11/13/06 Notes

*The Cubs really had no choice but to re-sign Aramis Ramirez to retain credibility with their fans, especially as a big-market team that could obviously afford to do so. While I obviously prefer more patient hitters and the Cubs in particular have a longstanding problem in that regard, Ramirez is too valuable a property, as a 29-year-old who hits for big-time power and a good batting average, to blame him for the things he doesn’t do.
*I have to regard the Jaret Wright trade as a sign of hubris on the part of Leo Mazzone. Perhaps Wright is best suited to middle relief work, given his utter inability to go past 5 innings with any regularity. As for the Yankees, they eat the bulk of yet another ill-considered contract, a luxury few of even the other rich teams have.
*I just gotta say: if you had tried at the All-Star Break to name the members of the traveling Major League all-star team that would visit Japan at the end of the season, how long would you have been guessing to come up with John Maine on the roster?
*The Rookie of the Year awards will be handed out this afternoon. The NL field is just an embarrassment of riches (the Dodgers and Marlins alone were loaded with quality rookies), but I have to regard the top three as Hanley Ramirez, Ryan Zimmerman and Josh Johnson. I’d give it to Ramrez very narrowly over Zimmerman, for having a slightly more impressive year, but both will – health and contract issues permitting – contend with Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, David Wright, and Miguel Cabrera for many years to come for the title of best SS and 3B in the NL East (in fact, Ramirez and Reyes are almost even as is). Dan Uggla had a fine year and may win the award but wasn’t as good as his double play partner this season and doesn’t have as bright a future – Ramirez is four years younger, had the same slugging percentage and an OBP 14 points higher, plays a more demanding defensive position, had more plate appearances, and stole 51 bases to Uggla’s six.
In the AL, I don’t really have a quarrel with Justin Verlander, who seemed to become the consensus choice after Liriano went down, although it’s easy to forget that Jonathan Papelbon is also eligible for the award; Papelbon will head to the rotation next year, which combined with Keith Foulke being cut loose raises some interesting questions about what the Red Sox bullpen will look like.
*My picks for the other major awards are discussed here.
UPDATE: Ramirez and Verlander win, with Zimmerman, Uggla and Johnson finishing 2-3-4 in the NL and Papelbon and Liriano 2-3 in the AL. Well done by the writers.