Category Archives: Uncategorized

Pedro Week: The ESPN Sportscenter Ad That Was Way Funnier than Roger’s

With Pedro Martinez set to be inducted into the Hall of Fame next weekend, Fenway Pastoral takes a look back at some of the moments and images of a baseball icon’s career in Boston.

Pedro Martinez’s 2002 ESPN Sportscenter ad:

Roger Clemens’ 1995 ESPN Sportscenter ad:

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Movember Throwback ‘Stache of the Day: Cecil Cooper

Cecil Cooper 'stache

As part of a recurring feature over the next four weeks, Fenway Pastoral will remember some of the most dignified and dapper mustaches to ever grace the faces of Boston Red Sox players throughout the team’s history.

On Day 3, we jump even further back in the nostalgia machine to first baseman Cecil Cooper, who broke into the Majors as a Boston Red Sox in 1971. One of Cooper’s best seasons as a pro was 1975, when he posted an OPS that was 43% better than the league average – he hit .311 and slugged .544 (a mark he would not touch again in his career). But – alas – he went just 1-for-20 in the World Series.

Cooper came into his own after he was traded by Boston to the Milwaukee Brewers in 1976 for old friend Bernie Carbo and George Scott. As a Brewer, he became a perennial All-Star and MVP candidate for a six-year stretch in the late-70s and early-80s. With a career OPS of 121+ over 18 years in the league, Cooper was good enough to make a cameo on the 1993 Hall of Fame ballot, but he didn’t receive any votes.

Anyway, Cooper’s ‘stache back when he was with Boston didn’t really meet too cleanly in the middle, but he made up for it with some well-groomed mutton chops. A lot of the Movember bros out there have similar issues “bridging the gap” so to speak. If they’d only take a cue from Cooper and grow in their sideburns down their jawline a few inches, all might be forgiven.

Cooper, for his part, eventually grew in a full beard that connected all the way around while also laying early claim – nearly three decades early – to the whole clear-framed glasses craze.

Cecil Cooper specs

Local Man’s Game Recap (Red Sox 5, Rangers 1)

Embed from Getty Images

BY FRANCIS FLYNN

CARVER, Mass – Earlier today out on my cranberry bog I was dragging real bad. Then later on I almost nodded off at a stop light while riding back from True Value. So I swung by the Mary Lou’s and grabbed myself a big hulking pink cup of coffee and a couple crullers. I ignored the younger girl behind the counter but gave the older one a couple innocent winks (won’t be long before she’s a real waitress serving real drinks). Then I mawed down the whole business while I was leanin’ up against my tailgate and staring at the talent filling up at the gas station.

Felt like a million bucks the rest of the day. Served as an omen for the Sox game tonight.

This is what happens when you force the action. The Sox needed offense like no other and JBJ delivered it like he was some strawberry-blond-haired jailbait handing me my 20-ounce Hazelnut roast and a couple of the marble glazed.

Lemme just go ahead and simplify it for you, right here and right now. Some easy math for yous: JBJ = Electricity, pulsating throughout the park, spurring much-needed run scoring. Three hits from Jackie, plus some great catches in right field.

And it wasn’t all Jackie. Three hits for AJ Pierzynski. Even Dan Nava got himself going in the big 8th inning rally. He put on a nice long AB and shot a RBI single to right-field to get himself off the schneid.

Lackey’s got himself in the Cy Young Award discussion early here. Seven more innings tonight with only one run given up. Yous can whine and bitch and moan about it being too early and jinxes and all that, but just remember where exactly yous all heard it first.

Koji had me a little worried putting two guys on in the ninth inning but he’s Koji he got it done. Wasn’t a save situation though so wasted bullets if you’re asking me. Which I guess you are but now it’s time you get the hell out of my kitchen.

