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Tag:Kirk Gibson
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.
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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: November 16, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 5:10 pm
 

Gibson, Maddon named top managers

Kirk Gibson Joe Maddon

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson and Rays manager Joe Maddon overwhelmingly won the Manager of the Year award in the National League and American League, respectively, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced on Wednesday.

Award Season
Tony La Russa
If voting were done after the playoffs instead of before the playoffs, would Tony La Russa have won the National League Manager of the Year award?
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Gibson, who took over as the Diamondbacks skipper during the 2010 season, received 28 of 32 first-place votes after he guided Arizona to a 94-68 record and the National League West title. Arizona lost their National League division series to the Brewers in five games. First-year Brewers manager Ron Roenicke received three first-place votes, with former Cardinals manager Tony La Russa receiving the other first-place vote. Roenicke finished second and La Russa third.

Maddon, in his sixth season with the Rays, received 26 of 28 first-place votes after leading the Rays to a 91-71 record and the American League wild card. The Rays trailed the Red Sox by 9 1/2 games on Sept. 2, before the team went 16-8 over their last 24 games, including winning their last five games to slip into the playoffs over the collapsing Red Sox. It is the second time Maddon has won the award, also winning in 2008. Detroit's Jim Leyland and Texas' Ron Washington received the other first-place votes, with Leyland finishing second and Washington third.

Voting for the award is done after the regular season and before the playoffs begin. 

Both managers won the award in the time-honored tradition of exceeding expectations. Although the Rays won the AL East in 2010, the team lost Carl Crawford, Carlos Pena, Matt Garza and nearly the team's entire bullpen from its 2010 team. 

Gibson's Diamondbacks were an afterthought in the NL West after losing 97 games in 2010. However, Arizona took the NL West lead on Aug. 10 and left the defending champion Giants in the dust over the final two months of the season.

In the name of full disclosure, I was a voter for the National League Manager of the Year and was one of the 28 voters to put Gibson atop my ballot. I put La Russa second and Roenicke third -- flip-flopping those two in the final week of the season after the Cardinals' remarkable run to the playoffs.  

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

Posted on: November 3, 2011 4:55 pm
 

Diamondbacks give extensions to Gibson, Towers

By Matt Snyder

Coming off a season in which the Arizona Diamondbacks shocked pretty much everyone in the nation by winning the National League West, the D-Backs have done something not so shocking. General manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson have had their respective contracts extended through the 2014 season with club options for 2015 and 2016, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.

"I really enjoyed watching the two of them work together," Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall said (Piecoro). "Obviously I was pleased with the results from the first season. Kirk Gibson, in particular, proved that he is a major league manager, as prepared as any I've ever seen, and I felt they were both worthy of extension."

Towers, 49, took over the Diamondbacks in September of 2010 and did a great job in shoring up the ballclub, particularly the bullpen, last offseason.

Gibson, 54, was named the interim manager when A.J. Hinch was fired in July of 2010 and after the season Towers removed the interim label.

The Diamondbacks were one of the best stories in baseball in 2011 under Towers and Gibson. They had finished last in two consecutive seasons and were coming off a 97-loss debacle. But 2011 saw the D-Backs emerge in a big way, as they went 94-68, cruising to the NL West title. They then took the Brewers to the limit in the NLDS, losing on the final play of Game 5.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 8, 2011 1:38 am
Edited on: October 8, 2011 2:02 am
 

Grading the Brewers-Diamondbacks NLDS

Yovani Gallardo

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Yovani Gallardo. The Brewers starter didn't get the win on Friday, but he was a line for the victory before John Axford's blown save. Gallardo won Game 1 and overall he went 14 innings, allowed 10 hits, two runs, walked three and struck out 14. The only two runs he allowed were on solo homers. The right-hander was the team's opening day starter by default as Zack Greinke was injured in spring training, but Gallardo came through this season to prove his worth as a top of the rotation starter.

Chris Young. There were a lot of bigger names in this series, but few performed like Young. Perhaps the only thing he didn't do was celebrate after Game 5. He hit .389/.421/.944 with three homers in the series and made one of the greatest catches I've seen in a postseason game -- going deep to take away Jerry Hairston Jr.'s liner in the Brewers' sixth inning. If he doesn't make that catch, Milwaukee scores at least two in that inning and there may be no extra innings. Had Yuniesky Betancourt not followed with a bloop single, who knows what happens in Game 5? So why a B? Every player feels they could do just a little more to win a series, even one who had as dominant a series as Young. Consider this a B-plus held down by the curve of his team.

