This afternoon, Major League Baseball announced that Lance Berkman and Jacoby Ellsbury were named Comeback Player of the Year in the National League and American League. Berkman is an obvious choice, but I tend to agree with my friend Mark Feinsand: Bartolo Colon would have been a better choice in the AL.
Ellsbury had a great year coming back from injury, and there’s no question his season was better than Colon’s, but I’m not sure that’s a comeback.
Berkman was a comeback. It was a return-to-form for a player whose career seemed to be on the verge of ending. He was bad last year, and an MVP candidate this year. That’s an easy pick for Comeback Player of the Year.
Ellsbury was hurt last year. He got better from 2008 to 2009, and then he got better again from 2009 to 2011. He’s not a terrible choice for this award, but Colon’s career was left for dead. The guy didn’t even play last year, then he popped up with a 4.00 ERA at age 38 while doing his part to keep the Yankees rotation afloat during the first half of the season.
Ellsbury had the better year. Colon had the better comeback.
• Interesting stuff from Joel Sherman about the pressure of being a general manager for the Red Sox and/or Yankees. Reminded me of a conversation I had with Kevin Towers this spring, talking specifically about Brian Cashman’s job.
“I don’t think you could ever relax working with the Yankees,” Towers said. “Even working with (Cashman) last year, I don’t think he was ever relaxed, I just think over time he’s probably a little more confident being in the environment now and having a pretty good feel for it. There’s a side of him coming out that people aren’t used to seeing, and I think it’s probably confidence more than anything.”
• David Ortiz indicated that he’s not planning to come back to Boston, and he had some kind words for the Yankees organization: “It’s great from what I hear,” Ortiz said. “It’s a good situation to be involved in. Who doesn’t want to be involved in a great situation where everything goes the right way?”
• For whatever it’s worth, there are certainly more logical places for the Yankees to spend their resources than on a 35-year-old designated hitter, no matter how productive he’s been. Hard to imagine Ortiz in pinstripes, not so much because of hte Boston connection, but simply because it’s a piece that doesn’t fit.
• Seems really strange, considering the Yankees seemed to love the idea back in 2007, but the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader is reporting that the Yankees organization wants its minor league affiliates to come up with something other than “Yankees” to call themselves. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Tampa and Staten Island all go by the name Yankees.
• Remember Jose Valdez? Probably not. He was a pitcher in the Yankees minor league system a few years ago, and when he hit free agency, the Astros signed him to a Major League deal (an aggressive and surprising choice considering Valdez had pretty much peaked as the last man in the Yankees Triple-A bullpen). Well, now he’s been outrighted off the Houston roster. Last week, the Astros did the same with Lance Pendleton.
• A few other familiar names from Baseball American’s latest minor league transactions: Eric Hacker elected free agency from the Twins, Cody Ransom did the same with the Diamondbacks and Brian Schlitter was outrighted by the Cubs. Schlitter was only briefly with the Yankees this spring, Hacker made it to the 40-man roster a few years ago and never got a call-up, and you probably remember Ransom.
Associated Press photos