Posted on November 30, 2012 at 2:12 PM
Filed Under: St. Louis Cardinals
| United Cardinal Bloggers
Every year about this time, the United Cardinal Bloggers
make their selections on who should win the Cardinal Blogger Awards. This is the sixth time we've handed out these awards and each year is as much fun as the last.
The awards are split into two groups. The first half deals with the players and those that are involved with the Cardinal organization. Basically, that covers the good (and some of the bad and ugly) from 2012. The second half deals with the blogging community, as we take this time to recognize the best among us and give a few pats on the back for a job well done.
So come along and let's see what I'm voting this year. Honestly, right now your guess is as good as mine.
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Award 1: Player of the Year
There were some significantly good offensive performances this season. I mean, you had five Cardinals hit 20 home runs, you had one of the top offenses in the league, almost by default you are going to have a great crop of contenders.
However, Molina was head and shoulders above the rest, which is why he was the only one of the Cardinals to be an MVP finalist. When you coupled yet another career year from Molina's bat with his normally exceptional defense, the case could be made there wasn't anyone more valuable in the whole league, much less the team.
Award 2: Pitcher of the Year
You know it's a strange year when neither Chris Carpenter
or Adam Wainwright
makes this list. Lynn had a superb first half, but tailed off in the second and then struggled in the postseason. Motte had a rare season in that he garnered every save a Cardinal pitcher had this year, though that was partly because other pitchers blew a few save opportunities on his days off.
You have to give this one to Lohse, though, as a nice parting gift. The free agent to be pitched like it all year long and has only gotten better the farther away from his surgery he gets. Lohse was a steady rock in the rotation, probably not the ace in most years, but definitely what they needed this season.
Award 3: Game of the Year
Nominees: June 13 vs. White Sox, July 16 vs. Brewers, July 21 vs. Cubs, NLDS Game 5
Last year, there were enough great postseason games that we could split this award up. When we merged them together this year, though, it created an obvious winner. There's nothing that is going to compare to what the Cardinals did to save their postseason lives in NLDS Game 5. Those were some great regular season games, especially that comeback win against the Brewers, but you just can't top a rally that can be put in the same context as Game 6 from 2011.
Award 4: Performance of the Year
Nominees: Chris Carpenter's five innings in his return against Chicago, Adam Wainwright's shutout of San Diego, Shelby Miller's start against Cincinnati, Carlos Beltran's 3-4, 2 HR, 5 RBI game versus Washington
Pitching-heavy here, but that's not surprising when you start thinking about performances. A pitcher can rule a game easier than a hitter can, even such quality hitters as the Cardinals have in their lineup.
You can't say enough about Carpenter returning from having a rib taken out and pitching in the major leagues just weeks later and I loved Miller taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning in his first big league start, but I'm going to give the award to Wainwright's shutout. To see Waino struggle the first part of the season was tough for Cardinal fans, but when he turned the corner and showed that vintage Wainwright was going to return, that was huge. A wonderful thing to see and my pick for the best performance of the year.
Award 5: Surprise Player of the Year
The idea behind this award is to honor the player that most pleasantly surprised you. It's not necessarily who had the best season, but who most exceeded your personal expectations. While Kozma had a good September run (and it was obviously way off of everyone's charts), the length of his season rules him out in my book.
Any of the other three could make it, though. I thought Lynn would struggle in the starting rotation after thriving in the bullpen. I was concerned Jay couldn't hold down the full time center field job. Both of them went over and above what I thought they would do.
However, the player on this list I was most concerned about was Freese, which is why his 2012 performance garners him this award. After all the heroics of the prior postseason, it'd have been easy for Freese to sit on his laurels. He could have also not been able to adjust to the target on his back that had to be be there after those exploits. Or, like so many other years, he could have come down with some sort of injury that kept him on the shelf for an extended period of time. Instead, he played in a career-high number of games and, as such, put up career highs in most every offensive category. It was a great followup to last fall and it definitely was a pleasant surprise to me.
Award 6: Disappointing Player of the Year
Hard to believe such a good season of Cardinal baseball had such a rich crop of disappointments to choose from. Any of them could be a good choice, depending on what you expected out of them coming into the season.
As much as I wanted good things out of Rzepczynski, I think I'm going to go with Berkman for this one. Scrabble did have his moments, just not many of them. While I didn't expect Berkman to replicate his 2011, I did think he'd be able to play most of it. Even before he went down in LA, his power wasn't appearing like most Cardinal fans were hoping it would, and after that knee injury there really wasn't anything left of his season. I'll always be a big Berkman fan, but this year wasn't his finest moment.
