Archive for October, 2008
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Philadelphia Phillies
While the Phillies are a good team with a good offense who call a hitter’s dream their home ballpark, it’s impossible to overlook the recent dominance of the AL over the NL in all phases of the game in which they compete — interleague play, All Star games, World Series — for years, it’s been all AL all the time. And in an amusing twist, this year’s All Star game, which annoyingly now decides home field advantage in the World Series, was decided by representatives by these two teams. Kazmir was the winning pitcher, while Lidge was the losing pitcher. I believe this is the first time that’s happened in the history of the “This Time It Counts” Marketing Campaign, and is just about the only thing that could possibly make Selig’s latest dream worthwhile or interesting. Usually the All Star game star is somebody from a team with absolutely no chance at the playoffs, which isn’t how The Marketing Campaign should work. Obviously a sample size of a couple innings doesn’t matter, but it’s an interesting little factoid that TBS and Fox will surely overplay to absurdity. (If they actually show the games.)
In the last couple of years, the team that finished their LCS first got beaten handily in the World Series, because a longer-than-usual layoff leaves them cold and rusty while their opponent continues to roll. This trend does not bode well for the Phillies, who will be cold despite being well rested. Just like the Rockies and the Tigers before them.
Ultimately this series will come down to the answers of the following questions: 1) After overcoming the Red Sox onslaught of postseason clutchiness, will the Rays be imbued with a newfound optimism and continue to dominate, or will they suffer a hangover after such an extreme range of emotions over a span of a few days? 2) Will the Phillies be able to overcome recent history and stay hot despite winning the NLCS “too” quickly?
sirsean: Rays in five
Without further ado, our LCS results.
sirsean: Rays in Six FunBobby: Rays in Six Spangler: Red Sox in Five Reality: Rays in Sevensirsean and I each picked up half a point for getting the team correct, but we were off on the number of games. Higgins decided not to participate, but I’m guessing he would have picked the Rays due to his hatred of the Red Sox.
Overall the AL teams gave us a good series. We saw great pitching and great hitting, and amazing comeback, and the second worst stadium in the American League. Oh yeah, and cowbells. Lots and lots of cowbells. David Ortiz also only decided to show up for about two at bats, and JD Drew again earned his paycheck with one good game.
Turns out the decision to set up Lester for game 7 worked out. Although he and Beckett were both rocked once, and pitched well once. Same goes for Dice-K. Tim Wakefield is bad.
sirsean: Dodgers in Five FunBobby: Dodgers in Six Spangler: Phillies in Five Reality: Phillies in FiveSpangler once again used his NL prowess to hit this one right on the head and earn a full point, while the people who actually “work” here were about as wrong as possible.
This was kind of a ho-hum series. The Phillies let the Dodgers have one, but they made it look easy. Or the dodgers made it look really difficult. For how impressive they were in the NLDS against the team claiming to be the Cubs, they looked equally unimpressive against the Phillies.
We’ll be back tomorrow (maybe) with the World Series post. To recap, Spangler once again puts us to shame with his abilities to pick winners. We should start having him pick gambling lines or something, we should be able to exploit this and profit from him.2 comments
Part of me wonders what it’d be like to have a player that makes people across the country go completely insane. I mean, they just lose their minds.
Starting one month before being traded to the Dodgers, Manny Ramirez started hitting like crazy. National sportswriters took this to mean that Manny hates the Red Sox and has been “phoning it in” for six years. They also missed the month he was with the Red Sox and dominating pitchers.
A few days ago, Manny Ramirez scored from first on a double. This sparked Tim McCarver and others to call his behavior despicable – after all, he must never have done this for the Red Sox; he never ran hard! Obviously, he’s trying harder for the Dodgers than he ever did for the Red Sox. (This ignores, of course, the fact that Manny has scored from first on a double 50% of the time over the course of his career, including 1-2 for the Red Sox in 2008 and 1-2 for the Dodgers in 2008.)
Then, Manny drove in a run with a double off the top of the wall in center field. It was a blast that looked like it could have made it out, and Manny stood for a fraction of a second to admire a possible homer. Upon noticing that it might not leave the park, Manny ran. Meanwhile, Victorino played the ball extremely well in center and got the ball back to the infield. Manny was safe and second, and nobody should be under the impression that he’s fast enough to hit triples to center on any kind of regular basis. But … by pausing for a fraction of a second he “cost the Dodgers a run” in that inning. Somehow.
