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Granderson and AL MVP,Watch the Real Phenom Tonight, Toronto Best Place to Play, Michael Dunn, Overrated Mariano Debate, Best Sports Talk Host



By Mike Silva ~ August 12th, 2011. Filed under: Morning Digest.

It’s no longer too early to talk about the American League MVP. I believe the four favorites to win the American League MVP are Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Jose Bautista, and Curtis Granderson. I also believe you can make a great case for Granderson.

Stating that a Yankees player should be MVP usually causes a stir, as we learned back in 2009. If I had to guess, Ellsbury is the favorite due to his big hits, and combination of speed and power. You couldn’t argue, however, with his teammate Dustin Pedroia taking it home since his “winning attitude” always has endeared the sports writers. Jose Bautista isn’t quite as potent on both sides of the ball, but his offense makes him the best hitter in baseball. With a number of writers educating themselves on advanced stats, the fact that Bautista has the highest Wins Above Replacement may bode well. As a matter of fact, I predict that Pedroia and Ellsbury split the vote (see Kevin McReynolds and Darryl Strawberry in 1988), and it comes down to Bautista or Granderson sneaking in ala Kirk Gibson during that ’88 season. If that’s the case, Granderson should get the award.

In the past you could argue that a Yankees player benefits from hitting a loaded lineup. Unless you had an historic season (see A-Rod in 2007), you were disqualified from the vote. That argument doesn’t hold this year, as Granderson played a huge role offensively when the team struggled during the spring. They have relied more on his offense with injuries to Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and a streaky Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano. As a matter of fact, Granderson and Brett Gardner have been the two most valuable players on the team if you use Fangraphs WAR.

Barring injury, Granderson will join the 30/30 club sometime later this season. He would become only the third player in team history- Alfonso Soriano, Bobby Bonds are the others- to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases.

Want to know my favorite statistic on Granderson? Take a look:

Split G GS PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
vs RHP as LHB 107 353 297 82 15 6 21 60 47 79 .276 .375 .579 .954
vs LHP as LHB 72 152 132 36 3 3 11 33 12 44 .273 .347 .591 .938
vs LH Starter 33 32 149 130 36 41 7 2 10 29 13 42 .315 .389 .631 1.020
vs RH Starter 81 80 356 299 69 77 11 7 22 64 46 81 .258 .357 .562 .919
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 8/12/2011.

My biggest complaint about the trade was how the Yankees were taking on a player with extreme platoon splits. The year before he came to New York, Granderson hit at a pitcher’s level versus left handers. Give Kevin Long some credit as he’s worked diligently with him on staying back versus southpaws. Long also cut out unnecessary movement in his swing.

Defensively Granderson is about as steady as they come. He isn’t flashy, but gets the job done. We all know that Brett Gardner is a better centerfielder, but Granderson makes all the plays necessary.

Will Granderson win the MVP? Probably not. I believe there is a strong anti-New York bias in the MVP vote. I do, however, believe the writers should give the “Grandy-man” strong consideration. I am not sure the Yankees are where they are today without his offensive contributions. Yes, I know Jose Bautista is all-world, but the Blue Jays are a distant fourth in the AL East. You have to take the team’s success into consideration, at least I do, when voting for MVP.

I believe Curtis Granderson has a great shot at the award.

***

Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy all were members of the Yankees rotation in 2008. Some thought they would be a great young trio for years to come. Three years later, Chamberlain is out for the season with a bum elbow, Phil Hughes is about to be demoted to the bullpen, and Ian Kennedy is one of the top pitchers in the National League.

I enjoy reading Rob Neyer- I don’t always agree with him- but could he have ever been more on the money about something than his thoughts on Kennedy last March:

Ian Kennedy‘s a former first-round pick who throws five pitches and has a 1.95 career ERA in the minor leagues. Here’s a prediction for you: He’ll finish 2009 with a better ERA than whoever winds up being the Yankees’ No. 5 starter.

Well Rob, they probably traded the wrong pitcher to Arizona. From what I understand, Arizona had their choice and selected Kennedy over Phil Hughes. I think the biggest mistake of Cashman’s tenure will go down not leveraging the Joba Chamberlain hype, which anyone who was honest with themselves knew was a foundation of BS.

In case you want to see “what could have been,” turn on the Mets game tonight as Kennedy goes for his 15th win against the Amazin’s.

***

So Toronto has become the desired road trip for American athletes. Check out this interesting article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal:

American pro athletes used to think of Toronto as a backwater. High taxes and low temperatures combined with a woeful lack of television exposure back in the States made playing here about as appealing as Canada’s national dish of french fries soaked in gravy and cheese curds.

B.J. Armstrong, the first expansion-draft pick of the NBA’s Toronto Raptors, famously asked to be traded shortly after setting foot here for the first time.

