Your Morning Phil: Loria, Selig, Tolleson

Talking baseball while hoping Jay Cutler gets well soon.

1. The  Cy Young Award is going to be presented Wednesday night, and that, like the balance of power in the AL East, could be impacted by Jeffrey Loria, baseball’s worst owner.

What does Loria have to do with the Cy Young? Hopefully nothing, but Clayton Kershaw has a right to wonder if he winds up being just beaten by R.A. Dickey.

Remember that charity at-bat the Marlins gave Adam Greenberg in September? It was a bad idea, and I said so at the time.

Greenberg is a compelling figure in baseball history, for sure. But to get him off the streets and back on the field had a lot more to do with a film-maker’s idea for product than anything else. Jed Hoyer, the Cubs’ GM, was exactly right to say that Greenberg had earned that the 2006 plate appearance that ended when he got hit in the head by a pitch, and that it would be unfair to guys playing now to hand him a big-league uniform and a chance to play in a regular-season game.

Loria and the Marlins bit, and you know what came next. Greenberg struck out on three pitches against Dickey. That was relatively predictable, but no one could have anticipated the consequence of that one at-bat. It gave Dickey an NL strikeout title with 230, one more than Kershaw.

No big deal? Well, it certainly could be. John Smoltz nicely illustrates how.

On the MLB Network this morning, Smoltz explained the formula he said he uses as “a guide’’ in helping sort through Cy Young candidates. He said he looks at where pitchers ranked in six categories – wins, ERA, opponents’ batting average, innings, WHIP and strikeouts.

That formula forecasts a very tight NL vote, with Kershaw and Dickey tying for first in the NL with 11 points – one for each place in the standings – and Gio Gonzalez third with 14. In the strikeout column, Dickey gets one point, Kershaw two. Put them tied for first and Kershaw edges Dickey as a deserving candidate, in Smoltz’s view, by a 10-11 margin.

Whether Dickey winning the strikeout total will impact voting is an open question. But Kershaw would be right to feel he didn’t get a fair shake in the strikeout race. It’s going to be very interesting to see how this plays out.

2. Baseball is always about the players. We’re being reminded Wednesday as owners hold their quarterly meetings in Chicago. Territorial rights for the Giants and an expansion of instant replay were expected to be the hot topics on the table until last night’s agreement on Loria’s shameless 12-player salary dump trade with the Blue Jays. Now the question becomes whether Commissioner Bud Selig should block it because it could kill baseball in Miami, where taxpayers committed $360 million to help Loria build the stadium that opened last April. Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell were added less han a year ago to help the Marlins gain a foothold. What does it say about the Marlins’ ownership that Loria is pulling the plug on them as quickly as he did his manager, Ozzie Guillen? This looms as a black eye for baseball.

3. While fans in Toronto celebrate a trade that should make the Blue Jays instant contenders in the American League, those on both sides of Chicago must feel like the parade is passing them by. The Red Sox are the only other team known to have engaged the Marlins in talks about Reyes, Buehrle and Josh Johnson, with the Cubs (a surgically repaired Scott Baker) and White Sox (Steve Tolleson) landing  lesser prizes. The Cubs announced their Baker addition Tuesday. The White Sox haven’t said anything about Tolleson, but Roch Kubatko of MASNSports reports that the Sox convinced Tolleson to sign with them rather than return to the Orioles. He’s a 29-year-old utility man with good bloodlines (father Wayne Tolleson was a long-time big-league infielder) and the ability to play third base, where the White Sox are thin. He’s also the holder of a .225 average after 54 games with the Orioles and the A’s.     

progers@tribune.com

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