Tag:Charlie Manuel
Posted on: March 1, 2012 1:46 pm
Edited on: March 1, 2012 4:46 pm
  •  
 

Players, managers react to new playoff format

By Matt Snyder

MLB Playoff expansion
With the news spreading throughout baseball that playoff expansion is very likely for the 2012 season, some reactions from players and managers have started to trickle out of camps. As one would expect on a divisive issue, the reactions are all over the map.

For a very brief recap to those who haven't read about it yet, it's extremely likely that starting this season, MLB will have two wild card teams play one head-to-head game, with the winner advancing to face the division winner with the best record in the LDS. The second and third division winners will face each other. The new collective bargaining agreement established that this system would begin by 2013, but it's likely it will begin this season.

Anyway, here are some of the reactions we've gathered thus far:

Blue Jays manager John Farrell (CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler)

"I think it's great for baseball. Hopefully, we're in the mix to land one of those spots."

Mets third baseman David Wright (Andy McCullough via Twitter)

"That would have been nice five years ago."

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel (CSNPhilly.com)

“It’s hard to swallow sometimes if you play all year and win a lot of games and somebody who did not play as good as you consistently all year gets in and wins. But that’s the way it goes and that’s the process that we live with.

“I understand everything about that and I’m not knocking that. That’s what it is. But at the same time, I look at it as I’m not a second-place guy or third place or fourth place. Basically that’s the part – for me, personally, you shouldn’t get nothing for second or third. That’s the American system.”

Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen (MLB.com)

"Anytime you involve more people, it's good for the game. I think the Commissioner is doing a tremendous job adding people to have a chance to see playoff games, and I think that's great for the fans. This game, we play for them."

Red Sox DH David Ortiz (ESPN Boston)

“One game? That’s kind of crazy. You know how many things we’ve got to move around and pack for one game? It’d make more sense for two wild cards to play at least a two-out-of-three series while the other teams take a break for three days because they won their divisions.”

Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (TampaBay.com)

"I think it's exciting. It's exciting for all of us. ... I think the goal was to allow more teams to have a chance in the end, to hold on to those playoff hopes for longer.''

"I think it was pretty unanimous around the league that the more playoff spots the better. Once you get into the playoffs it's more revenue for the ballclub, it's more excitement for the players, so I think it would be a no-brainer for everybody.''

"I don't think anybody's 'comfortable' with [one-game playoff] -- it's an uncomfortable feeling going into any game that you know you could go home, your season could end. But at the same time, it's exciting -- you're in the playoffs now.''

Braves third baseman Chipper Jones (MLB.com)

"I'm not for it. I think the elite teams deserve to make it to the playoffs. Pretty soon, Major League Baseball is going to be like the NBA. There will be more teams that make it than don't. The season is too long as it is. Now you're going to give teams more travel. I don't agree with it, but we're just a piece of meat. We do what they tell us to."

Braves backup catcher David Ross (MLB.com)

"I like the one game for all of the marbles kind of thing because it's either put up or shut up," Braves backup catcher David Ross said. "It's going to be fun. The fans are going to be tuned in. It will get a lot of media attention. It will be a lot of fun."

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly (ESPN Los Angeles)

"I like it because it forces those two teams to use their best pitcher, so they have to use that guy to get in (to the next round). On paper, that gives the advantage to the team that wins the division because they can line up their rotation the way they want it. It seems fair to me that the team who wins the division gets that advantage.''

White Sox pitcher Chris Sale (ChicagoSports.com)

"Obviously, it’s exciting. Two more teams into the playoffs. At the same time, you want to be one of those teams for sure in there. You want to win the division. "They said it today, you are not playing for second place. It would be great if that did happen, but from here on out, we are going for that No. 1 spot."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura (ChicagoSports.com)

“In the past, when they added (the wild card), it created excitement and even last year, the last day of the season it added fun. You never know. It just depends on how the season goes. But it’s exciting for teams to get in. That’s for sure.”

