MLB Diamond Notes: October 31st, 2011

Jose Bautista and Matt Kemp Win Hank Aaron Award.

Both Kemp and Bautista were honored this past week with the Hank Aaron Award. This award was first given to players in 1999 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Aaron breaking Ruth’s career home run mark and is intended for the player in each league with the most impressive offensive performance. The MLB-sanctioned award is voted on by the fans and select Hall of Famers. Bautista was awarded with this honor for the second year in a row. He had an impressive year with a career-best .302 average, 43 home runs, and 103 RBI. He is the first American Leaguer since Babe Ruth in 1930 to hit 40 home runs, walk 130 times, and steal nine bags. Matt Kemp had a career year for the Dodgers, hitting .324 with 39 home runs, and 126 RBI. Kemp competed for the Triple Crown, finishing third in the batting race, and leading the league in home runs, RBI, runs scored, and total bases. He also finished in the top-ten in seven other offensive categories.

Oswalt and Lidge Get 2012 Options Declined By Philadelphia.

The two former teammates for the Houston Astros both had their 2012 options declined by the Philadelphia Phillies, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has stated that the organization will think about resigning both of the pitchers. Instead of paying a combined $28.5 million for their services next season, the front office spent $3.5 million total on their buyout clauses. Since being acquired from the Astros on July 29, 2010, Oswalt has racked up 16 wins and a 2.96 ERA with the Phillies, but he had an uneven year at best, going 9-10 with a 3.69 ERA in 23 starts. Lidge has been struggling since he was perfect during Philadelphia’s run to the 2008 World Series, going 0-2 with one save and a 1.40 ERA in only 25 appearances this year. I will be interested to see what Philly does with these two players as they try and bounce back from their early exit in the playoffs this year. For Mets fans, there has been a nice trend since the Phillies have taken ownership of the NL East; as the organization spends more money, their exit in the playoffs become sooner and sooner. So, we’ll see what happens in 2012.

Scott Boras Makes the Yankees Sweat.

Already with GM Brian Cashman and the Yankees wanting to make sure that they will be able to keep CC Sabathia as the ace of their rotation for years to come, they had to deal with Scott Boras making “jokes” about getting a contract extension for 2nd baseman Robinson Cano. By far the best hitter in the New York line-up, Cano has two options left in his contract, next year’s for $14 million and a $15 million option in 2013. With Boras trying to see if New York would be willing to drop the options in favor of an extension, it just proves once again that he is greedy and why MLB organizations hate dealing with him every off-season. Brian Cashman is making the smart move right now to keep Cano’s contract the way it is because he’s starting to see that handing out big money and a lot of years doesn’t pay off in the end (i.e. Alex Rodriguez).

Cardinals Come Back From 3-2 Series Deficit To Win 11th Title.

Well, the team of destiny now has their championship. Going back to St. Louis down 3-2 to the Rangers, the Cardinals stared adversity right in the eyes and won their 11th World Championship, second in the last five years. After one of the most exciting games ever played in Game 6, the first Game 7 since 2002 was back and forth for the first half, but Chris Carpenter gave a gutsy performance on three days’ rest and St. Louis pulled away to celebrate their championship at home. The series clincher was the most watched MLB game since the Red Sox ended their curse against the Cardinals in 2004. St. Louis 3rd baseman David Freese received MVP honors, hitting .348, with one home run, seven RBI, and some of the biggest hits in World Series history. Congratulations to the Cardinals, and bring on the Hot Stove!

Free Agent Frenzy To Commence.

Now that the World Series has come to a close and the offseason is officially upon us, the frenzy to sign free agents for 2012 and beyond will soon begin. Some analysts have said that the market is thin this year in certain positions, but it doesn’t lack big names; with names like CJ Wilson, Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Nathan, Jose Reyes, maybe CC Sabathia, and others, it proves to be an interesting winter. Here’s to hoping that it goes quickly and Valentine’s Day comes so pitchers and catchers can report!