It’s time for the annual Cardinal Blogger Awards, 2011 Championship Edition! Below, you’ll find my ballot…but don’t stop there…fill out your own by CLICKING_HERE .
Award 1: Cardinal Player of the Year
I have to go with Lance Berkman here. The Puma not only jump-started this team with his tremendous – and surprisingly resilient – home run power after a god-awful season in 2010, but his leadership and experience…his easygoing nature…his “been there, done that” response to tough losses and jubilant victories…was likely the difference between our 2010 finish and a 2011 World Series Championship (*sigh*…that never gets old). With Albert struggling and Matt bouncing on and off the disabled list like a trampoline, Berkman provided the stability and consistency this team needed to endure a crazy season. If not for Berkman – and his uncanny ability to provide exactly what this team needed when they needed it (HR power early, base-hit productivity late, and leadership during a historic comeback) – this team might have finished below .500. Eek.
Award 2: Cardinal Pitcher of the Year
I’m actually going with Other: Fernando Salas here. Salas saved our collective a$$e$ this season. With Franklin looking like the “Keith Law I told you so” version, and no other pitcher able to hold down the back end of the bullpen, Salas stepped up for a team that didn’t even include him on its Opening Day roster. Think about that for a minute – he went from Opening Day Roster Reject to Season Saving Closer. That’s nuts. Sure, he faltered at the end due to fatigue…but imagine for a second what our season would have looked like without his stabalizing presence in the ‘pen. Not good.
Award 3: Regular Season Game of the Year
Hmmm…toughie…because there are more than 162 to choose from, I don’t wanna’ pull a Keith Law and screw up the voting with a write-in…so I’ll pick from the pre-determined choices. That said, I have to go with September 28th at Houston (Carpenter shutout on last day). Perhaps we should have all learned something about this team that day. Of all the “Greatest Night of Baseball’s Regular Season” games that night, the Cardinals were the only team to step up and grab the postseason with both hands and make a statement. With an 8-0 victory, Carpenter and the offense both showed up…on the road…with their backs against the wall. Huge. What a response by a team that had every right to fold and fall short.
Award 4: Post-Season Game of the Year
Wow. I have to go with WS Game 6 (two rallies with one strike left) here…even though I am SO tempted to go with Game 5, Carp vs. Halladay. The fact is, that Game 6 in the World Series was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It was the stuff of legend. It was historic. It was…in a word…amazing. ‘Nuff said.
Award 5: Surprise Player of the Year
I want to say Fernando Salas, here…but I hate it when one actor wins multiple awards at the Oscars…so…I’ll go with…Allen Craig. I knew Craig had a bat…but I was honestly shocked at how well his power translated to the MLB level. Watching him in Springfield and that short left field porch, I couldn’t help but wonder if he had warning track power. Guess I was wrong. Add to that his ability to learn from the previous season and put together a truly valuable campaign in 2011 for a World Series Champion (there it is again!)…truly surprising.
Award 6: Disappointing Player of the Year
How did Miguel Batista get on here?! Who had high expectations for a guy nicknamed The Poet? Anyway…Rasmus will likely win this one because of the gut-punching trade mid-season that cost us our most promising prospect since Albert Pujols…but I give it to Ryan Franklin. I didn’t think he would be lights-out this year, but I never would have imagined he would be quite as hittable as he was…and completely unable to regain his form. The dude was an All-Star in 2009…and was released early on a season and a half later!!! If he had lost the closer role, that would have been enough…but the guy completely lost the ability to get MLB hitters out at all! Odd…and sad. All the best to Frankie…hated to see him go out that way.
Award 7: Cardinal Rookie of the Year
Once again, I have to go with Other: Daniel Descalso. The kid appeared in more games at third than David Freese. When Freese went down, Double-D stepped up and provided stability at a position that was a black hole in 2010 under the same circumstances. Not only that, but he earned an everyday role as a late-inning, defensive replacement…as a rookie! His reputation for late and close hits is impressive, and who can forget his leadoff hit in the tenth inning of Game 6 to keep us alive? Likely most. Descalso came in as a rookie second baseman and ended up playing more games at 3B than anyone else on the roster (not innings…games). Add to that his shocking ability to learn SS at the MLB level on the fly (we actually finished Game 6 with Descalso at SS!), and he earns the ROY award easily.
Award 8: Pre-Season Acquisition of the Year
How many awards can Lance Berkman earn? It’s Berk in a landslide. All-Star, amazing leadership, incredible postseason numbers…and he won the MLB NL Comeback Player of the Year award. Easy choice here.
