Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Sunday Morning Muse

Cubs win! Cubs win! Two of the most exciting games in Cubs history played out yesterday in Wrigley putting the Cubs into the playoffs as the NL Central champions.

It was the best scenario for the Cubs because now Kerry Wood opens against Russ Ortiz in game one in Atlanta. Carlos Zambrano in game two, then Mark Prior In Wrigley.

The Braves are still the best team I’ve seen all year, but John Smoltz has to be on his game or else the Braves will struggle getting to the NLCS.

Remember very good pitching, stops very good hitting, both the Cubs bullpen and the Braves bullpen minus a healthy John Smoltz won’t stop anybody, so this series will be up for grabs. Both managers will avoid their bullpens until absolutely necessary (no quick hooks) in this short series.

What happened to Houston? Their starting pitching disappeared the final week as they lost two of three to the Giants and then two of three to Milwaukee to finish their season. Funny, I always thought their bullpen would collapse first not Wade Miller, Jeriome Robertson, and Ron Villone. The hitting also went south as the Giants and the Brewers shut down this talented group of hitters. It’s not good to lose the majority of your games the final week when you are tied for the lead.

The season ends today, the long journey covering six months, and 180 days is coming to an end, so let’s look at the league awards, click below for more!AL MVP is creating the most uncertainty. Who will win the award, either A Rod, and you know what I think of him, or Carlos Delgado who disappeared for the last two months until hitting four homers in a game Wednesday night against Tampa Bay.

My pick comes from a playoff team:
Miguel Tejada. If you watched the A’s games this season you know there was no one on the field everyday, on this team, that had the impact Tejada did. His start was slow, but he never wavered. His defense outstanding and he anchored the batting order all season. Eric Chavez saw nothing but righties for the last 75 games, allowing him to pad his stats so they look respectable heading into the playoffs. Miguel saw all those righties too and hit them hard.

Runners up: David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Beltran, Alfonso Soriano, and Shannon Stewart.

AL Cy Young: All the way with Roy Halladay. He won fifteen in a row, won 22 games, and did it for a team that wasn’t very good. When you throw over 260 innings in today’s game, you are something special.

Runners up: Esteban Loaiza, Roger Clemens (17 wins at 40 yrs old), Jamie Moyer (20 wins at 40), and the kid Tim Hudson.

AL Rookie of the Year: Hideki Matsui, the Japanese leagues are not the majors but a form of AAA or slightly better ball, I don’t hold it against him and he did come into the AL and knock in 100 runs in the toughest city to play. He is a punch and judy hitter (not the power we thought), but he knows how to play the game.

Runner up: Rocco Baldelli who hit from day one and never let up playing for a real pain in the butt, Lou Piniella, that counts for something. Mark Teixiera also had a terrific season and will be a major star in this league.

Manager of the Year: Tony Pena, I don’t know how he kept this team in contention all season, but clearly his upbeat attitude and confidence was a big factor in his team’s success.

Runner up: Ken Macha, he had to win the division to live up to the record Art Howe left behind and he did in his first season as manager. Ron Gardenhire and Jerry Manuel were all but fired at the all star break, but both brought their teams back into contention, both deserve recognition.

NL MVP: If you watch one Giant game you know that Barry Bonds controls the action. He is simply the best player in the game and luckily for him, his team wins because of it, so there is no controversy when he gets the MVP award.

Runners up: Albert Pujols, the next big superstar in baseball has arrived. If he got the award I wouldn’t say a word because this guy carried the Cardinals all season, granted he had some help, but he was magnificent. Sammy Sosa is the glue of the Cubs attack, which left alot to be desired. You can never lose sight of what Sammy does for his team and this year they won the Central. Good for him! Gary Sheffield scares a pitcher every time he steps into the box, his problem is the Braves make it look easy, but you know what, he is the best player on the best team on the field in baseball and that counts big time. Jim Thome did what he did for Cleveland for so many years this season in Philadelphia, playing for a manager that created trouble every day. Thome stayed above it all and was the man in Philadelphia. Great season for Thome!