Ed. Note: Carver man and friend of the site Francis Flynn is an avid Red Sox fan, Boston-born and bred. Flynn’s day job is maintaining a 10-acre cranberry bog and tract of farmland that has been in his family for three generations. But his passion is following his region’s most beloved baseball team. Flynn watches recently agreed to provide Fenway Pastoral readers with his own recaps throughout the 2014 regular season. All we had to do in return was promise to publish his pieces unedited and to send him a case of Miller High Life (bar bottles were specified) every week.

This Winter in Boston Baseballing, 2013 – 2014

Boston enters the final weeks of the Hot Stove stretch having done relatively little tinkering with its roster this offseason aside from resigning Mike Napoli and coming to terms with free agents A.J. Pierzynski and Edward Mujica.

The Red Sox have a number of Top 100 prospects in its minor league ranks who are expected to contribute this season. Xander Bogaerts and Jackie Bradley Jr. are forecast to see full-time duty while the club also has a few pitchers (Matt Barnes, Allen Webster, Anthony Ranaudo) who could be pitching meaningful innings by the summer if the back end of the rotation doesn’t pan out.

Former Superstar Grady Sizemore Signs With Boston
The Red Sox were evidently the only team willing to give Sizemore a significant major league contract. He will earn at least $750,000 and if he somehow supplants Jackie Bradley, Jr. as the starting center fielder and performs well, he could make up to $6 million.

Edward Sutelan writes on FanGraph’s Community page:

The signing of Grady Sizemore is an indication that they are ready to give Jacoby Ellsbury’s former job over to Jackie Bradley Jr., but it also shows that they are prepared with a backup plan in case that doesn’t pan out.  Some would say that Sizemore is hardly a backup plan as he could very well end up injured, which is absolutely true, and that an outfield of Gomes LF, Victorino CF, and Nava RF would happen in the event of Bradley turning out to be a dud.  But with Sizemore comes a tremendous amount of upside.  Five years ago he was a 30-30 player and a gold glover in the outfield.

Boston Rounds Out the Roster
In addition to the Sizemore signing, which generated the most fanfare, the Red Sox also made a series of minor moves to round out the roster, trading Franklin Morales for Jonathan Herrera and making pitcher depth signings in Jose Mijares and Jose Valdez.

Jerry Remy Announces He Will Return to NESN in 2014
In an interview on Monday at the station’s headquarters, the NESN color analyst said that as recently as December, he thought he was finished. However, he has had a change of heart since the New Year as family and friends implored him to come back.

Ortiz Gives Bizarre Interview With A Dog on his Lap
Boston may as well accept that Ortiz’s heroics and prolonged popularity allot him a unique amount of leverage. He is unlikely to ever be OK with entering a given spring with his current contract due to expire six months later. His public ploy for another extension is absolutely an opportunistic money-grab. But, really, what is it worth pride-wise for the organization to take a hard line?

One of these years, Ortiz is going to lose enough bat speed and become a lousy hitter. At that point, he will become a sunk cost, dead money on the Sox payroll. But it’s at least worth noting, as Pete Abraham noted on Boston.com earlier this week, for all his contributions to the club’s success, Papi’s salary has averaged only about $10 million per year over the past decade. The amount of cash it will take to forego this annual conversation until, probably, next spring amounts to a rounding error for the team. And it’s hard to argue that it sets a dangerous precedent because nobody else is David Ortiz. He is the only guy who can get away with this kind of yearly posturing. As the team has come to find out, he damn well knows it.

And of course, Papi looked especially villainous during this latest round of posturing thanks to giving his interview with WBZ while holding a small dog in his lap a la Dr. Evil.

Ortiz with dog on lap

The Red Sox Sit Out the Masahiro Tanaka Madness
Los Angeles, New York and Chicago were reportedly the three most active bidders in the Tanaka sweepstakes. The Yankees’ 7-year, $155m deal with Tanaka screams desperation. New York probably would have been smarter to sign a few shorter-term stopgap deals to insure themselves against injury and age (i.e. bring in Stephen Drew to spell the inevitable absence of Derek Jeter). But the tactic of signing Tanaka underscores that New York can’t afford to just be pretty good with marginal names. It needs cache and name recognition.

