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It's about Baseball, and Off-season Sports

2016 Cardinals Team Awards Go To Five Players For Impressive Performances

Even though short of their postseason goal of being a Wild Card team, the St. Louis Cardinals had some great games. Just not enough this season to see the playoffs. However, throughout the season, five players are being recognized for their skill, effort, performance and ability that made them standout in the Cardinals 2016 season. 

Pinstripes worn by the Cardinals honoring the 1926 World Series Pennant winners.


MVP:  Yadier Molina

Cardinals MVP Yadier Molina, not only a force as backstop, but recorded his best season since 2013.

No surprise here. Yadier Molina. Cardinals field general, manager and director. The one who keeps an eagle eye on the infield as backstop. He returned to Spring training rehabbing with a two-time surgically repair thumb, and worked his way back into being the everyday catcher. Molina dealt with his injury in the 2015 season, but had to give way to the fact, repair was necessary. Prior to spring camp, Cardinals signed veteran catcher Brayan Pena as backup for Molina to give him extra days off in the upcoming season. As fate would have it, Pena went the DL and saw very few games his first season with the Cardinals. Molina caughthis career high innings in 2016 with 1218.1 in 146 games. At the plate. During the first half, only punching out a .259 BA. However, in the second half of the season, he became a force with a .365/.398/.529/.927 slash line. For the season, 8 HR/58 RBI/38-2B/1-3B with 164 hits. The 34 year old Molina has been with the Cardinals 13 seasons, a seven time All Star, has eight consecutive Golden Glove Awards; and, has been a four time contender for the MLB MVP thus far in career. For the Cardinals fans, Molina will always be St. Louis Cardinals MVP. 

CY YOUNG AWARD:  RHP Carlos Martinez

Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez 16-9/3.04 ERA in 2016
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Martinez. The Cardinals architect of cup pyramids, the master of baptismal celebrations honoring home runs by his teammates. However, even though a jovial teammate in the dugout, he was the Cardinals backbone starter in the 2016 season. For the Cardinals rotation in 2016, command and control was not plentiful. However, Martinez was solid, and surpassed his 2015 season total closing 2016 with 195.1 IP.  Even though in 2015, his season was shortened due to shoulder stress late in September, which may have a bit to do with this additional 15.2 IP in 2016.  However, the probability of Martinez reaching 200 innings next season is in the making. He did outstanding for the Cardinals in 2016. And, in my opinion, his biggest competitor come Spring training in 2017, on young pitcher Alex Reyes. We will monitor later in coming Spring, Cardinals 1-2 punch  to their rotation.   

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:  Aledmys Diaz 

Cardinals rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz, on track for MLB RoY, when injury (HBP) placed him on the DL.
Scott Kane-USA TODAY Sports

Young, Cuban native, Aledmys Diaz a rough start once he bravely defected from his homeland and reached the United States. The Cardinals had signed the young amateur free agent in 2014. He was designated for assignment in 2015; which fortunately, the Diaz-Cardinals union was meant to be as no other team claimed him off waivers. Not much promise was shown by the prospect during this year's Spring training. However, a door opened for young Diaz. Cardinals everyday shortstop Jhonny Peralta was placed on the DL due to a thumb injury in ST which required surgery. Newly signed 2B/SS Ruben Tajada to cover for Peralta, sustained a quad injury the last game of Spring training. Therefore, the Cardinals decided, let's give the kid a chance. And, what a encouraging move this was for both the Cardinals and for Diaz. For his first half of the season, he had worked his way onto the MLB Rookie of Year list of contenders with his .312 BA/.518 SLG/17 HR/57 RBI and on track to seeing 30+ HR/100+ RBI by season end. On the fateful day, August 2, he was taken down (HBP) with a thumb fracture. He did not return until, September 12; and, he was an essential part of the Cardinals final stretch in hopes of seeing postseason play. He closed the season, .300/.369/.510/17 HR/65 RBI. For 2016, Diaz was chosen over closer Seung Hwan Oh, which Oh would have been deserving; but, happy the Cy Young was awarded to Aledmys Diaz. 


Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh replaced Trevor Rosenthal for the final inning duty.
Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals reliever Seung Hwan Oh, 34 year old Korean native of the international league. He was reliever/closer both for the Korean league and the Japan league. He was signed at the end of 2016 Spring training, making his way to the States to workout for approximately the last two weeks of camp. He was brought on board as a set-up man to closer Trevor Rosenthal. Rosenthal experiencing his own struggles on the mound, was placed on the the DL due to shoulder/forearm stress July 24. The announcement was made, Oh would replace him as Cardinals closer for the remainder of the second half of the season. He held lefty hitters to a .173 BA; and, coming from the right didn't fair much better with only a .201 BA. Even though many Cardinals fans experienced "Rosie Drama" during his 2.5 seasons a Cardinals closer, Oh did provide some of his own. However, the "Final Boss" Oh, closed the season with an on base percentage of 80.9 %. He pitched a total of 79.2 innings, 1.92 ERA with 103 strikeouts. He did earn his way to the Closer of the Year. Even though only signed for one season, $2.5 MM/2016. I expect to see him back with the Cardinals in Spring training 2017. 


Cardinals IF Jedd Gyorko, trade with San Diego Padres, sending CF Jon Jay out West,
Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals IF Jedd Gyorko, acquired via a trade in the 2015-2016 off-season. With the Cardinals log jam of outfielders, CF Jon Jay was sent West to the San Diego Padres; and, Gyorko came to the city by the Great Mississippi. He was brought on board as back-up for 2B Kolten Wong; and, if needed, to give SS Diaz some days off. With Wong being sent down to Memphis to "refine" his bat for a very short stay, Gyorko began his trek to his best season to date for the 28 year old. He smashed out 30 HR for a career high topping the Cardinals home run list over teammate and pal, Brandon Moss who had 28 HR. He his RBI totally was pretty close to his individual past three seasons with the Padres, just four shy of his rookie season in 2013, with 59 RBI on 97 hits with adding 58 runs. Gyorko is the second to Albert Pujols 2011 season with 30 or more home runs. Against his former team, he had 6 HR/11 RBI in the seven games played. Not that those numbers were the deciding factor, just sweetened the pot. So, a great breakout season for Cardinals' Gyorko, which earned him the Most Improved Player of 2016. Very much deserved.  

Congratulations to Yadier Molina, Carlos Martinez, Aledmys Diaz, Seung Hwan Oh and Jedd Gyorko as recipients of the 2016 Cardinals Awards. Justly deserved and, now, to prepare for an even better 2017. 

Chicago Cubs Enter The Big Dance With Bang, 5-0 Shutout, Over The Dodgers As NLCS Champions

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

For the National League Chicago Cubs, Game Six, with a shutout, 5-0, win over the Los Angeles Dodgers, their long road back to the World Series has come finally come to reality with a bright light at the end of a very long 71 year long tunnel. The Cubs will face the American League Cleveland Indians at Cleveland's Progressive Field, Tuesday, October, 25, 2016. 

Sun-Times, Chicago, IL

As has been reported throughout the season, this will be the Cubs first appearance in the Big Dance since 1945. The season of the "Billy Goat Curse" by Billy Sianis, owner of the Billy Goat Tavern. He had brought his goat to Game Four at Wrigley Field as the Cubs were playing the Detroit Tigers. He was asked to leave with his goat due to the animal's foul smell affecting surrounding fans and was not allowed through the gate. Now, I'm sure the northenders know this well; but, I am not sure if Sianis' curse was "never to return to the World Series"; or, "never to win a World Series", again. Two defined words "return" and "win", can make a difference to break a curse. 

But for now, for the 2016 Cubs, National League Central Division winners with 103 wins, topping both MLB leagues in the regular season. First in both leagues to clinch their playoff berth. Postseason, NLDS and NLCS Champs. However, they look to the #4 to bring a World Series win back to the northend of Chicago. Last WS Pennant was in 1908. They add their #17 National League Pennant to their collection, last night, next to their last, in 1945. 

