Articles By Charlie Miller

All taxonomy terms: MLB, News
Path: /mlb/baseballs-all-time-valentines-day-lineup
Body:

With MLB camps open in Florida and Arizona, no doubt there are a few WAGs missing their sweethearts today. In honor of the Day of Love, we present the all-time Valentine’s Day lineup including Flowers, a Rose, Candy, a Cookie, a Jewel and an appearance by Cupid himself.

C
Tyler Flowers

The former 33rd-round draft pick of the Atlanta Braves has increased his hit total over the past four years from 1 to 23 to 29 to 50. The career .200 hitter is shooting for 80 this season as the likely starter behind the plate for the Chicago White Sox.

1B
Paul Goldschmidt

Every lady loves a little gold for Valentine’s Day, and the Diamondbacks certainly struck the mother lode with their first baseman, a future National League MVP.

2B
Cupid Childs

The pudgy second baseman was one of the best players of his era, but has received only modest support for the Hall of Fame over the years. He amassed 1,721 hits over a 13-year career. All but 189 of those hits came in the 1800s while playing for the Quakers, Stars, Spiders, Perfectos and Orphans. He was a part of multiple trades, once for Gid Garner, another time for Cub Striker. Also known as Fats and Fatty, according to Baseball-Reference.com, the Grand Rapids Democrat called him “the most curiously built man in the baseball business ... he is as wide as he is long, yet there are few men who can get over the ground faster than the ‘dumpling.’”

3B
Cookie Lavagetto

Cookie was an all-star for Brooklyn from 1938-41, and then spent the next four years serving his country. Thank you for your service, sir.

SS
Bobby Valentine

Once a budding prospect in the Dodgers’ system, this Valentine was on his way to stardom in the city of Angels when a gruesome collision with an outfield wall derailed his career. With nearly 1,200 wins and one National League pennant in his 16 seasons as manager of the Rangers, Mets and Red Sox, Valentine also fits the bill as the ideal skipper for this unique team.

LF
Jim Ray Hart

The sweet-swinging Hart averaged .290-29-92 with an OPS+ of 136 over his first four seasons in the bigs. Unfortunately, he was overshadowed by guys named Mays, McCovey and Cepeda in the same lineup.

CF
Pete Rose

No player ever got to first base more than the all-time hits leader. He wasn’t bad at scoring either.

RF
Ellis Valentine

No prudent base runner dared to sneak an extra base when this Valentine was throwing darts from right field.

SP
Sugar Cain

Cain pitched in an offensive era in the 1930s for the Philadelphia A’s, St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox, so he didn’t win many games. Evidently, he wasn’t afraid to issue free passes. He led the league in walks once, logged more than 100 in three successive seasons and ended his career with 5.6 BB/9IP.

SP
Abraham Lincoln “Sweetbread” Bailey

The righthander fashioned a non-descript career with only six starts and 46 relief appearances, but this name must be on any list compiled in February.

SP
Scott Diamond

Currently in the Twins’ rotation, the lefthander was a real Diamond in the rough in 2012 with a 12-9 mark, leading the league in fewest walks per nine innings. But in 2013, he was merely a rough Diamond.

SP
Slim Love

At 6-7 and 195 pounds, we’re guessing his frame is the origin of the name. He won 13 games for the Yankees in 1918 and gave up only eight home runs in his career, but some who victimized him are memorable names: Swede Risberg and Hap Felsh of Black Sox fame, Smoky Joe Wood, George Burns and, of course, the Babe.

RP
Lynn Lovenguth

The journeyman won 193 games in the minors for eight different organizations, but pitched a scant 27 innings for the Phillies and Cardinals in the 1950s. Evidently, Lynn wasn’t exactly the loving sort. He was reportedly kicked out of the dugout by his own manager, Cot Deal, in the minors for complaining about a lack of defensive support.

Reserves

1B
Jewel Winklemeyer Ens

The first baseman didn’t see much action in the majors, but he played with Hall of Famers Max Carey, Pie Traynor and Kiki Cuyler with the Pirates. Yet there was only one authentic jewel on that team.

1B
Diamond Jim Gentile

With a nickname like Diamond Jim and a surname pronounced “jen-TEEL” the slugging first baseman must be in the Valentine’s Day lineup. He was third in AL MVP voting in 1961, the year Roger Maris hit 61 home runs, Mickey Mantle slugged 54 and Norm Cash batted .361.

1B/OF
Corey Hart

Hart was broken during the 2013 season in what ended up being his final go-round with the Brewers. He’s moved on to Seattle leaving Milwaukee, well, um, Hartless.

IF
Rudolph Valentino Regalado

Yep, that’s his name. Whether or not the backup infielder made women in Cleveland swoon or not is unknown. But in 91 games for the Indians he had no effect on pitchers whatsoever.

OF
Candy Maldonado

A personal favorite of mine ever since his pennant-clinching pinch-hit for my Strat-O-Matic team in 1989.

Teaser:
Baseball’s All-Time Valentine’s Day Lineup
Post date: Thursday, February 13, 2014 - 17:00
Path: /mlb/players-who-should-have-been-2014-baseball-hall-fame-inductees
Body:

Three players were elected to the Hall of Fame today, and I couldn’t disagree with any of the three choices. Certainly, Greg Maddux is a no-brainer. Tom Glavine is not far behind. I wouldn’t have been shocked had Frank Thomas not been elected, but I wholeheartedly agree that he is a Hall of Famer.

But only three?

I believe the Hall of Fame should maintain incredibly high standards and only the elite should be included. However, with the loaded ballot, I was surprised there weren’t four.

I thought Craig Biggio would be elected. I think he should have been. In fact, I thought he had a better shot than Thomas. He logged more than 3,000 hits while playing two demanding positions. He was an All-Star as both a catcher and second baseman. Of all the hitters on the ballot this year, only Barry Bonds scored more runs and only Bonds and Rafael Palmeiro had more total bases and more runs produced than Biggio. And no hitter on the ballot had more hits or doubles. I suspect the long-time Astro will get elected next year after falling two votes shy.

I am not surprised that Jack Morris did not gain election, but I think he should have. I know his 3.90 ERA is high by Hall standards and I appreciate voters being judicious. However, during his era, no pitcher in the American League was more feared by hitters than the righthander. His Hall of Fame fate is now in the veterans committee’s hands.

Also on my ballot
Barry Bonds wasn't inducted into the 2014 Baseball Hall of FameBarry Bonds
First of all, there’s no need to make an on-the-field argument, but here goes anyway: Just about any stat or metric you want to use for the players currently on the Hall of Fame ballot will see Bonds’ name at the top of the list. The few that he’s not No. 1 include hits (3rd), average (8th), doubles (2nd) and steals (2nd). Clearly, his performance is among the best of all-time. The only question for some is how much of that performance was artificially enhanced. The answer is that we really don’t know. Furthermore, during Bonds’ stellar career, not once did MLB or its players punish, or threaten to punish, him for breaking baseball’s rules. Not once.

Roger Clemens
I don’t understand how any voter could have Clemens on their ballot and not Bonds, and vice versa. They are either judged solely on their on-the-field performance, or disqualified by their PED use. But there had to have been a few voters that accept Clemens but do not accept Bonds as a Hall of Famer.
 
Mike Mussina
For a pitcher who spent his entire career in the brutal American League East, Mussina posted incredible numbers. He was the ultimate professional who rarely missed starts. For 17 seasons, he averaged 31 starts per season. He won 20 games only once, but won 17 or more eight times. In the expansion era (1961-present), only nine pitchers have a better ERA+ than Mussina. The stat somewhat levels the playing field across eras because it compares a pitcher’s ERA to the league average and makes adjustments for ballparks. And among the nine better are four Hall of Famers and Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, John Smoltz and Kevin Brown.

Tim Raines
Rock Raines is on my ballot because he was consistently one of the most feared offensive weapons throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s. He toiled primarily in obscurity in Montreal, and was the No. 1 victim of owners’ collusion in 1987. The deeper into sabermetrics you go, the better Raines looks.

Just off my ballot

Jeff Bagwell
Edgar Martinez
Mike Piazza
Lee Smith
Curt Schilling
Alan Trammell


Parting Shots

It is crystal clear that the current roster of voters doesn’t appreciate the inflated stats of the Steroid Era. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens received less support this year than last year. Their vote totals combined wouldn’t be enough to gain election. Also notable is that Rafael Palmeiro, with 3,020 hits, 569 home runs, 1,835 RBIs and 1,663 runs didn’t garner enough votes to stay on the ballot. Those are numbers that only Willie Mays and Hank Aaron can match.

Quite frankly, I wouldn’t have Palmeiro on my ballot either. Aside from the positive PED test, his stats were terribly hollow. His lifetime .288 average in an offensive era is rather pedestrian. But with those numbers, I’m amazed that only 25 voters gave him the nod.

These Guys Got Votes?

In all of their wisdom, somehow a few voters managed to check the boxes for Kenny Rogers, Armando Benitez and — get this — Jacque Jones. Really?

A Look Ahead

Next year we could see an even larger class of players elected. I would think that Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio will get the call. Many believe that Pedro Martinez will join them as well. And Mike Piazza is not that far away having received votes on 62.2 percent of this year’s ballots in an overly crowded field.

Veterans Committee

Here’s hoping that Jack Morris gains favor with the veterans committee over the years. And I believe that the committee, comprised primarily of former players, will look less favorably on PED use than the writers do.
 

Teaser:
I believe the Hall of Fame should maintain incredibly high standards and only the elite should be included. However, with the loaded ballot, I was surprised there weren’t four players elected to the Hall this year.
Post date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014 - 17:00
Path: /mlb/evaluating-new-york-mets-40-man-roster
Body:

Between the end of the World Series and Opening Day every winter, fans are inundated with lists. Rankings of the best shortstop, the best left-handed relievers, the best leadoff men, the best second basemen in runs saved, the best right-handed pinch-hitter in road games in July and more. So, while life can be rather boring without 15 baseball games every night, over the next few weeks I’ll rank players on every 40-man roster.

This is more than merely a ranking though, it is a breakdown of contract status, future prospects and the general direction of each franchise. Generally, the ranking is based on the value of each player to the franchise, with an emphasis on the immediate effect on winning. Enjoy.

The Mets currently have very little money committed past 2014, and only two players with enough service to be free agent eligible — David Wright and Jonathon Niese — signed for 2014. The future is not now for this club, but the future is getting brighter. So much will depend on Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler carrying this pitching staff (and team) for the foreseeable future.

1. David Wright, 3B
Opening Day Age:  31
Contract:
2014
: 20,000,000
2015: 20,000,000
2016: 20,000,000
2017: 20,000,000
2018: 20,000,000
2019: 15,000,000
2020: 12,000,000
In all likelihood, Wright will retire as the greatest Mets player in history, and certainly the most popular. If his health declines more quickly than anticipated, this contract could become a burden on the team, but the club was smart to ensure their third baseman will be a Met for life.

2. Matt Harvey, SP
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
It’s never good news when a pitcher goes under the knife for major surgery, but at least Harvey’s operation was late in the season, and early in his career. He should be able to make an appearance or two late in 2014, and neither 2013 nor 2014 could be deemed a critical season in the Mets’ plans. Frankly, without the slight uncertainty of his post-injury struggles, Harvey may be No. 1 on this list. Take him away, and the Mets’ future is rather dismal.

3. Zack Wheeler, SP
Opening Day Age:  23
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
No matter how deep the Giants believe their pitching is, the club certainly would take the Wheeler-for-Carlos Beltran deal back. The young righthander figures to join Matt Harvey to comprise one of the best 1-2 combos in the National League for several years to come.

4. Daniel Murphy, 2B
Opening Day Age:  28
Contract:
2014
: 3rd Year Arbitration
2015: First possible free agency
Expect the Mets to work toward signing their second baseman long-term. Murphy drove in 78 runs and scored 92 for a team that struggled to find offense. He didn’t take a day off last season until Aug. 18.

5. Bobby Parnell, CL
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: 3rd Year Arbitration
2015: First possible free agency
Parnell became a reliable closer last season prior to surgery for a herniated disc in September. The Mets are mildly concerned about his readiness for spring training.

6. Dillon Gee, SP
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
The 21st round pick in 2007 has been dependable since making his debut late in 2010. The Mets have won 44 of his 81 starts (.543), which is an 88-win pace for a full season. Gee and Jonathon Niese could form a nice 3-4 combo behind Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler.

7. Jonathon Niese, SP
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: 5,000,000
2015: 7,000,000
2016: 9,000,000
2017: 10,000,000 club option, $500K million buyout
The lefthander should be a solid No. 3 starter for the Mets for the next few years. His four seasons in the rotation thus far has yielded a 3.92 ERA, a 1.362 WHIP and 166 innings per season. The National League average over the four-year span is 3.88 and 1.348.

8. Travis d’Arnaud, C
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
There’s something to be said for a player twice traded for Cy Young winners. In December of 2009, he was traded from Philadelphia to Toronto for Roy Halladay. Last winter, he was shipped from Toronto to New York for R.A Dickey. This is the season for d’Arnaud to show what all the fuss is about.

9. Jeurys Familia, SP
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
The young righthander held opponents to a .229 average in 8.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League. He has swing-and-miss stuff — as well as miss-the-strike-zone stuff at times — and maintains his velocity deep into games. Developing a third pitch to go with his sharp slider and fastball will be the difference between a future as a starter or closer.