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter, subscribe to the RSS feed and "like" us on Facebook.
Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:27 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 4:54 pm
 

Including playoffs, La Russa top manager



By C. Trent Rosecrans

At last year's Winter Meetings in Orlando there was a motion during the Baseball Writers Association of America's meeting to change the voting for the Manager of the Year Award until after the playoffs. The resolution was overwhelmingly voted down, but it did get me to thinking how Wednesday's choices would have been different had the voting taken place at the end of October rather than the end of September.

For the record, I voted against the measure. I believe the true test of a manager is over 162 games, while the playoffs can sometimes be a crapshoot with moves sometimes magnified more on whether they worked or not, rather than how things often even out over the course of a full season. Heck, the past postseason has turned managers from genius to idiot back to genius in the course of a single series.

Award Season
Kirk GibsonKirk Gibson overwhelmingly won the National League Manager of the Year award, getting 28 of 32 first-place votes. Joe Maddon won the AL award, getting 26 of 28 first-place votes.
Read>>
Related links

In the American League, Maddon probably still would have won the award, regardless of when the vote was taken (as long as it was after the regular season, he was kind of an afterthought at the beginning of September). In the playoffs, the Rays fell to the Rangers in four games, but it was through no fault of Maddon's. Nobody expected the Rays to go on to the World Series, and they didn't.

None of the three other managers in the American League playoffs -- Texas' Ron Washington, New York's Joe Girardi or Detroit's Jim Leyland -- were seen as having great postseasons, or even good ones. Washington is always criticized for playing his hunches -- including starting Matt Harrison in Game 7 -- while Leyland didn't just Justin Verlander on short rest and engaged in a bunt-fest with Girardi that nearly broke Twitter, meaning Maddon wouldn't have to worry about giving up his crown if the voting were moved.

Had the voting been done after the playoffs, the National League winner would have certainly been different. After leading his underdog Diamondbacks to the playoffs, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was the overwhelming winner in the National League Manager of the Year award, but just a less than two weeks after 28 of 32 ballots (mine included, for the record) had Gibson on top of their ballots, it might not have been such an easy choice.

While Maddon won the American League award based in part because of the Rays' late run to the playoffs, La Russa did the same in the National League and still finished third in the voting. Maddon's Rays were 9 1/2 games out of the wild card on Sept. 2, while La Russa's Cardinals were the 8 1/2 behind the Braves on that same date and went 17-7 over the rest of the season, winning the wild card on the final day.

La Russa added to that resume in the postseason when the Cardinals made an underdog run to the franchise's 11th World Series title. Along the way he was praised for the handling of his team's pitching staff up until a communication breakdown with his bullpen in Game 5 of the World Series in Texas. At that point, the so-called smartest man in baseball looked clueless and was called worse. Two more wins salvaged that reputation before La Russa retired on top.

Meanwhile, Gibson was roundly criticized for his perceived overaggressiveness early in the series, including a decision to pitch to Prince Fielder in a Game 1 loss. Gibson was then praised after pulling starter Joe Saunders in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Diamondbacks in a win. Overall, the Diamondbacks didn't lose the series because of Gibson's managing, but he did come out with his reputation taking a bit of a hit following the first five postseason games of his managerial career.

Despite the bullpen phone mixup in Texas, there's zero doubt La Russa would have added his fifth Manager of the Year award to his collection had the voting taken place after the playoffs. While Gibson shouldn't be making apologies for winning the Manager of the Year on Wednesday, it's unlikely he'd have it if the voting were done later -- but I'm pretty sure La Russa wouldn't trade his 2011 trophy for the one Gibson' received.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 8, 2011 12:20 am
Edited on: October 8, 2011 2:11 am
 

Howard suffers Achilles injury on final out

Ryan Howard

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The visual told you all you needed to know, as the Cardinals celebrated their 1-0 victory over the Phillies, the man who made the last out sat on the ground in apparent pain. And it wasn't just the pain of an ended season, it was real, physical pain as Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard suffered an Achilles injury after ground out to Ryan Theriot to end the game.