Cleveland Indians last won the World Series Pennant was in 1948. They have made three appearances since, their last being in 1997. This postseason, the Indians are 8-1 for their title wins in the ALDS and ALCS. The Cubs will come to Cleveland with two days rest. The hosting AL Indians will have been idle for five. Will Cleveland still have the drive which saw them through the first two series? Or, will the Cubs have the edge with the momentum of their win last night? Should be a great World Series between the two teams. 


Cubs starter Jon Lester and SS Javier Baez were named the NLCS MVP's. The last we saw the honor shared was in 1990 by Cincinnati Reds pitchers Rob Dibble and Randy Myers. Lester is a seasoned postseason pitcher, in this NLCS, 13 IP/1 HR/1 ER/9 SO for a 1.38 ERA. 2016 Playoffs thus far, Lester has pitched three games, 21 IP for a 0.86 ERA/0.76 WHIP. Baez, the kid that few in Chicago had hope for in 2014-2015. Yes, had a cannon for a bat, but, also, had a healthy walk-strikeout ratio, 19-BB/119 SO in 289 AB. Talks/summations of Baez being a trading chip in 2015. Now, he shares high honors with his teammate, Jon Lester. In 2016, still a bit heavy on the BB/SO, 15-BB/108 SO; however, within 421 AB. Closing his 2016 season, he held .273 BA/14 HR/59 RBI in his 142 games played. In this NLCS, he had 22 AB/4 RBI/4-2B/4-BB/4 SO with seven hits. For postseason, he takes with him to Cleveland a .342 BA/.366 OBP/.526 SLG/.892 OPS.   

But, in last night's game, with great defense behind him, starter Kyle Hendricks should have received, in my opinion, the "Defensive Player of the NLCS" for his performance in Cubs Game Six. Hendricks, as usual, was seemingly calm, collected and in command. He out pitched Los Angeles Dodgers power arm and Ace, Clayton Kershaw. Hendricks went 7.1 scoreless innings, only giving up two hits, six strikeouts and issued no free passes. He held the Dodgers offense, followed by Cubs Aroldis Chapman for 1.2 innings to advance the Cubs to the World Series. 


As a Cardinals fan, am I excited for the Cubs? Well, my excitement lays in the thought that my dad, Hearl Bishop; and, my mother-in-law, Dolores Chapman are celebrating in Heaven above for their beloved Cubs. It was my dad that taught me many things about the sport. He's the one that took the time to teach me to appreciate great plays and tremendous players, no matter the team. However, he was the one who was the rival baseball fan in the household. My mom and I were both fans of the Cardinals. Of course, who was the rival fan depended upon who was doing the talking. So a lot of banter between us. Those days I miss. For one Cubs fan, 90 year old Dorothy Ferrell, she witnessed what my dad and mother-in-law weren't able to since 1945.  


This coming Tuesday will be Game One of the 2016 World Series, with coverage beginning at 7:00 CST. Presuming the crazy 7:08 for the first pitch. Cubs, nor Indians, have inked in their starters. Should Cubs manager Joe Maddon stay the course, it will be Jake Arrieta on the bump. However, in the playoffs, with two game starts on the road, Arrieta has pitched 11 innings, giving up 2 HR/6 ER allowing 12 hits for a 7.20 ERA for postseason. At home, he held a 2.62 ERA.  So, will Maddon stay? Or, start Lester, who will have five days rest in and has a 1.29 on the road. On the flip-side, the Indians may have hopes of facing Lester, again. They have hit him with a .306 BA in past games. But, I think facing Arrieta would not bother them, either; with, a .273 BA against him.  


Yes, it was confirmed yesterday that Cubs OF Kyle Schwarber was activated from the 60-Day DL and was to join the Arizona Fall League this weekend. Saturday, last night, would be his first live game since he sustained a multiple ligament (ACL/LCL) left knee season ending injury, April 7. Both GM Theo Epstein and Cubs manager Joe Maddon indicated, "the very real possibility", that Schwarber would join the team in Cleveland and placed on the roster as their designated hitter. However, the results of his sixth month check-up, this Monday, will be the deciding factor. In his rookie season, 2015, he had 16 HR/43 RBI for Chicago.  