10. Lucas Duda, 1B/OF
Opening Day Age:  28
Contract:
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: 4th Year Arbitration
2018: First possible free agency
Duda hit nine of his 15 home runs in April and May last season.

11. Wilmer Flores, IF
Opening Day Age:  22
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Even though he turned 22 last August, the Venezuela native is the veteran of 696 minor league games.

12. Ike Davis, 1B
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: 2nd Year Arbitration
2015: 3rd Year Arbitration
2016: 4th Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
He’s most likely played his final game in a Mets uniform, but it wasn’t all bad in 2013. From May 26 forward, he batted .256 with a .400 OBP. Trouble is, the Mets need more than walks, and Davis had just five home runs during that stretch of 210 plate appearances.

13. Jenrry Mejia, P
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: 4th Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
In his brief stint in the Mets’ rotation last summer, he responded with a 2.30 ERA and walked only four batters in five starts.

14. Josh Edgin, P
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
He had 27 saves in the minors in 2011, but only three since then.

15. Carlos Torres, P
Opening Day Age:  31
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
Released by both the White Sox and Rockies in the last few years, Torres found a home with the Mets. He stranded 80 percent of the runners he inherited in 2013.

16. Ruben Tejada, SS
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: 4th Year Arbitration
2018: First possible free agency
After a surprisingly productive 2012 season in which he batted .289 in more than 500 plate appearances, Tejada slipped badly in 2013, ending in a demotion by the end of May.

17. Cesar Puello, OF
Opening Day Age:  22
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Puello was progressing nicely through the Mets system and was hitting .326 at Double-A last season after 91 games when he was suspended 50 games due to his association with the Biogenesis scandal. Prior to his suspension, the Mets believed he had 20-homer, 30-stolen base potential.

18. Juan Lagares, OF
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: 4th Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The young center fielder hit much better on the road than at Citi Field. He particularly liked Philadelphia and Washington pitching, hitting a combined .407 at those two ballparks.

 

19. Chris Young, OF
Opening Day Age:  30
Contract:
2014
: $7,250,000
Twice — when he was considerably younger — the center fielder came close to 30-30 seasons with the Diamondbacks. But he’s played just more than 100 games in the past two seasons. In 2012 that was due primarily to injury, but last season it was a lack of production that cost him at-bats. He rallied for a .255 average in September to finish the season at an even .200.

20. Scott Rice, RP
Opening Day Age:  32
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
Rice has pitched in the minor leagues for five different organizations before landing with the Mets. The tall lefty made 73 appearances and stranded 40 of the 47 runners he inherited.

21. Vic Black, P
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Acquired from Pittsburgh last summer in the deal for Marlon Byrd, Black is the team’s Plan B at closer as it stands now. If Bobby Parnell is not fully recovered from neck surgery by the spring, Black will get a long look.

22. Steven Matz, SP
Opening Day Age:  22
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The lefty has been delayed by injuries in his brief career, but he can touch 97 with his fastball and the Mets believe other pitches will develop as well. It’s likely he’ll be on the fast track soon. Albeit in the Rookie league in 2012 and Single-A in 2013, in 27 minor league starts, he has 155 whiffs and allowed just 102 hits and 55 walks.

23. Jacob de Grom, SP
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
He’s already 25 and has just 14 starts at the Triple-A level. His stats certainly won’t wow anyone, but he has a very good fastball and his slider and changeup aren’t far behind. He was an accomplished hitter at Stetson, so he’s still gaining valuable experience on the mound. As his command develops, so will his advancement.

24. Eric Young, OF
Opening Day Age:  28
Contract:
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
He played in only 91 games between Colorado and New York, yet the speedster led the National League with 46 stolen bases. He went from being expendable in Colorado to a regular outfielder with the Mets. He reached safely via hit or walk in 72 of his 90 starts with New York.

25. Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
Two years ago, Nieuwenhuis was one of the Mets’ top prospects after posting a .403 on-base percentage at Triple-A. But other than one brief lukewarm stretch in July, last season was a difficult struggle at the big league level.

26. Juan Centeno, C
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Centeno handles the bat well and has a terrific arm. Those are two characteristics that can keep him in the majors for a long time.

27. Jeff Walters, RP
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Walters blossomed as a closer for Double-A Binghamton in 2013. He saved 38 games and blew just four.

28. Josh Satin, 1B/3B
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: 4th Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
In his first 12 starts at first base last season, he batted .383. If he can prove he’s ready to hit major league pitching, he may be the Mets’ everyday first baseman.

29. Matt den Dekker, OF
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
He was called up in late August and given an opportunity to play fairly regularly. He hit almost 100 points better on the road.

30. Wilfredo Tovar, SS
Opening Day Age:  22
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The shortstop had never played a game above Double-A until his call-up in September. There are enough jobs up for grabs that he could earn his way onto the 25-man roster in spring training, but a full season at Triple-A is more likely.

31. Gonzalez Germen, RP
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
He was almost exclusively a starter until 2013, when he made 64 relief appearances in Triple-A and the majors.

32. Zach Lutz, 3B
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
There are better positions than to be a third baseman in the Mets’ system right now. Lutz may find a future as a pinch-hitter vs. left-handed pitchers.

33. Andrew Brown, OF
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
Brown has proved he can hit at the Triple-A level with three different organizations (.305 average, .570 slugging, 51 home runs in 248 games), but both the Cardinals and Rockies gave up on him. How much do the Mets believe in him?

34. Erik Goeddel, P
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The righthander made 25 starts at Double-A last season and will likely get a full season at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2014.

35. Anthony Recker, C
Opening Day Age:  30
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
The long-time Oakland farmhand is a .194 career hitter in 230 plate appearances in the majors. And he joins teammate Zach Lutz as two of only three Alvernia College alums to make it to the Show.



Significant Non-Roster Prospects
Noah Syndergaard, SP
Opening Day Age:  21

The organization’s top prospect is not subject to the Rule 5 Draft, therefore it isn’t necessary to protect him by putting him on the 40-man roster. The club fully expects him to join Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler and others in the rotation in the next few years.

Rafael Montero, SP
Opening Day Age:  23

With a lively fastball and batter-than-average slider and changeup, Montero has all the tools of a future starter in the big leagues. His size reminds many scouts of Pedro Martinez.

Brandon Nimmo, OF
Opening Day Age:  21

He’s played exclusively in center field to this point, but he projects more of a very sound corner outfielder at the big league level. He is disciplined at the pate and rarely expands the strike zone and isn’t afraid to take walks. The Mets are ready to see some power develop.

Teaser:
The Mets currently have very little money committed past 2014, and only two players with enough service to be free agent eligible — David Wright and Jonathon Niese — signed for 2014. The future is not now for this club, but the future is getting brighter.
Post date: Monday, November 25, 2013 - 11:00
Path: /mlb/depth-look-los-angeles-dodgers
Body:

Between the end of the World Series and Opening Day every winter, fans are inundated with lists. Rankings of the best shortstop, the best left-handed relievers, the best leadoff men, the best second basemen in runs saved, the best right-handed pinch-hitter in road games in July and more. So, while life can be rather boring without 15 baseball games every night, over the next few weeks I’ll rank players on every 40-man roster.

This is more than merely a ranking though, it is a breakdown of contract status, future prospects and the general direction of each franchise. Generally, the ranking is based on the value of each player to the franchise, with an emphasis on the immediate effect on winning. Enjoy.

The Dodgers have quickly become the Evil Empire of the West over the past two seasons, more than doubling their team payroll from 2012 to 2013, which is more than $200 million. Los Angeles is a tremendous market and the Dodgers’ TV deal provides opportunities to afford every available player. However, the Dodgers must sign ace Clayton Kershaw to a long-term deal, and in the process the team is trying to shave a little off the gaudy payroll budget. The club will begin the efforts toward more fiscal responsibility by trading an outfielder, most likely Matt Kemp.

1. Clayton Kershaw, SP
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: 3rd Year Arbitration
2015: First possible free agency
Kershaw is arguably the most coveted player in the game right now. Talent, poise, experience, age all are on his side. Keeping him in Dodger blue may be the most important step the club can make over the next 12 months.

2. Hyun-Jin Ryu, SP
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: 3,500,000
2015: 4,000,000
2016: 7,000,000
2017: 7,000,000
2018: 7,000,000
Ryu outpitched Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright in Game 3 of the NLCS, a must-win tilt for the Dodgers. He may be the best No. 3 starter in the majors in 2014.

3. Yasiel Puig, OF
Opening Day Age:  23
Contract:
2014
: 2,000,000
2015: 4,500,000
2016: 5,500,000
2017: 6,500,000
2018: 7,500,000
Puig took the city and league by storm last season and became one of the more exciting players to watch. He’s still developing and quickly turning into a real force both at the plate and in the field, not to mention on the bases, where something always exciting — good or bad — is likely to happen. Once he becomes eligible for arbitration (possibly after 2016), he could opt out of this deal and establish his pay through the arbitration process. If that’s the case, the 2017-18 figures will certainly increase. At any, rate this youngster is a huge part of the Dodgers’ future plans.

4. Hanley Ramirez, SS
Opening Day Age:  30
Contract:
2014
: 16,000,000
As is the theme for this club, when healthy, Ramirez is among the best in the game. But the Dodgers must decide how healthy they believe he can be, and if he can continue to be a reliable shortstop. The team would probably like to trade some of the money owed to Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford for a long-term deal with Ramirez.

5. Zack Greinke, SP
Opening Day Age:  30
Contract:
2014
: 24,000,000
2015: 23,000,000
2016: 24,000,000
2017: 23,000,000
2018: 24,000,000
There are a few incentives — namely Cy Young awards — that could increase his salary over the course of this deal, but that would be money well spent. Typically, long-term deal for pitchers rarely work in favor of the club over the long haul, but if the market for pitchers continues to rise at its current rate, this deal may not look too bad in a few years. With Greinke and Kershaw in the rotation, the Dodgers will always be in the hunt.

6. Matt Kemp, CF
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: 21,000,000
2015: 21,000,000
2016: 21,500,000
2017: 21,500,000
2018: 21,500,000
2019: 21,500,000
Kemp is still a special talent, but it’s a bit disconcerting that injuries have begun to take a toll with $128 million left on his contract. With the emergence of Yasiel Puig and the development of Joc Perderson, the club is antsy to trade Kemp and/or Carl Crawford to lessen the financial burden over the next several seasons.

7. Carl Crawford, LF
Opening Day Age:  32
Contract:
2014
: 20,250,000
2015: 20,500,000
2016: 20,750,000
2017: 21,000,000
Crawford looked healthy and energetic during the playoffs, and he performed extremely well. His speed game is all but gone and not likely to return as he gets deeper into his 30s. He’s a talented player and a real asset to the Dodgers’ lineup, but he’s way overpaid.

8. Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Opening Day Age:  31
Contract:
2014
: 21,000,000
2015: 21,000,000
2016: 21,000,000
2017: 21,500,000
2018: 21,500,000
Gonzalez is not raking as he once did for San Diego when he was garnering MVP votes every year, but he is still a formidable weapon in the heart of the Dodgers’ order. It is likely that his production will decline over the next four years while his $21 million dollar salary won’t.

9. Andre Ethier, OF
Opening Day Age:  31
Contract:
2014
: 15,500,000
2015: 18,000,000
2016: 18,000,000
2017: 17,500,000
2018: 17,500,000 club option with a $2.5M buyout
Ethier battled injuries this season, but responded well when asked to play center field on a regular basis. His .221/.275/.338 line vs. lefties this season doesn’t read like a player with more than $70 million guaranteed over the next four seasons.

10. Kenley Jansen, CL
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
During the four seasons spent in Los Angeles, Jansen has appeared in 111 save situations and has been credited with a save or a hold 99 times. That’s an 89 percent success rate. He is the closer of the present and the future.

11. Chad Billingsley, SP
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: 12,000,000
2015: 14,000,000 club option with a $3M buyout
After undergoing Tommy John surgery last April, Billingsley expects to be ready for spring training, but the club will likely take it a bit slow. Over the second half of 2013, Billingsley will prove whether or not he deserves to be a big part of the Dodgers’ future.

12. Stephen Fife, SP
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Fife came to the Dodgers along with catcher Tim Federowicz from Boston in a three-team deal that involved Seattle as well. Los Angeles was 5-5 in his 10 starts, but scored zero, one, two, three and four runs in those starts.

13. Alexander Guerrero, 2B
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: 4,000,000
2015: 4,000,000
2016: 5,000,000
2017: 5,000,000
2018: First possible free agency
The Cuba native will be given the opportunity in spring training to earn the second base job. In fact, it’s his to lose. Having never played an inning in the minor leagues, it’s a bit risky to count on Guerrero out of the gate, but the success fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig had makes the Dodgers believe they have another star in the making.

14. Chris Withrow, P
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The former first-round draft pick debuted this summer and scuffled a bit at first, but since July 10, a span covering 28.2 innings, he was 3-0 with four holds and a save. His ERA was 1.88 and opponents batted just .134. For the season, he struck out 43 and allowed 20 hits and 13 walks.

15. Brandon League, RP
Opening Day Age:  31
Contract:
2014
: 7,500,000
2015: 7,500,000
2016: 7,500,000 vesting player option that could reach $9,000,000
He once saved 37 games for a bad Seattle team, and converted his first 11 opportunities with the Dodgers. But he wasn’t included among the 12 pitchers who saw time during the postseason.