Howard told reporters after the game he fears he tore the tendon (via Matt Gelb of the Phialdelphia Inquirer's Matt Gelb on Twitter). 

Full Playoff Coverage

"It felt like my bat came around and hit the back of my Achelles," Howard told reporters after the game. "I tried to run and felt a pop and it felt like the whole thing was on fire. I tried to run, but felt like I was litterally on a flat tire. I tried to get up, but I couldn't go." 

It was a rough ending for a rough night for Howard, who went 0 for 4 on the night. However, he wasn't alone as the first four batters in the Phillies lineup went just 1 for 15 in the game and the bottom four went 0 for 12 against Chris Carpenter.  Howard not only went hitless on Friday, he finished the series with just two hits and none in the last three games of the series.

Howard, a St. Louis native, is scheduled to have an MRI on Saturday. A ruptured Achilles could mean a lengthy rehab that would cut into a good part of the 2012 season. The 31-year-old is under contract through the 2016 season with $125 million left on his contract.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: October 6, 2011 3:51 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 3:53 pm
 

Former teammates meet in NLDS Game 5



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Roy Halladay and Chris Carpenter were supposed to be pitching in the playoffs -- but for the Toronto Blue Jays. Both pitchers were drafted and developed by the Blue Jays and spent five years in Toronto as teammates. 

Carpenter, the team's first-round pick in 1993, was released by the Blue Jays after the 2002 season when he went 4-5 with a 5.28 ERA in just 13 starts because of a shoulder injury that required surgery on his labrum. He signed a one-year deal with the Cardinals and missed all of 2003, but returned in 2004 and won 15 games in his first season back and the Cy Young in his second.

Halladay, on the other hand, did develop into the ace the Blue Jays expected when they drafted him in the first round of the 1995 draft. However, as the years went on, the Blue Jays didn't sniff the playoffs and could no longer afford their ace, trading him to Philadelphia before the 2010 season.

The two were teammates from 1998-2002 and went a combined 46-43 with a 4.80 ERA -- hardly the thing deciding playoff "dream matchups" are made of.

"I really did feel like we kind of learned together, more mentally how to approach the game and how to play the game, and it was a lot of fun. I remember a couple times going to dinner and talking about how we were on a roll at the time, and we really felt like that we had kind of both turned the corner," Halladay said in a news conference on Thursday. "You know, it was a great experience for me going through that with a guy that was in a similar situation. We really felt like we kind of came up together and learned together, and you know, to be able to do that with another guy, I think, helps you not only learn from him but you see things that he goes through, and you pick up on that. It was just a great experience to go through that together, to learn together, to get better together, and ultimately coming out of there feeling like the time that we spent had really benefitted both of us."

Neither was an immediate success in the majors. Halladay had a 10.64 ERA in 13 starts for the Blue Jays as a 23-year-old in 2000, while Carpenter had a 49-50 record with a 4.83 ERA in his six seasons in Toronto. 

Friday the two will face off in Game 5 of the National League division series, the winner heads to the NLCS and the loser gets ready for 2012. While Carpenter has been a Cardinal since leaving Toronto and Halladay made his move to the National League before last season, this will be the first time the two have started against each other.

"You know, we've talked about this scenario. I think it's something we're both looking forward to," Halladay said. "It's going to be a challenge. Going in, you know what you're up against, you know how good they are. You know how good Chris is. And I think everybody expects that he's going to obviously be a lot better than his last time out. We have our work cut out for us, but yeah, I'm looking forward to it, and I know Chris is, also. You know, it's fun. We haven't got a chance to pitch against each other, and if you're going to do it for the first time, might as well be now."

