The Rookie of the Year race this year was as close as can be in both leagues. In the National League it could have gone four ways and in the American League I think it was totally up for grabs. Marlins’ outfielder, Chris Coglan, took the award in the NL and in the AL, it was A’s closer Andrew Bailey bringing home the award.
Let’s begin with the AL and here is how my ballot would have gone:
First place vote: Andrew Bailey
Second: Rick Porcello
Third: Elvis Andrus
When I initially thought AL ROTY, my first instinct was Porcello, who was solid for most of the season. Although by the end of the year, he only had the fourth best ERA in his starting rotation (behind Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, and Jarrod Washburn) and it was 3.96. His strikeout numbers weren’t that great and he had a bad June and July. He is a groundball pitcher who will have success in this league but he won’t overpower anybody. This isn’t a knock on him, but expect a Derek Lowe type career from him.
And I see better things coming for both Elvis Andrus and Andrew Bailey. The reason I have Andrus third is because, with a .267 average, I’m not sure how much love you’re going to get. However he does have a solid glove and huge upside, the kid is only 21.
But Bailey flew under the radar all throughout the season and even at the end of the season, the casual fan still probably couldn’t tell you he was tearing it up in Oakland. The A’s weren’t all too great this year and they played in the western time zone so it makes a little sense if you didn’t know who the kid was. But the kid is electric. To go along with his 1.84 ERA, he struck out 91 batters in 83.1 innings. He was 26 for 30 in save oppurtunities and he didn’t get his first two saves until May and didn’t blow any saves after June 16. Talk about finding his place. It wasn’t that long ago that another A’s closer won ROTY as well, when Huston Street did it in 2005.
For the NL, it was a tough one and it really could have gone either way but here’s what I would have put down:
First: JA Happ
Second: Chris Coghlan
Third: Tommy Hanson
It was so close that I think I may have needed some hometown bias in this one. But really, Happ lead the Phillies starters in ERA, on a staff that includes a few All Star caliber pitchers. He threw two complete game shutouts, as a rookie, in the National League. He was the most reliable Phillies starter this season and always kept the team in the game. He knows how to pitch and he disguises his pitches well and he sure has a rotation spot locked up for next season.
But Coghlan won the award, who was equally as impressive this year, he barely beat out happ by 11 votes. He really came into his own in the second half this year after being called up mid-season. He is a true leadoff hitter as he was mentioned in many sentences this season with Hall of Famers and All Stars today regarding his hit totals. He drives the ball to all fields and takes a decent approach at the plate. He’s the tablesetter that Hanley Ramirez and Jorge Cantu needed. Congrats to him for winning the award.
Althought however, Tommy Hanson and Andrew McCutchen fell farther back than I thought they would. I thought that this race was going to be a lot closer. Tommy Hanson has some dirty stuff and if he can avoid injury will post huge strikeout numbers in his career. The Braves are sure to have one of the best rotations in the league next year and Hanson will be a big part of that. Then there’s McCutchen who is a five tool player that, at the rate the Pirates are at now, will trade him for more three decent-but-nothing-special Double-A players sometime in the next few years. Kidding of course. The Buccos know they need to hang on to this kid if they ever want to be good in the next twenty years.
I’m expecting all four of these guys to have great careers.
The AL Cy Young announcement is tomorrow, I’m expecting it to be Zack Greinke. No one else is really too close. Then the Manager of the Year announcement is on Wednesday. Jim Tracy is going to run away with the NL while Mike Scioscia and Ron Gardenhire are my co-winners in the AL.
It certainly is a long season, but that’s one of the many reasons why I love the game. The Phils know that after their 4-1 loss to the Braves tonight on national television as defending World Champions. I certainly am a little angry that the bats looked awful against Derek Lowe and I’m a little embarrassed, but there’s 161 more games (162 more games for the Mets to blow the half-game lead they have right now). But regardless, here’s some thoughts on tonight’s game:
I didn’t get to see the opening ceremonies but I saw the replay of it and I’ll probably end up watching it again and it seems like they planned it out really well. I love the fact that Charlie was raising the championship banner.
The bullpen had a nice night. Newcomer Jack Taschner, Scott Eyre, Chad Durbin, and Brad Lidge combined for three innings, a strikeout each, and no hits or walks surrendered. I was nervous about Taschner because I’ve heard that he can be wild at times but he looked alright tonight.