16. A.J. Ellis, C
Opening Day Age:  32
Contract:
2014
: 2nd Year Arbitration
2015: 3rd Year Arbitration
2016: 4th Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
This past season, Ellis wasn’t the on-base machine that he proved to be in 2012. But he throws well and handles pitchers nicely. This is not a position where the club is willing to spend freely at this point, so Ellis will split time with Tim Federowicz for the foreseeable future.

17. Matt Magill, SP
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Drafted in the 31st round in 2008, Magill has developed into one of the club’s best pitching prospects. Harnessing the strike zone is the final step in his development.

 

18. Dan Haren, SP
Opening Day Age:  33
Contract:
2014
: 10,000,000
2015: 10,000,000 vesting option, 180 innings required
This time last winter, the Washington Nationals believed that 2013 would be a rebound season for Haren. A 10-14 record with a career-worst 4.67 ERA doesn’t exactly qualify as a rebound season. Now the Dodgers are believers. One thing is certain: Haren answers the bell. He’s one of three pitchers with 30 or more starts every year since 2005.

19. Dee Gordon, SS
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: 4th Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
Flash is a much more suitable nickname for Dee than his father, Tom. His stock was approaching blue chip status after 2011, but has fallen precipitously since then. His future may be as a utility player rather than a regular.

20. Josh Beckett, SP
Opening Day Age:  33
Contract:
2014
: 15,750,000
The former Boston ace is just 2-8 in his 15 starts with the Dodgers over 2012-13. He’s battling thoracic outlet syndrome, and had surgery in July to, hopefully, correct the problem. The best the Dodgers can hope for is that the righthander is healthy and intent on jumpstarting his career in this contract year.

21. Tim Federowicz, C
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
Considered more of a throwing catcher than hitter, the Dodgers have been pleased with his work behind the plate. He is a backup catcher that the team feels comfortable playing for significant stretches when necessary.

22. Onelki Garcia, RP
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Last summer in the minors, left-handed batters hit just .156 in 77 at-bats with one home run. It appears he’ll make his living facing left-handed hitters. He had arthroscopic surgery recently, but should be throwing by the end of the year and not hindered in spring training.

23. Yimi Garcia, RP
Opening Day Age:  23
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Garcia has a deceptive delivery and struck out 85 batters at Double-A Chattanooga in 2013 and allowed just 35 hits and 14 walks. With 19 saves, he is in line to become a closer at the big league level.

24. Jose Dominguez, P
Opening Day Age:  23
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
It’s possible that the thin righty will be the club’s closer someday.

25. Paco Rodriguez, RP
Opening Day Age:  22
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
The former second-round pick out of Florida has been a useful piece in the Dodgers’ bullpen, but he wasn’t called on to do much heavy lifting in the playoffs.

26. Javy Guerra, RP
Opening Day Age:  28
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: 4th Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
The former closer had 29 saves for the Dodgers in 2011-12, but fell behind last spring. His future is as part of the bullpen, but not at the back end.

27. Scott Van Slyke, OF
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: 4th Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The son of the former St. Louis and Pittsburgh star, Andy Van Slyke, Scott is a serviceable fourth outfielder with some power, but probably not in the plans to start with such organizational depth.

28. Drew Butera, C
Opening Day Age:  30
Contract:
2014
: 2nd Year Arbitration
2015: 3rd Year Arbitration
2016: 4th Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
The son of a major leaguer is considered a future manager, but few teams carry three catchers.

29. Justin Sellers, SS
Opening Day Age:  28
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
Sellers started 20 games at shortstop in place of Hanley Ramirez last April and batted .206.

30. Nick Buss, OF
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The athletic outfielder drove in 100 runs and had 57 extra-base hits for Albuquerque last season in just 459 at-bats.

31. Scott Elbert, RP
Opening Day Age:  28
Contract:
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
One of only three lefthanders on the 40-man roster, Elbert will miss the 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

32. Mike Baxter, OF
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: 4th Year Arbitration
2018: First possible free agency
Baxter proved to be a valuable bench player for the Mets in 2011, but struggled last season. He’s a long shot to make the club next spring.

33. Pedro Baez, RP
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
After close to 500 games I the minors as an infielder, Baez converted to a pitcher prior to 2013 and finished last season at Double-A Chattanooga.

34. Jarret Martin, P
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The Dodgers are desperate for some left-handed relief. So, Martin has a chance.


Non-Roster Significant Prospects
Joc Pederson, OF
Opening Day Age:  24

The organization’s top prospect is little more than a year away from making an impact in the big leagues. The Dodgers are trying to make room for him in the crowded outfield.

Corey Seager, 3B
Opening Day Age:  19

The younger brother of Seattle’s Kyle Seager, Corey is likely to be the better player. The Dodgers’ third baseman of the future has decent power and speed with 20-20 potential.

Zach Lee, SP
Opening Day Age:  22

Lee had a 3.22 ERA and 1.171 WHIP in 142.2 innings at Double-A in 2013. He will likely find himself in the bigs in September.

Teaser:
The Dodgers have quickly become the Evil Empire of the West over the past two seasons, more than doubling their team payroll from 2012 to 2013, which is more than $200 million. But where do they go from here?
Post date: Friday, November 22, 2013 - 12:30
Path: /mlb/ranking-boston-red-sox-40-man-roster
Body:

Between the end of the World Series and Opening Day every winter, fans are inundated with lists. Rankings of the best shortstop, the best left-handed relievers, the best leadoff men in getting on base, the best second basemen in runs saved, the best right-handed pinch-hitter in road games in July and more. So, while life can be rather boring without 15 baseball games every night, over the next few weeks I’ll rank players on every 40-man roster.

This is more than merely a ranking though, it is a breakdown of contract status, future prospects and the general direction of each franchise. Enjoy.

The Red Sox have as much talent in the upper levels of the minors as any organization. In addition to continuing to produce major league ready players, the club also finds itself with some attractive trade chips. But there’s no question that this is a veteran-led team and because of that will be a serious contender for the next few seasons. Replacing David Ortiz’s presence in the heart of the lineup and clubhouse will be a major task over the next year or so. Also, keeping starting pitcher Jon Lester in the fold will prevent the rotation from taking any steps backward.

1. Dustin Pedroia
Opening Day Age:  30
Contract:

2014: 12,500,000
2015: 12,500,000
2016: 13,000,000
2017: 15,000,000
2018: 16,000,000
2019: 15,000,000
2020: 13,000,000
2021: 12,000,000
Last summer, Pedroia was determined to strike a deal that would keep him in a Red Sox uniform the remainder of his career, and the club was happy to oblige. The team leader on and off the field is a dream for any manager. After turning age 34, the declining salary makes this a particularly attractive contract for Boston.

2. David Ortiz , DH    
Opening Day Age:  38
Contract:
2014
: 15,000,000
Sure, his career is winding down, but his postseason performance showed there’s still quite a few hits left in Big Papi’s tank. His value to this team transcends his work in the batter’s box.

3. Jon Lester, SP
Opening Day Age:  30
Contract:
2014
: 13,000,000
The World Series star should be priority No. 1 for the Red Sox front office. With more security than just the one season, Lester would move up to No. 2 ahead of Ortiz. The Red Sox can’t afford to allow him to leave next winter.

4. Clay Buchholz, SP
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: 7,700,000
2015: 12,000,000
2016: 13,000,000 club option, $245,000 buyout
The 12-1 record and 1.74 ERA sure look nice, but the Sox need more than 16 starts from a guy who could be their ace. He has yet to post back-to-back full seasons, but he’ll need to remain healthy in order to earn his keep in 2015-16.

5. John Lackey , SP
Opening Day Age:  35
Contract:

2014: 15,250,000
2015: (ML minimum) club option
Boston has a unique opportunity to recoup Lackey’s 2012 season, lost to Tommy John surgery. The Red Sox have a club option that could pay Lackey just $500,000 in 2015. A healthy Lackey is clearly worth $16 million over the next two seasons.

6. Xander Bogaerts, SS
Opening Day Age:  21
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
His rapid development made Jose Iglesias expendable and allays fears of Stephen Drew not re-signing.  The rising star could be the center piece of the Sox in the near future.

7. Felix Doubront, SP
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: First possible free agency
The lefthander is quickly moving up the list in Boston. He had a 16-start stretch in the middle of the season in which he was 5-4, but had a 2.73 ERA and held opponents to a .232 average.

8. Shane Victorino, RF
Opening Day Age:  33
Contract:

2014: 13,000,000
2015: 13,000,000
Clearly, Victorino has proven that he’s a winner and makes those around him better.
6
9. Koji Uehara, CL
Opening Day Age:  38
Contract:
2014
: 4,250,000
Few closers have had a run like Uehara did last season over the last five months. He’s near the end of his career, but his low price tag gives the Red Sox some flexibility and time to find the 2015 closer.

10. Daniel Nava, OF
Opening Day Age:  31
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: First possible free agency
The switch-hitter carried a .385 OBP last season that jumped to .411 vs. right-handed pitching. The Sox could certainly do a lot worse than having Nava and Shane Victorino as the daily double atop the lineup. While the Nava/Jonny Gomes platoon worked well in 2013, expect Nava to get the lion’s share of at-bats in 2014.

11. Jackie Bradley, OF
Opening Day Age:  23
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
For whatever reason, the prized prospect didn’t appear to be ready for a regular job in the big leagues last season. But he’s young, talented, and he did bat .273 in 10 September starts.

12. Brandon Workman, P
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Workman improved his stock during the postseason, and his future should be as a starter. That may mean spending a season at Pawtucket, but his future is bright.

13. Allen Webster, SP
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Acquired from the Dodgers along with Rubby de la Rosa in the mega deal of 2012 that sent Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez west, Webster has generally been considered a Top 100 prospect. He has a future in the Boston rotation.

14. Rubby de la Rosa, P
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: 4th Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
The Red Sox have as much starting pitching depth right now as any time in recent memory. With the usual injury or two, and maybe an unexpected struggle by a veteran, de la Rosa could find himself in the rotation out of spring training.

15. Junichi Tazawa, RP
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
The durable setup man had more strikeouts than hits allowed, usually a pretty good sign that he has effective stuff. He’s probably not a potential closer, but will be a huge part of Boston’s bullpen for several years.

16. Christian Vazquez, C
Opening Day Age:  23
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Vazquez handles the bat well, but has very little pop. He throws extremely well and will be given a long look in the spring and could share the job with David Ross. But he’s played just one game above Double-A, and there’s no need to rush him in 2014.

17. Jake Peavy, SP
Opening Day Age:  32
Contract:
2014
: 14,500,000
2015: 15,000,000 player option based on 2013-14 innings pitched
Peavy is a reliable veteran, but he’s no longer a top-of-the-rotation guy. He needs 255.1 innings in 2014 to trigger his 2015 option. Uh, not likely.

18. Will Middlebrooks, 3B
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
The Red Sox expect to see more of the 2012 version of Middlebrooks (.288-14-54 in 267 at-bats) rather than the 2013 injury-plagued version (.227-17-49 in 348 at-bats).

19. Craig Breslow, RP
Opening Day Age:  33
Contract:
2014
: 3,825,000
2015: 4,000,000 club option, $100,000 buyout
He’s a reliable reliever, but not particularly cost-effective.

20. David Ross, C
Opening Day Age:  37
Contract:
2014
: 3,100,000
Considered one of the best teammates in the game, Ross commands respect from pitchers. He can hit a little bit, but really isn’t an everyday catcher.

21. Jonny Gomes, OF
Opening Day Age:  33
Contract:
2014
: 5,000,000
Contrary to popular perception, Gomes hit 22 points higher vs. right-handed pitching last season. Much of his value comes from intangibles. He had four pinch-hit homers last season.

22. Anthony Ranaudo, SP  
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The righthander has battled shoulder fatigue, a groin injury and elbow trouble dating to his days at LSU. But healthy in 2013, he made 24 starts across Double-A and Triple-A with a sub-3.00 ERA.

23. Mike Carp, 1B
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
Carp has value in Boston. He slugged better than .500 in spot duty last season and batted .337 vs. the AL East, and just .266 against every other team.

24. Ryan Dempster, SP
Opening Day Age:  36
Contract:
2014
: 13,250,000
To say that 2013 was a disappointment for Dempster would be an understatement. His greatest value may come from the club convincing another team that he can thrive outside of Fenway Park.

25. Franklin Morales, RP
Opening Day Age:  28
Contract:
2014
: 3rd Year Arbitration
2015: First possible free agency
The lefty was once considered a top prospect in Colorado as a starter. Since finding his way to Boston, he’s proven to be more suited as a lefty specialist out of the pen.

26. Garin Cecchini, 3B  
Opening Day Age:  22
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Cecchini stole 51 bases for Single-A Greenville in 2012, and drew 94 in 129 games across two levels in 2013. He hits for average with gap power, but is probably a year away from competing for an everyday job.

27. Bryce Brentz, OF
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Brentz is a budding power hitter and corner outfielder. He hit 30 bombs across two leagues his first full season in the minors and followed that with 30 doubles at Double-A in 2012.

28. Brock Holt, IF
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The infielder was part of the Joel Hanrahan trade with the Pirates last winter. He’s shown he can hit for average in the minors. Primarily a shortstop in the Bucs’ system, he’d love to have a shot at the third base job.

29. Andrew Bailey, RP
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: 3rd Year Arbitration
2015: First possible free agency
The former Oakland closer made $3.9 million and $4.1 million the past two seasons, which makes him a likely candidate to be non-tendered in December.