Halladay started Game 1 of the series, getting roughed up in the first inning, allowing three runs, but cruising from then on. Carpenter, starting on short rest, gave up four runs in the first two innings of his start in Game 2 and being lifted after the third, having given up four earned runs on five hits, throwing 64 strikes. He'll be back on regular rest for Friday's deciding game, making it the matchup everyone's looked for ward to seeing. 

"And I look at tomorrow's game as, yeah, we've got two great pitchers pitching against one another and there's two good teams, and I look at that as that's kind of what it should be," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said at a news conference. "That's what playoff baseball should be. And that's where it's at."

More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Phillies-Cardinals series | 2011 playoffs

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 5, 2011 11:11 pm
 

Video: Manuel takes aim at Busch squirrel



By C. Trent Rosecrans

This isn't the NBA, so there's unlikely to be any guns in the Phillies clubhouse -- and that's a good thing for the Busch Stadium squirrel.

The squirrel ran across home plate as Roy Oswalt threw a pitch in the fifth inning, and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel was asked about it after the game:

The squirrel made his first appearance in Game 3, but that was just running across the field and then down the third-base line. On Wednesday, he made sure to be seen. And like just about everyone else, the squirrel has his own Twitter account -- and 5,146 followers as of 11 p.m. ET on Wednesday. The squirrel isn't concerned about Manuel, or at least he's not according to his Twitter.



More postseason coverage: Postseason schedule | Phillies-Cardinals series | 2011 playoffs


For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 20, 2011 10:16 am
Edited on: September 20, 2011 10:22 am
 

Pepper: Harwell statue vandalized



By Matt Snyder


Evidently nothing is sacred to the masses.

A statue of late, legendary Tigers broadcaster Ernie Harwell outside Comerica Park in Detroit was vandalized recently. His likeness is now without glasses, and it appears someone needed to use a crowbar in order to pry the glasses off the statue. The Tigers are going to have new glasses put on the statue, but that doesn't mean they can prevent some dregs of society from taking them away again.

"We're going to attach them as strongly as possible," says Omri Amrany of the Fine Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany in Fort Sheridan, Ill. (Detroit News), "but if somebody has a crowbar and a little persuasion, you cannot keep the glasses on anybody. Anything that can break a car can break a statue."

I wish I could say I was surprised to read this, but I wasn't. Going into some tirade about society's ills would be misplaced, though, because one bad egg doesn't mean everyone is sick. It's just amazing the kind of things that some of these losers think are cool. What are you possibly going to do with some bronze glasses? Get a life.

Must-read story: Earlier this season, Marlins pitcher Chris Hatcher gave a ball to the son of a U.S. soldier who was about to go back out to Kuwait. Hatcher just received a neatly-folded American flag in the mail from the soldier and plans to proudly display it at his home. The entire story -- at Fish Tank blog -- is definitely worth a read.

Favorites for Prince: Jon Heyman of SI.com runs down a list of who he believes will be the favorites to land Prince Fielder in free agency this coming offseason. Here is the list, in order of likelihood (according to Heyman): 1. Orioles, 2. Cubs, 3. Rangers, 4. Nationals, 5. Dodgers, 6. Brewers, 7. Mariners, 8. Cardinals, 9. Marlins.

Yankees, Red Sox most popular: Judging simply from the number of Facebook "likes," the Yankees and Red Sox have the most fans. Yes, I know, this is shocking. The Cubs check in at No. 3, followed by the Giants, Phillies and Braves (Biz of Baseball).

Hanson's chance: Braves starting pitcher Tommy Hanson hasn't started since August 6, but there's a chance he'll get one more outing this season. He'll throw in an instructional league game Friday, likely around 65 pitches, and if there are no setbacks, the Braves might start him on the final game of the regular season. One caveat, though, is that if a playoff berth is on the line, the Braves will start Tim Hudson, not Hanson (AJC.com). Still, this is good news for the Braves in terms of possibly having Hanson back for the playoffs -- should they hold on.