Then Manny failed to score from first on a double. He sprinted (possibly faster than I’ve ever seen Manny run) all the way from first to third, rounded third hard, and listened to the third base coach who was putting up the stop sign. Victorino played the ball off the wall and got it back to the infield, and Manny would have been out by a mile if he’d gone, despite the fact that he ran at top speed the whole way. Of course, that doesn’t stop people from saying he cost the Dodgers a run in that inning. Somehow.
Then Bill Plaschke decides that he can trump everyone. He’s a great writer, and he’s out to prove it. What’s the one thing last night’s loss to the Phillies proves?
That Manny Ramirez isn’t worth whatever contract he’s going to get.
He went 2-2 with a double, an RBI, and 3 walks (two intentional). That’s the mark of a ridiculously good hitter who’s clearly gotten into the heads of his opponents. A guy you’d want on your team, no doubt.
Meanwhile, one of the premier bullpens in baseball, which had been successful all season, had a rare bad night. Therefore, according to Plaschke, the Dodgers should spend $100 million on the bullpen, to replace the “young and inexperienced” bullpen with old guys who require expensive long term contracts and will be over the hill long before their contracts expire. This ignores the fact that fully half the Dodgers’ excellent bullpen are experienced veterans, and the other half are extremely promising young hurlers. The bullpen may be the one aspect of the Dodgers team that doesn’t need work this offseason.
But Bill Plaschke knows what he’s talking about. Clearly. He’s jumped on the “Manny Sucks” bandwagon. And stayed true to the mantra of said bandwagon: Manny sucks solely because of how consistently productive he is.
Something about Manny just brings out the best in people.11 comments
After an uneventful LDS preview (we are ignoring the fact that I finished dead last), firegardy.com moves on to take a closer look at the ALCS and NLCS. When making our picks we probably should have realized that no LDS has gone to five games in the last like five years, and there’s always at least one sweep. Oops. Now that the useless Chicago teams are out of the picture, let’s see if we fare any better.
Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays
This is a tough one to call; the “surprising” Rays featuring youth and talent matches up against their divisional rival Red Sox, featuring experience and the favor of the league. I would have pointed out that the Rays went 10-8 against the Red Sox this season, showing complete dominance at home; however, the Angels had dominated the Red Sox this season even more than that and were quickly overmatched and ousted by ESPN’s Team. Still, I think it’s extremely valuable that the Rays have home field advantage thanks to their ability to hold off the Red Sox down the stretch, and I think they use their advantage in their terror dome to take the series. The Rays’ young core of hitters, solid rotation and lights out bullpen should hold up here, and everyone knows Boston’s less-young group will do the same. Should be an exciting series.
Rays in six.
The Rays were 8-1 at home against the Red Sox, while the Red Sox were 7-2 against the Rays in Boston. I really like the way the Rays play, and I don’t think their inexperience will really hurt them too much. Remember when they brawled with the Sox on at least one occasion this season? They aren’t afraid or intimidated by those thugs from Boston. They have confidence, and won’t fold. Their young pitching is there, and the lineup is no slouch. They have several guys they can use in the RF/DH slot in Gabe Gross, Rocco Baldelli, and Cliff Floyd, depending on the pitching matchups. How many teams can say they have a legit basestealing threat in the five hole (Carl Crawford)? Not many. Their speed really showed in the game against the other Sox on monday. Crawford walked (I think) and was really bothering Clayton Richard. He threw over what seemed like dozens of times. Cliff Floyd then doubled to deep left, scoring Crawford easily (Crawford actually stopped at second, then cruised home).
The Red Sox have the experience. They are defending World Series champs, have a good starting pitching, and a great lineup. They seem to have a lot of trouble playing in Tropicana Field, along with the rest of the league. Lester and Dice-K proved to be a great 1-2 punch against the Angels, and you can never count out Beckett, even if he pitched poorly in the ALDS. I like the Rays here because of their homefield advantage, and their speed, which should be able to throw off the Red Sox pitchers enough to win.