NL Cy Young: Almost as difficult to choose as AL MVP. Jason Schmidt is my choice. He simply is the best pitcher in the league. He pours that fastball in at 96 MPH with two out in the ninth, he is an ace, he carried the Giants staff when they needed it. Just check all the stat categories for pitchers, he led all the key ones.

Runner up: Eric Gagne who was awesome in relief. I like a guy who goes nine and unless there is no one in that class, then I’ll look at a reliever. Both Schmidt and Mark Prior go deep in the game. Prior was awesome for the Cubs, he will win many Cy Young’s in his future, he just won’t get it this year unless the Cubs PR machine works overtime.

NL Manager of the Year. Jack McKeon came in and brought his team to the playoffs after succeeding Jeff Torborg in May. It is tough enough to get in when you have all of spring training and the regular season to mold your team, but when you come in when McKeon did, and build a powerhouse with guys who have never won before, that is doing something special in my book.

Runners up: Dusty Baker led this team (Cubs) as a general would lead his army in battle and brought them home first after the same team lost 95 games last year. We all know how special Baker is, so it is no surprise he was so successful his first season in Chicago, but he created magic around a team that wasn’t that good and won, can you believe it. Felipe Alou was handed a world series team, but he had to handle 24 men plus Barry Bonds and establish himself quickly. He did both expertly and well, quieting critics who thought he was too old to manage, he came through with flying colors and his team led wire to wire with many new players in key spots. Tremendous job filling Dusty’s shoes.

NL Rookie of the Year: Dontrelle Willis pitched his team into contention, winning like a young Vida Blue when he came up in late May. Brandon Webb was excellent for Arizona, but Willis captured the heart of the country and lived up to the hype in virtually every start he made. He was a rock star, kept his head on straight, and had one helluva year in the spotlight and for that reason he is my rookie of the year, without a doubt.

NL Executive of the Year: Jim Hendry for reinventing the Cubs in midstream with ex Pirates who did make a difference.

AL Executive of the Year: Kenny Williams for not firing Jerry Manuel at the all star break and for picking up as many impact players as he could, to get the White Sox into the thick of the AL Central race. Same goes for GM Baird in KC who picked up new pitching everyday in midseason to keep the Royals in the race. Either one deserves the award without any question.

So, the playoffs are here.

The games go quickly, momentum changes by the minute, but the teams that play the best baseball win.

Defense, pitching, and timely hitting wins. Big sluggers don’t scare me in October, it’s the little guys who usually win games.

The key game in the division series is game three, either you go home or you take a 2-1 lead, that’s the game to win, watch who pitches that game. This year with all the good starters ready late in the series (Martinez, Wood, Hudson, Mussina, Schmidt, Ortiz, etc to name a few), it will determine who advances to the LCS.

Trust me, I know this stuff.

We will look at the matchups tomorrow and Tuesday.


1 Ed { 09.28.03 at 1:49 pm }

Marty- Great article. Your comments about the Braves (best team in the league) may be irrelevant in a five game series. Who do you prefer in such a series, Prior and Wood or Ortiz and today’s Maddux? Over 162 games the Braves clearly a better team than the Cubs. Over five games? I am not so sure. This is the vice of the present playoff arrangement. Are the Braves a better team than the Giants over 162 games? When one factors in the pitching staff it may be questionable. Smoltz is the one pitcher who might tip the scales in the Braves favor. Worrell is undoubtdly giving the Giants’ brass uneasy moments as the post season begins.

2 Anonymous { 09.28.03 at 5:17 pm }


I trust that “you know this stuff”.

I agree with your award picks 99%. Macha definitely deserves recognition. I would give the nod to Baker over McKeon in the NL by a hair.

Speaking of game 3’s, is Macha relying too much on Ted Lilly’s hot streak to see him thru in hostile territory?

Could very well be another Bay Bridge series.

Reno Bill

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