Puma's honesty: You ever hear players saying it's not all about the money? Yeah, at least 95 percent of them are lying. Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman is telling the truth now, though, as his negotiations with the Cardinals have slowed. "It's always about money," Berkman said (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). "No matter what people say, it's always about the money."

Someone call "People" magazine: Brad Pitt has a new love. Sorry Angelina. Pitt feels "a little bit romantic about the A's," after starring in "Moneyball" and meeting Billy Beane. (SFGate.com)

Papi's pitch: The Red Sox has serious depth issues in the starting rotation due to injuries and John Lackey's underperformance. Meanwhile, Alfredo Aceves has a 2.82 ERA in 102 innings this season and is pitching very well out of the bullpen. At least one Red Sox player believes this is out of whack. "To be honest with you, the way things are going, he should be starting," David Ortiz said (MLB.com). "Simple as that. Give it a shot."

White Sox have failed: According to first baseman Paul Konerko, it's playoffs-or-bust every single season for the White Sox. So 2011 is "a failure." (Chicago Tribune)

Manuel's bat: Indians slugger Jim Thome was recently presented with a game-used Charlie Manuel bat. Manuel mentored Thome all the way back in the minors in 1990 and then managed him on the 2005 Phillies. In fact, Manuel is the one who urged Thome to use his famous bat point (toward the pitcher) as a timing mechanism. "It's pretty awesome," Thome said of Manuel's bat (MLB.com). "It's going in my office at home."

Bauer, Cole updates: Former college teammates (UCLA) Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole were two of the top three picks in the 2011 MLB Draft. Cole went first overall to the Pirates while Bauer went third to the D-Backs. Cole will likely pitch in the Arizona Fall League, his first competitive pitching since the draft (MLB.com). Bauer has gotten some work in at the Double-A level, but he's been knocked around a bit (7.56 ERA in four starts), so he won't make the bigs this season, as had previously been rumored (MLB.com). Expect both to challenge for rotation spots at some point next season.

New closer: The Orioles have obviously changed closers from Kevin Gregg to Jim Johnson, even though manager Buck Showalter hasn't said so. Johnson has five saves in September to Gregg's one. (Orioles Insider)

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 12, 2011 4:19 pm
Edited on: September 12, 2011 5:17 pm
 

How blockbusters explain Manager of the Year

Kirk Gibson

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Joe Posnanski of Sports Illustrated came up with what he calls the "Movie Plus-Minus" -- it's a stat he uses to rank movies. It's simply this: how much he expected to like a movie versus how much he actually liked a movie. It's how a good movie can still be seen as bad, because expectations were too high -- or how a bad movie can actually be good. Anyway it's all about the expectations in judging the experience, if you don't expect much and it turns out to be good you have a more favorable impression than maybe a movie that you expect to be pretty good and turns out to be about what you expected, even if that movie is much better in a vacuum.

That's exactly how it seems that the Manager of the Year Award in baseball is awarded. Manager of the Year is usually an easy formula:

(Wins) - (Expected wins) = MoY total.

The highest number of MoY gives you the hardware.

Last year nobody expected anything out of the San Diego Padres, yet they nearly won their division. So little was expected that it didn't even matter that the Giants won the division or the Padres piddled away a lead at the end, they were in it and that was enough for the voters to make Bud Black the winner. In the American League, Terry Francona may have done his best managing in 2010, but because he finished third and the Red Sox are expected to make the playoffs every year, he finished fourth in the voting with no first-place votes. Instead it was Ron Gardenhire, followed by Ron Washington and Joe Maddon.

The likely winner in the National League this year? Well, that's easy. Kirk Gibson is going to be the overwhelming, perhaps unanimous, winner because nobody expected the Diamondbacks to contend, and here they are. Manny Acta and Maddon, whose teams were picked to make the playoffs by just about nobody, are frontrunners for this year's award in the American League.

