On the mound , but only briefly ……

On the mound , but only briefly ……….

With baseball’s postseason having come to a successful end , with the Boston Red claiming .their third World Series in the past ten seasons and the club’s eighth overall . The rest of this off-season, now becomes about the individual awards and today the first of those were announced, with the Rookie of the Year honors . In the AL , the recipient was Tampa Bay Rays’ rookie Wil Myers , who after a successful run with the team during the regular and postseason , will be looking to build upon that in 2014, as the Rays pursue another chance at success within the AL East , having fallen short of their own expectations.

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In the NL, the recipient of the NL Rookie of the Award , went to Florida Marlins’ pitching ace Jose Fernandez . The player was one of the few bright spots on a team that was simply abysmal , during which we witnessed the Marlins finish at the bottom of the NL East posting a mark of 62-100 , of which only the Houston Astros (51-111) had a worse record in all of baseball . Fernandez for his part was simply exhilarating over the season showing a great deal of poise and maturity in someone so young, who burst onto the scene with a sense of purpose. Now in the midst of this all, there are likely to be detractors, who may well feel aggrieved that the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rookie phenom sensation Yasiel Puig may well have been viewed as an afterthought , given his spectacular debut and being the main catalyst behind the Dodgers’ mid to late season surge that witnessed them winning the NL West divisional crown with a great deal of ease , only to then fail miserably when they faced eventual pennant winners, the St Louis Cardinals in the NLCS pennant series.

As impressive as Yasiel Puig was said to be for the Los Angeles Dodgers , it is my belief that the voters for this award , viewed that the NL based franchise was merely best served by not only Puig ,but several of the team’s highly paid stars , on a team that once that they blew the division apart , there was little to suggest that the NL West would still remain competitive , and we also witnessed something of a tail-off in the slugger’s performance , only to then see rare glimpses in the postseason for the team . There is no doubt in my mind that future honors await Yasiel Puig in his career , as he is one of the best young players in the game today. The game of baseball will be best served by players such as Yasiel Puig , Wil Myers , Jose Fernandez , Mike Trout , Bryce Harper , Stephen Strasburg , Andrew Bailey , Buster Posey and Geovany Soto over the coming years. Given the recent controversies that have simply ravaged the game of baseball , as the issue of steroids still remains a part of the landscape , with their little to show by the league hierarchy in stamping out the biggest stain to hit sport over the past two-and a half decades. It is pretty much safe to say , that for all of Bud Selig’s insistence , as long as along as Alex Rodriguez is allowed to make a mockery of the system and baseball itself , then the commissioner will forever be viewed as the executive who failed to show any decisiveness , making several unfathomable and idiotic decisions along the way, that have simply done nothing for the betterment of the game.

In what might not necessarily come as a surprise , but the main favorites for the AL and NL Manager of the Year Awards appear to be Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians and Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates . The Indians’ surprising resilience shown within the AL Central and thereby making the postseason as a wildcard entrant was one of the great stories of the baseball season. And fact that the Cleveland Indians bowed out in the wildcard round of the postseason , should not be seen as a negative, because , what Francona was able to achieve with this team not only caught the fans by surprise, but I would dare say, the vast majority of observers in and outside of the game . It should be noted however , that it was Terry Francona’s managerial guile that did more than anything else to guide the Boston Red Sox to their most recent World Series’ triumphs, prior to John Farrell guiding the team this past season to another notable triumph for this venerable franchise .

Recognizing Terry Francona for the award to my mind would be valid, but I feel an honorable mention ought to be due for John Farrell and what he was able to achieve in his first season with a Boston Red Sox team that was in complete disarray in 2012 , having finished in last place within the AL East, with Bobby Valentine simply showing that his managerial acumen , was really nothing more than a great deal of hot air.

Clint Hurdle was able to guide what was a young team a t its core to a respectable second place finish within the NL Central behind the St Louis Cardinals . It did look as if at one time the Pirates had the division as theirs for the taking , but momentary lapses , caused this young roster to succumb to more pressure than they are you usually accustomed to. On this Pirates’ ball-club, we saw the further maturation of Andrew McCutchen , not just as a player , but also someone, who now appears to be the vocal leader of the team both on and off the field of play . My only thought now concerning the center-fielder , is when he next becomes a free agent , are the Pirates prepared to do whatever it takes to retain the services of the best player this organization has had, over the the past eight years ? Clearly this is a matter that will be on the minds of not only the team’s fans but also Pirates’ owner Robert ‘Bob ‘ Nutting and general manager Neal Huntington . It has been Nutting’s reluctance to actually spend money on this team and seeking out the best possible talent available , that has in large part left this franchise standing curbside,. waiting to achieve something of note. Well after a two-decade long wait , the Pittsburgh Pirates made their first appearance in baseball’s ‘Fall Extravaganza’ and that of its postseason .