Rays in six.
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Manny Ramirez “carried” the Dodgers into the playoffs (or more accurately, was there when the rest of the team started playing better), and continued to have the same effect in the postseason: namely, he drew a bunch of walks then snuck some homers over the wall when his team already had a big lead in the middle innings. If his name were A-Rod, those home runs wouldn’t have counted; fortunately for Manny, he’s just Manny, so those homers count and put him at 26 postseason homers in his career. Most ever. Pretty good. Also pretty good are Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Russell Martin, and James Loney, who have been doing all the offensive work in this series. I think they’ll fall back a little bit … but it’ll be counteracted by the Phillies’ pitching (which isn’t terribly impressive outside of Hamels) and ballpark (I think I might be able to hit one out in that place). At the same time, the Dodgers’ pitching staff has been looking excellent, and have done a great job of shutting down Ryan Howard. I don’t know if that’ll continue (probably), but their penchant for throwing sinkers and keeping the ball in the strike zone should be very helpful against the powerful Phillies lineup. The Dodgers are probably the best team in the NL right now — they played the best down the stretch, are scoring plenty of runs, and just absolutely dominated the formerly impressive Cubs.
Meanwhile, the Phillies have one of the more impressive lineups in the NL, featuring Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Pat Burrell. These stars didn’t actually do very much during the NLDS — which probably means they’re due for a resurgence in this series. I expect at least one game in which those guys prove to be a sort of poor man’s murderer’s row and the Dodgers struggle to get them out. However, they swing and miss way too much to be consistent in that regard, and I doubt they’ll produce daily against good pitching. Pitching-wise, Cole Hamels is a true ace and Brad Lidge has been one of the best closers in baseball this year (though he’s starting to look shaky in the playoffs — and is anyone else excited to see the look on his face when he faces Manny Ramirez in the 9th inning? Shades of Pujols). Beyond them, however, they have Brett Myers, Jamie Moyer, and dregs. Myers pitched a good game against the Brewers, and I don’t see that happening again. The Dodgers should feast on the lower half of the Phillies’ pitching staff. And remember that the only reason the Phillies even made the playoffs is because Ryan Howard killed another September (does anyone else get the feeling he just feasts on September callups like they’re Subway sandwiches?) and the Mets collapsed again.
Dodgers in five.
The Dodgers looked very impressive against some dudes wearing Cubs jerseys during the NLDS. This round they will actually have to face a major league baseball team in the Phillies. LA was carried by their young talent (Martin, Loney, etc.) against the Northsiders, and I think they will be carried again by these guys in the LCS. Manny will always be a threat, and I think Philly will do their best to pitch around him, especially when playing in the bandbox that is Citizens Bank Ballpark. I don’t see homefield advantage being nearly as important as in the ALCS, but it always plays a role.
Lowe and Billingsley are great at the top order, while Kuroda is a nice option as the third starter. I’m told by the band of idiots baseball tonight puts on TV (Steve Phillips, Jon Kruk, etc.) that he was a “big game pitcher” in Japan. Whatever that means. With Jonathon Broxton closing out games for Torre, the starters should feel confident handing the game over to the bullpen with a lead.
The Phillies pitchers did a good job shutting down a very good Brewers lineup, and I agree that Hamels is really the only one you can count on, but if the Brett Myers that pitched last week shows up, the Phillies get another high quality starter. The Dodgers would be wise to make sure Derek Lowe pitches in Philly because he is a groundball pitcher and should be able to minimize the damage that Howard and Co. do via the longball. If the Phillies can get a lead to their bullpen, they should be in great shape. This is a very hard series to determine because both teams are strong.
Dodgers in six.
Now that the first round of the postseason is over and we have to wait a few days before anybody plays baseball again (good schedule, Selig! Let’s make sure there’s baseball in November! And make sure none of the games end before midnight, please. I don’t like being awake at work.), let’s take a look back at how our predictions did for the LDS. And I’ll also determine a winner!
(Note that my selection of a winner is unilateral, and my opponent, FunBobby, had no say in picking it. Just wanted to put that out there.)
