlanta Braves, 4-2

Nick Pomazak:
AL East-Boston Red Sox
AL Central-Chicago White Sox
AL West- LA Angels
AL Wildcard-New York Yankees

NL East-Atlanta Braves
NL Central-St. Louis Cardinals
NL West-San Diego Padres
NL Wildcard-Florida Marlins

National League Championship
St. Louis Cardinals vs. Atlanta Braves

American League Championship
Boston Red Sox vs. Chicago White Sox

World Series
St. Louis Cardinals d. Chicago White Sox 4-2

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