The race for the National League MVP award is the tightest in recent memory with Ryan Howard and Albert Pujols each deserving of the honor. As if their regular season exploits weren’t sufficient evidence of their prowess, both players have continued padding their credentials in the post-season. It is worth noting, however, that ballots were sent in by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, two from each city, by the end of the regular season. The post season cannot figure in the voting.
Pujols, of course, played an official post-season that will go down in the record books. His production helped the Cardinals win their first World Series in 24 years, but it cannot help him with the voters. Howard had to wait to put on his final spurt for the current MLB tour of
By the way, Pujol’s first Gold Glove cannot help him either, that award having been announced after the World Series. Good thing, too, because the “sure-handed and nimble fielder with a powerful and accurate throwing arm” that Howard is fast becoming would make next year’s contest even closer!!
* * * * * * *
The Phillies continue to be in the thick of several rumors regarding free agents and possible trades but thus far none of them convince me they will improve themselves significantly. The headliners among those thought to be on Pat Gillick’s radar include Gary Sheffield and Alfonso Soriano. The former may still be a dangerous hitter, but at age 38 he is a defensive liability with no good position and prone to injuries. He is also unlikely to be a positive clubhouse presence given his well-publicized annoyance with his current club, the Yankees, who exercised their option on him thus preventing
Alfonso Soriano is also rumored to be high on the Phillies’ shopping list and would be inserted somewhere in their lineup to provide protection for Ryan Howard. Were Soriano to bat fifth, the spot in the lineup where he might provide the most protection, the Phillies number four and five batters would enter 2007 with 341 strikeouts between them from the previous season. That’s a lot of balls not even put into play. Too many. Power is not the protection Howard or the Phillies need; putting the ball in play is.
In the end, the strongest argument for signing either
Gillick’s track record is not that of a gambler; if anything, he prefers the familiar to the unknown as the Franklin and Rhodes signings indicated. While I have difficulty imagining him having made so much effort to free up salary only to turn around and give a big chunk of it to Soriano for five plus years or Sheffield for one, he does not strike me as someone who is planning to be stick around for more than another year or so. If that is the case, he might just decide he has nothing to lose by placing his biggest bet on Soriano with