Red Sox vs Angels
sirsean: Red Sox in five FunBobby: Angels in five A. Higgins: Angels in five spangler: Red Sox in four Reality: Red Sox in four
The Angels didn’t show up in this one until they got to Boston and had virtually no chance at taking the series — though they were a walk-off Lowrie base hit away from sending it to a fifth game. Looks like audience member spangler was dead on on this one, with a half point going to sirsean for getting the team right.
Rays vs White Sox
sirsean: Rays in four FunBobby: Rays in four A. Higgins: Rays in three spangler: Rays in five Reality: Rays in four
Everyone picked the Rays, with sirsean and FunBobby picking up a full point for picking the correct number of games; spangler and A. Higgins earned half points for getting the team right.
Dodgers vs Cubs
sirsean: Dodgers in five FunBobby: Cubs in four A. Higgins: Cubs in three spangler: Cubs in four Reality: Dodgers in three
This one was a bit of a surprise; only sirsean scored, picking up a half point for guessing the team, but getting the number of games wrong.
Brewers vs Phillies
sirsean: Brewers in four FunBobby: Brewers in five A. Higgins: Phillies in four spangler: Phillies in four Reality: Phillies in four
We clearly divided here between winners and losers. A. Higgins and spangler got a full point apiece for apparently being able to see into the future, sirsean was way too high on the Brewers, and FunBobby’s pathological indifference to the National League came back to bite him.
sirsean: 2 FunBobby: 1 A. Higgins: 1.5 spangler: 2.5
So the trophy goes to spangler, whose powers of prediction are unmatched! Congratulations!
We’ll be back soon with LCS picks.No comments
Lets take a look at the Twins free agents and who they should keep, and who they should let walk. I’m assumin the team will pick up the option on Mike Redmond, for a hair less than a million.
First up, Dennys Reyes. He made $1MM in 2008, and wasn’t very good. With the emergence of Craig Breslow and Jose Mijares there is no need for an overpriced lefty. Let him walk.
Nick Punto. Punto “earned” $2.4MM in 2008 and would probably require a small raise. Still under $3MM, maybe $2.6 or $2.7. That is too much for someone we can easily replace. Tolbert and Harris are both utility players, no need to have a utility man who makes more money than our third and fourth best hitters combined (Kubel and Young, I don’t know if that is actually true but its close, with Kubel making $1.3 and Young probably somewhere near league minimum, if you want to replace Young with Span go ahead, that numbers still work). I think the Twins will re-sign him for somewhere close to $3MM and it will be a waste of money when Tolbert is nearly identical and millions cheaper.
Adam Everett. This one is a no brainer. Goodbye.
Eddie Guardado. Again, I think this is a no brainer. I’ve already mentioned two lefties who are more effective, no need to carry three. Eddie G made $2MM in 2008, no reason to pay him that. Goodbye.
We are still on the hook for abour $2.6 of Mike Lamb’s remaining contract. and we will be paying about 7.65 million to our “under control” players. Guerrier and Kubel are due moderate raises through arbitration, and Crain (1.7MM), Cuddyer (7.667MM), Mauer (10.5MM), Morneau (11.6MM) and Nathan (11.25MM) are all under contract. This should be a much more low stress offseason. Lets hope Wild Bill makes the right moves.
UPDATE: Delmon Young.4 comments
Heard this: The Twins are working on a contract extension with Gardy, whose current contract expires after 2009.
For some reason, teams and managers alike find it an untenable situation when a manager actually manages during the last year of his contract. I don’t fully understand that, but that’s the way it works. So it comes as no surprise that the Twins would extend Gardy before the final year of his contract begins — after such a good year, a vote of non-confidence like that would be all over the media and send the wrong message to all of our players.
This is probably a good move, and I’m sure the Twins fully expect to have Gardy in the new dugout at Target Field in 2010. I can only hope that he starts to learn the value of having people on base and making the pitcher work, as opposed to being most excited about possibly fitting a game in in under two hours.
I’d expect his extension to be in the range of 2 years (2010-2011), $2.75-3 million, if the team’s history with Gardenhire is any guide. He’s on his fourth consecutive two year deal, with gradually increasing pay each time. Each time, he signed the extension before the final year of the contract started.
I’ll keep my eye on this as it develops.
