How unusual is it for a pitcher of Roy Oswalt's record to be without a job this late in the offseason?
It sneaked up on us a little bit (and by us, here, I mean me), but all of a sudden it’s very late in the offseason. It’s February 15th. The Athletics and Mariners have opened Spring Training already, sort of, and the rest of the teams’ pitchers and catchers report on Sunday. Major League Baseball will be played two weeks from Friday. Major League Baseball that counts will be played...well, that’s seven weeks from today. That’s still quite a ways off, really. But still, Spring Training! Soon!
Now that the Yankees have dealt Jesus Montero to the Mariners, they're in search of DH options.
Last Friday, the Yankees pulled off a major trade, sending Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Mariners for Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. The move shores up the pinstripes' rotation both for 2012 and beyond, but it does create a vacancy at designated hitter, since the 22-year-old Montero was penciled in as the presumptive starter after a September audition in which he hit a searing .328/.406/.590 with four homers. While finding an adequately productive DH shouldn't be all that hard—the average AL DH hit .266/.341/.430 in 2011, while the Yankees’ DHs contributed a .251/.336/.450 line—Brian Cashman and company are up against some self-imposed financial constraints that make their task somewhat more challenging.
If you tuned out when the Rangers led 7-5 in the ninth, you missed quite a finish
It was the best worst World Series game—or perhaps the worst best World Series game—I've ever seen. Four and a half hours, 11 innings, 42 players, 19 runs, 23 men left on base, six home runs, five errors, two final-strike comebacks, a handful of bad relief performances, some managerial howlers including a cardinal (not Cardinal) sin… and it all ended with the much-maligned Joe Buck giving a fitting nod to history by emulating one of his father's most famous calls. As David Freese's game-winning blast landed in the grass beyond the center field wall of Busch Stadium, Buck exclaimed, "We'll see you tomorrow night!" Game Six of the 2011 World Series will be remembered as a classic—a Game Six that can sit alongside those of 1975, 1986, and 1991, among maybe a couple others—as the Cardinals staved off elimination to beat the Rangers 10-9, forcing a Game Seven.
After seeing poor starting pitching in both Championship Series, the World Series began with relatively strong starting performances.
After two League Championship Series full of slugfests, slopfests, and short starts—the four teams scored 5.5 runs per game while their starters averaged 4.8 innings per turn—the opener of the 2011 World Series between the Rangers and the Cardinals gave us a tight, low-scoring ballgame with solid-to-good starting pitching. True to LCS form, both managers emptied their bullpens with mostly-effective processions, but the Cardinals' bench and relief corps got the upper hand on two key plays, one of them a pinch-hit single by Allen Craig that Nelson Cruz almost caught, scoring the decisive run, the other an awful call that cost the Rangers a ninth-inning out. Behind those, and a few big hits from the middle of their lineup, the Redbirds took Game One in chilly, 49-degree St. Louis, 3-2.
After storming back from a five-run deficit in Game One, the Yankees didn't have the same magic for Game Two.
"Heard this: nobody has ever won a postseason series after trailing 1-0, not even the Yankees." That was my sardonic tweet from somewhere just before the seventh inning of Friday night's ALCS Game One. The Yankees trailed the Rangers 5-0 at the time, with Texas lefty C.J. Wilson baffling the Bronx Bombers to that point, limiting them to three hits and no runs. Meanwhile, the Rangers had jumped all over CC Sabathia, chasing him after four innings and five runs.
A series that will feature spectacular pitching may come down to the tiniest advantages to decide the winner.
So, let's see, for an initial checklist for maximum LCS entertainment potential, is there anything missing? Record-wise, the two best teams in National League? Check, even if we allow for the fact that the Giants weren't one of the top two teams in Clay Davenport's adjusted standings. The two best rotations in baseball? Check. Heck, it even features two of the three best defensive units in the league (via PADE), with only the already-vanquished Reds separating the Giants and Phillies. And the offenses are... well, OK, this whole clash of the titans thing only goes so far, because they're not both among the best in the league. The Phillies are, tying for third in the league in team-level True Average, but the Giants finished back in ninth place, even with Brian Sabean's ticky-tack trades to accrue incremental improvements.
The Yankees look to get back to yet another World Series while the Rangers are in uncharted territory.
From 1996 through 1999, the Joe Torre-led Yankees and the Johnny Oates-piloted Rangers faced off in three American League Division Series, the first three times the latter franchise had ever reached the postseason. The Yankees won nine of those 10 games, holding the Rangers to a lone run apiece in their 1998 and 1999 sweeps. Times have changed, however, and while the Yankee machine has simply kept rolling, racking up four pennants and two world championships while missing the playoffs just once since their last meeting, the Rangers endured a dark decade before reemerging as AL West champions thanks to the shrewd deal making of general manager Jon Daniels and the fruits of their well-stocked farm system.
In his final game as a manager, Bobby Cox went with his gut, and it steered him wrong.
Five-game series have a different dynamic when compared to their seven-game brethren, in particular when it comes to stress management. One loss represents 50 percent of your series-recommended allowance, so teams find themselves in desperation mode much quicker. After getting a gift win in Game Two to tie the National League Division Series, the Braves gave one right back to the Giants on Sunday in equally, if not more heart-breaking fashion. With his season (and career) on the line, manager Bobby Cox did not hesitate to make major overhauls to his Game Four approach on Monday night.