The Sheldon Awards

Since MLB.com reporters are mysteriously not permitted to be in the Baseball Writers Association of American (BBWAA), I have no vote for the year-end awards — either local or national. So — I will hand out my own little awards on this here blog.

This recognition and a dollar will almost get you a pack of gum.

Reds MVP: Joey Votto. No Reds hitter was as indispensible as Votto this season and that was proven during his absence for personal issues. When he was in there, no one was a bigger threat. He hit a career-high 25 homers and tied a career high with 84 RBIs entering Sunday, despite playing in just 130 games. He will be the first Reds player to hit over .300 since 2005. After his return from the DL, he missed only one game and when he was in there, no one worked harder. I give him the edge over Brandon Phillips.

Most outstanding pitcher: Bronson Arroyo. Few in the Majors were better than Arroyo in the second half. There was the string of quality starts (23 total) and the 12-straight outings of at least seven innings and three or less runs. That means the Reds always had a chance when he pitched after the All-Star break. Despite calls from panicked fans to get rid of him during the first half, he finished with a 3.84 ERA. Had he gotten some better run support, Arroyo might have been in the 18-20 wins range.

Rookie of the year: Drew Stubbs. Since he only came up on Aug. 19, he probably lacks the at-bats to qualify. But this is my award, so the rules go out the window. Stubbs made the Reds better once he became the leadoff hitter and he led the club in homers and steals and was second in runs scored since his arrival. Honorable mention must go to Daniel Herrera and Ryan Hanigan, both have been solid all season and have plenty to build on for next year.

Good Guy Award: Lots of candidates in the clubhouse but I’m going with Jonny Gomes. In his one year here, he demonstrated the meaning of solid clubhouse presence.

Biggest surprise: For my year-end story that will be out this week, I put Gomes but Nick Masset and Daniel Herrera would have definitely been solid choices. Dusty Baker was in agreement when he was asked.

“Probably Gomes, Nix, Danny Herrera and Masset big time,” Baker said. “Masset, probably the biggest. He’s elevated himself to a different role, a more important role through performance.”

Biggest disappointment: Willy Taveras. No explanation really needed but a .275 OBP and 18 walks doesn’t cut it for a leadoff hitter who was signed to a two-year, $6.25 million contract last winter.

Looking ahead to 2010:

I’d understand why if it didn’t happen, but I’d like to see Paul Janish open next season as the starting shortstop. His glove is sensational and he will never cheat with his effort. If only he wasn’t batting .213. With Stubbs instead of Willy Taveras leading off and more offense from behind the plate, the Reds might be able to handle a lower offensive production from Janish. He could also get better as he gets more experience.

Johnny Cueto made the next step but now must get his arm rested and ready for 200 innings. Last night, Cueto hinted he would do winter ball again in December. But there is an “extreme fatigue rule” in place. For any pitcher that pitches 170 innings in a season, it’s up to the club. Cueto pitched 171 1/3 innings this year.

“It’s our decision,” assistant GM Bob Miller said. “We’ll evaluate it.”

Unless it’s a few innings to tune up for Spring Training, Cueto should skip winter ball. But obviously there is a lot of pressure in the home country — in this case, it’s the Dominican Republic.

Don’t underestimate the message that no one has named Jay Bruce outright as the right fielder next year. While it’s his job to lose,  he needs to show up ready to rock and blow everyone out of the water at Spring Training — because he’s more than capable of doing it. Like he says, he needs to be a hitter and not a slugger.

If the Reds eventually want to name Dave Duncan their pitching coach, that’s their choice. But it will be an expensive choice — almost like adding a free agent player. There are some good choices inside the organization like Ted Power and if he wanted the job, Mario Soto.

Goodbye, George:

George Grande revealed on Sunday that he was doing his final Reds TV broadcast after 17 years. He informed Fox Sports Ohio and the team earlier this week that he was opting out of his contract.

“I wanted to spend more time at home, basically,” Grande said. “I love the Reds, what I do and I love my job. I just need to be home on a regular basis, not just four or five days a month, to keep up on things.”

Grande said he would still do work with Major League Baseball and the Hall of Fame.

“If there is something that comes along where I don’t have to travel on a regular basis, I will do that too,” Grande said. “I’m not leaving to take another job. I’m leaving to spend more time at home. If something happens, fine. More than anything, I will miss the people. I will miss everybody I worked with. We’ve all been pretty lucky and fortunate — the broadcasters and writers, everybody – to have a great relationship. The people I worked with made 17 years a joy.”

It’s sad knowing George won’t be back. There isn’t a nicer guy in the business. He might have been the most positive person I’ve ever met. If he’s ever had a bad day, you wouldn’t know it. Best of luck….

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http://twitter.com/m_sheldon

3 Comments

Mark, do you hang with us for the hot stove season, or do you have a ‘day job’ to carry you through February? It’s going to be an interesting few months, with maybe a little free agent activity and lots of winter ball to watch over – Yonder Alonso, for example. And a new pitching coach to find. (Who’s going to decide if Cueto pitches this winter, if Pole’s been let go? Cant ask Dick as he’s cleaning his locker, can you?) Does it matter that Bruce isn’t playing this off season? Does he have his stroke back – just needs to re-find it in March? And so forth. Will Francisco play all 9 positions in instructional league? You know, like that. So I hope we can keep this going intermittently until pitchers and catchers report in 5-1/2 months.

Maxblue — covering the Reds for MLB.com is my one and only job. Like in past seasons, I will be on the hot stove stuff and beyond. There will be stories, blogging and Tweeting. So please hang with me….As for Cueto, I wrote a story yesterday that it’s the club’s decision on winter ball because he pitched more than 170 innings.

FSNOhio, please no Dan Hoard……………

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