Here's where I messed up. When I made up this ballot for the UCB to use in their voting, Matt Carpenter
completely slipped my mind as a rookie, given the fact that he got some time in the bigs during 2011. However, it wasn't enough to lose his rookie status, which means that he has to get this award. Lil' Carp did all that was expected of him and more this season, even getting that game in at second base, and he did it with a surprisingly good bat. I look forward to seeing if he takes the second base job next spring.
As for the official nominees, all of them had their moments--if Rosenthal had pitched more at the big league level, he'd probably gotten the nod--but none of them were as sustained as Carpenter save maybe Kelly, who was solid for most of the year as well even after being yanked from the rotation.
Award 8: Acquisition of the Year
John Mozeliak didn't do quite as much dealing this year as he has done in the past few years and last offseason was pretty quiet as well. Both of his moves, though, paid significant dividends during the season. That said, it seems to be an obvious selection to go with Beltran
here. Mujica definitely stabilized the bullpen, but without Beltran's first half, the Cardinals are probably not buyers at the deadline. Getting a 30 home run guy to come in and replace the offense of Albert Pujols
and for less than $10 million a year isn't a bad move either.
Award 9: Most Anticipated Cardinal
The minor league system continues to produce interesting and exciting future Cardinals and I don't know when there's been such a crop of players just on the cusp of being in St. Louis. As much as I'm always excited about the young pitchers, this year I'm going with outfielder Taveras as my selection. Taveras is reported to have some exceptional offensive skills, skills we haven't had come through St. Louis in quite some time, and I'm very interested to see if those skills will translate to the major leagues. I don't know that we'll see him before mid-season, but there will be a lot of talk about him all season long, I bet.
Award 10: Best Individual Cardinal Blog
The blogging section of these awards is much tougher than the baseball side of things. I mean, some of those were just flat-out obvious, you know? It doesn't work that way with the bloggers. All of them bring their unique flavor and approach to things and it's not like we have statistics to really judge who was better than others. It's a personal opinion, and I rate all of the bloggers I know quite highly, so anyone not selected is not to be taken as a slight.
For example, this first award, best individual blog. You have the old reliable in CardinalsGM
, you have the historian in On The Outside Corner
, you have the sabermetrician at Fungoes
, and those are just a sample of the ones available to select from. It's really not an easy choice and if you ask me 10 minutes from now, I might give you a different answer, but this year I think I'm going with Fungoes
. Pip's statistical work never ceases to amaze me--not only the numbers, but the fact that he came up with the idea and the methodology to research it in the first place.
Award 11: Best Team Cardinal Blog
As tough as the first one was, this might be even tougher. It's not a surprise that last year we had a three-way tie between Aaron Miles' Fastball
, I70 Baseball
, and Pitchers Hit Eighth
. All of them again put up a quality year, plus you have blogs like Saint Louis Sports
as well. However, I think I'm going to go in a little different direction this year and select Redbird Rants
. They've been able to use the power of FanSided to get a number of interviews and usually have an interesting take on things.
Award 12: Best Cardinal Media Blog
Nominees: Bird Land, By Gosh It's Langosch, Cards Beat
As Cardinal fans, we are really blessed with the media types that cover the Cardinals. Heck, no matter your opinion of Joe Strauss (and I'll admit he doesn't rate highly in my book most of the time), you can't deny that he breaks stories and gives good information. So any of these selections would be great, but there's only one blog that's won this award every time we've given it, and that's Bird Land. Derrick Goold consistently is able to start conversations and give even more insight than he does in his regular stories.
Award 13: Best Rookie Cardinal Blog
Blogging is a fairly transitive thing. There's always someone who fades out after having been gung-ho about it for a year or so. Thankfully, the opposite is also true--there are always new and interesting voices jumping into the mix.
This year's crew is an exceptionally good one. While CardsBlog hasn't joined the UCB, Wes Keene and the StanGraphs boys have recently become part of our number and have added their distinctive thoughts to our discussions. It's basically a coin flip, because you can't go wrong with any of them, but I'm leaning this year toward StanGraphs. Brian and Spencer's mix of humor and analysis makes the site a great place to spend some time. I feel a little bit better about this after seeing Keene on MLB got votes elsewhere--both definitely need to be acknowledged.