30. Ryan Lavarnway, C
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
The Red Sox have been patiently waiting for the catcher to blossom. Bobby Valentine gave him ample opportunities down the stretch in 2012, but he scuffled mightily. He hit .375 over his final eight starts in 2013, but the organization’s lack of faith in him has the Red Sox seriously investigating the catcher free agent market.

31. Andrew Miller, P
Opening Day Age:  28
Contract:
2014
: 3rd Year Arbitration
2015: First possible free agency
A foot injury ended his season in early July, but the tall lefthander should be ready to complete for a spot in the bullpen during spring training.

32. Brayan Villareal, P
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
He was acquired from the Tigers in the same deal this past summer that brought Jake Peavy from the White Sox. Villareal broke camp as part of the Tigers’ bullpen, but a 20.77 ERA after seven appearances had him back on the Toledo bus.

33. Alex Wilson, P
Opening Day Age:  30
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: 4th Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The second-round pick in 2009 has struggled as a starter in the minors and is trying to find his way as a reliever.

34. Dan Butler, C
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
He’s played 363 games behind the plate in the minor leagues and no other position. The 27-year-old’s lot in life is, at best, to be a temporary injury replacement midseason.

35. Alex Castellanos, OF
Opening Day Age:  27
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Recently acquired from the Dodgers, Castellanos is on the verge of no longer being considered a prospect.

36. Drake Britton, P
Opening Day Age:  24
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Over the past three seasons, the sparkle has worn off of what was at one time a pretty bright star.

37. Alex Hassan, OF
Opening Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
He’s been on the 40-man roster all season, but yet to get the call to the big leagues. He hit .306 in the low minors and just .285 in Double-A and Triple-A.

38. Steven Wright, P
Opening Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
He logged 12.1 innings over three relief appearances, and just one inning in his lone start.

39. Ryan Kalish, OF
Opening Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: First possible free agency
The former promising prospect underwent cervical fusion surgery in August. He’s still young, but his body may not allow him to return to major league levels.

Teaser:
Replacing David Ortiz’s presence in the heart of the lineup and clubhouse will be a major task over the next year or so. Also, keeping starting pitcher Jon Lester in the fold will prevent the rotation from taking any steps backward.
Post date: Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 16:00
Path: /mlb/st-louis-cardinals-40-man-roster
Body:

Between the end of the World Series and Opening Day every winter, fans are inundated with lists. Rankings of the best shortstop, the best left-handed relievers, the best leadoff men, the best second basemen in runs saved, the best right-handed pinch-hitter in road games in July and more. So, while life can be rather boring without 15 baseball games every night, over the next few weeks I’ll rank players on every 40-man roster.

This is more than merely a ranking though, it is a breakdown of contract status, future prospects and the general direction of each franchise. Generally, the ranking is based on the value of each player to the franchise, with an emphasis on the immediate effect on winning. Enjoy.

The St. Louis Cardinals have become a model organization by just about any criteria. The club has played in — and won — more postseason games this century than any other franchise. The Redbirds have appeared in the last three NLCS, winning two of them, and have positioned themselves to continue this current run of success well into this decade. Of the 10 position players, four starting pitchers and closer the Cardinals used during the World Series, only two — Matt Holliday and Carlos Beltran — were not homegrown. St. Louis’ current roster is stocked with veterans that are both still in their prime and affordable for the next few years. The next wave of stars has already arrived and there are more on the way.


1. Yadier Molina, C
Open Day Age:  31
Contract:
2014:
15,000,000
2015: 15,000,000
2016: 14,000,000
2017: 14,000,000
2018: 15,000,000 mutual option, $2 million buyout
Molina is the unquestioned leader of this team, and young players respect him, especially the slew of rising stars on the pitching staff. One of the best defensive catchers and throwers to ever play the game, Molina has developed as a hitter to the point that he has become the most indispensable player in the game.

2. Adam Wainwright, SP
Open Day Age:  32
Contract:
2014
: 19,500,000
2015: 19,500,000
2016: 19,500,000
2017: 19,500,000
2018: 19,500,000
The big righthander remains the Cardinals’ ace regardless of how well Michael Wacha looked in the postseason. Waino is locked up for another five seasons at a relatively small price as far as aces go. He’s a horse, who not only eats innings, but will be a serious Cy Young contender in at least three of the next five seasons.

3. Matt Holliday, LF
Open Day Age:  34
Contract:

2014: 17,000,000
2015: 17,000,000
2016: 17,000,000
2017: 17,000,000 club option, $1 million buyout
St. Louis stepped outside of its typical modus operandi a few years ago when the team signed Holliday to what was at that time quite a rich deal. His $17 million salary is relatively modest by superstar standards and he produces. Yeah, he occasionally misses a game or two from a back injury in the weight room or a moth flying in his ear, but he’s well-respected in this clubhouse and leads by example with hard work.

4. Allen Craig, 1B
Open Day Age:  29
Contract:
2014
: 2,750,000
2015: 5,500,000
2016: 9,000,000
2017: 11,000,000
2018: 13,000,000 club option, $1 million buyout
The Cardinals clearly missed the RBI machine’s bat in the middle of the lineup during the postseason. He’ll make somewhere around $70 million less than Albert Pujols, whom he replaced at first base. Craig is just versatile enough to play the outfield and gives the Cardinals some lineup flexibility with rising slugger Matt Adams.

5. Michael Wacha, SP
Open Day Age:  22
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
It is possible that the Cardinals started Wacha’s clock ticking a bit too soon this season making him eligible for arbitration as a Super 2 player in 2016. But either way, the Cardinals have a future ace with the stuff, durability and makeup to be at the top of St. Louis’ rotation for a long time.

6. Trevor Rosenthal, CL
Open Day Age:  23
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
Most scouts believe that Rosenthal is better suited to be a starter than closer, but rotation depth and Edward Mujica hitting a wall in September landed Rosey the closer’s gig — for now. He’ll hold down the role until Jason Motte proves he’s healthy enough for the day-to-day rigors of closing. At that point, the Cardinals will have a decision as to Rosenthal’s future role. At any rate, he appears to be on track to be a valuable piece for the next five seasons.

7. Matt Carpenter, 2B-3B
Open Day Age:  28
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: First possible free agency
With an uncanny work ethic and steady routine, Carpenter has made himself into an above-average second baseman, and a top-notch leadoff man. When he’s hitting well, this offense is potent. When he’s scuffling, the lineup struggles to score.

 

8. Jhonny Peralta
Opening Day Age: 31
Contract:
2014
: 15,500,000
2015: 15,000,000
2016: 12,500,000
2017: 10,000,000
This contract does two good things for the Cardinals and one really good thing for baseball. For the club, it plugs a hole at shortstop where the Cardinals were in dire need of offense, and with declining salaries, the potential of hamstringing the team later on is diminished. For baseball, this deal will most certainly accelerate the players’ union to enact harsher penalties for cheaters.

9. Joe Kelly, SP
Open Day Age:  25
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
For the past two seasons, Kelly has been the odd man out early in the season. He wasn’t called up until later in 2012, then missed out on a rotation spot coming out of spring training in 2013. And at key times during both seasons, Kelly has bailed out the Cardinals’ rotation. He’s athletic, throws hard, has guts and is profoundly entertaining in the clubhouse.

10. Lance Lynn, SP
Open Day Age:  26
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: First possible free agency
Lynn apparently has missed the cutoff to be arbitration eligible this winter by less than five days’ worth of service time. Tough break for him, huge cost savings for the Redbirds.

11. Carlos Martinez, P
Open Day Age:  22
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Mike Matheny and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist believe they have a third ace in Martinez to pitch alongside Adam Wainwright and Michael Wacha. He enjoyed success as a setup man late in the year showing the poise and maturity the Cardinals expect from their starters.

12. Shelby Miller, SP
Open Day Age:  23
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
Whether it’s as a member of a deep and talented rotation in 2014, or as a trade chip over the winter, Miller brings tremendous value to the organization coming off of a superb rookie season with 15 wins.

13. Oscar Taveras, OF
Open Day Age:  21
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First Possible Free Agency
Widely considered the best prospect in baseball, Taveras dealt with injuries last season that delayed his development. When the Cardinals signed Carlos Beltran to a two-year deal prior to 2012, the thinking was that Taveras would be ready to take over in 2014. But he probably needs some significant injury-free time at Triple-A to prevent throwing him to the wolves prematurely. His health and development will be closely monitored in spring training.

14. Kevin Siegrist, RP
Open Day Age:  24
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
After his debut in early June, the Cardinals were judicious in picking spots for the young lefthander. As the season progressed he was used more often in increasingly high-leverage situations. And he responded with 50 strikeouts and only 17 hits and 18 walks to show for his 39.2 innings.

15. Jaime Garcia, SP
Open Day Age:  27
Contract:

2014: 7,750,000
2015: 9,250,000
2016: 11,500,000 club option, $500,000 buyout
2017: 12,000,000 club option, $500,000 buyout
The feisty lefty has had Tommy John surgery and more recently major shoulder surgery that ended his 2013 season after just nine starts. His 1.328 career WHIP isn’t overpowering by any means, but he consistently keeps his team in the game, especially at home where his ERA is about a run-and-a-half better than on the road.

 

16. Peter Bourjos, CF
2014
: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: First Possible Free Agency
The Cardinals acquired one of the best defensive center fielders in the game in Bourjos. It would be a bit optimistic to expect him to produce 49 extra-base hits like he did in 2011, which included an AL-best 11 triples.

17. Jason Motte, RP
Open Day Age:  31
Contract:

2014: 7,000,000
The closer lost 2013 to Tommy John surgery, and it will be interesting to see how the Cardinals approach re-signing him beyond this season. Considering the depth in the pitching staff, the likelihood of him being offered a significant deal to stay in St. Louis is not high. But he can be a valuable member of the bullpen in 2014.

18. Seth Maness, RP
Open Day Age:  25
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: 4th Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
For some reason, Maness became a master at producing double plays last season. He induced 16 twin killings and faced just 249 batters.

19. Matt Adams, 1B
Open Day Age:  25
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
The Cardinals are happy with the development of Big City, but need him to hit lefties more consistently and shorten his stroke enough to avoid prolonged slumps. His continued improvement gives St. Louis some options and may force some big personnel decisions.

20. Kolten Wong, 2B
Open Day Age:  23
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Forget about that baserunning gaffe in Game 4 of the World Series, Wong is a budding star. He didn’t prove himself big-league ready this season, but it won’t be much longer.

 

21. Randy Choate, RP
Open Day Age:  38
Contract:

2014: 3,000,000
2015: 3,000,000
The lefty specialist is a necessary component of the bullpen, and he held lefties to a .176 average with no homers in 85 ABs last season.

22. Daniel Descalso, IF
Open Day Age:  27
Contract:

2014: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
St. Louis fans think of him as Jose Oquendo Light.

 

23. Jon Jay, CF
Open Day Age:  29
Contract:

2014: 1st Year Arbitration
2015: 2nd Year Arbitration
2016: 3rd Year Arbitration
2017: First possible free agency
A year ago, the Cardinals thought they a had a budding Gold Glover in center field, but he seemed to take a few steps backward this season. He doesn’t run or hit well enough — especially against lefthanders — to keep an everyday job in center as an average defender. His future is probably as a fourth outfielder, albeit a very good one.

 

24. Tony Cruz, C
Open Day Age:  27
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: First possible free agency
There are worse jobs in baseball than Yadier Molina’s caddie.

25. Shane Robinson, OF
Open Day Age:  29
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: 1st Year Arbitration
2016: 2nd Year Arbitration
2017: 3rd Year Arbitration
2018: First possible free agency
The diminutive Robinson is perfectly suited to be a fourth outfielder.

 

26. Randal Grichuk, OF
Open Day Age:  22
Contract:
2014
: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First Possible Free Agency
The first-round pick of the Angels in 2009, Grichuk has battled injuries and had just two fully healthy seasons. He is a budding power hitter who has put together back-to-back seasons of 57 extra-base hits. The Cardinals will work to refine his approach against breaking pitches and plate discipline.

27. Pete Kozma, SS
Open Day Age:  25
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: 1st Year Arbitration
2017: 2nd Year Arbitration
2018: 3rd Year Arbitration
2019: First possible free agency
The former first-round pick brings solid character and a steady glove to the ballpark everyday with a genuine desire to improve. But the Cardinals would prefer a little offense mixed in as well.

28. Mike O’Neill
Open Day Age:  26
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First Possible Free Agency
The small lefty-swinging outfielder has hit for average at every minor league level with no pop. He probably translates to a corner outfielder and must use speed to his advantage to get on base.

29. Sam Freeman, RP
Open Day Age:  26
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
He may be the slightest built Cardinal since Dal Maxvill.

30. Tyler Lyons, P
Open Day Age:  26
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The Cardinals were 3-5 in his eight fill-in starts this season; 3-1 when the lineup gave him three runs of support.

31. Greg Garcia, IF
Open Day Age:  24
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Possible Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First Possible Free Agency
Garcia is the “does all the little things” kind of player. He is similar to Daniel Descalso, with a little better bat overall, especially against lefthanders.

32. Keith Butler, P
Open Day Age:  25
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
He doesn’t wow you with overpowering stuff like many of the Cardinals’ youngsters, but the club believes he can be a complete pitcher.

33. Joey Butler, OF
Open Day Age:  28
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Stuck at Triple-A in the Rangers’ system since 2011, it’s possible a change scenery and situation could be a positive jolt to his career.

34. Audry Perez, C
Open Day Age:  25
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Yadier Molina was a .274 hitter in the minor leagues. So, is there stardom in the future for this defensive-minded backstop, who has hit .266 over six seasons? Uh, probably not.