So which managers scored high on the Movie Plus-Minus? Let's look at this summer's blockbusters and who their managerial equivalents:

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson as Rise of the Planet of the Apes: In April, it sounded ridiculous -- another Plaent of the Apes reboot? Didn't anyone see Tim Burton's attempt? This was a bad idea. A horrible idea. And that's what it looked like in Arizona, where the team started the season with Armando Galarraga and Barry Enright in the rotation. How about Russell Branyan and Melvin Mora. Geoff Blum? But like Gibson, Apes director Rupert Wyatt made all the right moves, making the ridiculous exciting and harnessing the energy and genius of his enigmatic star (James Franco and Justin Upton). While it may not be the best movie or take home either an Oscar or a World Series title, it certainly had the highest Movie Plus-Minus and Gibson will take home some hardware, even if his team doesn't.

Brewers manager Ron Roenicke as X-Men: First Class: The franchise has had its hits, but stumbled in its last outing (X-Men: The Last Stand and 2010). Back with a new focus (the origin story for the movie and pitching for the Brewers), the movie not only lived up to tempered expectations, it exceeded them -- just like the Brewers. A thoroughly enjoyable season for the Brewers and a fun movie, both will be punished because there were decent expectations for the movie and the season, even if they delivered the goods. As a bonus, you can also use Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon to link X-Men First Class and Roenicke -- Roenicke manages Ryan Braun, who was in one of the world's worst commercials with Marissa Miller, who was on Entourage with Kevin Connolly, who was in Beyond All Boundaries with Bacon, the bad guy in X-Men: First Class.

Pirates manager Clint Hurdle as Green Lantern: Neither ended up being being good, but compared to expectations, it was an Oscar and a World Series. If you weren't scared off by the words "Ryan Reynolds as Hal Jordan", you certainly were when you heard about the CGI suit. Expectations were incredibly low, just as they were in Pittsburgh (and after 18 losing seasons, why not?). That said, there were some bright spots -- the suit wasn't anywhere near as bad as expected and there was a sort of tongue-in-cheek nod to superhero cliches in the movie, while Andrew McCutchen is a superhero himself. Both had a  decent quick start, but in the end, both suffered as time went on and some concepts (a ring given to some dude by an alien, or Kevin Correia as an All-Star), proved too ridiculous for anyone to fully get behind the movie -- or the Pirates. In the end, though, you'll remember it as "not that bad" even if the Pirates do record their 19th consecutive losing season, but Hurdle will likely have a positive MoY score.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi as Super 8: You figured it would be good -- it was from J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, there was plenty of money behind it. Expectations are always high for the Yankees and neither Spielberg nor Abrams are strangers to hype. A solid leading man (Kyle Chandler, Derek Jeter) and surprising performances from others thrust into lead roles (the kids in the movie and the not-quite-kids like Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia in the Yankees' rotation), made it a great summer. While some expectations can never be met, the Yankees and Super 8 got the job done. Of course, rarely are awards given for merely meeting expectations.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2: Everyone knew the story coming in -- Harry would defeat Voldemort and the trio of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels would prove as unbeatable as the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone and Cloak of Invisibility. It was great fun to watch, but the source material was handed to director David Yates by J.K. Rowling, just as Ruben Amaro Jr. and Pat Gillick gave Manuel this pitching and roster. Dismissed as just a press-button manager or director, the film succeeded, but those charged with doing so will have their role in making it so diminished because the perception is that it would be difficult to screw up the hand that was dealt.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy as Cowboys and Aliens: An excellent cast, a director with a good track record, beloved source material and, well, in the end it wasn't a hit.

Astros manager Brad Mills as The Smurfs: You expected it to be bad, but maybe not this bad.

