11/12/2004: Glancing at MLB's awards pages....
a couple more awards have been handed out, and I see that when the dust clears we have a no brainer, and one (for me) surprise....
The no-brainer is Minnesota Twins southpaw Johan Santana as AL Cy Young award winner, the unanimous choice of the writers for the Cy Young award in the Junior Circuit. I don't pay a lot of attention to the AL (hey, the Cardinals are a National League team, and the Browns left town several years before I was born), but whenever I did hear about Santana (a lot in The Hardball Times, since he was regular contributor Aaron Gleeman's favorite pitcher (Aaron's a Twins fan, so what would you expect? *grin*)) I heard nothing but good things. I'm a little surprised that the vote was unanimous, but there's no doubt that the award was well deserved.
The surprise (to me) was Bobby Cox as NL Manager of the Year. Leave aside for a minute that my natural sympathies go to Tony LaRussa, but I do think TLR had a pretty good case this year--after all, before Opening Day nobody (ok, nobody except King Kaufman, who also picked Houston to take the NL Wild Card) expected the Cardinals to do better than maybe 85 games and third place in the NL Central behind the Cubs and Astros, and then not only do the Cards take the division (which even in the pre-season predictions was within the realm of possibility, since nobody expected the Cardinals to be far behind the Cubs or 'stros), but they piled on a 105 win season and outright dominated the division. That should have counted for more than it did, IMHO. For what it's worth, Bobby seems to agree with me:
"I thought Tony [La Russa] deserved it, to be honest," Cox said. "I was telling [BBWAA secretary-treasurer] Jack [O'Connell] earlier that I'd be more than happy to split the vote and have both of our names on [the award]. He had a pretty tough division with the Cubbies and Astros and he waxed them pretty good. Everybody figured those two would finish ahead of the Cardinals.If not LaRussa, my second (sentimental) choice for NL Manager of the Year would have been Houston's Phil Garner; the Astros' positively demented second half run (moving from a roughly .500 club at the All-Star break (which is when Garner took over), and then racking up enough wins to pass up the Cubs to take the NL Wild Card) speaks a lot to me, not to mention Houston's just about incredible stretch run in September.
"Tony did one of his better jobs. He never does a bad job, but that was a great one. Tony did a super job."
What I say here isn't to detract from Cox's performance; he wouldn't have gotten my first or second place vote if I had one, but the award seems pretty deserved. If my memory hasn't completely crapped out on me, I seem to recall that nobody exactly picked Atlanta to finish first in the NL East this year, either (wasn't it supposed to be Philadelphia's year this year?), and Cox seemed get his team to overachieve mightily.
Congratulations, Johan and Bobby. Well done!
On the other hand, Rob at STL Outsider breathes a sigh of relief that TLR wasn't given the NL MoY nod. He posts some interesting data to suggest a "MoY jinx"; namely that the team managed by last year's MoY doesn't tend to do as well as they did the season the manager won the MoY award.
Of course, at 105-57, you have to expect that the 2005 Cardinals are going to regress a bit towards the mean, anyway.....
Len on 11.12.04 @ 07:26 AM CST