Today, however, Toronto is a road trip just about every pro athlete looks forward to. Some say the city has a cool, international vibe that increasingly stands out. Some like the plentitude of cheap concert tickets—a boon for athletes with big posses—or the convenience of the must-be-19 drinking law. (Rookie guard DeMar DeRozan of the Raptors, who is 20, was ordering chocolate milk at dinner before his teammates told him the good news).

As your read more you can see the best part of the trip isn’t any kind of International vibe, drinking laws, or concerts. It’s the fact there is an event planner and promoter named Mona Halem, who helps put parties together with attractive guests when teams come to town. You leave the rest of your story to your imagination.

Personally, I would never play in Canada as an athlete. The tax situation is complicated enough in the United States, add in Ontario’s average tax rate (assuming an average MLB salary of $3 million dollars) of 45% and you find yourself paying a great deal for the privilege of a good party.

Besides, you also get to play in front of a half empty Rogers Centre. Long gone are the days when the Blue Jays drew $4 million fans. I wonder if they fielded a playoff team- something they haven’t done since 1993- if the place would get packed again. Back in the Vince Carter days, the Raptors did sell out and were sixth in the NBA in attendance, so it’s a possibility.

Keep in mind the NBA is more of an international sport than baseball. That could play into their success.

***

I wrote about the Javier Vazquez trade and if Brian Cashman used a good process when trading hard throwing prospect Arodys Vizcaino to Atlanta in the deal.  Now that Vizcaino has risen up the Braves system to pitch out of their bullpen, should there be buyer’s remorse? You can read my thoughts in the piece, but the name that I forgot to mention in the deal (assist to reader Samuel who pointed it out) was Michael Dunn.

Dunn was the third piece the Yankees sent with Vizcaino and Melky Cabrera to Atlanta for Vazquez and Boone Logan. A converted OF/1B, Dunn was 24 and had only been pitching for four seasons. Although promising, he produced a ghastly walk rate (6.3) after his last season Triple-A promotion.

Dunn subsequently was traded by the Braves after the 2010 season in the Dan Uggla deal. In Florida, he seems to have found himself in their bullpen. He still walks way too many batters (5.0), but LHs have a .553 OPS against him. Considering the Yankees have struggled to find a quality LOOGY for years, Dunn might turn out to be the one that got away.

***

I think I might have heard the most ridiculous criticism yesterday when David Schoenfield of ESPN’s Sweetspot Blog tweeted this:


@nykyg Outside of ’96, would the Yankees have lost any of the postseasons without Rivera? Unlikely.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck Favorite Retweet Reply


Schoenfield went on to say that Rivera has more 2-3 run leads than anyone else and reminded the fans of the blown postseason saves in 1997, 2001, and 2004.

I worry that Rivera is finally reaching his experiation date. Left handed batters are starting to figure him out. He is throwing more meatballs than ever. With that said, he is still as good as ever in the ninth inning. Perhaps Rivera can’t do two inning saves anymore, but there is not a single closer in the game I would take over him.

The ninth inning is the toughest three outs in baseball. I don’t care what statistic says otherwise, three outs in the ninth is hard than the seventh or eighth. Sometimes the game is on the line more in the prior innings, but the team hasn’t mentally prepared for a victory before the ninth. Nothing is more demoralizing than blowing a lead with only three outs left to play.

To call Rivera “overrated” is either ignorant, or simply extreme anti-Yankees bias.

Now, if Schoenfield said the Yankees would still have won the World Series after 1996 without Derek Jeter, I could possible take that debate seriously.

No Rivera= no titles for the Yankees that last 15 years.

***

Sid Rosenberg of Florida’s WQAM has a poll for the fans on the left sidebar of his site to vote for who they think is the “Best Sports Talk Host.” Right now, as of this writing, Dino Costa of Mad Dog Radio is leading by a wide margin (38%), with Sid himself second at 17%.

By the way, two guys missing on the poll are Boomer & Carton… just saying. I guess you can put them under “other.” The Morning Show really isn’t about sports anyway, so they shouldn’t count.

Sid is one of the most forward thinking talk show hosts in the business. His site is what I would consider the “standard” for what many young talking heads should have. It’s not just about having a job. It’s about branding yourself to become bigger than the call letters.

In other words, you don’t work for WFAN; WFAN has the privilege of hosting you.

Sid does great work, and I recommend you have his site in your bookmark.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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1 Response to Granderson and AL MVP,Watch the Real Phenom Tonight, Toronto Best Place to Play, Michael Dunn, Overrated Mariano Debate, Best Sports Talk Host

  1. Chuck Johnson

    Ellsbury’s a fringe player having a career year, and even though on paper his numbers are good, they don’t have much impact on where the Red Sox are in the standings. Plus, he’s a below average defensive player and that will hurt.

    You didn’t mention the obvious winner, Adrian Gonzalez. If the season ended today he’ll win it and voting won’t be close.

    “No Rivera= no titles for the Yankees that last 15 years”

    That is flat-out wrong.

    Rivera may not be overrated, but his position is and so is the stat he’s most known for.

    Anyone can close.

    Rivera’s just done it longer.

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