35. Jorge Rondon, RP
Open Day Age:  26
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
Through age 25, he’s appeared in 258 minor league games.

36. Eric Fornataro, P
Open Day Age:  26
Contract:

2014: Team control
2015: Team control
2016: Team control
2017: 1st Year Arbitration
2018: 2nd Year Arbitration
2019: 3rd Year Arbitration
2020: First possible free agency
The sixth-round pick in 2008 didn’t exactly set the world on fire when given a chance at Triple-A in 2013.

 

Non-Roster Prospects

Significant prospects not currently on the 40-man roster
Tyrell Jenkins, SP
Stephen Piscotty, OF
James Ramsey, OF

 

Teaser:
While life can be rather boring without 15 baseball games every night, over the next few weeks Athlon Sports Baseball Editor Charlie Miller will rank players on every 40-man roster.
Post date: Thursday, November 21, 2013 - 11:04
Path: /mlb/world-series-game-6-preview-cardinals-sox-head-back-boston
Body:

World Series – Game 6
St. Louis at Boston
8:07 ET Fox
Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78) vs. John Lackey (10-13, 3.52)


Not only did the Cardinals miss an opportunity to win the series in St. Louis with a sweep of the three games there, they didn’t even leave town with a lead. And like twice before in this postseason, the Redbirds turn to 23-year-old Michael Wacha with their backs against the wall. Boston counters with veteran John Lackey, the loser in Game 2 although he left the game in position to be the winner. Wacha features a lively fastball and put-away changeup, which kept the Boston hitters off balance in Game 2. Lackey had terrific command in Game 2, with only five two-ball counts over his 6.1 innings.

Keys for Boston
Offensively, the Sox must give David Ortiz help. The Cardinals have yet to execute an effective plan against Boston’s best hitter. But whether it’s Dustin Pedroia in front of him, or Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes behind him, the Sox can’t expect Ortiz to beat this St. Louis team alone. Lackey needs to have solid command once again. If he’s wild, the Cardinals’ patience will drive up his pitch count and force manager John Farrell’s hand with the bullpen earlier than he would like.

Keys for St. Louis
Wacha must continue to pitch well beyond his years. He pitched a gem in an elimination game in a boisterous atmosphere at Pittsburgh in the NLDS, then won the must-have Game 2 in Boston. Wacha faced Ortiz three times. He grounded out with no one on base, walked with a runner on second, and homered to left field with a runner on, giving the Red Sox a 2-1 lead. Expect Wacha to pitch him off the plate outside tonight and be content to walk him. The Cardinals offense has shown some signs of coming back to life, although the scoreboard didn’t show it in Game 5. Carlos Beltran had a close encounter with a home run, and Yadier Molina had two line drive outs right at infielders. But this offense must start with Matt Carpenter at the top. In Game 2, there were no runners in scoring position for Matt Holliday or Allen Craig. Beltran delivered an RBI single in his only trip with a runner in scoring position. The tablesetters must give Holliday and Craig opportunities.

Red Sox to Watch
If Lackey can’t make it deep into this game, relievers Junichi Tazawa and Felix Doubront could be on the spot. They have pitched well to this point, but the more hitters get a look at pitchers, the more the advantage switches to the hitter. Ortiz and Pedroia accounted for three of the Red Sox four hits in Game 2. If Jacoby Ellsbury can join that party, it could be a tough night for Wacha.

Cardinals to Watch
All eyes are on Wacha once again. The youngster hasn’t been rattled by big stages this postseason, but each time the stakes get a little bigger. Defensively, the Cardinals must be airtight. No mistakes allowed tonight. David Freese, a postseason hero in 2011, has been silenced in this series. He’s had some opportunities to come up big. Tonight he will have yet another chance in a big moment.
 
Key Stats
Ortiz’s batting average for the series is up to .733, the highest ever for a hitter with 20 plate appearances…For all players with as many as 50 plate appearances in the World Series, Ortiz is best all-time in average (.465), on-base percentage (.556), slugging percentage (.814) and OPS (1.370)…Led by Xander Bogaerts (.294) and Pedroia (.263), Ortiz’s teammates are now batting .151 for the series…The bottom of the Cardinals’ order is struggling to say the least. The 7-8-9 hitters with the DH — and 6-7-8 hitters with the pitcher in the lineup — are hitting .106…Boston relievers Doubront, Tazawa and Koji Uehara have allowed just one run, five hits, two walks and struck out eight over 10.1 innings…St. Louis pitchers have more strikeouts (50) than hits (33) and walks (14) combined.

Teaser:
The only thing bigger and better than Game 6 would be a Game 7 tomorrow.
Post date: Wednesday, October 30, 2013 - 12:00
Path: /mlb/world-series-game-5-preview-pivotal-finale-st-louis
Body:

World Series – Game 5
Boston at St. Louis
8:07 ET Fox
Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75) vs. Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94)


Two crazy endings in Games 3 and 4 knotted the Series at two games each for Boston and St. Louis. The Cardinals have one more shot at home before ending the series back in Boston. Much like Game 4 was a critical game for the Red Sox, it’s almost as if Game 5 is a must-win for St. Louis. Going back to Boston down a game would be a tough predicament, to say the least. The rematch of Game 1 starters Jon Lester and Adam Wainwright promises more pitching dominance. Lester was terrific in Game 1, and St. Louis continues to struggle against lefthanders. Wainwright was not in top form in Game 1, but his teammates let him down at the plate, and especially in the field. Expect him to bounce back.

Keys for Boston
The Red Sox must play a clean game behind Lester, but more importantly get to Wainwright early. Allowing the Redbirds’ ace to settle in will spell trouble. He led the majors in innings this season and has proven he can go the distance and seems to get stronger in the late innings. Also, an early lead will keep the sea of red in the stands quieter.

Keys for St. Louis
The Cardinals must figure out a way to get David Ortiz out. The big man is batting .727 with four walks in this series and has made a few loud outs. The Redbirds’ plan of pitching around him had been working until Jonny Gomes’ three-run shot last night after a four-pitch walk to Ortiz. St. Louis has yet to have an explosive offensive game in this series. Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday are the hitters that need to ignite this offense tonight. In Game 1, the Red Sox took a lot of pitches, especially the first time through the order against Wainwright. They swung and missed just eight times against the St. Louis ace. Wainwright must adjust and not allow his pitch count to run up too quickly.

Red Sox to Watch
Ortiz continues to torment the Cardinals. They’ve thrown soft stuff, hard stuff, lefties, righties and nothing has worked. Whoever hits in front and behind Big Papi must continue to foil the Cardinals’ plan of pitching around Ortiz. Presumably, that would be Dustin Pedroia in front and Gomes, once again, behind Ortiz.

Cardinals to Watch
The Cardinals were aggressive in Game 1, and didn’t have but one five-pitch at-bat the first time through the order. But Holliday and Yadier Molina had some a good at-bats off Lester, so expect the Cardinals’ attack to begin with Beltran — who had just one plate appearance — and Holliday and Molina. Both Carlos Martinez and Trevor Rosenthal got a day of rest yesterday, so Matheny may ask the two of them to get the final nine outs.
 
Key Stats
Ortiz is batting .727 in the series while his teammates are scuffling at .138…The Red Sox have to be more opportunistic offensively scoring 18 runs on just 24 hits…The Cardinals have 32 hits, but managed just 12 runs…Left-handed pitcher Franklin Morales is the only Boston player yet to see action in the series. Backup catcher Tony Cruz and pitchers Shelby Miller and Edward Mujica have yet to get in a game for St. Louis…Holliday has three of the Cardinals’ seven extra-base hits. Ortiz owns three of Boston’s eight…Ortiz now owns a .436 batting average in 12 career World Series games with eight extra-base hits and 13 RBIs. The average is best all-time among players with as many as 50 plate appearances…Ortiz has made just three outs in the four games, one of which he was robbed of a grand slam by Beltran, who turned the out into a sac fly.

Teaser:
This World Series between Boston and St. Louis has been one strange ending after another.
Post date: Monday, October 28, 2013 - 13:26
Path: /mlb/world-series-game-4-preview-cardinals-red-sox-regroup-after-controversial-ending
Body:

World Series – Game 4
Boston at St. Louis
8:15 ET Fox
Clay Buchholz (12-1, 1.74) vs. Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97)


After one of the strangest endings in postseason history, the Cardinals emerged with a two-games-to-one lead heading to Game 4 tonight. The Cardinals look to take a commanding three-games-to-one lead behind starter Lance Lynn. Boston counters with Clay Buchholz, who was the Red Sox ace for the first half of the season. Both teams pretty much emptied their bullpens last night, so there’s more pressure on the starters tonight.

Keys for Boston
Forget about the tough loss last night. Convince themselves that the “whole world is against us,” and use that mentality to galvanize this team in order to begin an incredible run. And manager John Farrell can’t allow his team to lose a close game without firing one of his hottest bullets in Mike Napoli. Farrell, who should have made a double switch if he wanted relief pitcher Brandon Workman to throw more than one inning, allowed Workman to bat for the only time in his professional career in the ninth inning. Farrell can’t get caught like that again. Buchholz, who has appeared to be uncomfortable while throwing on the side this week, must give Boston a strong outing.

Keys for St. Louis
Lynn must have good command and control in the strike zone. If he’s pounding the zone early in counts, Boston’s patience will allow him to get ahead of hitters and that’s when Lynn is effective. If he falls behind too many hitters, this could be Shelby Miller’s game early.

Red Sox to Watch
Buchholz will be watched closely from the first pitch tonight by Farrell. If he can’t give the Sox maximum effort, expect veteran Ryan Dempster to be thrown into the spotlight. Whoever hits behind David Ortiz — most likely Daniel Nava — must make the Cardinals pay for pitching around Big Papi. It was evident in Game 3 that St. Louis pitchers were not going to let Ortiz beat them. That also adds pressure to Dustin Pedroia, who hits in front of Ortiz. All it took was a few miscues in the field to allow St. Louis to score, so the Red Sox must play a clean game on defense. When will Boston test Yadier Molina? The stolen base was such a big part of Boston’s offense all season, but they’ve yet to test the Cardinals’ catcher.

Cardinals to Watch
Expect the Red Sox to begin giving Matt Holliday the Ortiz treatment — pitching around him. That would mean that Matt Adams, Yadier Molina, who had three hits in Game 3, and David Freese would see more critical at-bats. The more Matheny goes to his bullpen, the more likely it will be for Shelby Miller to find his way to the mound in high leverage situations.

Key Stats
Shane Victorino, who is hitless in the series, has been hit once and walked once. He scored both times…Game 3 was the 18th time in Ortiz’s career that he has reached base three times via hit or walk. The Red Sox are now 12-6 in those games, losing the last two…St. Louis is 2-2 in Lynn’s four postseason starts…With 123 steals during the regular season, Boston has yet to attempt a steal in the World Series. With a scant 45 stolen bases this season, St. Louis has pilfered three…In the first three games, the Red Sox have 18 hits, nine walks and 28 strikeouts…Game 3 marked only the second time in World Series history that a team had two blown saves, yet still won the game. The first time was Game 7 in 1960.

Teaser:
After some controversy at the end of Game 3, both the Red Sox and Cardinals carry tired bullpens into Game 4.
Post date: Sunday, October 27, 2013 - 14:49
Path: /mlb/world-series-game-3-preview-red-sox-cardinals-move-st-louis
Body:

World Series – Game 3
Boston at St. Louis
8:07 ET Fox
Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17) vs. Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69)


The Cardinals escaped Boston with a split, and that’s good news for the Redbirds. But this World Series is just now beginning. We’re entering the portion of the program where hitters actually have a fighting chance. Expect a little more offense tonight in St. Louis, but both bullpens stand ready and can extinguish fires quickly. Neither manager will allow this one to get away early. The Cardinals’ Joe Kelly was one of their more reliable starters down the stretch this season, but hasn’t been as sharp in the postseason. Jake Peavy, a former Cy Young winner in the National League, struggled in his starts against the Rays and Tigers in the playoffs. One critical factor for both teams throughout this series is to play a clean game, both defensively and on the bases, taking advantage of every slight opportunity.

Keys for Boston
The Red Sox must adjust to having Peavy bat and Ortiz must not give away anything defensively at first base. Boston hitters are a patient bunch and they will wait out Kelly, who can be a bit erratic with his control at times. Now is certainly not the time to change their typical patient approach.

Keys for St. Louis
Mike Matheny doesn’t expect Kelly to get past the seventh inning, but he’ll ask the young righthander to leave it all on the mound for what few innings he can. The Redbirds’ manager will turn this game over to his bullpen, which has been dominant in the postseason. Matheny called on Carlos Martinez to get six outs and Trevor Rosenthal three in Game 2, but he will be more likely to mix and match relievers for matchups rather than extend Martinez tonight. The Cardinals have had some success against Peavy, both in the regular season and playoffs when he was with San Diego. St. Louis has won five of their six home playoff games this fall, and need to continue to feed off the home atmosphere.

Red Sox to Watch
Many eyes will be on Ortiz and how well he handles first base. In 2004, he played well in St. Louis, but he was nine years younger then. He’s played just 13 games at first over the past three seasons. In two starts for Boston this postseason, Peavy was touched for eight runs over 8.2 innings. He must avoid big innings. Stephen Drew has been a non-factor at the plate, but his steady presence up the middle has squelched some St. Louis momentum in the first two games. With regular first baseman Mike Napoli on the bench, both Drew and Peavy are candidates to be pinch-hit for in big spots. The Red Sox have yet to test Yadier Molina behind the plate. Without the DH in the lineup, expect the Sox to start runners and play more small ball in St. Louis. That starts with Jacoby Ellsbury and Shane Victorino.