Award 9: Mid-Season Acquisition of the Year
This one is a bit more difficult. All contributed…but I have to go with Edwin Jackson. The argument could be made that Scrabble was more valuable in the playoffs – and will be the better long-term pick-up – but Jackson solidified a weak spot in the starting rotation. That was huge. Honorable mentions to Dotel and Furcal, but Jackson gets my vote.
Award 10: Most Anticipated Cardinal
Matt Adams is getting a lot of recent buzz, but Shelby Miller still easily outpaces every prospect in brown paper bag sales and sleepless nights. With Carpenter nearing the end of his career, the price of the Pujols contract looming, the price of excellent starting pitching going up, and Waino’s big contract on the horizon…the value of a top of the rotation pitcher under team control at minimal value is huge. Also…assuming Miller works out…I think many Cardinal fans are viewing the pedigree as: Morris -> Carpenter -> Wainwright -> Miller. Lofty expectations.
Award 11: Best Individual Cardinal Blog
Gotta’ be Cardinal70.com. Daniel’s ability to crank out the sheer volume of posts that he writes while doing so many other things for the UCB still astounds me. And we ain’t talkin’ just a few sentences…The Godfather aims high almost every time out, with recognizable stalwarts like “goat” and “hero”, you gotta’ love wakin’ up to some C70 in the morning.
Award 12: Best Team Cardinal Blog
Pitchers Hit 8th gets my vote. The work Nick and the guys do is unique, fresh, and relevant. Not only that, but the guys are consistantly looking to add new ways to frame and publish content – like the recent Pitchers Hit 8th Podcast. Oh…and they gave me a pretty nifty scorebook this year 😉
Award 13: Best Professional Cardinal Blog
Wow…you know…I love so many of these guys. Matthew Leach is so accessible, patient, and understanding. I absolutely love the guy. But I have to give my pro blog vote to Bird Land and Derrick Goold. While I miss the 10 @ 10, I found myself tuning in just to read the game ball posts on a regular basis. In the end, however, Derrick wins my vote based on two factors: Consistency and Excellence. Way to go, Gooldie…and thanks for the autograph on my book!
Award 14: Best Rookie Cardinal Blog
Ouch…once again, I love so many of these writers…but I gotta’ go with Aaron Miles’ Fastball on this one. Reading those posts, I would never have suspected that was a rookie blog. Again, consistency earns some big points, here.
Award 15: Post of the Year
I read all the nominated posts, waiting for one to jump out at me. Thankfully, one did. On June 22, Angela of Diamond Diaries posted 9 Years Later… (CLICK_HERE). For me, this is what a blog post should be. It’s not about rehashing what the pros are reporting. It’s about adding a piece of yourself to the conversation. It’s about taking something…and taking it somewhere personal, whether by content, by tone, by voice, or simply by style. Angela did that with her look back on her experience of Jack Buck’s death.
Award 16: Best UCB Project
I have to say, I really enjoyed the Progressive Game Blog. There’s just something about a live collaboration between all these wonderful bloggers that gets me excited. And I loved the idea of reading a post in one style, then clicking a link and flowing right into the next post in another style. It was a great way to read about the game. I just wish we had a better game to blog about this year.
Award 17: Most Optimistic Cardinal Blog
Erika and the girls at Diamond Diaries win this one. And, yes, actually meeting and spending time around Erika this summer swayed my vote…but the ladies at that site were always good for a pick-me-up when I needed it most. Thanks, girls!
Award 18: Best UCB Podcast
I really feel unqualified to vote on this one…but I will anyway…cause that’s what this country is founded on, darn it! Un-informed people with equal votes!!! Anyway…gonna’ go with the UCB Radio Hour due to its all-inclusive nature of all comers and the live format. And…it’s the only one I felt compelled to listen to on a regular basis.
Award 19: Best UCB Twitterer
Come on…y’all know I should win this (uh…that’s @deckacards for Cards N Stuff…ahem)…but Daniel has threatened ridicule and public humiliation for eternity in the blogosphere if I vote for myself…so 😉 ….gonna’ go with @PitchersHit8th…just cause I keep coming back to their combination of snark, stats, and style. Good job, guys…for a runner up.
Award 20: Best Fake Cardinal Twitter Account
It’s @TortyCraig for me. Dude was bringin’ it for a LLLOOOONNNGG time. He pre-dated the squirrel and led the lot of ’em. I will say, the donut sprinkles gag ran it’s course fairly quickly…but he still gets points for effort.
And just ’cause I can…