Around here we tend to give Ron Gardenhire a hard time about his “old school” methods and beliefs, and the two-faced way in which he, for example, teaches the players both to “take pitches and make the pitchers work” and to “stay aggressive and put the ball in play,” and that the fact that the Twins don’t draw any walks and swing at more first pitches and pitches out of the zone don’t seem to matter to him.
But it could be worse. Last night, Jerry Manuel was given a two year extension by the Mets. His first duty as manager is to find out why the Mets collapsed in September again, this time on his watch.
“We have to grow from every time that we get as close as we get and don’t make it, and we have to review and kind of marinate on why we don’t make it,” Manuel said during a conference call.That makes sense. There’s nothing wrong with that, really. I don’t know how valuable it is to really dwell on past failures, but if it takes a little time to learn from them it’s probably fine. So after marinating for a while, what did Manuel come up with?
“You get so many statistical people together, they put so many stats on paper, and they say, well, if you do this and you score this many runs, you do that many times, you’ll be in the playoffs,” he said.Yes. It’s so obvious! The reason the Mets collapsed was because of statistics. Not only that, but because there are too many “statistical people.” I can only hope that Manuel can replace those statistical people with baseball players who can understand the game. I’m going to go ahead and make the assumption, though, that the “statistical people” who work for the Mets, if there are any, work in the front office. Not on the actual baseball team, where you’d actually want actual baseball players.
“That’s not really how it works, and that’s what we have to get away from. And that’s going to have to be a different mind-set of the team in going forward. We must win and we must know how to win rather than win because we have statistical people. We have to win because we have baseball players that know and can understand the game.”
My guess is that some young punk crossed Manuel once, and mentioned something about analysis saying that you want to avoid giving up outs — because there are only so many of them. Manuel obviously didn’t take too well to that, instead preferring to teach his players to be more clutch … by giving away outs.
“We have to put a value on say, moving a runner over. [...] We have to put a value on infield back, ground ball that’s sufficient to score a run,” he said. “Those types of things have to be accented in order for us, in my opinion, to kind of get to the next level.”Awesome. The main problem the Mets have had this year is they scored too many runs without recording an out on the play. So at this point it’s clear that Manuel is an old school type of guy who prefers effort over talent, who wants clutchy grinders on his team, the kind of guy who thinks Carlos Beltran is no good because things look (and are) easy for him. Given that Manuel’s team has a core of Beltran, David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Delgado, he must feel pretty good about his team. Right? I mean, those are pretty good players who consistently put up pretty good numbers. You could do a lot worse than having those guys on your team.
“You don’t see a lot of guys that have statistical numbers play well in these championship series,” Manuel said. “What you see is usually the little second baseman or somebody like that carries off the MVP trophy that nobody expected him to do. That’s because he’s comfortable in playing that form of baseball, so therefore when the stage comes, it’s not a struggle for him.”Blink. I find it difficult to understand exactly what he means by this. Does he mean that he’d prefer Wright and Delgado don’t do as well during the season? Should Reyes and Beltran steal fewer bases until after the Mets are in the playoffs? Isn’t this solving the exact opposite of the problem?
First, let’s look back and see who the World Series MVPs were over the past few years:
2007: Mike Lowell 2006: David Eckstein 2005: Jermaine Dye 2004: Manny Ramirez 2003: Josh Beckett 2002: Troy Glaus 2001: Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling
That’s pretty much a list of good players, who tend to have good statistical regular seasons, and also happened to do well in the last handful of games they played in that particular year. Jerry Manuel might be the only person in the world who would pass on the chance to have Lowell, Dye, Manny, Beckett, Glaus, Randy Johnson and Schilling on his team — after all, their numbers are too good. That means they’re bad.
And David Eckstein? I presume he’s exactly the player Manuel was talking about when he said a little second baseman who carried off the MVP when nobody expected him to. (The other MVPs don’t even come close to meeting that criterion.) Well, there are a few reasons nobody “expected” Eckstein to win the WS MVP in 2006.
1) Nobody expected the Cardinals to be in the World Series in 2006 2) Certainly nobody expected them to win 3) David Eckstein is not a good player 4) While Eckstein hit .364/.391/.500 in the Series, his teammate Scott Rolen hit .421/.476/.737 (which is quite obviously a lot better)
But Jerry Manuel doesn’t care about these things. Jerry Manuel only cares about the fact that Eckstein performed better in the World Series than he did during the regular season, and that if the Mets had a bunch more players like that, then, um, they’d do better during the regular season. No, wait, I don’t know what Manuel was getting at.
