Can we please stop with the ridiculous Derek Jeter for MVP campaign?
Look, it's not that the Yankees shortstop hasn't had a fine season for himself, but Magilla Gorilla could likely hit somewhere north of .285 surrounded by guys like Johnny Damon and Bobby Abreu in that potent lineup. Jeter's numbers are nice, but not eye-popping unless you take them into an overall context for what he means to his ball club. The Yankees' Most Valuable Player? Definitely Jeter.
The American League's MVP? Hardly.
Before his team's historic August swan song and ensuing health concerns swatted him from the lineup, David Ortiz was considered a sure bet to become the fist full-time designated hitter to win the award, a sort of redemption from writers who just last year thought it disgraceful to award the MVP to a part-time player. Now, they have their excuse not to vote Ortiz with the Red Sox in freefall, despite gaudy numbers (.287, 47, 121, .400) that that will deserve some level of consideration even if he doesn't play another game this season.
Besides, some writers have reasoned that Ortiz can't win it now that his team has fallen from first, a ruling that apparently was missing from the Alex Rodriguez MVP season of 2003 when his Rangers finished dead last. Go figure.
The Red Sox’ MVP? Definitely Ortiz.
The American League's MVP? Nope.
None of the A's deserves consideration in that they've done it largely by pitching, and George King has deemed voting for a pitcher unworthy. This directs our attention to the AL Central, where this MVP race really should begin and end. Ironically, they are the names next to nobody is talking about.
The White Sox' Jermaine Dye, and the Twins' Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer are proof positive that a Yankees-Red Sox bias (Hello, ESPN) pervades the baseball society. Mauer flirted with .400 for a while. Dye, having his best season since injuring his leg in the 2002 playoffs, is leading the offensive charge as the White Sox make a late run at the division (4˝ games behind Detroit) and the wild card. All Morneau has done is hit .315 with 32 home runs and 110 runs batted in, numbers that would have everyone in a tizzy if they were posted in the Bronx.
Mix those guys in, and the MVP race is a tight one.
Perhaps the most ridiculous assessment of the whole thing is Jeter's worthiness for the award. Witness the following two stat lines.
.340, 12 home runs, 83 runs batted in, .418 OBP
.350, 10 home runs, 73 runs batted in, .427 OBP
Jeter's is the top line. The bottom belongs to Mauer. Flip a coin sort of stats, right? And yet, Mauer's name more often than not fails to come up in MVP discussions. A Google news search for "Derek Jeter American League MVP" yields 211 articles. One for "Joe Mauer American League MVP" yields just 50.
In a tight race with no clear-cut winner, perhaps we need to ask where said team would be without said individual. In this case, maybe we have to wait and see who has the best September, who wins the wild card, or at the case might be, division. Then it might be another coin flip between the likes of Morneau and Dye. Either is deserving. Neither will win.
Unfortunately most voters already made up their minds during the Yankees' five-game sweep of the Red Sox two weeks ago, a series that in the minds of some sealed the award for Jeter (and for the second season in a row if you believe USA Today's Gabe Lacques). No matter that there remained six weeks left and a handful of other more worthy candidates. It is a Northeast, Yankees-Red Sox bias at its fullest. Apparently this was just a Jeter-Ortiz race to begin with. We just didn't know it.
That's not denying the MVP worthiness of those guys by any means. But to only consider that duo is to ignore the more suitable worth of a trio from the Central, which has been the best baseball race that too many east of the Windy City have virtually ignored.
And the candidates for MVP along with it.
That, of course, doesn't mean he gets it, according to Bill Plaschke, who points out Little buys his DVDs at a local Los Angeles pawn shop.
"Somebody watches something once or twice, that don't hurt the DVD, does it?" he asks. "And sometimes they got a special, eight for 25 bucks, you can't beat it."
Wow. Why wasn't Little's knowledge of economizing prevalent on a certain October night three years ago?
Denver Post Rockies beat writer Troy Renck proposes the idea of Crisp being one of Colorado's offseason targets.
"They are operating on a self-imposed salary cap, and there's no way they would pay what [Torii] Hunter would want. As I have written in Sunday columns, it's more likely they will pursue players like Coco Crisp, Eric Byrnes and Dave Roberts. They need a center fielder who can either get on base and run or hit for power."
Which, of course, begs the question as to whether Renck has actually seen Crisp play. But really, I think we're ignoring the important question that we should all be prepared to answer: Who is the next, new face of Red Sox Nation membership?
"Boston will now make three trips to the West Coast, and not four as originally had been planned," writes the Providence Journal's Sean McAdam. "Also, the location and matchups of some interleague games have undergone changes. The Sox will now visit Arizona and Los Angeles while hosting the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies as part of interleague play."
What are the odds that Barry Bonds is with the Giants during their Fenway visit, and even more tantalizing, what if he's close to Hank Aaron's record during June of next season? Something to keep in mind, no?
The Padres didn't envision Kottaras as a candidate for their starting job in 2007. Scouts from two American League clubs who saw him last month rated him a backup catcher. Critics within the San Diego franchise and outside of it had concerns about Kottaras' durability, defensive makeup and ability to work with pitchers, plus his throwing mechanics. The Padres had challenged Kottaras to become more assertive as a field general.
The Red Sox farm system is thin at catcher, however, and some evaluators say the defensive concerns about Kottaras are overblown. His calling card is a smooth left-handed swing that got him a promotion to Triple-A in July. The 23-year-old Canadian compiled a .395 on-base percentage to go with eight home runs and 19 doubles in 256 at-bats at Double-A Mobile. With Triple-A Portland, he batted .224 with one home run in 29 games.
By the way, Josh Bard is hitting .324 with the Padres, and Kottaras will be the third catcher already this year (Bard, Doug Mirabelli) to go back and forth between San Diego and Boston.