Red Sox fans should be thrilled that a rival AL East team signed Tanaka as he is a good bet to be one of the most exciting pitchers to watch during the upcoming half decade or so. And all the while, the move isn’t likely to garner New York any competitive advantage over Boston.

Larry Lucchino Renews His Favorite Narrative
In the wake of New York’s deal with Tanaka, Lucky Larry just couldn’t resist belly-aching over the Yankees’ seemingly endless budget. Lucchino makes these comments just about every time Boston’s AL East rival announces a splashy free agent signing.

As David Schoenfield mused Tuesday on ESPN, life is “tough for small-market Red Sox”:

Even in 2013, when the Red Sox trimmed their Opening Day payroll from $175 million to $155 million, they had the fourth-largest Opening Day payroll behind only the Yankees, Dodgers and Phillies. They’re not exactly the Pirates or A’s here.

For all the accolades given to the Red Sox for their 2012-2013 offseason when they went after second-tier free agents like Shane Victorino, Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes, let’s be honest here: They still bought those players. You don’t think the Pirates are smart enough to know they could have improved their club this winter with a couple of strategic free-agent signings? You don’t think the Rays would just once want to sign a free agent that costs more than the Red Sox pay for a part-time left fielder?

It’s difficult not to take Lucky’s comments as the kinds of pointed opinions PR-minded dudes like Lucchino employ to rile up its bottom line – the ticket-buying, apparel-purchasing section of the fanbase. We have a difficult time thinking he even truly believes it. The Yankees more or less bought a World Series in 2009 but have otherwise seen very little correlation between success and bloated contracts, payrolls or luxury tax payments.

Lucchino only further exposes himself as a phony – if that’s even possible at this point – when he comes out with such a disingenuous assessment of other teams’ fiscal behavior – especially in matters relating to the rival Yankees. The Red Sox boast a top 5 farm system right now – maybe even vying for one of the best depending who you ask. It has a lot of young talent that will be price-controlled and will likely mitigate any need to make the kinds of nine-figure signings the Yankees and other big market clubs like Anaheim have been inking lately.

Based on this enviable position, the team will almost certainly use the savings to supplement that talent by overpaying some higher-visibility, recognizable free agents and to looking toward various contract extensions with marketable superstars (Lester, Ortiz, etc.) already on the roster.

The money has been there ever since the John Henry regime took over in 2002. There is no reason why this ballclub, with three World Series championships in 10 years next to just one for New York, needs to falsely pump itself up as some kind of model for relative fiscal restraint.

As shown in the chart below, the payrolls for the Yankees and the Red Sox are indeed in a different stratosphere. However, averaging Tampa Bay, Toronto and Baltimore’s yearly payroll (the black line), Boston is clearly trending closer and closer toward the ceiling set by New York and distancing itself from the other three teams in the division.

AL East Payroll 2002 to Present

Screen Grabs from YouTube MLB Classics: Red Sox Pitching Coach Juan Nieves’ No Hitter in 1987

Watching footage from 1980s baseball games feels like witnessing some relic from baseball’s distant past. The basic details and rules of America’s Pastime are there, but the aesthetics just feel remarkably different. Like 70s porn, the key nuances – the mustaches, the stances, the positioning, the ball girls that look like Van Halen groupies – combine to distinguish it in greatness even amidst much scaled down production values (relative to today’s broadcasts). Cherry-pick any game uploaded to YouTube and it becomes apparent. If nothing else, this old archive footage can help us power through the remaining weeks of the long, cold winter leading up to spring training.

On April 15, 1987, southpaw Juan Nieves became the first Puerto Rican player to pitch a no-hitter, leading the Milwaukee Brewers to a 7-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in what was then a showdown between two American League East ball clubs. Nieves accomplished the feat only about a year after his major league debut.

