Albert Pujols is complaining loudly that he, not Ryan Howard, deserved the MVP award. His rationale? Only players who lead their teams into the playoffs deserve the award. Sorry, Albert, but yours is not the official definition of the award. In fact, there is no “official” definition. Over the years, the award has sometimes been given to the individual player who had the best season regardless of his team’s performance; at other times, it has been given to the player whose outstanding performance led his team into the playoffs and World Series.
So, until and unless the voters strictly define the criteria, Albert, yours are just sour grapes. While we’re at it, let’s throw in greed, too.
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The FA market is rapidly dwindling down to marginal players, questionable commodities, players with alarming health profiles and other flotsam and jetsam. Under the circumstances, it is only prudent that Phillies GM Pat Gillick is casting a wary eye at those players still circling the remaining chairs. If he needs further confirmation of the risks of spending a lot of money on guys with a history of arm miseries, he can look no further than the Phillies closer, Flash Gordon, who broke down last year and upon his return had a decidedly mediocre finish to the season.
Gillick’s problem is that he needs a lot of bullpen help and none seems available. Rather than sign some guy who is going to break down, the Phillies would be wise to use Matt Smith in the main set-up role and as their emergency closer, bring back Fabio Castro and actually use him in meaningful situations and tell Ryan Madson he is their sixth or seventh inning guy period and stop even thinking about any other role.
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The Red Sox seem to have hit a stumbling block in their negotiations with Daisuke Matsuzaka and it’s name is “money”. What a surprise. MLB has informed Boston they “cannot reduce their $51.1 million bid for Daisuke Matsuzaka in order to sign him, even if his Japanese team agrees to take less…”
"There are no side deals in the situation," said Jimmie Lee Solomon, executive vice president of baseball operations in the commissioner's office. "Everybody's been assured that's not allowed, and everybody's been made aware of the rules."
The next sentence in virtually every media outlet reporting this development is that the Red Sox will figure out a way to work around these rules. What a great idea this posting system is!!
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While many people believe the most important developments thus far in the Hot Stove League have been the outlandish salaries heaped on Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Lee, I would also point to the fact that Barry Bonds remains unemployed at this date. Generally acknowledged as the most feared hitter of his generation, Bonds will eventually sign with someone who wants the box-office boost his chase of Hank Aaron’s home record will surely produce, but in the meantime it is gratifying to see him in limbo.
Meanwhile, another home run hitter of note, Mark McGwire, is on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time and his candidacy looks to be in real trouble. Many voters are making their secret ballots very public when it comes to McGwire and opinion is running against him, not, it should be pointed out, simply because of his unacknowledged use of steroids, but because his overall numbers are not HOF-worthy in the eyes of many voters. Some writers are frankly stating they are not in the business of policing the morality of baseball. Others say that the moral issue is important to them but MLB itself abrogated this responsibility during the height of the steroid era and it isn’t up to them to right this wrong. Instead, they point to Big Mac's overall offensive totals and say they do not measure up.
With the clearly worthy Cal Ripken and Tony Gywnn on the ballot for the first time as well as a few holdovers from the past who deserve serious consideration, McGwire’s chances of admission are poor in his first year and will no doubt deteriorate going forward.
Rest assured that when Bonds’ name comes up six or seven years from now he will be a first ballot entrant. Even with the tainted power numbers of recent years and a body that has “Steroids” written all over it, Bonds is a certifiable baseball immortal. While entry to the Hall has never been strictly defined in terms of numbers, it is clear Bonds has matched or exceeded the standards of those already admitted to this select circle. Nothing in the guidelines says anything about jerks, many of whom have been getting into the Hall for years. When Bonds’ becomes eligible, he will get the same “morality” pass guys like Ty Cobb got and be elected strictly on statistics. McGwire cannot rely on those.