The Manager of the Year awards were handed out last night, and they went to Pirates skipper Clint Hurdle and the Indians' Terry Francona, giving both men their first such honor.
Hurdle received 25 of the 30 possible first-place votes for National League Manager of the Year after leading the Pirates to their first above-.500 record since 1992. Pittsburgh finished the regular season with 94 wins and then beat Cincinnati in the Wild Card play-in game before losing to the Cardinals in the NLDS.
The Manager of the Year voting was much closer in the AL, where Francona got 16 of 30 first-place votes and beat out Red Sox skipper John Farrell by just 16 points. Points were handed out on a 5-3-1 tabulation system for first, second and third place. The Indians lost 94 games in 2012 but finished with a 92-70 record under Francona in 2013 in his first year at the reigns in Cleveland.
Voting for the awards was done before the postseason began, so Boston's World Series title didn't come into play when it came to this award. Farrell obviously did a tremendous job this season, but I feel like Francona accomplished more with less during the regular season, and personally, I agree with the way the voting turned out in both the AL and NL.
In news from around the NL East, the Phillies have themselves a new outfielder after signing Marlon Byrd to a two-year, $16 million deal. Byrd was rewarded for a stellar 2013 campaign, in which he hit .291/.336/.511 with 24 homers and 88 RBIs with the Mets and Pirates.
I understand that there isn't a lot of power available on the free agent market, and the Byrd signing won't cost the Phillies a draft pick, as he wasn't tendered a qualifying offer. I get that the Phillies wanted to add more pop to an outfield that lacked home run-potential last season.
But two years and $16 million for a 36-year-old who was essentially out of baseball a year ago is a hefty payout, and it might speak to the type of deals we'll see the rest of the offseason thanks largely to what is a fairly weak talent crop on the free agent market.
In other news, former Nationals utility man Mark DeRosa has decided to retire after spending parts of 16 seasons in the big leagues. DeRosa's decision was announced yesterday by the Blue Jays, who had previously picked up DeRosa's $750,000 option for the 2014 season.
DeRosa hit just .188/.300/.247 in 48 games with the Nationals in 2012, but was a key presence in the clubhouse, where he provided a strong veteran presence and a great sense of humor.
And man, was DeRosa also a tremendous quote. I'll always remember how reporters crowded around DeRosa's locker down the stretch, asking for his take on the Nats' postseason chances and his big-picture perspective during the playoffs, despite the fact that DeRosa wasn't even on the playoff roster.
He was incredibly well-liked not just in D.C. but throughout the game, and it will be really interesting to see what career move DeRosa chooses to make next. He would make an excellent broadcaster if he wanted to go down that road (DeRosa served as a guest analyst on the TBS pre- and postgame show during the postseason this year), but also could have a great future as a coach/manager if he wanted to stay closer to the field.
Finally, the Nationals have yet to hire a new third base coach to replace Trent Jewett, who left to become the bench coach in Seattle, but I'm hearing that it's unlikely that the job will go to Tony Beasley, who has served as Triple-A Syracuse's manager for the last two seasons.
Beasley does have experience coaching third base at the big league level, both with the Nationals (2006) and the Pirates (2008-2010), but as I've written previously, the Nats like Beasley in his current role developing talent at the upper levels of their minor league system.
They appear to be reluctant to move the former minor league infielder from his managerial role at Syracuse, at least for now.
Instant Update: Well that didn't take long. DeRosa has joined MLB Network as a studio analyst, the network announced this morning. In a release, the network says that DeRosa will appear across MLB Network's studio programming and make his debut on MLB Tonight on Monday, December 9, live from the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla.
"While I still had the opportunity to return as a player, it became clear to me that the chance to begin a career at MLB Network was too good to pass up, and I am very excited to get started," DeRosa said in the release.