Nieves became Boston’s pitching coach in 2013 and there are other interesting Red Sox angles to this one as well. Milwaukee started former Red Sox Cecil Cooper at DH while former third base coach Dale Sveum manned shortstop. Meanwhile, Baltimore’s lineup included second baseman Rick Burleson (playing in his final season) and a center fielder named Fred Lynn. The Orioles also had Ray Knight at third base, fresh off his 1986 World Series MVP performance the prior fall and the karmic justice of a killer case of kidney stones during spring training.

Jim Paschke and Mike Hegan from WBTV, the Milwaukee Brewers’ television network, provide the call, never once mentioning the no-hitter until the final out is in Robin Yount’s glove.

00:10: Milwaukee’s lineup.

Milwaukee lineup

00.30: Baltimore’s defense.

 Baltimore defense

1:56: Orioles starter Mike Flanagan starts off the game in front of a not-so-packed Memorial Stadium crowd (paid attendance was listed at about 11,400) that isn’t all that anxious to sit through this drab and rainy April affair.

Memorial Stadium empty

Somewhat reminiscent of the typical turnout in the home plate box seats at New New Yankee Stadium…

Flanagan first pitch

8:47: Juan Nieves, who had an inauspicious start to the 1987 season and had reportedly “lost his way” during a tumultuous 1986 rookie season, takes the hill after the Brewers go down in order in the top of the first.

Nieves takes mound

12:20: Nieves gets No. 2 hitter Rick Burleson to chase a 12-to-6 breaking ball for his first strikeout of the game. The pitch was characterized by the commentators as a “slurve” but was later explained as likely a hybrid of a split-finger and a knuckleball.

Nieves Ks Burleson

12:43: Cal Ripken, a mere 29% through his 2,632 consecutive games played streak as of this particular AB. He would pop out to end the inning.

Cal Ripken AB

13:40: Special graphics for Brewer Baseball ‘87. Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” is the choice for the outro music, obviously.

Brewer baseball 87

13:59: Cecil Cooper with some cool specs that would make many modern hipsters drool all over their flannel.

Cecil Cooper specs

21:22: Jim Paciorek makes a diving catch in left field to rob Eddie Murray of a single in the bottom of the 2nd inning.

Pachorek catch

23:33: What is Ray Knight grinning about? What a rat bastard…Knight would wind up drawing a walk from Nieves.

Ray Knight grinning

37:34: A check on other AL scores has Boston beating Texas, 5-4, at Fenway Park (Dwight Evans hit a homer and a triple and Wes Gardner saved Bruce Hurst’s bacon by pitching three innings out of the pen, striking out seven).

Boston v Texas final

40:23: Somehow Ken Gerhart hooks a pitch right down Main St. so high and far down the left-field line that it catches a jetstream and blows foul. Based on the camera track and where the crowd is scurrying in the bleachers, it’s hard to figure how this ball could have hooked far enough left to be foul unless it immediately changed path in mid-air before it landed in the seats. The third base umpire was Derryl Cousins. Nieves would eventually walk Gerhart before striking out Burleson to end the 3rd inning.

Gerhart foul ball

46:50: Lucky No. 7 Dale Sveum puts the Brewers on the board by pulling a lazy fly ball that manages to drift just over the wall next to the left-field foul pole. It landed nowhere near as high as Gerhart’s foul ball shown above…For your amusement, here he is rounding third base.

Sveum HR

54:44: In the 4th, Ripken takes a pitch well inside and below the knees on a hard line down the third-base line that looks like a hit as it leaves the meat of the bat. But Paul Molitor barely even needed to move to make the play. Batted ball luck: a must-have during virtually any no-hitter. (As it would turn out, this game would serve as a chief case in point in regards to the powers and influence of BABIP in small samples.)

Ripken liner

1:03:09: As Nieves deals to Knight to lead off the 5th inning, the commentators dance around any discussion of a no-hitter, instead filling the void with safer ground: gushing over Bo Jackson’s evening against Kansas City the night before. Bo famously scored a touchdown and kicked the extra point in the game.

