In the end, Adam Dunn broke his promise to Hawk Harrelson, and failed to win the AL Comeback Player of the Year award. Between this and the 2011 post-All-Star break pact he made with Alex Rios to save the season, it might be time to start taking Dunn’s solemn, steely-eyed vows with a grain of salt.
Of course, the reason Dunn was supposed to fail was that his buddy Rios went and became an even better hitter than him, with the help of Jeff Manto’s tutelage and Ozzie Guillen’s absence. But Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney earned the honors instead, which seems like…probably a bad call.
Not to minimize Rodney’s season, which was absolutely tremendous (0.60 ERA), but a live-armed reliever with strikeout stuff fixing his control problems–especially with the help of a pitching coach as excellent as Jim Hickey–isn’t exactly unheard of (Matt Thornton, Bobby Jenks, etc.) Rodney breaking Dennis Eckersley’s ERA mark is probably to thank for the attention he received.
I would have opted for Jake Peavy. This season certainly offered a reminder for how difficult it is to compose a 200-inning season, and for Peavy to flirt with the 220 mark after three years in the woods, and a surgery to re-attach his latissimus dorsi muscle certainly offer the novelty Rodney lacks. Then again, maybe it’s good for Peavy. The award is sponsored by Viagra, and maybe it would be awkward to hear the phrase “Everyone at Viagra congratulates you on not only returning to, but exceeding your previous levels of performance.”
Speaking of Durability…
Jeff Zimmerman of FanGraphs published his disabled list summary on Thursday, and the historically injury-avoiding White Sox finished…2nd, with just under 500 days lost in 2012.
Herm Schneider has been employed with the Sox for a very, very long time, and healthy years have become the norm. Even still, between John Danks going down for the year, Brent Morel and Alejandro De Aza’s glitchy backs, Jesse Crain’s dueling obliques, Gavin Floyd’s elbow, and even Brian Bruney’s hip, it seemed like a bit of a rough year. Even if managing the old aches and pains of Kevin Youkilis, Paul Konerko, and Adam Dunn, or the fatigue of Jose Quintana and Chris Sale, never required long absences.
Thus, the only explanation for this seeming like a bad year for health is that Schneider has spoiled everyone rotten, as the White Sox preposterous lead over the last three years reveals. For a reminder of Herm’s greatness, Zimmerman includes a link at the end to the incredible story of Schneider treating Greg Walker when he suffered a seizure during pre-game warm-ups in 1988.
A-Rod? Really, we’re talking about A-Rod?
The Yankees bailing on a (until further notice) healthy Alex Rodriguez at the tail end of their playoff run has stirred speculation that his departure from New York could be imminent. Since the White Sox have a solar system-devouring black hole at 3rd base if they don’t re-sign Kevin Youkilis, there’s a natural curiosity on his availability.
Rodriguez remains an above-average player, albeit one with health problems. The only caveat to pursuing him in a trade is the contract, which with five years and $114 million remaining, is one of the most onerous in sports.
It’s certainly onerous to any kind of negotiations. The Yankees have gone and alienated Rodriguez in favor of inferior options during the playoffs, but they still need enough mutual discontent to power them through deciding to trade him, eating gargantuan piles of money, and accepting a pittance in return. All of which would be necessary for acquiring Rodriguez as a solution at 3rd to be a feasible option.