Many new faces have helped San Francisco reach the NLCS, along with other news and notes from around the major leagues.
The Giants that are playing the Phillies in the National League Championship Series are not the same Giants that began the season. In fact, general manager Brian Sabean made several in-season moves that changed the face of the club and helped it win the NL West and beat the Braves in the National League Division Series.
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Starting in the middle, a six-part evaluation of the payroll picture of the 30 clubs.
Let's take a look at the payroll forecasts for 2010 for each of the five teams in the American League Central, the first in a six-part series spotlighting each of the divisions in Major League Baseball.
The best and worst single seasons and decade-long performances by the men in the front office.
For me, this is a lot of fun, but as a refresher, here's how these rankings are calculated. First, we find each team's expected revenue, based on their third-order winning percentage, and how big their market is. Then, you divide that by what each team's marginal revenue should have been, had they won exactly as many games as their payroll would have predicted. (Draft pick value is also factored in, so the worst teams get slightly more credit than the vanilla mediocre teams.) The end result is PER-Payroll Efficiency Rating-which tells us how well each team spent their payroll dollars.
Will a third time be the charm rebuilding the Indians, plus news and views from around the game.
Mark Shapiro understands rebuilding. In eight years on the job as the Indians' general manager, he has been forced to do it twice. The first time came in 2002 in his first season after replacing John Hart as the club's general manager. When he took over, the Indians had been to the playoffs six times in the previous seven seasons, but the core group of players of those teams had either gotten too old or too expensive.
The looming leadership change in the MLBPA, a coming shakeup in Cleveland, the Pirates go even smaller small-ball, and more.
Don Fehr is a hard person to like. In my dealings with him over the years, I've found him to be aloof, condescending, and downright cold. At the same time, he is brilliant, dogged, and extremely loyal. And if I were ever a member of a labor union or trade association, I would want him representing me at the bargaining table.
Reports on the Indians, Cardinals, and Pirates, Ryan Zimmerman takes a walk, plus news and notes from around the game.
It's not easy to get sports fans in Cleveland upset right now. The Cavaliers have gone 8-0 in the NBA playoffs, and the city's first major professional sports championship since the Browns won the 1964 NFL title game seems to be within reach. Throw in the fact that LeBron James, the megastar from just down Interstate 77 in Akron is leading the way, and a story for the ages is in the making.
The Indians look forward, no mea culpas for Bud, plus news from around the major leagues.
It's an odd-numbered year, and considering what has happened to the Indians over the past four seasons, the odds should be in the Indians' favor in 2009. In 2005, they won 93 games and missed the playoffs by two games, and in 2007 they went to the American League Championship, losing to the Red Sox in seven games. Conversely, the Indians were 78-84 in 2006, and needed to finish with a flourish just to finish with an 81-81 record in 2008.
The Indians and A's practice addition by subtraction while Tony La Russa scans the horizon for reinforcements, plus news and notes from around the majors.
The Brewers and Cubs upgraded this past week by trading for CC Sabathia and Rich Harden. Both were strong contenders in the National League before the deals, and adding two ace-type starting pitchers only aids their chances. But what does it say about the teams that traded Sabathia and Harden?
Chien-Ming Wang's injury has ramped up rumors of a C.C. Sabathia move to the Bronx, plus other news and notes from around the game.
In the minds of some, the Indians are already sellers in the trade market. Reports are rife that the Yankees are going to make a big play to pry left-hander C.C. Sabathia--who is eligible for free agency at the end of the season--away from Cleveland to replace the injured Chien-Ming Wang at the top of their rotation.
However, the Indians aren't ready to write off 2008, at least not yet. That's despite the fact that Cleveland is 33-38 and 6½ games behind the first-place White Sox in the AL Central, and has a slew of key players on the disabled list, including right-handers Fausto Carmona and Jake Westbrook, designated hitter Travis Hafner, catcher Victor Martinez, and second baseman Josh Barfield, who was injured two days after being called up from Triple-A Buffalo to replace the struggling Asdrubal Cabrera.
The pressing questions facing each NL squad this spring are revealed, while Nolan Ryan rejoins the Rangers, and the Mets show their humility.
Spring Training is nigh, as pitchers and catchers start reporting on Wednesday, and keep trickling into camp throughout Florida and Arizona as the week progresses. Last week, we took a look at the key question facing each American League team in spring training. This week, let's take a look at the key question each National League team faces:
Turnover in the front office and with the big-market-success paradigm makes for interesting times ahead.
Before the season started, this website ran a series of team previews called "Hope and Faith" in which the writers gave a scenario in which each of the 30 major-league clubs could win it all in 2007. That series title was a play on one of Commissioner Bud Selig's favorite phrases, in which he likes to say fans can now use that phrase more than ever because Major League Baseball's revenue-sharing plan has brought about parity.
While fans in places like Pittsburgh, Kansas City and St. Petersburg might have a problem buying into hope and faith, the participants in this year's League Championship Series show that a large payroll does not automatically guarantee a team an invitation to October. In fact, three of the four teams still standing began the season with payrolls among the eight lowest in the major leagues. The Indians ranked 23rd among the 30 clubs at $62 million, while the Rockies were 25th at $54 million, and the Diamondbacks were 26th at $52 million. The Red Sox are the last of the big spenders still playing, as their Opening Day payroll of $143 million was second in the majors only to the $190 million spent by the Yankees, who have already been knocked off by the Indians in the ALDS.