Nieves delivers in 5th

1:07:11: Cal Ripken, Sr. looks like he’d be a fun dude to share a bottle of bourbon with.

Cal Ripken Sr

1:08:07: Another close call for Nieves as John Shelby hits one that barely lands foul down the left-field line. It would have been a sure double had it landed fair as Paciorek was shaded toward left-center.

Another close call

The platform in left where the ball landed, acting as the roof to the groundskeeper’s tool shed.

Platform in LF

1:10:31: Shelby goes down swinging for Nieves’ fourth strikeout on a pretty hittable pitch up in the zone.

Shelby Ks

1:11:00: Molitor would snare the final out on the next pitch to get Juan through five.

Molitor catch in 5th

1:20:11: Nieves fools Gerhart into swinging at this breaking ball to strike out leading off the 6th. A flyout to center and a flyout to right would do it for the inning.

Gerhart Ks in 6th

The Brewers’ two-run 7th inning features a leadoff double, a bunt basehit and another double along with a Gerhart error in left. A woman named Mary in Madison won a prize pack thanks to the runs being scored during the designated “Rally Inning.”

1:37:35: Nieves walks Murray on four straight pitches, prompting a visit at the mound by the pitching coach.

Mound visit

1:41:39: It’s Dale Sveum who takes over yet again, first initiating a 6-4-3 double-play on a ball hit by Lynn and then catching this can of corn for the final out in the 7th.

Sveum catches 7th inning popup

1:46:08: The Brewers extend their lead to 6-0 in the top of the 8th with a three-run homer by Greg Brock.

Greg Brock HR

1:52:45: In the 8th, Nieves gets a first-pitch flyout and then sets up the old inside fastball – outside fastball trick on Shelby swinging for the second out. Shelby accounted for three of Juan’s seven total strikeouts in the game.

Shelby's third K

1:53:47: Like the Gerhart foul earlier, the wind saves the day once again as Floyd Rayford gets out in front of a pitch and pulls it just in front of the left-field foul pole. It had the distance as it bounced off the upper deck facade in the corner.

Left field facade

1:55:16: Nieves proceeds to get Rayford to chase a 2-2 outside fastball that puts him just three outs away.

Rayford strikeout 8th

2:01:29: Milwaukee hitters swing early in the count in the top of the 9th in an effort to get Nieves back on the mount as quickly as possible. The Brewers still manage to tack on a run thanks to a Braggs home run off Dave Schmidt. Minutes later, Nieves takes the mound with a 7-0 lead in the 9th.

Nieves comes out for 9th

2:02:30: Gerhart swings at the first pitch and grounds out to third, bringing up Burleson. Nieves doesn’t look worried.

Nieves not worried 9th

2:02:43: Burleson hits a line drive to third, also on the first pitch, and Molitor again fields it no problem. It is the third line drive of the game hit right at him. Molitor gets extra points for grabbing this as a short-hopper here may have spelled trouble.

Molitor fields liner 9th

2:05:02: Cal Ripken draws the fifth walk of Nieves’ night, bringing up Eddie Murray, who lifts the first pitch to left-center field. And Robin Yount makes the play of the night, just laying out to clinch the no-no.

Yount dive in 9th

Yount high five

2:06:02: Nieves celebrates as he finishes the first no-hitter in Brewers history.

Nieves first no no

Nieves celebrates

Overall, Nieves exhibited much guile and instinct with what was generally a mediocre repertoire. Game score-wise, Nieves was hardly dominant – his seven strikeouts were largely offset by five walks. However, this wasn’t exactly Phil Humber no-hitting the lowly Seattle Mariners lineup a couple of years ago. Baltimore’s offense featured some firepower, namely Ripken and Murray. But they were also fairly free-swinging in this game and Nieves took advantage by working around the better hitters and taking advantage of mismatches (hello, Mark Shelby).

