A few stories from Brewer nation worth highlighting to sum up a busy week and a half:
Braun wins NL MVP
The Baseball Writers Association yesterday announced that Ryan Braun was the winner of the 2011 National League MVP award. Braun received 20 first place votes and 12 second place votes. He finished with 388 points to Matt Kemp’s 332, despite Kemp’s stronger statistical showing during the season. The award shows decisively that team context counts; the Brewers were a playoff team, while the Dodgers barely managed a .500 season.
A chasm separated Kemp and the third-place finisher, Prince Fielder, with 229 points. John Axford garnered only 7 points and came in 18th in the voting, behind such head scratchers as Pablo Sandoval and Shane Victorino. I know the award means different things to different people, but can you imagine the Brewers in the playoffs without Axford’s 43 consecutive saves and and 1.95 ERA? I thought Axford deserved a far better showing.
Sveum lands with the Cubs
The Cubs tabbed Brewers hitting coach and former player Dale Sveum for their managerial opening last week. The Cubs are in full-on rebuilding mode, so it might be a while before Sveum sees a winning season. He has a three-year contract, with a fourth-year option. Sveum was reportedly a top candidate in Boston as well, but took their time and the Cubs obviously wanted to avoid a competing offer.
The Cubs have also asked to interview AAA pitching coach (and also former Brewer) Chris Bosio, presumably for their pitching coach vacancy.
The MLB this week announced a new collective bargaining agreement, which many predict will harm small-market teams like the Brewers. Ryan Topp of Bernie’s Crew has an excellent summary here.
The most significant changes revolve around draft pick compensation. There are no more Type A or B free agents; now, in order to receive draft pick compensation, teams must submit a qualifying offer to departing free agents. That offer must be equal to the average salary of the highest 125 players in the game (something along the lines of $12-13MM right now, if I remember correctly). But the draft pick compensation doesn’t even go the player’s former team; now, it dumps into a pool, and a lottery is held to determine precisely which small-market team is going to receive picks. The new CBA also discourages draft spending by imposing a cap, with teams that go over budget heavily taxed. The net effect is to make it extremely difficult for teams to build through the draft.
Baseball’s divisions finally become balanced in 2013 under the new CBA. The imbalance has been something of a pet peeve of mine for a long time, and shifting the Astros to the AL’s West division makes perfect sense. In the short term, the move hurts the Brewers because Houston is a terrible major league team. In the long term, the Brewers will have one less team competing for the NL Central title.
The new CBA also adds a wildcard playoff, a single game in which the two wildcard teams face off “winner-take-all” style. Implementation may occur as soon as this upcoming season.
Four added to 40-man roster
The Brewer protected four players from the Rule 5 draft by adding them to the 40-man roster: OF Caleb Gindl, IF Zelous Wheeler, P Santo Manzanillo, and OF Brock Kjeldgaard. The team’s 40-man currently stands at 35, with several positions to fill prior to the start of the 2012 season.