Possible changes coming in the GM landscape, the Astros are irked, and Cubs players envy how the other half lives.
A few months ago, it appeared that there would be wholesale changes made among major league general managers in the offseason, but now that no longer seems to be such a certainty. One team that will definitely have a new GM in 2009 is the Phillies, as Pat Gillick has already announced that he is retiring at the end of the season. It is conceivable, though unlikely, that the Phillies could be the only team to change GMs.
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The league's best-record playoff team against its worst, but you might be surprised who the favorite really should be.
Who would have thunk that we'd see the Diamondbacks playing the Cubs in a postseason series? Well, you'd might have thunk it if you'd done been reading PECOTA, which predicted both of these mild surprises. That not withstanding, this is not the even matchup that you might expect from two teams that took until the last weekend of the season to confirm their date at the prom. One of these clubs, if fact, has no excuse for losing.
Two wounded rotations, two bullpens likely to work early to often and up to the challenge... will the difference be the Mets' eight-deep attack, or the Cardinals' power of one at the plate?
The beginning of the postseason marked a chance for Willie Randolph's Mets to consummate something the baseball world had anticipated for at least four months, the chance to show that their regular-season dominance was no fluke. Yet the run-up to the Division Series against the Dodgers brought disturbing news. Not only was ace Pedro Martinez, the symbol of the team's resurgence under Randolph and GM Omar Minaya, likely to miss a start due to his calf strain, but he was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff that would knock him out into the middle of next year. The team's next pick to open the series, Orlando Hernandez, tore a calf muscle running in the outfield, knocking him out of consideration as well. Undeterred, the Mets retooled their postseason roster to play to their strength, a deep bullpen, and Randolph ably improvised his way through the series while the lineup punished nearly every mistake the Dodgers made. The result was a victory in straight sets, confirming that at the very least, the road to the NL pennant runs through the Big Apple.
Constructing a playoff roster is a critical part of advancing through the postseason. Christina breaks down the eight teams.
Bench Assets: If Jim Leyland pinch-runs for Pudge late in a game, Vance Wilson's a thoroughly useful backup catcher. Omar Infante is the Tigers' best reserve, hitting .277/.325/.415, and he's good enough to spot at four different positions. After that, you get into the "why are they here?" players, where only Leyland sees value, and only the opposition wants to see them on the field.
Dan reviews the no-longer funny Padres and their bid to take down the somewhat more embarrassed Cardinals in a rematch from last season's playoffs.
Okay, so things aren't anywhere near that bleak. In fact, the rematch of these two division winners beginning Tuesday afternoon at PETCO Park should be much more compelling than the 2005 version, in which the 82-win Padres impersonated a playoff team on their way to a three-game thrashing at the hands of the 100-win Cardinals. The fact that these are two teams going in opposite directions of 2005 also adds to the fun.
Jonah takes us through the Inning of the Week as the Astros try to win the wild card with very little offense.
CF Willy Taveras
2B Chris Burke
3B Morgan Ensberg
1B Lance Berkman
RF Jason Lane
LF Luke Scott
SS Adam Everett
C Raul Chavez
P Wandy Rodriguez
It's been a career year for Morgan Ensberg, and Lance Berkman has bounced back after a slow start to the season because of an ACL injury. Other than that, this is exactly the kind of lineup that narrows your margin for error substantially every time out. With Craig Biggio and his Father Time-defying season on the bench, you're looking at a lineup riddled with holes. Jason Lane hit 20 homers and slugged a shade under .500, but he's sitting on a .306 OBP. He and Willy Taveras have been decent considering their youth and low salaries, but both are no more than one win better than replacement level. Meanwhile Luke Scott, Chris Burke and Raul Chavez are all putting up numbers that are worse than your basic Triple-A lifer or waiver-wire fodder would be expected to produce.