By Sweeny Murti
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*Justin Verlander winning the MVP started plenty of arguments, but it also deprived us of another great winter’s debate—if Jacoby Ellsbury had won the award over Curtis Granderson.

Both players had outstanding years, but given the way the season ended for the Red Sox, this would have been a talk-radio all-timer, with Yankee fans quite literally ripping their hair out trying to figure out how their guy lost to someone from a team that had the worst September collapse on record.

Oh well, I guess we’ll just have to be thankful for the Jets and Giants.

*One other thing that stuck out to me about the MVP vote is that Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia are among a handful of players that have received MVP votes each of the last three years.

If we’re going to bet on any of those three actually winning the award anytime in the next three years, I’m guessing we’d all pick Cano.

*Bobby Valentine as Red Sox manager?  C’mon say it with me in that Kermit the Frog/Marvin the Martian voice…


Yankees-Red Sox doesn’t need a spark, but wouldn’t Bobby V bring one anyway?  He rubs people the wrong way sometimes, but he knows how to win baseball games.  If his closer wasn’t Armando Benitez, maybe that Subway Series turns out differently in 2000.

*The free agent market has moved surprisingly fast in some circles, but the Yankees haven’t gotten involved yet.  I don’t expect that they will anytime soon.

The Yanks have made it clear they want and need starting pitching, but if they moved quickly on the current market it would only serve to saddle them with contracts they might soon regret.  If C.J. Wilson or Mark Buehrle or Edwin Jackson is going to be a Yankee, they will do so only when the price tag drops.

If it doesn’t drop?  Well, I think the Yanks will move forward with Ivan Nova in a bigger role and hope to find the next Nova in a kid like Hector Noesi, with more capable arms on the way.

There is always the possibility of a trade (Atlanta’s Jair Jurjens Chicago’s John Danks, and Oakland’s Gio Gonzalez are the latest to be rumored), and I do believe the Yankees will try to get aggressive with their prospects to move on a pitcher.  But again, they are doing their best to make sure it is on their terms, meaning waiting for teams to come off of current asking prices (likely combinations of Jesus Montero, Dellin Betances, and Manny Banuelos; for example, Gonzalez is a name I heard near the trade deadline last summer, but Oakland was supposedly not budging off Montero, so no deal).

Winter Meetings start December 5.  My gut tells me the Yanks will not be making any big deals before they are over December 8, but that is always subject to change.

*The draft restrictions in the new CBA aren’t as strict as they could be (luxury tax rather than hard cap), but at first glance it still feels like the teams at the top and the bottom of the draft are being penalized.

The Rays, for example, don’t compete—can’t compete—with the Yankees and Red Sox in the free agent market, so they rely on the draft.  Now there is a restriction on how much they can spend there too?

Meanwhile, the Yankees tend to draft high risk, high reward type players, entice them with larger than normal bonuses, and hope the risk is rewarded, for they can’t ever draft the “can’t miss” lottery-type picks that fall to the 65-70 win teams every year.  Now those types of picks may be curtailed too.

However, one scouting director I spoke to this week told me that teams would still draft and sign the players they want, because it’s still more cost effective than the free agent market.  A surcharge on draft picks is still better than signing middle of the road starting pitchers for tens of millions of dollars.

Meanwhile, the HGH testing might just complete the shift in baseball back to pitching and defense.  Sure, there are still sluggers, but offense has come back down and pitchers are starting to dominate again.

Is it a coincidence that Verlander’s MVP season is the first by a starting pitcher since 1986, which is roughly around the time steroids first started making their way into the game?  Probably, yes.  But everyone around baseball knows that good pitching and good defenders are more valuable than ever before.

Sweeny Murti

What do you think of a pitcher winning the MVP award? Let Sweeny know in the comments below…

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