Personal commentary among our beloved beat grunts is at an all-time high. Fans received an unprecedented amount of information from the hard-working scribes stationed in the southern reaches of our continent. In between regaling us with epicurial exploits or inundating us with photos of anyone in team-branded merchandise, team-specific writers serve up a daily dose of spring training tropes. While The Best Shape of His Life story is a well-worn and well-documented story shell, the growth of Proclamation of Greatness/Feigned Awards Outrage story is a personal favorite of mine.
Marvel at the bravery of Yankees manager Joe Girardi, as he not only predicts a Gold Glove in Robinson Cano's future, he laments the voters egregious oversight in 2009.
The thing about seeing your players all the time, I had a chance to see what he did on a daily basis and I find it hard to believe that anyone played better than he did
Shocking! The guy you watched every day appeared better in your eyes than the guy you shot sidelong glances at two or three times last year! The delicious irony of Derek Jeter's manager praising anyone's ability to go to their right is too much for me to take.
You might be shocked to learn Tony La Russa was once a lawyer, but it's true! As such, he's accustomed to building strawman arguments and telling absolute fabrications to the faces of loved ones. When asked about the hotly contested Cy Young race of 2009, La Russa couldn't resist using the media filter to prop up his rotation mainstays:
"I was very disappointed," La Russa said. "Lincecum is a great pitcher but in this particular year I don't think he outpitched our two guys. We've already turned the page on that one but it was disappointing."
You hear that, two excellent pitchers at the top of your game? You manager, the venerable field manager is in your corner! Remember that when he's yanking you for a key lefty on lefty matchup in the bottom of the fourth inning during a six run game.
The defense matters gospel continues to sweep its way across the baseball landscape. While some see it as a great way to support and protect a virginal pitching staff; others, like Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd, think defense is reason enough to hoist hotshot shortstop Troy Tulowitzki into the National League MVP discussion. "If they look at the whole picture, yes," said O'Dowd. While Tulo does play a more important position than incumbent Albert Pujols, his numbers will never, ever measure up to the King. WAR and the assorted evaluative metrics include defense and positional adjustments yet Pujols still rises head and shoulders above plucky Tulowitzki.
Matt Kemp's story is a little different. While not being anointed a potential MVP from within his organization, writers the nation over recognize the five-tool greatness of the Dodgers centerfielder. Sage old media handler Joe Torre did what he does best when asked about Kemp's off-field exploits: he referred to Derek Jeter.
I had Derek Jeter and I remember calling him in after his first year about the fact that he was single, the city of New York and all that stuff," Torre said. "He assured me that his priorities were in order and they were."
While Derek Jeter's never been so fortunate to win an MVP, he has won numerous undeserving awards throughout his storied career, so Kemp is in good company. Kemp is also in the company of Troy Tulowitzki and countless other excellent National League stars who'll never sniff an MVP so long as Albert Pujols is around. Something not entirely lost on the coaches and GMs who seek to praise their never-to-be officially recognized charges.