Cardinals to Watch
If the Cardinals are to win with a potent offense, it will be Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday providing the punch. Both have a pretty good history with Peavy and are swinging the bat well now. In addition to keeping hitters off base, Kelly must also be adept at keeping runners close at first base and give Molina a chance to shut down the Red Sox running game.

Key Stats
St. Louis was 11-4 in Kelly’s 15 regular-season starts…Aside from Ortiz (4-for-6) and Dustin Pedroia (3-for-7), the rest of the Red Sox are scuffling at .098 off of St. Louis pitching…Ortiz last made an error in 2009…The Red Sox have lost both games this postseason when Ortiz didn’t reach via hit or walk...Beltran in 8-for-20 against Peavy…Holliday is 8-for-28…The 32-year-old righthander has held Molina to 3-for-17.

Teaser:
With the World Series moving to St. Louis, expect the Red Sox to turn up the heat on the bases.
Post date: Saturday, October 26, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /mlb/world-series-game-2-preview-cardinals-red-sox
Body:

World Series – Game 2
St. Louis at Boston
8:07 ET Fox
Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78) vs. John Lackey (10-13, 3.52)


Last night quickly turned into the dream or nightmare from 2004, depending on which dugout you’re in. The Cardinals made multiple miscues in the field and the Red Sox mixed in a few good at-bats around the mistakes taking St. Louis out of the game early. There were no positives for St. Louis in Game 1 — unless you consider John Axford’s 1-2-3 strikeout performance — and there were few negatives for Boston. The Red Sox won handily without any contribution from Shane Victorino and nothing from leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury after the first inning. The Cardinals must turn the page quickly and once again lean heavily on rookie Michael Wacha. The young righthander took the ball in a do-or-die game in a hostile environment at Pittsburgh and was brilliant. This isn’t technically a do-or-die game for St. Louis, but it’s close. The Red Sox counter with John Lackey, the starter and winner for the Angels in Game 7 of the 2002 World Series (but that was 11 years ago).

Keys for Boston
Keep the pressure on St. Louis. One way they can do that is to force the Cardinals to make plays defensively. Put the ball in play and be aggressive on the bases. It won’t take a long outing by Lackey, but winning will require a quality outing, even if it ends after five innings. Last night the Red Sox took the first two pitches the first time through the order. Expect a more aggressive approach tonight as Wacha will pound the strike zone. Taking too many pitches could leave Boston batters battling from behind in the count all night.

Keys for St. Louis
They must get back to the “Cardinal Way,” whatever that is exactly. It should start with playing a clean game defensively. Last night’s slow delivery to second by Matt Carpenter that resulted in the Pete Kozma error (and minor controversy), and the pop that dropped between Adam Wainwright and catcher Yadier Molina appeared to be the result of playing not to lose rather than playing to win. That mindset must change dramatically overnight. Getting yet another super-human effort from Wacha may be too much to ask of the rookie with just nine regular-season starts in his career. But that’s exactly what the Cardinals need.

Red Sox to Watch
Lackey twirled a gem his last time out. He shut out the Tigers over 6.2 innings, allowing only four hits in Boston’s 1-0 win. Ortiz, who homered last night and had a grand slam turned into a sac fly by right fielder Carlos Beltran, remains the focal point for St. Louis. They were forced to pitch to him with runners on last night. If that’s the case again tonight for Wacha, it will be another banner night for the BoSox. Mike Napoli, a member of the Texas Rangers whom the Cardinals defeated in the 2011 World Series, is swinging the bat extremely well and focused on beating St. Louis.

Cardinals to Watch
Wacha is the man of the hour for the St. Louis faithful. In three postseason starts and 21 innings, the lone run he’s allowed was a solo homer by Pedro Alvarez of the Pirates. Carpenter and Matt Adams must provide some offense tonight. Carpenter by getting on base, and Adams by driving in runs. Of course, Beltran, the top run producer for St. Louis in the postseason, is questionable to play after injuring his ribs and leaving last night’s game in the third inning.

Key Stats
The Red Sox were 9-4 in Lackey’s 13 home starts this season, 9-1 when scoring three runs or more…Opponents batted just .232 off of Lackey at Fenway Park this season…Wacha is 3-0 with a 0.43 ERA in his three postseason starts…Matt Holliday swung at the first pitch in his first three at-bats before taking a pitch prior to his homer in the ninth inning…Both teams threw 141 pitches in Game 1…Boston came to bat three times with the bases loaded. Napoli doubled, Pedoria singled and Ortiz hit a sac fly that was headed over the fence for a grand slam…St. Louis came to bat once with the bases loaded. David Freese grounded into a 1-2-3 double play.

Teaser:
After a miserable performance on Wednesday night, the Cardinals try to even the series before heading back to St. Louis.
Post date: Thursday, October 24, 2013 - 11:51
Path: /mlb/world-series-game-1-preview-st-louis-boston
Body:

World Series – Game 1
St. Louis at Boston
8:07 ET on Fox
Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94) vs. Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75)


This is the first time the two teams with their league’s best records have met in the Fall Classic since the Yankees defeated the Braves in 1999. Both the Red Sox and Cardinals won 97 games, and proved to be among the best in baseball all season. This World Series has all the signs of a long, competitive, down-to-the-wire showdown. Both teams won their League Championship Series in six games with pitching as their hallmark. Both bullpens are strong, so it’s doubtful that either team will cough up leads in the late innings. Neither team hit particularly well in series that were dominated by pitching. Both Boston and St. Louis were opportunistic and capitalized on their opponents’ miscues. There will be no room for error in this series. Both teams must be sharp in the field and on the bases. A small mistake can mean the difference in one game, and one game will likely be the difference in the series. There is significant World Series experience in both dugouts, especially among position players. Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright of St. Louis, and Jon Lester and John Lackey of Boston are the only pitchers on the two rosters to appear for winning teams in a previous World Series. Baseball could not ask for a better matchup in the Fall Classic this season. With temperatures expected to be in the mid-40s at game time with a 50 percent chance of rain, baseball could have asked for better weather.

Keys for Boston
The Red Sox have four games at home and must capitalize on the magic of Fenway Park. The Cardinals struggle against left-handed pitching and Boston’s only southpaw starter, Jon Lester, goes tonight. If Lester is sharp and gets this game to the bullpen by the seventh inning, manager John Farrell will likely leave the park happy. Offensively, the Red Sox love to run. They stole 123 bases and were caught just 19 times for a major league-best 87 percent success rate. They can’t afford to abandon that facet of their offense.

Keys for St. Louis
St. Louis manager Mike Matheny is excited about Allen Craig getting back in the lineup. He led the club with 97 RBIs in the regular season, but has been out since early September with a foot injury. The Cardinals’ offense needs a boost, and Craig is the man for the job. Catcher Yadier Molina is the best in the business at shutting down opponents’ running games. He will have his hands full with Boston, a team that loves to run. St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright allowed just three stolen bases in six attempts all season, with two of the steals coming with Tony Cruz behind the plate. The Cardinals’ bullpen is full of power arms and that matches up well against a team that’s not afraid to strike out.

Red Sox to Watch
David Ortiz is the man the Cardinals’ pitchers must deal with. If he’s not part of the Boston attack, the Red Sox may have trouble producing runs. Leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury will be a key for Boston to manufacture runs with speed. If he’s on base — and especially if he can steal a bag or two — the Red Sox can chip away with Shane Victorino and Dustin Pedroia even if the Cardinals can neutralize Big Papi.

Cardinals to Watch
Wainwright has made seven postseason starts, but none in the World Series. He’s not likely to be fazed by the gravity of the moment, and the Cardinals need a strong outing by their leader. Carlos Beltran has been the Redbirds’ best RBI producer this postseason. He and Matt Holliday now have some help in Craig, a trio that should give Lester some trouble. Having the aging Beltran cover the spacious and quirky right field in Boston could be a factor.

Key Stats
Kyle Seager of Seattle is the only player to successfully steal against the Wainwright-Molina combination this season…The Cardinals are 4-3 in Wainwright’s seven postseason starts, 1-2 on the road…Wainwright has not allowed more than two runs in the any of the three losses…This is the second World Series start for Lester, who started Game 4 of the 2007 World Series…This is Lester’s fifth Game 1 start…The Red Sox are 2-2 in his previous four Game 1 outings…Wainwright has never faced Ellsbury, Pedroia or Ortiz…Tonight marks the 10th World Series game between the Cardinals and Red Sox at Fenway Park. Dating back to 1946, the Red Sox have won six of those games.

Teaser:
The Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals begin a classic showdown in the World Series tonight in Boston.
Post date: Wednesday, October 23, 2013 - 14:00
Path: /mlb/world-series-preview-st-louis-cardinals-vs-boston-red-sox
Body:

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Boston Red Sox
This is the first time the two teams with their league’s best records have met in the Fall Classic since the Yankees defeated the Braves in 1999. Both the Red Sox and Cardinals won 97 games. These two teams have proven to be among the best in baseball all season, and this series has all the signs of a long, competitive, down-to-the-wire World Series.

Both teams won their League Championship Series in six games with pitching as their hallmark. Neither team hit particularly well in two series dominated by pitching. Both Boston and St. Louis were opportunistic and capitalized on their opponents’ miscues.

There will be no room for error in this series. Both teams must be sharp in the field and on the bases. A small mistake can mean the difference in one game, and one game will likely be the difference in the series.
There is significant World Series experience in both dugouts, especially among position players. Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright of St. Louis, and Jon Lester and John Lackey of Boston are the only pitchers on the two rosters to appear for winning teams in a previous World Series.

Baseball could not ask for a better matchup in the Fall Classic this season.
 

World Series 20132013 World Series Schedule

Game 1    Wed., Oct. 23    St. Louis at Boston    8:07    Fox    
                  Adam Wainwright (19-9)    Jon Lester (15-8)


Game 2    Thur., Oct. 24    St. Louis at Boston    8:07    Fox    
                  Michael Wacha (4-1)    John Lackey (10-13)


Game 3    Sat., Oct. 26    Boston at St. Louis    8:07    Fox    
                  Clay Buchholz (12-1)    Joe Kelly (10-5)


Game 4    Sun., Oct. 27    Boston at St. Louis    8:15    Fox
                  Jake Peavy (12-5)    Lance Lynn (15-10)


Game 5    Mon., Oct. 28    Boston at St. Louis    8:07    Fox
Game 6    Wed., Oct. 30    St. Louis at Boston    8:07    Fox
Game 7    Wed., Oct. 30    St. Louis at Boston    8:07    Fox

 

St. Louis Cardinals
Lineup
The Cardinals’ success usually begins at the top with leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter. He led the majors with 199 hits, 121 runs and 55 doubles. St. Louis has been without its best RBI man in Allen Craig, out with a foot injury, since early September. He will make his first appearance of this postseason in the World Series, and the Cardinals desperately need an offensive spark.


Rotation
Veteran Adam Wainwright is still considered the ace, but rookie Michael Wacha has been the best starter in the postseason. Matheny gave Wacha the ball in the Cardinals’ must-win NLDS Game 4 at Pittsburgh. Wacha has allowed just one run in 21 innings, helping him to earn NLCS MVP honors.


Bullpen
The Cardinals began the season with their closer Jason Motte on the shelf with Tommy John surgery. Edward Mujica stepped up and paced the club with 37 saves. He hit a wall in September and crashed and burned. Trevor Rosenthal, with three regular-season saves, has been perfect in the postseason. The Cardinals have a small army of young, power arms at their disposal.


Bench
With the return of Craig, the Cardinals’ bench improves dramatically. While Matt Adams has done an admirable job filling in for Craig at first base, his absence leaves Matheny with no hammer off the bench. Craig will likely DH at Boston and come off the bench in St. Louis.


Defense
The Cardinals made the fewest errors this season in team history, but that is not the whole story. Range is limited all over the field except in center, and the aging Carlos Beltran is the only outfielder with a good arm. Catcher Yadier Molina, one of the best all-time behind the plate, will be asked to shut down Boston’s running game, which should be a fascinating battle.


Keys to Winning
St. Louis is experienced in the postseason and has a manager that keeps them focused on the game at hand. The Cardinals posted the best average with runners in scoring postion of all-time (.330) during the season. They hit just .192 in that situation against the Pirates in the NLDS, and .349 in the NLCS. They proved to the Pirates and Dodgers that they could win games without a dominant offense. The Cardinals rely on young pitchers in key spots, namely Wacha and Rosenthal. The bullpen in front of Rosenthal will be a factor in this series and could be the Cardinals’ Achilles heel.


Players to Watch
Matheny expects to get two quality starts from both Wainwright and Wacha, and run production from Beltran, who relishes hitting in the postseason. In addition to Beltran, consistent production from Matt Holliday, David Freese and Molina would be huge. And how Rosenthal and other young relievers like Kevin Siegrist and Carlos Martinez respond in clutch situations — especially at Fenway Park — may determine the outcome of the series.


Boston Red Sox
Lineup
The Red Sox led the majors in runs and OPS during the regular season, but were stymied by Detroit pitching in the ALCS. Boston is batting just .236 in the postseason and show little resemblance to the potent lineup that took the field all summer. Jacoby Ellsbury has been a threat from the leadoff spot with a .467 OBP and six stolen bases in the postseason. With Ellsbury on base, the lineup revolves around Big Papi, David Ortiz. The bottom of the order has provided very little help in the playoffs.