Let’s start with Brett Myers. I listened to the first four innings or so on the radio so I didn’t see pitch locations and such (I had to drive back to school today). But when they replayed the homeruns he gave up, it’s clear that he missed his spots in each of the pitches. He got the ball way up in the zone to Brian McCann and put the other two pitches right in the wheelhouse of Jeff Francoer and Jordan Schafer (Schafer did look completely silly against Lidge in the ninth). When I started watching Myers for the two innings I saw him, he was keeping the ball down and hitting his spots. That’s what he will need to do in order to be successful this season. He toughed it out for six innings and struck out six and only walked one. Take away those three bad pitches and that’s a solid outing for this early in the year. So maybe this isn’t a dark spot (grey spot?).
We got to find a way to get on base. Usually it’s not a problem. Driving in RISP is the usual problem. I know it’s the first game and all, but until the ninth, the Phils mustered two hits off Lowe.
These players have got to want to be in that position in the ninth inning with the game on the line. Ryan Howard looked nervous and you could tell he didn’t want to be in that situation tonight. He swung at junk from Mike Gonzalez (who looked awful tonight) and then took a fastball right down the pike. Raul Ibanez worked Gonzalez nicely but he did swing at ball four but since he’s the new guy in town, I’ll let him slide for tonight.
On the ball that went off of Myers glove where Utley had to shift directions quickly, he looked like he wasn’t ready to do that quite yet. However he did look pretty good charging some grounders. But it worries me that maybe he’s not 100% yet.
All in all, I think Joe Morgan may have said it best at the end of the game, I don’t remember his exact words but they were along the lines of saying that the Phillies know that this is just the first game and that the Phils will fight to the end and that’s why he truly believes that this team has the chance to do something special and repeat this year. And Joe would know. Well, I hope he’s right.
Team Preview: Atlanta Braves
Projected MLB Rank: 14th (t) — NL Rank: 9th (t) — NL East Rank: 3rd (t) — Record: (82-80)
Two pitchers remain from last year’s Atlanta rotation that are expected to make this year’s rotation. The pitching staff as a whole compiled a team ERA of 4.47 last season which was below the league average. With a team that has had a recent tradition of good pitching, a change needed to be made.
Enter Derek Lowe. He will probably become the ace in this rotation. Despite his age, he will continue to have success as long as he keeps his ball down. Last year for the Dodgers, Lowe went 14-11 with a 3.24 ERA throwing for nearly 200 innings in six of his last seven seasons.
Reliability continues with their next offseason acquisition. Javier Vazquez has thrown for nearly 200 innings since 2000 where he’s started at least 30 games every year since then. Vazquez is a strikeout pitcher who can let his ERA get up a little but should do a nice job now being in the National League.
The mystery starter is Japanese free agent signee Kenshin Kawakami. His better days may have passed but he pitches for a low ERA and from what I hear, recorded a career 3.22 ERA in Japan. The returning starters from last season add up to 44 starts for the Braves in 2008. Tom Glavine will be the fifth starter, and may have lost some touch, but he should keep the Braves in games. He only started 13 games last season for Atlanta compiling a 2-4 record with a 5.54 ERA. Jair Jurrjens was in the race for the NL Rookie of the Year as he went 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA last season. Expect more of the same from Jurrjens this season.
Their bullpen could be better. Closer Mike Gonzalez should have a solid season playing a full year in 2009. Expect him to lower his 4.28 ERA. Manny Acosta had a decent season out of the bullpen with a 3.57 ERA in 53 innings as did Jeff Bennett with a 3.70 ERA in about 97 innings. Righty Blaine Boyer (5.88 ERA) and offseason acquisition Boone Logan (5.95 ERA) need to pitch better out of the bullpen for the Braves this season.
The Braves lineup has the potential to do some damage. I think the deciding factor on the success of the offense is on rightfielder Jeff Francoer. Last year, the 25 year old, hit a pitiful .239 with 11 homeruns (yes, he did play a full season). If he can’t find his swing again, the Braves probably won’t be finding October again.
The addition of Garrett Anderson does help but he may end up platooning with Matt Diaz in left. Apart from Chipper Jones and Brian McCann, there’s really nothing too special left in this lineup. Casey Kotchman and Kelly Johnson will give you production and 70-80 RBIs. Yunel Escobar probably won’t improve on his numbers. It’s exciting to watch Josh Anderson as he can steal bases and find his way on base but may end up sharing time in centerfield with Gregor Blanco.
They definately improved their rotation this offseason but in this division, their pitching is still considered average. Their lineup is average but if they all get rolling at the same time, they will make some noise, but in this division, I don’t think October will be where the Braves end up.