Managerial moves: There were some winners and losers on both sides. In the end, the managers weren't the reason the Diamondbacks are going home and the Brewers are ready for the NLCS -- the players were. The players put on an amazing display of baseball through five games and especially in the last game. Gibson was overaggressive in the first game, getting punished by pitching to Prince Fielder, but then used his bullpen masterfully in the fourth game. Roenicke was slow to his bullpen in the fourth game, but played the right notes in his lineup, especially using Hairston as his third baseman, with Hairston coming up with some big hits and big plays in the field.

The rest of the Brewers starters. Gallardo was fantastic -- the same can't be said for Greinke, Shaun Marcum and Randy Wolf. But that's the beauty of the five-game series. With one good starter and a competent bullpen, you can win the series. Greinke whined his way out of Kansas City, saying he wanted to pitch in the postseason, and when he got there, he was mediocre, allowing eight hits and four runs in five innings of a Game 2 no-decision. That said, he was better than either Marcum or Wolf. Marcum didn't make it out of the fifth inning in Game 3, giving up a grand slam to Paul Goldschmidt and seven runs overall. And then there's Wolf, who went just three innings and was probably in too long, allowing seven runs in those three innings -- including Ryan Roberts' grand slam. 

Road team woes. The home team won every game of this series, while the road teams struggled to score runs. Give credit to the pitching staffs for both teams, especially Gallardo and Josh Collmenter, but the team batting first struggled throughout the series. Milwaukee hit just .215/.278/.369 at Chase Field and Arizona hit just .229/.296/.400 at Miller Park.

Video: Arizona manager Kirk Gibson still believes it was a great season.

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


Posted on: October 7, 2011 10:05 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 5:22 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Arizona Diamondbacks
Record: 94-68, 1st place NL West. Lost to Brewers 3 games to 2 in NLDS
Manager: Kirk Gibson
Best hitter: Justin Upton -- ..289/.369/.529 with 31 HR, 88 RBI, 21 SB
Best pitcher: Ian Kennedy -- 21-4, 222 IP, 33 GS, 2.88 ERA, 1.086 WHIP, 198 SO, 55 BB

2011 SEASON RECAP

Nobody expected much from the Diamondbacks and even when they did surprise by leading the National League West, nobody thought they could hold off the Giants. Not only did they hold off the defending champs, they left them in the dust. The Diamondbacks were ruthless in making decisions early in the season, demoting or just flat-out getting rid of players that didn't produce, like Armando Galarraga, Barry Enright, Wade Miley and Russell Branyan. The Diamondbacks won 16 of 18 in late August and early September, while Ian Kennedy became a legitimate Cy Young candidate. The team also discovered it has the makings of a stout rotation with Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Joe Saunders and Josh Collmenter. They even survived the season-ending injury to Stephen Drew, winning despite his absence.

2012 AUDIT

The Diamondbacks are in a pretty good situation. So it seems they have some good, young talent that's not going to cost too much -- something that's very important to the Diamondbacks' front office. The team that they have should only get better and develop. There are small spots to fill, but nothing huge. And with Stephen Drew coming back, the team should be even better than they were in the playoffs.

FREE AGENTS

RHP Jason Marquis
1B Lyle Overbay
2B Aaron Hill ($8 team option)
LHP Zach Duke ($5.5 team option)
OF Xavier Nady
SS John McDonald
C Henry Blanco ($1.5 mutual option)UTIL Willie Boomquist ($1.1 mutual option)

OFFSEASON FOCUS

  • Remember last offseason when the Diamondbacks were listening to offers for Justin Upton? Don't do that.
  • Hill was acquired in a change-of-scenry trade with the Blue Jays in August and it seemed to work for both teams. Hill played well for the Diamondbacks -- but not $8 million well. The team should decline his option, but see if he'd entertain an offer for less. The other side of that trade, Kelly Johnson, talked about returning at a discounted price. If Hill's not interested in coming back on the cheap, Johnson may be.
  • The team could upgrade in left field, but that's not a pressing need. And even if it were, there's not a lot of money to spend on the likes of Josh Willingham. There should be enough on the non-tender scrap pile to bring in competition for the spring and push Gerardo Parra.
  • There's a lot of talk about the White Sox trying to trade Carlos Quentin -- at least listen and see how desperate they are to get rid of him. If they take the bulk of his contract, he wouldn't be a bad fit to put in left.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 6, 2011 2:32 am
Edited on: October 6, 2011 3:05 am
 

Gibson's move, Roenicke's non-move prove big



By C. Trent Rosecrans

Kirk Gibson had a quick hook -- and Ron Roenicke's was too slow. Because of that, the Diamondbacks and Brewers are headed back to Milwaukee for a Game 5 on Friday.

Both managers had pivotal decisions to make in the third inning in Wednesday's Game 4 of the National League division series -- usually much too early for managerial tinkering but with the season on the line, it's never too early to make a bold decision. And that's exactly what Gibson did.

