Will the Phillies establish a mini-dynasty, or will the Yankees add to their crowded trophy case with another title?
A year ago, the Phillies broke a 28-year-old title drought by winning the World Series, defeating the upstart Rays in five games. After winning 93 games in the regular season and tidily dispatching both the Rockies and the Dodgers in the first two rounds, they're back to defend their crown with a cast that's largely the same, save for summer acquisition Cliff Lee. They're the first NL team to repeat as pennant winners since the 1995-1996 Braves, and if they win the World Series, they'll be they first senior circuit club to do so since the 1975-1976 Reds.
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A preview of the Dominican Winter League, taking a look at the teams, stadiums, managers, and players to watch for.
The "National Religion" came back on October 16th, as the Dominican League launched its 56th edition. Reliably praised as having the highest level of talent among the winter leagues, one should expect to watch another mix of highly ranked prospects, mid-level major leaguers, a few recognizable American players, veterans looking for another shot, and some major league stars between now and the end of the Caribbean Series in February. The league format has six teams playing a 50-game regular-season schedule, with the four best records advancing to a long 18-game round-robin playoff, and the two remaining best clubs play a best-of-nine final series to decide the league's champion. Without further ado, here's what this season will bring us:
Tigres del Licey (Licey Tigers)
Home: Santo Domingo
2008-09 record: 26-24, fourth place (tied) regular season; 12-6, first place round-robin; beat the Gigantes in the final series 5-0.
Ballpark: Estadio Quisqueya; strong pitcher's park, with a Park Factor of 92.
With the saves record set, will he repeat his 2002 heroics in the postseason? And will his arm eventually fall off, or won't it?
Francisco Rodriguez has easily been one of the top closers in baseball since he was handed the full-time job back in 2005, and before that he was one of the game's top relievers, period. This is why it's no surprise that he's at the center of the discussions as to why the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim were able to win 100 games this year-but was 2008, the year he set the record for most saves in a season, the best year of his career, or should we be worried that this isn't the same K-Rod we watched grow up in front of us on national television?
Bobby Thigpen's record is about to fall, but to what will K-Rod owe this latest laurel?
Sometime soon, Francisco Rodriguez will get a signal from the dugout, make one last toss to his bullpen catcher, have a door opened for him and stroll into history. He'll step onto the rubber, assume the awkward set position he's grown comfortable in, and deliver a pitch-maybe a 95 mph fastball, maybe a sharp breaking ball, maybe a deceptive changeup-and with that pitch, he will break a record that has stood for nearly 20 years: the record for save opportunities in a season.
The best choice might surprise you, but the odds of it seem steep.
That wasn’t fun. A family vacation in the Dominican Republic last week—not my choice to leave the country in August, believe me—was extended when a rather grumpy lady named Fay passed through on Friday, shutting down Punta Cana airport. There’s a long story here, but suffice to say that American Airlines gets the gas face for its treatment of hundreds of customers stranded, most of them in a foreign country, by the storm.
Save opportunities ring, but can Francisco answer?
By notching his fourth save in six days since the All-Star break, and his ninth in 18 Angels games in July, Francisco Rodriguez moved the conversation about the single-season saves record from “whether” to “when.” Needing just 15 saves to tie the mark and 16 to break it, and pitching for a team that plays a high percentage of close games—due in part to a mediocre offense—Rodriguez is in line to not just break the record, but shatter it.
Before all the IBA ballots are counted, staff picks give a hint as to what hands the awards may find themselves in.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Travis Hafner posted the highest OBP in the AL while nobody noticed, while Neifi Perez ended up getting playoff PT. The young guns had their day and then some. Jermaine Dye gave a lengthy spanking to his 90th percentile PECOTA projection (PECOTA's .288/.359/.516 versus an actual .315/.385/.622). The crop of AL rookies included a guy with a 0.92 ERA finishing third, and rooks like Jered Weaver (105:33 K:BB) and Francisco Liriano (144:32) threatening to be Johan Santana's biggest challengers in 2007. The National League featured tighter races, including a four-way brawl for the Pitcher of the Year and another impressive crop of newbies.
Eight staff members weighed in on the season that was, casting their ballots for the Internet Baseball Awards. We summarized their findings below, and then let them have their individual say.
Picking up where he left off yesterday, Rany continues his dissection of the 2006 Detroit Tigers.
A month after nabbing their franchise shortstop, the Tigers signed a franchise catcher, Ivan Rodriguez. On the surface, this made all kinds of sense; it's not often you get the opportunity to sign a surefire Hall of Famer who just turned 32. On the other hand, catchers age quickly, and Rodriguez caught more games (1564) before his 32nd birthday than anyone other than Johnny Bench, who was finished as a catcher by the time he turned 33 and was finished as a ballplayer when he was 35. While Rodriguez's 4-year, $40 million deal was eminently reasonable, it still represented a gamble in that it was likely the Tigers would never be competitive enough during the life of the contract to make the addition of Rodriguez meaningful.