Can you have too much of a good thing? Not when you’re piling up victories, but it can complicate the handing out of awards.
It’s problematic for voters when a team has two players arguably worthy of winning the Most Valuable Player Award in the same season, as do the Cubs in Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.
Look at the 1996 Mariners. Ken Griffey Jr. was in his prime, and Alex Rodriguez looked like anything but a 20-year-old in his first full season. Both delivered a 1.000+ OPS and a WAR of at least 9.4. One was an American League Gold Glove Award winner in center field; the other a terrific shortstop.
Either could have won the AL Most Valuable Player Award. But they split the vote, and the Rangers’ Juan Gonzalez won the award in one of the tightest and most memorable award races.
Mariners manager Lou Piniella and Rodriguez both said Griffey should have won the AL MVP Award, and the two voters from Seattle would agree when it was time to cast their votes. Both voted Griffey first and Gonzalez second, and that was the margin that allowed Gonzalez to edge out A-Rod, 290-287.
The Rizzo-Bryant dynamic is evolving along the same lines. I don’t see anyone more deserving than the two Cubs.
I’d be surprised if Joe Maddon voices an opinion if he’s asked when September rolls around, and I’d advise Bryant not to defer to Rizzo when he gets the chance. Let’s just let this thing play out and see where the chips fall. Everybody’s gonna have an opinion, and mine:
The Gurriel brothers are one step closer to making their Major League dreams come true.
Last month, older brother Yulieski Gurriel, 32, signed a $47.5 million deal with the Astros and is quickly making his way up the Minor League ranks. On Monday, younger brother Lourdes Gurriel Jr., 22, was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball and officially became eligible to sign.
Lourdes, who is currently training in Panama, is expected to have a large showcase for all 30 teams as well as private workouts in the coming months at a time and place to be determined. The Astros have been open about their interest in signing both Gurriels. Lourdes is expected to test the market for the best deal.
“We would like to play together on the same team, have my brother near me,” Yulieski told MLB.com earlier this year. “But if the circumstances don’t permit it and we have to go different paths, that’s what we will do.”
Lourdes is not expected to sign anytime soon and here’s why: Cuban players who are at least 23 years old and have played in a Cuban professional league for five or more seasons are exempt from the international signing guidelines established by the Collective Bargaining Agreement, effectively making them free agents once they are eligible to sign with a big league club.
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But Donatell still expresses an urgency to make that leap intelligently, young or not.
“It’s a mindset you create, it’s a culture. There’s no question about it here, and you’ve got a great measuring stick. You know, it was so great here (in defenses under Lovie Smith) a few years back, and we’re looking to create that different places. It’s not a switch you just turn on. It takes a little bit of time. We’re not comfortable with waiting for it to happen. We want to speed it up and get going, where people have fun.”
When all was said and done in 2015, a look at the starting lineups showed Donatell wound up relying on Porter, Kyle Fuller and Adrian Amos in three of those spots, with undrafted free agent Bryce Callahan developing trust in the nickel package. The latter will be given an opportunity to compete for one of the outside spots this preseason, while the 25-year NFL coaching veteran praises the way Amos wasn’t intimidated, took on greater responsibilities as his rookie season went on, and kept getting himself ready every week despite a shoulder injury that required surgery right after the season.
Here were some of Donatell’s other thoughts Thursday.
On Fuller entering his third season:
“The biggest difference right now is he’s more familiar with what we’re doing, more sure of himself, which means he’s going to react faster. We’re always looking for them to `spike’ the second year we have them, improve. He’s getting used to the group of coaches we have, a new system, and right now he’s on a path to keep improving.”
On waiver pickup Harold Jones-Quartey rebounding from a mid-season benching to having excellent games in returning to starting safety the last two games:
“He was learning on the run. We gave him some game action, let him marinate a bit, then brought him back. But part of your talent, and we make no exception, is if you get the ball for us, there’s a place for you in our defense.”