MIL-ARI NLDS Game 4

Even with a 5-3 lead, Gibson gambled that the Brewers high-powered offense could score more runs and every run the Diamondbacks added would be vital to victory. So, with two outs and runners on second and third, Gibson sent pinch hitter Collin Cowgil to hit for starter Joe Saunders.

Meanwhile, Roenicke kept his struggling starter, Randy Wolf, in the game.

"There's been a lot of outings this year he's first inning scuffled and then turned it around and really got us to the sixth seventh inning," Roenicke said in the postgame news conference. "That's what we were hoping to do."

Saunders gave up runs in each of the first three innings, but actually got out of a deep hole in the top of the third, getting out of a two-on, no-out jam with just one run surrendered. After walking Ryan Braun, Saunders got Prince Fielder to fly out to center, Rickie Weeks to fly out to right and Yuniesky Betancourt to pop up to second. It seemed he'd found himself and was starting to find the strike zone. Saunders had a 5.18 ERA in the first inning this season and a 2.99 ERA in innings 4-6.

However, with a chance to put more runs on the board, Gibson gambled by going with the pinch-hitter and leaving the final six innings up to his bullpen.

Cowgill, a .239 hitter in his rookie season, came through with a single to score two runs and increase the Arizona lead. Wolf got Willie Bloomquist to fly out to end the inning, but that would be the end of his night -- a batter too early.

Wolf was the third batter scheduled to bat in the top of the fourth, so perhaps Roenicke didn't want to burn two relievers and a pinch-hitter in one move, but that would have been a small price to pay to avoid a four-run deficit.

After Micah Owings gave the Diamondbacks two scoreless innings, rookie Jarrod Parker -- in just his second big-league appearance -- struggled, loading the bases, but once again Gibson knew when to head to the mound in time to limit damage, as Bryan Shaw came in to save the day, surrendering just one run and keeping the Diamondbacks on top. 

Gibson was roundly criticized early in this series, but Wednesday he made all the right moves and there's a Game 5 on Friday because of them.

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

Posted on: October 6, 2011 2:25 am
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Posted on: October 2, 2011 10:14 pm
 

Brewers' 'other guys' come through

Jonathan Lucroy

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The guy who can't hit didn't need to -- all Jonathan Lucroy needed to do was lay down a bunt and he did that to help give Milwaukee a 9-4 victory over the Diamondbacks.

After Saturday's Brewers win, Diamondbacks starter Ian Kennedy said he didn't worry about pitching to the Brewers catcher because "it was a guy who can't really hit." Lucroy got Kennedy for what ended up being the winning run on a bloop single Saturday, and then drove in the winning run Sunday with his suicide squeeze in the Brewers' five-run sixth inning.

Lucroy was just one of the "other guys" who powered the team's big inning, as Milwaukee batted around in the inning.

On Saturday, Arizona manager Kirk Gibson was criticized for not pitching around Prince Fielder, as the 3-4 tandem of Fielder and Ryan Braun combined to go 5 for 8 in Game 1, while the rest of the team was 3 for 23. Those two continued their dominance on Sunday, going a combined 4 for 8 with four RBI, but the "other guys" stepped up -- going 8 for 27 on the night, including three hits in the sixth.

"If we can get on base with those big guys, and two, three, four hole, that's the key a lot of times," Lucroy said at the postgame news conference. "Especially when he pitches around those guys so much. That means they've got to pitch to them, when we're on base in front of them. Like Corey (Hart) and Nyjer (Morgan)."

Sunday those guys and more came through when the Brewers needed them most. Braun and Fielder drove in four runs and the rest drove in five.

The key was the sixth inning when Jerry Hariston Jr. doubled with one out in the inning to chase Daniel Hudson from the game. Reliever Brad Ziegler then balked Hairston to third and after Yuniesky Betancourt walked, Lucroy came through with the bunt, which gave Milwaukee the lead. Saturday there were two outs for Lucroy when he hit the blooper off of Hudson, Sunday there was just one, so he could lay down the bunt. Lucroy had four sacrifice bunts during the season.

"It's always a tough call for me because I still like him offensively swinging the bat, but he's doing such a good job at the squeeze, that he's in the right spot to do it," manager Ron Roenicke said in the postgame news conference. "Sometimes you look at your lineups and you have that pitcher after him. If there's not a place to put Luc on, it's a nice play for him."

After an intentional walk to pinch hitter Mark Kotsay to put the double play back in order, Hart and Morgan came through with back-to-back RBI singles before Braun capped the scoring with an RBI single of his own. By that time, the damage was done and the guy "who can't really hit" came through.

"It don't matter to me. I just like to win," Lucroy said in the news conference. "Whether it's conventionally or unconventionally, I'll take a win any day."

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