The 2012 Gold Glove awards were given out last night, and as expected, our very own Yadier Molina won his fifth consecutive one. Molina was the only Cardinal nominated this year, though many fans thought Jon Jay should have been. In all honesty, I love Jon Jay and all, but there are CFers in the NL that are better than him. Maybe Jay will win a Gold Glove someday, but right now is just not his time.
Not surprisingly, fans of other catchers that were nominated and some that weren’t, were upset at Molina’s win. Homerism will prevail every time it seems. As a fan of baseball, I try to avoid homerism as much as possible. That is why I was not upset when Jon Jay was not nominated. If you take an honest look at players outside your own team, you will see that there are many, many players who are very good, better even than many of our own Cardinals. That doesn’t mean that our guys aren’t good, it just means they aren’t the best. And there is nothing wrong with that. As Cardinal Nation has seen many times in the last decade, you don’t have to have a team of all the best players to win. Cardinal Nation has been lucky in that we have had a nice run of players over the years who are “the best”. Lots of Gold Gloves given out to lots of Cardinals. We have nothing to complain about.
But, let’s be honest, the Gold Glove is a dubious honor because it doesn’t always reward “the best”. The award is given by coaches and managers, men who while they are very good at what they are paid to do, don’t necessarily have the time, the resources, or the ability to accurately gauge who is the “best” defensive player at every position in both leagues. Managers in a given year don’t see every player in both leagues play, so they have to go on reputation for those they have little to no knowledge of And let’s face it, reputation is a shaky basis for an award. There were in the minds of many, including me, several Gold Glove snubs this year. One of those snubs involved the very position that our Jon Jay plays, center field. All reliable defensive metrics shows that Michael Bourn was the best defensive center fielder in the NL this year. While Andrew McCutchen is a fine player and very good offensively, his defensive numbers compared to Bourn’s are nowhere close. (Please don’t cite errors and fielding percentage to me folks, those stats are worthless as far as I am concerned). In Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) Bourn had 24 to McCutchen’s -5. Bourn’s UZR was 22.4. McCutchen’s UZR was -6.9. The difference is just glaring.
Other noteworthy snubs include J.J. Hardy over Brendan Ryan, who won the 2012 Fielding Bible award as the best defensive shortstop in both leagues, and Adam Jones over Mike Trout. The Hardy win was not so egregious, as Hardy is a very good shortstop, he just falls short of being as good as Brendan Ryan. The Jones win is another in the Bourn/McCutchen camp, Mike Trout was the 2012 Fielding Bible award winner at center field. Adam Jones chases balls while blowing bubble gum.
And for those who might say that any defense I might give to Molina’s Gold Glove win is homerism, I have this to say. Look at the numbers. Molina’s DRS is 16 (There is no UZR for catchers). No other catcher in the NL was close. Miguel Montero‘s DRS was -1 . Carlos Ruiz‘ DRS was 3 . Ryan Hanigan, another good catcher who wasn’t nominated, was closer, with a DRS of 7. Buster Posey, the probable MVP of the NL had a DRS of 0. Heck, Matt Wieters, the AL Gold Glove winner, had a DRS of 5. Molina was also the Fielding Bible award winner. This is not a matter for debate and any fan not practicing homerism would know that. Yadier Molina is insanely good. So if you are still complaining that your catcher didn’t win the Gold Glove, just stop, you are embarrassing yourself.
Enough with the Gold Gloves, I think I’ve made my point. A few odds and ends I want to mention. The time is near for clubs with free agent players to make qualifying offers. The one on the Cardinals’ radar is Kyle Lohse. An offer of 1 year 13.3 M to Lohse would garner the Cardinals a draft pick, if Lohse turned down the offer. Lohse had his best year ever with the Cardinals in 2012. Speculation is that he is going to get a long term deal, possibly in the 75M range. He is also represented by Scott Boras. The chances that Lohse would accept a 1 year 13.3M offer from the Cardinals is somewhere in the range of slim to none. In my opinion, the Cardinals should make the offer.
The last odds and ends I want to mention is the future of Adam Wainwright. Wainwright is under contract with the Cardinals for 2013. I so hope that talks of an extension for Wainwright will soon be in the offing. I know some fans are worried that it will be extremely costly to keep Wainwright. I am not naive enough to believe he is going to come cheap. But the Cardinals have potential holes in the rotation going forward, seeing as how Garcia is a question mark health wise, and Carpenter is a question mark both health wise and age wise. That leaves Westbrook and Lynn without Wainwright. While there are young arms in the pipeline, not all of those arms will necessarily be starter ready by 2014. Both Trevor Rosenthal and Shelby Miller are possible for the 2014 rotation, but that still leaves an opening if both Garcia and Carpenter are not options. As much as I adore Joe Kelly, he is not a replacement for Wainwright. The rotation needs veteran arms going forward and one of those veteran arms should be Wainwright. If Wainwright has a Cy Young award left in him, I want that Cy Young to be as a Cardinal. Get busy Mr. Mozeliak.