The odd thing is that he didn’t say anything about the team’s actual problem, the bullpen. It’s tough to win games when the bullpen blows every lead you ever manage to take. The Mets lost like 10 games when leading after 8 innings. The Phillies lost 0 such games. That is where your team needs to improve.
But don’t tell Jerry Manuel that. He might think you’re a “statistical person” and replace you with a baseball player.
So every time Gardy does something that doesn’t seem to make any sense, know this: it could be a whole lot worse.No comments
The offseason starts early this year for the Twins, and the rumors have already started swirling. With shortstop a major weakness for the Twins, and the White Sox predictably being handled by the Rays, the first Twins rumor is that we’re targeting Orlando Cabrera.
My initial reaction: Good idea, and in fact I’d been thinking about this for a while; Cabrera dislikes the White Sox and has been outspoken about how the Twins are a team and clubhouse that are the model for teams everywhere. Unsurprisingly, this has not improved his standing in Ozzie’s eyes, and he almost certainly won’t be extended in Chicago. And he’d definitely be an upgrade over what we’re currently getting out of our shortstops!
After letting it sink in for a bit: Cabrera turns 34 in November and only hit .281/.334/.371 this season. Edgar Renteria showed us that shortstops can hit the wall really fast in their mid-thirties, and given that a multi-year big-money contract would be required, it’s kind of a big risk. Also, while I appreciate the fact that he doesn’t fit in the White Sox clubhouse, he has a history of being a disruptive element in every clubhouse and has rarely been liked by his fellow players. Guys with that kind of reputation aren’t exactly who you want to target — and OC’s was built over the last 15 years in professional baseball, unlike Delmon Young’s which happened in a brief couple of years when he should have been hidden away in college.
Nick Punto hit .284/.344/.382 this season. Seriously. If we go after Cabrera, we could be looking at signing a guy who hits worse than Punto and is at best marginally better in the field to a 3 year, $30 million contract.
Wild Bill would be wise to look elsewhere for a shortstop. Perhaps Rafael Furcal, if the bidding doesn’t go too crazy.
We had three games yesterday, Brewers-Phillies, Cubs-Dodgers, and Angels-Red Sox.
Brewers 1Phillies 3
Cole Hamels was stratight dealing from the first pitch. He didn’t give the brewers a chance. So, in typical Wisconsin fashion they decided if anyone was going to beat them, it was going to be themselves. Rickie Weeks committed and error at second base that led to all three Phillies runs. It also didn’t help that Gallardo walked 5 guys. Lidge pitched a scare ninth, 35 pitches, 2 hits, 1 walk, 1 ER, with 3ks, to close out the game.
Cubs 2 Dodgers 7
This was, in my opinion, the biggest game of the day. Everyone seemed to agree the Cubs really needed to set the tone for this series by winning game one. With Billingsley starting game two for the Dodgers a game one loss could prove detrimental to the Cubbies. Ryan Dempster labored for four innings, but somehow managed to shut the Dodgers out through four. He then loaded the bases in the fifth for firstbaseman James Loney who homered giving the Dodgers a 4-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. LA tacked on 3 more runs off of Marshall, Smadrzija, and Jason Marquis. Six of their runs came via the homerun, with 8 of the nine total runs coming via the homer. I’m hoping Casey Blake got made fun of in the clubhouse postgame for being a little girl and hitting an RBI single.
Red Sox 4 Angels 1
By losing game one the Angels put that much more pressure on themselves to win game two. If they can’t manage to do that, they will have to face Josh Beckett in Boston in a series clinching game. Something nobody wants to do. Lester looked very good, giving up just one unearned run, over 7 innings of 6 hit ball. He did walk one, but struck out 7. Lackey struggled a little but, but holding the Red Sox to 2 runs into the 7th is pretty impressive.
Today we have Tampa Bay-Chicago (1:30pm); Milwuakee-Philadelphia (5:00pm) and Chicago-LA (8:30pm). Should be another great day for baseball.1 comment