A tremendous season for the northenders of Chicago. Now, time will tell if Cubs starter, formerly a  St. Louis Cardinals, Sir John Lackey, will obtain his goal in signing with the Cubs ~ getting his jewelry. Or, will he just have to settle for a haircut. Yes, I'm still very much a Cardinals fan at heart. Sorry, dad ~ love you! 

MLB International Showcase In Latin America, May Be Void Of Prospect Participants

The MLB International Showcase, involving the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, has become quite the commodity of players from foreign countries for teams in the United States. We have enjoyed many of those players as part of our MLB teams. St. Louis Cardinals starter, Carlos Martinez, among a larger number of current international players on current rosters from the Dominican Republic:  Pedro Alverez, Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Edwin Encarnacion, Francisco Liriano, Jr Lake, Starling Marte, former Cardinals Albert Pujols; and, Edinson Volquez. From Venezuela:  Jose Altuve, Gregor Blanco, Miguel Carbrera, Alcides Escobar, Jr Guerra, Salvador Perez; and, Luis Valbuena. The lists from both countries is just about equal in the many numbers brought to the States to play professional baseball. (Lists compiled,

Starter Carlos Martinez was signed by the Cardinals as a free agent.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Martinez, as is standard with international players as an amateur free agent, was signed by the Boston Red Sox in February, 2009, at the age of 19. His contract was voided by the Red Sox a month later. He was signed by the Cardinals as a free agent in April 2010. He made his debut on May 3, 2013 out the bullpen, exceeded his rookie status in 2014 and has made his way to the Cardinals rotation. 

The MLB International Showcase in the Dominican is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday this coming week. However, reportedly, there may be a boycott of all MLB events planned by, not only the Dominican; but, also, of the Venezuelans Showcase to be held November 16-17. Their event was moved to Panama from the latter, due to unrest and risks to those who would be attending, in the northern-most South American country. 

As reported by Brad Badler, Baseball America: In response to MLB’s reported international draft proposal that caught many in the industry off guard, trainers in Latin America are considering pulling their players out of the MLB’s upcoming Dominican and Venezuelan showcases. Trainers have taken a more strident tone toward MLB’s Dominican national showcase, which is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. “No one will take their players to the event next week,” said one prominent Dominican trainer. “There is a total boycott of all MLB events.”  

Also, in depth reporting by Badler:  "Before International Draft, Reform Needed" and "Venezuela Showcase Moved to Panama". The second gives one an overview of what conditions these kids have to deal with currently to change their future course in life. If you care to delve deeper into internationals draft information, you will quickly read, corruption is not limited to the "Buscones". 

Per Ron Walschleger and Jacob Elkram, SB*Nation:  "With the current MLB collective bargaining agreement (CBA) set to end shortly after the 2016 postseason, Major League Baseball owners are pushing for an international draft in the next CBA to replace the current international signing period. The current draft proposal Is a 10-round draft held over two days, and would start in March of 2018. The plan is for there to be a minimum age of 18 in place by the year 2021."

"The biggest reason reason for this proposal cited by MLB owners is the corruption in the process of acquiring foreign talent. Known as buscones, these "street agents" often take advantage of a player when he is young by providing food, lodging, and other accommodations in order to receive a piece of the player's signing bonus when they are eventually signed."

"Welcome to the Dominican Republic: Baseball Mecca" (Chicago Tribune) gives oversight in 2015 international draft.  

A lot of money has gone into developing international trades and seeing up and coming prospects between the MLB and foreign entities as I understand after reading all, with very little cost to the stateside MLB team owners. Surprising, not really. However, I'm sure more will be reported come Wednesday, October 26, as to the outcome of this year's international showcase. Will the fields of the Dominican Republic be void of prospective players? Or, in four short days, all will have been worked out? If the trainers are serious, I presume it will be the former mentioned.