Rotation
Clay Buchholz won his first 12 decisions this year, before missing three months with an injury. Both he and Jon Lester have been everything the Red Sox had hoped for in the postseason. John Lackey, no stranger to World Series success, has given the Sox a lift. Jake Peavy hasn’t been sharp and doesn’t have a good history against the Cardinals.


Bullpen
The bullpen has been the strength of the team in the playoffs, led by ALCS MVP Koji Uehara. The pen is deeper than the Cardinals’ relief corps, so the Boston starters shouldn’t feel undue pressure to go deep into games.


Bench
Mike Napoli, a catcher-turned-first baseman, will likely come off the bench in Games 3, 4 and 5 in St. Louis. There is an option to put him behind the plate, but he hasn’t caught any games this season. Manager John Farrell can mix and match a few positions, namely left field and third base. Left fielders Daniel Nava, a switch-hitter, and Jonny Gomes, who hits southpaws well, provide Farrell with late-inning options. Xander Bogaerts and Will Middlebrooks will share the hot corner most likely.


Defense
The Red Sox outfield defense is strong with Ellsbury in center and Shane Victorino in right. In the infield Stephen Drew is a solid shortstop and Dustin Pedroia is one of the best in the business at second. It will be interesting to see how well Ortiz handles himself at first base at St. Louis.


Keys to Winning
The Red Sox are tough to beat at Fenway Park as the Rays and Tigers have found out recently. The ballpark has been magical for the Red Sox this century. The Red Sox must hold serve in the first two games. Boston’s bat slumber better be over because if they don’t wake up, the St. Louis pitchers can dominate. The starting pitching can be inconsistent, especially on the road, so getting quality starts allows the bullpen to take over and slam the door.


Players to Watch
Offensively, Farrell expects the top of the order — Ellsbury, Victorino, Pedroia and Ortiz — to produce. But what the bottom of the order contributes could be a key to the series. The Cardinals have been susceptible to left-handed pitching, and while the return of the right-handed hitting Craig helps, lefties Craig Breslow and Franklin Morales will be called on to get some clutch outs.


Numbers Game
.731    Career slugging percentage for Carlos Beltran of the Cardinals in the postseason. It ranks third all-time behind Babe Ruth (.744) and Lou Gehrig (.731) among players with at least 150 plate appearances in the postseason.

7    Players on the 2013 St. Louis roster who earned a World Series ring in 2011. An eighth, Adam Wainwright, was injured and did not appear in the 2011 World Series, but played a crucial role as the closer for the 2006 champions.

4    Players on the 2013 Boston roster who earned a World Series ring in 2007.

23    Games won in the NLCS since 2000 for St. Louis. No other National League team has played in that many NLCS games during that time.

28    More wins for Boston in 2013 than in 2012. That was the greatest improvement by any team in the majors this season.

 

PREDICTION: Boston in 7

Teaser:
The St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox, owners of the two best records in baseball, prepare to stage a classic showdown in the World Series.
Post date: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 - 12:45
Path: /mlb/nlcs-game-6-preview-series-moves-back-st-louis
Body:

In a rematch of Game 2 pitchers, Michael Wacha of St. Louis and Clayton Kershaw of Los Angeles, it’s difficult to foresee anything more than a good old-fashioned pitchers’ duel. In Game 2, Kershaw pitched around a leadoff triple in the first inning, and Wacha avoided a big inning in the sixth when he struck out Yasiel Puig and Juan Uribe with the bases loaded, preserving the shutout. There will be few scoring opportunities, and the team that capitalizes with a run or two will likely win.

Keys for Los Angeles
Maintaining a one-game-at-a-time approach. There is no tomorrow without a win tonight. Patience at the plate could be key. They must force Wacha to make multiple pitches and not miss what few mistakes he might make.

Keys for St. Louis
Getting back to St. Louis should be a lift for the Redbirds, but having to win just one of two could cause them to lose a sense of urgency, something the Dodgers will have no trouble finding. The Cardinals must also forget losing three straight to San Francisco last season. Again, playing at home this year should give St. Louis an edge it didn’t have in 2012.

Dodgers to Watch
Second baseman Mark Ellis has been under the radar all series. In addition to playing solid defense, he has been gritty at the plate. He singled in the first inning off of Wacha in Game 2 after a seven-pitch at-bat. He saw 15 pitches from the Cardinals’ young righthander in his first three plate appearances, and seems to be locked in on Wacha.

Cardinals to Watch
In the next two games, the Cardinals could really use some production from Matt Adams. The big lefty-swinging first baseman is 2-for-14 off lefthanders in the postseason with no extra-base hits. Lefthanders Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu (if the series goes seven games) will not hesitate to pitch around righthanders in order to make Adams beat them.

Key Stats
There were a scant seven hits total and just one run (unearned) in the entire game when these two pitchers opposed one another in Game 2…In that game, the teams combined to use eight pitchers…The Cardinals were 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, the Dodgers 0-for-6…After going 5-for-10 in the Game 5 loss, the Cardinals now sit at .310 with runners in scoring position in this series…The Dodgers are batting .216 in those situations…In 17 at-bats each in this series, Yadier Molina, David Freese and Andre Ethier have no RBIs.

 

National League Championship Series – Game 6
Los Angeles at St. Louis
8:07 ET TBS
Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83) vs. Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78)

Teaser:
In a rematch of Game 2 starters, the Cardinals and Dodgers likely will stage another pitchers' duel.
Post date: Friday, October 18, 2013 - 13:02
Path: /mlb/alcs-game-5-preview-red-sox-tigers
Body:

American League Championship Series – Game 5
Boston at Detroit
8:07 ET Fox
Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75) vs. Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.57)


Manager Jim Leyland’s lineup shift paid dividends for Detroit in Game 4, evening the series at 2-2. The veteran manager moved leadoff hitter Austin Jackson down to No. 8 and the Red Sox couldn’t get him out. With 12 hits, Boston showed signs of emerging from its own offensive funk. Jacoby Ellsbury led the way with four hits, a home run shy of a cycle. The remaining three games should feature the same pitching matchups as the first three games, which were dominated by starting pitchers on both sides. Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez was seen leaving the mound after six no-hit innings in Game 1. Boston’s Jon Lester was fairly sharp as well, allowing only one run after a walk, hit-by-pitch and soft single.

Keys for Detroit
In some ways, this game is much more critical for the Tigers than for the Red Sox. Going back to Boston down a game versus up a game could be huge for Detroit. The lineup must continue to produce like last night, but the difference between last night and Game 2 was that the Detroit relievers were able to hold on to a big lead. The Tigers can’t afford another bullpen meltdown.

Keys for Boston
After much was made over David Ortiz’s grand slam in Game 2 and how clutch he seems to be in the postseason, that game-turning home run remains his lone hit in this series. Without him contributing, it’s extremely difficult for the Sox to win. The bottom of the order needs to perk up as well. Starters in the 7-8-9 spots are 6-for-35 (.171) in this series with two walks and 14 strikeouts.

Tigers to Watch
Jackson struggled through the first three games, reaching base only twice in 14 plate appearances and striking out five times, not numbers you want from a leadoff hitter. He drew a four-pitch walk with the bases loaded in his first time up, then chased starter Jake Peavy with a single in his next at-bat. Another single and an eight-pitch walk followed to cap his perfect night.

Red Sox to Watch
With Ellsbury getting on base consistently, it’s time for Dustin Pedroia and Ortiz to step up their games. Boston expects more run production from the middle of the order, but Pedroia and Ortiz have combined for just four hits and five RBIs, with four of those coming on one swing from Big Papi.

Key Stats
With essentially every player moving up a spot in the order, last night’s game was the first in the leadoff position for Torii Hunter since his days with the Twins in 1999…Miguel Cabrera batted second for only the third time in his career, and first since 2004 when he was a member of the Florida Marlins…Jackson now has a better OBP (.231) in this postseason than Hunter (.225), who will bat leadoff again tonight for the Tigers…With nine this postseason, Ellsbury has scored 25 percent of Boston’s runs…Since Detroit acquired Sanchez from Miami midway through 2012, the Tigers are 13-7 when he starts at home, including 10-4 this season…The Red Sox lost 12 of Lester’s 20 road starts this season.

Teaser:
In pivotal Game 5 of the ALCS, the Tigers can't afford to go back to Boston down a game.
Post date: Thursday, October 17, 2013 - 11:44
Path: /mlb/alcs-game-4-preview-boston-detroit
Body:

American League Championship Series – Game 4
Boston at Detroit
8:07 ET Fox
Jake Peavy (12-5, 4.17) vs. Doug Fister (14-9, 3.67)


With a win yesterday, the Red Sox have assured themselves that in order for the Tigers to advance to the World Series, they must take this series back to Boston. The Tigers must feel as if both Games 4 and 5 in Detroit are must-wins. Pitching has certainly ruled the day in this series, and with Doug Fister and Jake Peavy toeing the rubber tonight, that won’t likely change.

Keys for Detroit
Fister must go at least six innings in order to keep the pressure off the bullpen. The Tigers won three of his final five starts, while getting shut out in one loss and scoring just two runs in the other. Run support has been scarce against the Red Sox, so Fister can’t expect much help. For the Tigers, tonight would be a terrific time for Prince Fielder to find his groove. The big first baseman, sandwiched between Miguel Cabrera and the Victor Martinez-Jhonny Peralta combo, may hold the key to Detroit’s offense exploding.

Keys for Boston
Can Boston continue to win with a termite-infested bat rack? At some point, the Red Sox have to start hitting in order to win the series. Peavy must stick with the pitching game plan that has been so successful to this point. Manager John Farrell is confident going to his pen early, so Peavy can attack with his complete arsenal early in the game.

Tigers to Watch
Fister will try to continue the Tigers’ dominance over Boston hitters, and he has had mixed results this season. In a June start at home, the righthander couldn’t get out of the fourth inning before giving up 11 hits and six runs in a loss. Then in September at Fenway Park, he tossed seven shutout innings in a win. Cabrera has three home runs among his 13 hits in 45 at-bats off of Peavy.

Red Sox to Watch
Peavy hasn’t faced the Tigers since he was dealt to Boston, but his final start as a member of the White Sox came against Detroit. He threw seven strong innings allowing just four hits and two walks, but he surrendered four runs all coming off the three home runs he gave up. Cabrera was not in the lineup that day. Jacoby Ellsbury has had good success reaching base off Fister (.545 OBP). Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is 5-for-11 (.455) off of Fister with two doubles and a homer. In an even smaller sample, Shane Victorino is 4-for-5 with a home run, and an HBP, of course.

Key Stats
In the 2000s, the Red Sox are now 16-15 in ALCS games. The Tigers are now 11-6…The Red Sox have yet to score in the first five innings…There have been 35 hits and 68 strikeouts in this series…The Red Sox have 12 hits, 10 walks and 43 punchouts…Detroit’s Peralta and Martinez are batting a combined .391…Their teammates are hitting .177…The Tigers have lost two of Justin Verlander’s three starts this postseason, despite his 0.565 WHIP and 0.39 ERA over 23 innings.

Teaser:
Both Boston and Detroit are looking to get their offense going in ALCS.
Post date: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 14:13
Path: /mlb/nlcs-game-5-preview-dodgers-backs-against-wall
Body:

National League Championship Series – Game 5
St. Louis at Los Angeles
3:07 ET TBS
Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69) vs. Zack Greinke (15-4, 2.63)


There’s no question that pitching has outshone hitting in this series. And there’s no reason to believe that trend will not continue in Game 5. Facing elimination, the Dodgers now must win three in a row. But they have to look no further for inspiration than to their fiercest rival, the San Francisco Giants. Last year at this point, the Cardinals led the Giants three-games-to-one, only to see the Giants rally to win three straight. There is one major difference: the Dodgers must win two in St. Louis, while the Giants had the luxury of playing Games 6 and 7 in San Francisco. In tight games, there is no margin for error in the field or on the bases, and both teams have had costly lapses. On the mound, this is a rematch of Game 1. Both Zack Greinke and Joe Kelly gave up three runs in the third inning, but neither figured in the decision in the 13-inning St. Louis win.

Keys for Los Angeles
Aside from the fact that Greinke must continue to pitch well, the Dodgers must replace the production of shortstop Hanley Ramirez, who left last night’s game in the seventh inning with discomfort from a cracked rib. If he plays in Game 5, he will not be 100 percent, so his teammates must take up the slack of not having their cleanup hitter.

Keys for St. Louis
Somehow the Redbirds keep winning despite not getting off the ground offensively. The bats have been silenced by the Dodgers’ pitching staff. The inept offensive stats are staggering. The Cardinals have only 19 hits, 13 walks and have whiffed 35 times. They are batting .148 with a .231 slugging percentage, yet they are up three-games-to-one. There’s no doubt the Cardinals remember the pain of losing three straight to the Giants last season, so that sting should serve as added incentive to end the series quickly. The bullpen continues to perform well and creates a security blanket for the starting pitchers. They know they don’t have to go deep into games and can ramp up their intensity early in the game.

Dodgers to Watch
Greinke must be up to the task of getting this series back to St. Louis for Game 6 so the Dodgers will live to fight another day. Two years ago, he lost Game 5 of the NLCS to the Cardinals as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers. This St. Louis lineup is a bit different without Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman.  