CLASSIC RED SOX SCREEN GRAB SERIES:

1975 World Series, Game 6

1986 ALCS, Game 6

1990 ALCS, Game 1

1999 ALDS, Game 5

1999 ALCS, Game 3

This Week in Boston Baseballing, Nov. 29 – Dec. 5

A tough week for Boston Red Sox fans. The team signed catching asshole A.J. Pierzynski to a one-year, $8 million contract on the same day that the Yankees inked Jacoby Ellsbury to a seven-year, $153 million deal. Making matters worse, a disappointingly wholesome issue of Improper Bostonian featuring NESN’s Jenny Dell hit newsstands.

Next week, Ben Cherington and Co. fly to Disney World for the Winter Meetings, which run from December 9 – 12.

The Yankees Sign Jacoby Ellsbury
Boston’s homegrown center-fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is heading to the Bronx, signing a seven-year deal. The Red Sox extended an offer that reportedly topped off at six years and $120 million.

Ells has gotten his big payday after helping the Sox to two World Series championships. It seems the majority of fans are happy for him or are at least grateful the Sox held a firm negotiating ceiling. Not surprisingly, Deadspin grabbed at the lower hanging fruit by listing a rundown of the ignorant, vocal minority within Red Sox Nation. As Boston Sports Media Watch noted, a lot of the local media is probably to blame for projecting the opinions of the relatively few “mouthbreathers” on the fanbase at large.

Anyway, the Shane Victorino signing last winter looks even better now, if that’s possible after his 2013 campaign. As Matt Klaassen writes on FanGraphs:

The Victorino contract, however, makes even more sense now that Ellsbury has left. At the moment, Bradley appears to be in line to the be starting center fielder in 2014, with Victorino returning in right field. If Bradley gets hurt or needs to be sent down, the Red Sox have Victorino to take over in center field. If Bradley does well, they still have two center fielders out there, not only providing good defense, but enabling one to have a day off when he needs it.

The Yankees Will Exceed the Luxury Tax Threshold in 2014…
…You know, if that makes Red Sox fans feel any better. As Yankees blog It’s About the Money details in Goodbye Operation 189, Ellsbury’s arrival in New York isn’t exactly a mic-dropping moment in the team’s offseason:

….At this point it’s safe to assume the plan to get under the luxury tax threshold this season is going away. Mathematically it could still be done and still be done with room to spare if A-Rod’s suspension is upheld. But it would come at the expense of filling more than 1 of the remaining roster holes with better players and there’s been nothing to indicate the Yankees have any interest in taking that route. You don’t plunk down $238 million to address a few holes and then call it a day, not when the top free agent on the market who also happens to be your best recent homegrown player is still unsigned and not when your current 3-5 starters have a combined 436.2 career IP.

The Red Sox Sign A.J. Fucking Pierzynski
As detailed in this space on Tuesday, A.J. Pierzynski is hardly the first maligned player to join the Red Sox. Most of these types of guys wind up as journeymen for good reason during the latter stage of their careers because their value is aided by their lack of popularity. Yet somehow Boston shelled out an alarming $8 million for Pierzynski, who joins his third team in as many years and will hopefully be relegated to part-time duty by August. Perhaps the Red Sox could find it in their hearts to introduce Variable Ticket Pricing that includes discounts to fans having to personally witness the sight of Pierzynski in a Red Sox uniform?

Salty Goes to Miami
Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s signing with the Marlins for 3 years, $21 million almost became a footnote within a few hours thanks to the Pierzynski and Ellsbury signings. Deadspin didn’t even bother collecting any related Red Sox fan tweets containing misspellings.