On fourth-round draft picks Deon Bush and Deiondre’ Hall, and sixth-round selection DeAndre Houston-Carson:
“We like them all. We’ve got a great room, but time will tell on that one. Time will definitely tell. We’re excited for the preseason because that really tells us a lot.”
Those games begin next Thursday, in the preseason opener at Soldier Field against the Denver Broncos.
OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel completed an offseason unlike any other NFL player as he pursued his doctorate in mathematics at the renown Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
His focus is on spectral graph theory, numerical linear algebra and machine learning. He earned A’s in all four classes that he took there this spring.
Though this is a remarkable story, were the Ravens concerned that their potential starting left guard wasn’t entirely committed his football career this offseason?
“You do wonder,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I wouldn’t be strictly honest if I say it didn’t cross my mind.”
Harbaugh then said with a smile, “You spend a lot of time on the math, buddy.”
But Harbaugh acknowledged he wasn’t really worried about Urschel being ready in terms of preparation and conditioning, because he knows this is a player who has his priorities in order.
“He’s a football player first,” Harbaugh said. “He knows that that’s his profession at this time in life. He’s 100 percent committed to his football, and I’d say he’s 100 percent committed to his math. As we said, life is not a pie chart. He commits himself to the things that are all important and does a great job of it. I have no concerns whatsoever about him not being prepared.”
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On top of that, Texas succeeded where Cleveland could not, swinging a deal for Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy. The Rangers have been a logical landing spot for Lucroy for months now, and the deal makes sense. They also received reliever Jeremy Jeffress, who has a 2.22 ERA over 44 2/3 innings. He’s hardly a throw-in here.
The Rangers did surrender significant future talent to make both moves, but they are clearly in win-now mode. At 62-44, the Rangers came into the day with the best record in the American League. By 4 p.m. ET, they separated themselves from the pack.
Just a few days ago, you could have made the case the Marlins were winners. The team had just picked up both Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea from the Padres, and it looked like they were taking advantage of their wild card spot.
WINNER: CLEVELAND INDIANS
The Indians may have missed out an acquiring Lucroy, but picking up Andrew Miller from the Yankees is significant. The 31-year-old lefty has been one of the best relievers in the majors for quite some time now. Over the past four seasons, he has a 1.98 ERA over 200 innings. During that period, he’s notched an incredible 328 strikeouts.
While this season is important, Miller is under team control through 2018. So even though the team gave up significant talent to pick up Miller, including outfield prospect Clint Frazier, it’s not like Miller is a rental player.
Picking up outfielder Brandon Guyer isn’t exciting, but he’s hit lefties well over his career. His .283/.383/.463 slash line against southpaws should make him at least a useful platoon piece, and insurance in case Michael Brantley struggles to return from his shoulder injury.
The Tigers got a ton of offense Tuesday night – and that wasn’t even the most important part of their 11-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox.
The most encouraging aspect of Detroit’s seventh straight win was Anibal Sanchez’s performance.
Sanchez (5-12) allowed one run in six innings to win for the first time as a starter since April 28 – a span of 11 starts. He gave up six hits and three walks, and didn’t yield a homer. He came into the game having served up 18 home runs in 94 2/3 innings.
”This might be the best I’ve pitched all year,” said Sanchez, who lost his rotation spot in June but got it back due to injuries. ”I felt really good with my command. That’s something that I’ve been looking for all year long.”
Sanchez was expected to move back to the bullpen after Jordan Zimmermann returns to the mound Thursday, but the Tigers placed Mike Pelfrey on the disabled list following Tuesday’s game with a lower-back strain. That means Sanchez will stay in the rotation for at least one more start.
”I was really impressed with the way he was able to pitch up in the zone again with his fastball,” Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said. ”That’s what he was doing when he was successful.”
Miguel Cabrera hit his third home run in two games and Victor Martinez also went deep for Detroit. Andrew Romine and Cameron Maybin tripled in a six-run fifth.
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