Cy Young Winners

As Awards Week draws to a close, last night saw the announcement of the 2023 Cy Young Award winners. There haven’t been many surprises with the awards this year, and the Cy Young was no exception. Blake Snell took home the honor for the National League and former Pittsburgh Pirates star and current Yankee Gerrit Cole received the award for the American League. Congratulations to Gerrit. This isn’t the first time he was deserving, but it is the first time that he’s won the award. He was unanimously voted the winner after twice coming in second and finishing in the top five three other times.

This is one of those hard realities for us Pirates fans. When we do end up with superstar players like Cole, it is inevitable that we have to watch them go on to have wonderful careers somewhere other than Pittsburgh. We can talk until we are blue in the face about how the Pirates actually can afford to sign these types of players which is true, but the reality is that this current owner doesn’t seem willing to do so. If Paul Skenes turns out to be what we all hope that he will be, I imagine that I’ll be writing about him winning the Cy Young somewhere else a few years down the road. Hopefully, the only difference will be that unlike Cole he’ll win one or two with the Bucs while he’s still in the Burgh.

Athletics Heading To Vegas

The Oakland A’s move to Las Vegas was approved unanimously by MLB Owners. It’s been a rough stretch for professional sports teams in Oakland. In 2020 the Oakland Raiders moved to Las Vegas and just a few months later the Golden State Warriors made the move across the bay to San Francisco. Now they find their MLB team following their NFL team to Las Vegas.

The A’s are set to become the first MLB team to relocate since 2005, when the Montreal Expos became the Washington Nationals. The A’s lease at their current home, the Oakland Coliseum, expires after the 2024 season. They A’s could wind up playing in multiple locations before they move into their new stadium in Las Vegas in 2028.

“I know this is a terrible day for fans in Oakland,” MLB commissioner Rob Manfred told reporters Thursday. “I understand that. That’s why we always had a policy of doing everything humanly possible to avoid a relocation, and I truly believe we did that in this case.”

“Today marks a significant moment for our franchise, and it’s met with mixed emotions – sadness for this change and excitement for our future. I know this is a hard day for our fans in Oakland,” Fisher said in a statement. “We made sincere efforts to keep our team in Oakland, but unfortunately, it did not work out. I am grateful to the fans who have supported our team throughout the years and the home Oakland provided. The storied history of our franchise includes three cities over the past century: Oakland, along with Kansas City and Philadelphia, will always be part of this franchise’s DNA.

With the approval just coming recently, there aren’t any concrete plans for what comes next for the organization. I wonder if they will maintain their current branding with team colors and mascot or if they will rebrand and start anew in Vegas. Personally, I prefer to see teams completely rebrand when they relocate. It can sometimes be funny when they don’t, though. Like in the instance of the Utah Jazz. Because we all know that the thing Salt Lake City is known for is its jazz music scene. Or when the Minneapolis Lakers moved to Los Angeles. Leaving the land of 10,000 lakes to their new home of 9,900 lakes. Right? Even in cases where rebranding isn’t a source of joke fodder for mid-tier bloggers (What? I have a heightened sense of self-worth. Fine… mid(ish)-tier blogger), I think rebranding and starting over is the best move. If for no other reason than the financial incentive of forcing your existing fan base to buy all new gear to support their favorite team.

Brewers Hire New Manager

After seeing former manager Craig Counsell decide that he ultimately enjoyed being in proximity to Lake Michigan but preferred somewhere with a bit more crime, the Milwaukee Brewers have finally decided on a replacement. They have named their bench coach of eight years, Pat Murphy, the new team manager.

After eight years as bench coach, Murphy was handed Milwaukee’s managerial reins in an introductory press conference at American Family Field on Thursday. Or rather, it was a re-introductory press conference, since the 64-year-old Murphy, like his new associate manager, former Brewers All-Star Rickie Weeks, has a long history in an organization hoping that this kind of continuity helps extend a run of regular-season success that has produced five postseason berths in the last six years.

“There’s just something about this city,” Murphy said. “I seem to be connected with the Brewers and Milwaukee. And then I started thinking, my kids look at what they call ‘Waukee’ as their home during the baseball season, and they know nothing different. It’s just a beautiful thing.

The Brewers are in a tougher situation than we’ve grown accustomed to seeing them in. Since 2017 they have had only one season below .500 and made the playoffs in five of those seven seasons. They appear poised to enter a rebuild which will likely take far less time and end up far more successful than the Pirates’ current rebuild. Good times. Good times.

Angels Claim They Aren’t Rebuilding And Will Compete in 2024

I guess I don’t even need to type anything clever here. The joke is in the headline.

Now faced with the possibility — if not the likelihood — of Ohtani signing elsewhere in free agency, there have been ample questions about the team’s direction. However, general manager Perry Minasian made clear at newly hired manager Ron Washington’s introductory press conference that he has no plans to take a step back, let alone embark on a full-scale rebuild (link via ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez).

“We’re going to be aggressive this offseason, and we’re going to make this team better,” Minasian said.

With Ohtani’s potential departure and the aforementioned slate of waiver departures late in the season, there’s no shortage of holes for the Angels to fill. That said, Minasian and his staff also have plenty of financial leeway to augment the club. Roster Resource projects a $152MM Opening Day payroll in Anaheim — roughly $60MM shy of the team’s franchise-record mark. Whether owner Arte Moreno will green-light a return to those heights remains unclear, but the Angels haven’t had an Opening Day payroll shy of $182MM since 2019. (Their prorated payroll in the shortened 2020 season was just over $71MM — the equivalent of about $192MM over a full schedule.)

I’m not exactly sure what being aggressive this offseason will look like while simultaneously losing Shohei Ohtani. It is an interesting concept and one that I’ll be eagerly watching. If for no other reason than for something to make fun of here on the blog.

Speaking Of Ohtani

I’ve seen this pop up occasionally since free agency started and every time it makes me sick. I’m just not in the right headspace to be able to accept these rumors as true. It is said that the Cubs are the most aggressive team in pursuing Shohei Ohtani.

CHICAGO — If only the designated hitter rule had come to the National League prior to 2022. It could have changed the course of Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani‘s career — as well as the trajectory of the Chicago Cubs. At least that’s what the Cubs were thinking when they pursued him back in 2017, before he signed with the Los Angeles Angels.

“It was pretty clear he wanted to do both [hitting and pitching], and DHing was the best option for that,” Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer said last week at the general managers meetings. “As good as the meeting with him went, we always knew it was going to be an uphill climb.”

The Cubs were one of seven finalists for Ohtani’s services back then – and one of two not located on the West Coast. At the time, Chicago was in the middle of a winning window, having made the NLCS three straight seasons, taking home a World Series championship in 2016.

There will be plenty of competition for Ohtani this winter, but at least Chicago has the DH to offer this time around. It also just hired widely respected manager Craig Counsell to take over an 83-win team that just missed the postseason in 2023. Additionally, the team has payroll coming off the books in the form of Jason Heyward ($21 million) and Cody Bellinger ($17.5 million), leaving money for a massive deal. The Cubs were under the luxury tax threshold in 2023, ranking 11th in payroll, making it a little less undesirable to exceed it, if necessary.

The timing could finally be right for a Cubs-Ohtani union.

“Ohtani would own Wrigley Field, literally,” one NL scout joked about his potential salary. “He’d own Chicago, for sure.”

If there is a silver lining in this, it would be that this would bring Ohtani to PNC Park more frequently. I still don’t like it. With the latest changes to MLB scheduling, Ohtani is already going to be visiting PNC Park regardless of where he ends up. I would prefer it to either be as a Pirate (lol) or with a non-division team.

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