Cherington Adds Reliever Edward Mujica to Arsenal
The Red Sox GM just could not help himself from signing the reliever on the free agent market that most closely resembles Koji Uehara. As his fastball velocity has diminished in recent years, Mujica has remade himself by primarily featuring a breaking ball that is best classified as either a splitter or change-up. When that pitch is on, it is eerily similar to Koji’s shutdown split. At a cost of just under $5 million per year for 2014 and 2015, the move is shrewd and a much better bet for depth than trading for a guy like Joel Hanrahan. Or Andrew Bailey. Or Clay Mortensen…

The Standells’ Dick Dodd Dies
The Red Sox first played “Dirty Water” after every win back in 1997, but the song had been a fan favorite at Fenway Park for years prior. Bet on “Dirty Water” enduring a hell of a lot longer than “Sweet Caroline.”

Baseball Bloggers Alliance Awards Ballot: American League

BBA

Ballots for Baseball Bloggers Alliance (BBA) awards are due prior to the first pitch of the World Series tomorrow night at Fenway Park. Fulfilling our duty as part of the BBA, here are Fenway Pastoral’s picks for 2013 American League awards.

AL Manager of the Year (Connie Mack Award) – John Farrell
The decision came down to a couple of first-year managers–Terry Francona and John Farrell. It’s been two years since Francona’s exit from Boston and the subsequent smear campaign that some front office members inexplicably deemed to be somehow necessary. It is worth noting that Tito is the most accomplished manager in Red Sox team history. And somehow his success in Cleveland this year may have been his best managing job yet, once the talent level and payroll he was working with in Boston is taken into consideration. Francona deserves all the accolades that comes his way.

If ballots for this award were due prior to the start of the playoffs, Tito would have been the clear-cut selection. By late September, Farrell had already been getting more than his fair share of credit for the job he did turning the Red Sox around from worst to first in the AL East. But postseason games dictate that managers employ their highest level of intelligence and in-game strategy. Unfortunately for Tito, his playoff run ended after a loss in the one-game Wild Card play-in. So far, Farrell has had 10 games over the ALDS and ALCS to show his true skill. And that’s where he wins out. He has been close to unassailable in his deft bullpen usage, lineup changes (i.e. Bogaerts better late than never) and other various play-calls. He is working with a ton of talent on his roster – more than Francona – but in terms of the sheer act of “managing,” what Farrell has shown this October is just too impressive to overlook.

John Farrell ALCS

AL Top Reliever (Goose Gossage Award) – Koji Uehara
Uehara has had one of the best seasons for a relief pitcher in the history of the game. Koji just did not have many peers in other AL bullpens heading into October. After taking over the reigns as closer, Koji took his dominance to a new level. By September, every time Uehara threw the first pitch of a given appearance that the umpire called a ball, there was a feeling of deflation distantly akin to those Pedro Martinez starts after he gave up the first hit of the game. With that out of the way, since we considered October performance in the manager voting, we did the same here. Even if the home run Uehara allowed to Jose Lobaton in Tampa had ultimately helped to cost Boston the ALDS and he never had the opportunity to win ALCS MVP honors, his regular season resume was way too commanding to lose this “crown.”

AL Top Rookie (Willie Mays Award) – Wil Myers
As Red Sox supporters, it’s important for us to note that it wasn’t exactly Fred Lynn in ‘75 or anything…but the Rays outfielder had a pretty solid rookie season.

AL Top Pitcher (Walter Johnson Award) – Max Scherzer
There wasn’t a ton of difference between Felix Hernandez, Anibel Sanchez and Max Scherzer aside from the number of Wins accumulated. Whether you prefer to lean on FIP or noisier statistics like ERA, the case for Sanchez is very strong. Meanwhile, both Sanchez and Scherzer were nearly unhittable during their first starts against Boston in the ALCS before looking significantly less dominant the second time around. We settled on Scherzer based on the 30-plus extra innings he threw during the regular season and the fact that his bullpen made his postseason stats look a lot worse than the reality.

AL Top Player (Stan Musial Award) – Mike Trout
God bless the BBA for its simple terminology here. Nobody is going to parse the definition of “top” as a modifying adjective, right?