If an improvement is to be seen with the Pirates , then this off-season Neal Huntington and this managerial staff will have to work diligently in assessing the needs of the team, by way of the available free agents and that of the organization’s farm system to see if there are players waiting in the wings ready to contribute to and for the team.

To my mind, it appears to be a foregone conclusion in terms of the Cy Young Award Winners winners and who they ought to be this season . Without a doubt, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers has been the best pitcher in baseball over the past three seasons. Those who have doubts, need only to look at the pitcher’s statistics posted in each the past three years to see the evidence of his dominance. Kershaw is likely to be named the NL Cy Young Award winner , with an outside shot at quite possibly taking the NL MVP Award at the same time , making it a “daily double” . In 2013 , Kershaw was as elusive , as he was dominant during the regular season , with few batter being able to get the better of the Dodgers’ starting ace, who was by far in a way , the best pitcher on a very good pitching roster by way of the perceived talent.

In the AL , the top contenders for the Cy Young appear to be Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers , Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers and Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners . Darvish got off to an excellent start early in the season for the Rangers , before injury took a toll on part of his year , but he was able to rebound and once again show the front office’s faith in signing him. If only the rest of the team were able to show the type of consistency and dedication of the Japanese star, then perhaps the season would not have ” petered out” with such resounding disappointment and so many questions being asked of a number of players on the roster . Scherzer was simply outstanding , as he led the Tigers’ pitching in wins and strikeouts on his way to 21-3 win tally , a best in the American League and the Majors this past season . With the Tigers’ season coming to an abrupt end with the their succumbing to the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS in six games (4-2) , it must be said that Scherzer’s winning of the AL Cy Young will not be seen as that great a compensation for GM Dave Dombrowski and team owner Michael Ilitch , after the resignation of Jim Leyland , whose success with the franchise made Detroit Tigers relevant again .

Beyond Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners , until this season , no one really took ,much notice of what the team was aspiring to achieve within the AL West much less the rest of baseball . It would be fair to suggest that Howard Lincoln and the rest of the managing partners that make up the Board of Directors have simply been derelict in their duties in seeking to make this franchise competitive . The Mariners’ record over the past eight years simply speaks for itself and the fact that they have not made the postseason in the twelve years and their 2001 ALCS appearance and a 4-1 series’ loss to the New York Yankees . Now while I have no doubt that the addition of Hisashi Iwakuma’s to the team has been of benefit to the Mariners , it provided nothing more than a simple feel-good story for a franchise bereft of managerial acumen and depth of talent . The team was simply not competitive enough within the AL and within a division , where other than the Oakland A’s and Texas Rangers , one might as well have imagined that the division bore the aforementioned teams playing each other repeatedly rather than the Mariners having to play the A’s Rangers and Houston Astros .

The Cy Young Award within the AL is likely to be a two-horse race in the end between the Tigers’ ace and Yu Darvish , the with Max Scherzer joining teammate Justin Verlander as a recent award winner of baseball’s top pitching award for the Tigers’ franchise .

The MVP Award , long seen as the top individual award in the game of baseball has a noted history , but as of late , one could attest to the fact that with Ryan Braun’s win in 2011 , even with the rumors of the player’s use of an illicit substance and his apology this year for his admitted deceit and lying to the game’s authorities , the fans and the Milwaukee Brewers’ ownership has left an indelible stain on the game . Bud Selig’s handling remains haphazard and completely bereft of anything bordering, on being intelligent. Yet somehow, at this point of the season before the winter season meeting of the owners , league hierarchy and front office executives to hash out a number of issues, as well as gauging the interest amongst teams of the various free agents , their impending status and the likely changes due . Baseball now needs more than ever before, an image at the top of the game, that truly represents best that the sport has to offer.

The AL contenders for the MVP are Miguel Cabrera , the 2012 MVP recipient and Triple Crown winner , Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles , baseball’s only fifty home-run hitter this season and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels . Cabrera hands down , has been as dominant this season as he was in 2012 , albeit that Davis’ season primarily built around that home run tally , did not lead to a postseason berth for the Orioles. Add in the fact that suspicions have continued to surround a player who before this season had never hit more than twenty-five home runs in a season . Trout coming off an AL Rookie of the Year win in 2012 , has been the Angels’ lone bright spot on another under-achieving season .

In all likelihood , this decision as adjudicated by the BBWAA will come down to how they view the year-long performances of Cabrera , Davis and Trout and who proved to be the most consistent . This season, I truly believe that Miguel Cabrera has simply been better than his peers and having led the Tigers into the postseason , of which the same cannot be said of either Chris Davis or Mike Trout .

Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates , Yadier Molina of the St Louis Cardinals and Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks , all had productive seasons for their respective teams. McCutchen, was simply more than the driving force, behind a franchise having made their first postseason appearance since 1992. By far the best player on that Pirates’ roster , he has now become a perennial All Star and now has to be one of the best players in the NL. Molina led the Cardinals in a myriad of offensive categories this season and was one of the primary reasons behind the their successful run in the postseason. Though the World Series’ loss to the Boston Red Sox was definitely a lopsided affair , it should not detract from a splendid season by the Cardinals’ catcher , a player who is now proving to be one of the preeminent players at the position within the game. Paul Goldschmidt provided the excitement needed for a Diamondbacks’ team that simply could not meet the challenge of even remotely being in with a chance being a worthy adversary for the Los Angeles Dodgers within the NL West .

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Picture gallery .

It will be interesting to see which these triumvirate of players favored amongst the primary NL candidates will walk away as the 2013 NL recipient of the NL MVP award, following in a long line of illustrious winners of the past . As we know, several of those players, now fall into a somewhat unsavory category , of being suspected steroid users or admitted violators of the league’s steroidal policy . Either way, the game this season though smeared by the ongoing legacy of its landscape still being tainted is in need of a breath of fresh air with a new group of players who actually have respect for the game as well as the fans themselves , rather than being self-absorbed narcissists, with a total disregard for the fans . What if anything, do you believe to have been the major highlights of this past year within MLB and what thoughts if any, do you have with regard to next season ? Simply leave a comment, as you see fit on this, and anything you believe pertinent to the subject matter.

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Picture and slideshow gallery details below .

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(1) Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays who this week was named the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year . In the NL the award went to Miami Marlins’ pitcher Jose Fernandez after both players had fantastic seasons for their respective teams. AP Photo/ John Raoux …

(2) Yasiel Puig (66) of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts as he bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field on September 19th, 2013 in Phoenix, Arizona. The player , though favored by a number of voters within the BBWAA in the NL Rookie of the Year voting , failed to get the votes needed to add the Dodgers’ list of acclaimed players to have won the prestigious award. Getty Images North America / Christian Peterson ….

(3) MLB Commissioner Bud Selig , left, whose handling of the “steroid issue” within baseball, has repeatedly come into question over the past decade. The league’s highest-ranking official will seek to have the suspension of Yankees’ third baseman , Alex Rodriguez , upheld in an arbitration hearing for which a date has yet to be set. Presiding over the hearing will be Frederick Horowitz . Rodriguez has a civil suit pending in Manhattan in the US Federal Court , in which he seeks unspecified damages for libel , slander , defamation of character and emotional distress , brought about by the league’s actions, in seeking to suspend him for misleading statements and his alleged association with Anthony ‘Tony ‘ Bosch of Biogenesis Inc. and the purchase of illicit substances , said to be PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) of from Bosch’s company (Biogenesis) . Rodriguez has denied any wrongdoing on his part stressing that it is nothing more than character assassination by the league hierarchy. He will be represented in his civil suit by noted criminal attorneys Joe Tacopina and David Cornwell . AP / REUTERS / Alex Marshall ….

(4) Pittsburgh Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle is seen here congratulating Andrew McCutchen, left, , outfielder with team. Both are in line and seen as presumptive favorites to capture the NL Manager of the Year Award for Hurdle , with McCutchen seen as the likely recipient for the NL MVP . After a two-decade wait the Pirates made it back to the postseason , only to fall at the in the NLDS . GM Neal Huntington and team owner Bob Nutting are hoping for more positive results in 2014 , with both owner and general manager vowing to increase the team’s payroll considerably, after a season of increased attendance and a sellout for a vast majority of the Pirates’ games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,. AP Photo / Mark Edmondson ….

(5) Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers 2013 Cy Young Award winner , who led all starting pitchers in the Majors this season in terms of victories . AP Photo / Eric Schmidt …

(6) Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers , left and Mike Trout , are seen as the two leading candidates in AL MVP race alongside Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles . The Tigers’ slugger is seeking back-to-back wins of the award he won 2012 , during which, he also attained the Triple Crown . Getty Images / Fiona Matthews ….

(7) Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles , who led all players this season in the Majors with 53 home runs the highest total in either league over the past twelve years when in 2001 Barry Bonds hit the single season lead total of seventy-three home runs . Davis , who prior to this past season had never hit more than twenty five home runs in a season , is now created something of a storm , with their now being ever-growing suspicion as to his single season achievement . Getty Images / Chris Hobbs …..

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tophatal ………………….. 11/13/2013

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MLB standings finals as of 10/03/2013
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Wendy Fiore .