Award 14: Post of the Year
Nominees: Cardinal Executives Candid With Bloggers (RetroSimba), Darryl Kile's Final Inning (Aaron Miles' Fastball), On Life, Love and Baseball (I70 Baseball), STARS for Baby Reesa (Pitchers Hit Eighth), We Don't Get To Write The Endings (C70 At The Bat)
Each of these posts come highly recommended. (Well, the last one on the list is kinda iffy.) Mark's writeup of our time with John Mozeliak and Bill DeWitt III during UCB Weekend got linked at Hardball Talk and gave some recognition to our group in an indirect way. The dedication and effort Dennis put into the Baby Reese fundraiser was commendable, and as was said, if Skip Schumaker comments on your post, you are doing something right. Christine's look at Kile's last outing, how routine it was at the time and how notable it was just a few days later, is compelling.
However, baseball is a game of families, of one generation passing down the love of the game to another generation. So often, it's one of the few ways fathers and sons interact with each other. So I have to go with Bill's post at I70 about the sudden loss of his father, especially at a time when things should have been so happy for him. It wasn't an easy thing to write, I don't expect, but one that I'm guessing he feels better for writing.
Award 15: Best UCB Project
Nominees: Buck/Kile remembrances, Roundtables, Top 5 Iconic Moments, Top 7 Prospects
We do a lot of different projects in the United Cardinal Bloggers and there are reasons for that. One is that it gives us something new to put up on our sites, especially in the slow times that we're seeing now. The biggest reason, though, is to see what others think about the same topic, how they come to their conclusions and rankings. Some are a fixed part of the schedule (roundtables, prospects) and some are just for that one year.
I think the best thing we did this year probably was the Buck/Kile remembrances
. It was pretty obvious that even though ten years has passed, the affection for those two (and the shock of Kile's passing) hasn't diminished at all.
Award 16: Most Optimistic Cardinal Blog
There aren't just a ton of doom-and-gloom Cardinal blogs out there. I mean, sure, there are some that tend to be a bit more negative or snarky or intemperate, but not many. It's hard to be too much of a downer when your team 1) has won two World Series in the past six years, 2) was a win away from going to back-to-back World Series and 3) seems to have a winning window open wider than mine on an October afternoon (hey, it takes a while for fall to get here).
So picking the most optimistic blog is kinda like picking the person wearing the brightest red at Busch Stadium on game day--lots of competition and no obvious right answer. I don't typically do this, but this year I'm splitting my vote between On The Outside Corner
and Aaron Miles' Fastball
. I'm pretty sure there's not a situation the Redbirds have been in that Bob doesn't have some positive historical comparison for and Christine, Tara and Miranda have always been extremely optimistic without having rose-colored glasses.
Award 17: Best UCB Podcast
Nominees: Conversations With C70, Gateway To Baseball Heaven, Pitchers Hit Eighth, Redbirds of a Feather, UCB Radio Hour
The first two get struck off immediately, due to the fact that I'm not crazy enough to vote for myself. I will say that I've gotten a lot of positive feedback on Conversations and I'm very appreciative (and need to schedule a new episode!).
I like what Freddie has done over at Redbirds of a Feather and the Pitchers Hit Eighth boys would have likely gotten my vote if it wasn't for the fact the last episode was in February. (I bugged them to put out a new episode at UCB Weekend but apparently I'm going to have to make it a directive from on high.)
My vote goes to the UCB Radio Hour
, though. I know, I know, I'm a part of that as well, but I think cohosting once every two months isn't exactly headlining the show. The true strength of the show is our regular teams--Dathan Brooks and Chris Mallonee, Tara Wellman and Matt Whitener, and Jon Doble and Kevin Reynolds. It's a regular dose of Cardinal talk in a relaxed and fun setting. Plus where else are you going to hear debuts of hot new songs
Award 18: Best UCB Twitterer
If you aren't on Twitter, you really should be. There are a ton of great people to follow on there, both in and out of Cardinal baseball. If you limit it to the UCB, you still are going to have some incredible fun reading tweets and having conversations.
Again, so many to choose from, but I think two really stand out. Bob Netherton (@CardinalTales) has his Twittertales (patent pending) and always has something interesting to say, while Dennis Lawson (@gr33nazn) is the perfect person to start a trending topic or follow for a wisecrack or seven. Both know their stuff as well, of course, but their personalities come through and make for a fun time.
Sometime this weekend the votes will be tallied up and you'll find the winners over at the official UCB site. Feel free to chime in with your opinions on this post, though!