Now, it'll just be interesting to see if Moneyball lives up to Art Howe's managing.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: September 9, 2011 5:25 pm
Edited on: September 9, 2011 8:07 pm
 

Gibson easy frontrunner for NL Manager of Year



By Matt Snyder


During the week, Eye on Baseball has been profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. We close the week with the NL Manager of the Year

View contenders for the: AL MVP | NL MVP | AL Cy Young | NL Cy Young | AL Rookie of the Year | NL Rookie of the Year | AL Manager of the Year

As opposed to most of the other awards we've discussed this week, this one likely has little drama. Whether you agree or not, it seems rather obvious -- based upon how most BBWAA voters cast their ballots in any given season -- that Kirk Gibson of the Diamondbacks is going to win the NL Manager of the Year. There are some other very solid candidates, but it's been well established that a manager leading a division champion who most people expected to come in last place is an absolute shoo-in for the honor. Clint Hurdle was all set to challenge Gibson, but the Pirates fell apart in August. Terry Collins has also done a great job to have the Mets hovering around .500 considering all the issues they're dealing with. Still, he's not in contention for this award. Here is Gibson's case, along with three others who have an outside shot.

Kirk Gibson, Diamondbacks
Record through 9/8: 83-61
2010 D-Backs record: 65-97

If you didn't think the Diamondbacks were going to finish last in the NL West before the season, you were likely predicting a fourth-place finish or fooling yourself. Instead, they've obliterated all expectations and Gibson's demeanor has set the tone for the turnaround of his upstart ballclub. Behind MVP candidate Justin Upton, Cy Young candidate Ian Kennedy and a host of other difference-makers -- including a revamped bullpen -- the D-Backs are now the biggest surprise team in baseball for the 2011 season. Assuming there's no colossal meltdown that sees the D-Backs miss the playoffs -- they entered Friday with a 7 1/2 game lead and less than three weeks to play -- this award is as good as Gibby's.

Also in the Mix (listed alphabetically)

Fredi Gonzalez, Braves
Record through 9/8: 84-60
2010 Braves record: 91-71

His ballclub is performing mostly to expectations -- probably a tick higher -- but replacing a legend (Bobby Cox) is no insignificant task. Gonzalez has also had to juggle the lineup often due to key injuries and some underperformance. Plus, the development of so many young players -- save for Jason Heyward, who is one of the guys underperforming -- has to look good on Gonzalez.

Charlie Manuel, Phillies
Record through 9/8: 92-48
2010 Phillies record: 97-65

It's too bad that expectations virtually eliminate some managers from contention on this award -- more on that coming next week, by the way -- because Manuel definitely deserves a shot at this thing. He has his Phillies on pace to win 105 games, which would break the franchise record by four. Yes, he has a stacked starting pitching staff and a very good lineup, but there have been injury issues all season, many to All-Star caliber players. Yet it has never knocked the Phillies off course. That has to be a testament to Manuel. April 26 was the only day all season the Phils weren't in first, and they were a half-game out. But since the Phillies were picked by almost everyone to win the NL East, Manuel won't win the award.

Ron Roenicke, Brewers
Record though 9/8: 85-60
2010 Brewers record: 77-85

If not for the D-Backs' incredible turnaround, Roenicke would be on his way to winning this award. Yes, the Brewers did push all their proverbial chips to the center of the table this season, in acquiring Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum to bulk up the pitching staff and possibly make one last run with Prince Fielder anchoring the lineup -- if they're unable to retain him via free agency after the season. So, yes, the Brewers have talent, but Roenicke has been a solid leader for this group. They weathered an 0-4 start and then a seven-game losing streak had them at 13-19. They played well for much of the rest of the way, but still were involved in a wide-open, four-team race at 54-49 in late July. Since then, the Brewers are 31-11 and have opened up a menacing eight-game lead in the NL Central. They're on pace for the most Brewers wins in a season since 1982 -- when Harvey's Wallbangers made the World Series. And Roenicke is a first-year manager, so that should earn him a few more bonus points. Expect him to finish second, which is only due to bad timing.

text For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com