Cardinals to Watch
Look for manager Mike Matheny to try to jump start his offense with the running game. The Cardinals don’t steal bases, but they have some excellent hit-and-run guys in Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, Jon Jay and Daniel Descalso. Runs will be tough to come by against Greinke, so tonight’s offense could come from unexpected sources like Jay and Descalso.

Key Stats
The Dodgers have outhit the Cardinals 31 to 19. In four games, the Cardinals have outscored the Dodgers just eight to seven…Combined, the teams have attempted just two stolen bases. When these teams met in the 1985 NLCS, they combined for 16 attempts in the six-game series…Shane Robinson, who homered last night, has more RBIs (1) than the Cardinals’ 4-5-6 hitters (Matt Adams, Molina and David Freese) combined…The Dodgers haven’t homered in the first four games. They had only three stretches as long as four games in the regular season without a home run, only once — a six-game stretch — in the second half.

Teaser:
The St. Louis Cardinals look to close out the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
Post date: Wednesday, October 16, 2013 - 11:44
Path: /mlb/nlcs-game-4-preview-dodgers-host-st-louis
Body:

National League Championship Series – Game 4
St. Louis at Los Angeles
7:07 ET TBS
6Ricky Nolasco (13-11, 3.70) vs. Lance Lynn (15-10, 3.97)


The Cardinals were about to have the Dodgers by the throat on the cusp of a three-games-to-none lead, but Hyun-Jin Ryu was up to the task and the Cardinals weren’t. St. Louis ace Adam Wainwright deserved much better than what his teammates gave him last night. Defensively, the Redbirds didn’t make plays, and offensively they were stymied by Ryu. Ricky Nolasco, the Dodgers’ starter, will be making the first postseason start of his career. His counterpart, Lance Lynn, didn’t fare well in his start against Pittsburgh, but he pitched two scoreless innings to earn the win in Game 1. Through three games, this series has featured an aggregate .176 batting average. Perhaps, with Nolasco and Lynn on the hill, the hitters may have a fighting chance.

Keys for Los Angeles
Dodger pitching must continue to keep the St. Louis hitters off balance. Los Angeles hitting coach Mark McGwire, who spent the past three seasons with the same job in St. Louis, no doubt has offered some insight to the Dodgers’ pitchers as to some Cardinals’ weaknesses. The pitchers must continue to exploit those weaknesses. Good health is a key for the Dodgers as well. Center fielder Andre Ethier continues to be hindered by an ankle problem and shortstop Hanley Ramirez is playing with a cracked rib.

Keys for St. Louis
The bats must get going. It’s difficult to believe that the Cardinals have won two games with a batting average of .134 in this series. But that’s not likely to last. It all starts with Matt Carpenter at the top, and he’s shown a few signs that he may be coming out of his funk. Matt Holliday and Yadier Molina need to start chipping in with some run production as well. Lynn must be sharper than he was in his lone start against Pittsburgh in the NLDS. He gave up five earned runs in 4.1 innings.

Dodgers to Watch
Nolasco made two starts against St. Louis this season, one in Miami as a member of the Marlins and one in St. Louis as a Dodger. Nolasco won both games. The Dodgers won 11 of Nolasco’s 15 starts after they acquired him from Miami. However, in his final three starts, he allowed 17 earned runs in 12 innings (12.75 ERA) and opponents batted .393. That may be why Don Mattingly chose to skip him in the NLDS in favor of bringing Clayton Kershaw back on short rest. J.P. Howell will once again be a key piece of the Dodgers’ bullpen. He’s the lone lefty, and he’ll likely be asked to face the teeth of the Cardinals’ lineup once in the late innings. Offensively, Yasiel Puig has awakened and has been a thorn in the Cardinals’ side in more ways than one.

Cardinals to Watch
David Freese, who injured his calf last night, is questionable. Without him in the lineup, the Cardinals are fine defensively with Daniel Descalso, but Freese has a history of rising in October when the Cardinals need him most. Carlos Beltran and Jon Jay must shore up the Cardinals’ outfield defense. Jay, once regarded as a top center fielder, has struggled recently.

Key Stats
The projected Dodgers’ lineup is batting a combined .216 off Lynn with only two extra-base hits in 37 at-bats…The Cardinals were just 7-10 in Lynn’s 17 road starts this season, but he tossed six shutout innings in a win in May at Dodger Stadium…The projected Cardinals’ lineup is batting .371 off Nolasco…Hanley Ramirez is batting .455 this postseason with seven RBIs in six games…Against Atlanta and St. Louis in October, Dodgers pitchers have 66 strikeouts and have allowed just 41 hits and 21 walks…Yadier Molina (.286) is the only Cardinal regular hitting above .241 this postseason…Four regulars — David Freese (.192), Matt Holliday (.188), Jon Jay (.154) and Matt Carpenter (.100) — are hitting below the Mendoza Line.

Teaser:
In a series dominated by pitchers to this point, the Cardinals and Dodgers battle in what could be a pivotal Game 4.
Post date: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 14:06
Path: /mlb/alcs-game-3-preview-boston-vistis-detroit
Body:

American League Championship Series – Game 3
Boston at Detroit
3:07 ET Fox
John Lackey (10-13, 3.52) vs. Justin Verlander (13-12, 3.46)


Just when the Tigers thought they had a firm grip on this series as they were about to take a commanding 2-0 lead back home to Detroit for three games, a typical Red Sox game at Fenway Park broke out. Typical for the 2000s, anyway. Detroit’s pitchers were toying with Boston batters and had a 5-0 lead going into the bottom of the sixth inning. But a double here, a walk there, a pitching change here, a pitching change there, a ground ball single here and a Big Papi grand slam there suddenly turned a dreary old ballpark into a vibrant baseball palace again. So onto Detroit we go with the series knotted at one game apiece.

Keys for Detroit
Forget about Sunday night. Justin Verlander must continue the dominance that the staff has shown over the Red Sox and the success that the righthander has enjoyed this postseason. As good as Verlander has been, the Tigers must be able to close out games when their starting pitching dominates. The Detroit bullpen has been the elephant in the room all season, and has once again become a problem for manager Jim Leyland. Last season, he turned to Phil Coke to close out games. He may resort to the lefty again. Of course, getting the series to Detroit is key in that Boston magic is less likely to happen outside of Fenway.

Keys for Boston
The Red Sox must get their offense going. They have yet to record a hit in the first through fifth innings. Leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury and No. 2 hitter Shane Victorino must jump-start this offense. Dustin Pedroia, hitting in front of David Ortiz, is a key to forcing the Tigers to pitch to Boston’s big slugger. If the Tigers are allowed to pitch around Ortiz, it could be another long night for the Boston bats. Starter John Lackey must be up to the task, expecting little run support. Manager John Farrell will be quick to go to the bullpen, but the Red Sox can’t afford to tax the pen too much and leave nothing for Games 4 and 5.

Tigers to Watch
As Leyland searches for answers in the bullpen, Joaquin Benoit may not have many opportunities left. Lefthanders Drew Smyly and Coke will likely get chances in high-leverage situations. Lackey may be able to keep Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter at bay, but expect the righthander to have trouble negotiating the Miguel Cabrera-Prince Fielder-Victor Martinez-Jhonny Peralta gauntlet.

Red Sox to Watch
Big Papi will be the center of attention for the Sox. He is the one hitter the Tigers can’t allow to beat them. Obviously, a key will be getting outs in front him. The big designated hitter has had success against Verlander and he truly loves to hit in the postseason.

Key Stats
Red Sox batters have struck out 32 times in 59 at-bats in the first two games… Ortiz with four RBIs is the only player for either team with more than one…The Tigers were 7-10 in Verlander’s 17 home starts this season; 0-8 when scoring four runs or less…Ortiz has 10 hits, including six for extra bases, in his 27 at-bats off of Verlander… Pedroia is 1-for-18 with a walk against Verlander…The former AL MVP has held Ellsbury to a .269 OBP…The Red Sox were 14-15 in Lackey’s 29 starts this season, but only 5-11 in 16 starts away from Fenway…The projected starting nine for the Tigers carries a .298 aggregate batting average against Lackey.

Teaser:
With a thrilling comeback win at Fenway Park, the Red Sox tied the ALCS at 1-1 and now travel to Detroit for Game 3.
Post date: Tuesday, October 15, 2013 - 11:17
Path: /mlb/nlcs-game-3-preview-dodgers-backs-against-wall
Body:

National League Championship Series – Game 3
St. Louis at Los Angeles
7:07 ET TBS
Hyun-Jin Ryu (14-8, 3.00) vs. Adam Wainwright (19-9, 2.94)


This series could not be much closer, yet the Cardinals emerged from St. Louis with a two-game lead heading to Los Angeles. The Cardinals won a 13-inning classic, then made an unearned run off Clayton Kershaw stand up for a 1-0 win in Game 2. The 2004 Boston Red Sox proved to us that the Dodgers will indeed have a chance if they lose tonight, but this game is all but an elimination game for Los Angeles. The Dodgers will have to beat the Cardinals’ best in Adam Wainwright in order to avoid a three-games-to-none hole. Rookie Hyun-Jin Ryu will take the hill for the Dodgers.

Keys for Los Angeles
The Dodgers may need a super-human effort from Ryu in order to match Wainwright pitch for pitch. If not, the Dodgers’ lineup must produce more runs than it has to this point, and do that against the Cardinals’ ace.

Keys for St. Louis
The Cardinals still haven’t found their groove with the bats. And left-handed pitching hasn’t been kind to the Redbirds all season, even when they were hitting well. Carlos Beltran, Matt Adams and Jon Jay, in particular, struggle more against lefties than righthanders. So Matt Holliday, Yadier Molina and David Freese may have to shoulder the run production tonight.

Dodgers to Watch
Ryu will certainly be watched closely by Don Mattingly. The manager can’t afford for this game to get out of hand. That means Ryu will be on a short leash. With Hanley Ramirez ailing, Andre Ethier and Adrian Gonzalez must carry the offensive load. Ethier has a good history off Wainwright.

Cardinals to Watch
Wainwright has been so good, it’s almost expected that he’ll throw a dud at some point. Or maybe he got that out of his system a few weeks ago against Cincinnati. The Cardinals are 12-5 in his 17 road starts this season, and he has failed to get through the sixth inning just once.

Key Stats
St. Louis is batting just .187 in the postseason…Opponents are batting .196…Los Angeles is 19-11 in Ryu’s 30 starts this season, 10-5 at home…Ethier is 10-for-33 in his career against Wainwright with three home runs and three doubles…Ramirez is batting .208 off the Cardinals’ righthander (5-for-24)…Mark Ellis is 1-for-12 (.083).

Teaser:
After winning the first two games in St. Louis by the slimmest of margins, the Cardinals look to go up 3-0 behind ace Adam Wainwright
Post date: Monday, October 14, 2013 - 13:11
Path: /mlb/alcs-game-1-preview-detroit-begins-series-boston
Body:

American League Championship Series – Game 1
Detroit at Boston
8:30 ET Fox
Anibal Sanchez (14-8, 2.57) vs. Jon Lester (15-8, 3.75)


Jon Lester beat the Tigers twice this season. In one of the games, he was very sharp in a 2-1 win. But in his previous start he was aided with 10 runs of support in the 10-6 win in which he was not on his game. Anibal Sanchez’s only appearance against Boston in his eight-year career came at Dolphin Stadium way back in 2006. It was Sanchez’s second career game and a relief appearance in the first inning. He gave up seven earned runs in 4.1 innings. But that’s old history now. Few of the current Red Sox hitters have faced Sanchez, the American League ERA leader this season, which should be an advantage for the pitcher.

Keys for Detroit
Sanchez has faced the Red Sox just once in his career, and it wasn’t at Fenway Park. Having never pitched in the quirky ballpark can be a bit unsettling initially. Being right-handed certainly helps though. So much hinges on Miguel Cabrera, that the Red Sox may opt to never pitch to him. In order to do that, the Sox must keep runners off base in front of him, and be prepared to deal with Prince Fielder. So if Detroit can get Austin Jackson and Torii Hunter hot at the top of the lineup, it will be difficult to pitch around Cabrera. Since joining the Tigers, Fielder has yet to show what he can do in the postseason. Now would be a good time to break out of that funk.

Keys for Boston
The Red Sox expect to score runs. Offense shouldn’t be the problem. Lester must be sharper than he’s been against this team, and the relievers can’t let this game get away. Boston’s bullpen should be a distinct advantage in this series, so keeping the game close and turning it over to both bullpens is a positive for the Red Sox.

Tigers to Watch
The Tigers can’t win without Cabrera having a good series. Can they win a game or two without a contribution from the best hitter in the game? Sure. But not four. This lineup is deep and has a terrific history against Lester, even though the Sox won his two starts against Detroit this season. Former Red Sox Victor Martinez has been in a groove since the All-Star break. That should continue tonight. If the Tigers are to make any win easy, it must start with Jackson and Hunter at the top of the order. Jackson, in particular, was an easy target for Oakland pitchers.

Red Sox to Watch
Nothing in his history against Detroit suggests that Lester will get deep into this game. Koji Uehara — one Jose Lobaton home run aside — has been nasty this season, especially over the final four months. But to bridge the gap between Lester and Uehara, the Red Sox rely heavily on lefty Craig Breslow and righthander Junichi Tazawa. Breslow should become very well-acquainted with Fielder during this series.

Key Stats
The Tigers held Oakland hitters to .132 average with runners in scoring position…Detroit won four of the seven meetings between the Tigers and Red Sox this season, but only one of three in Boston…Detroit’s projected lineup is batting .383 vs. Lester in 133 at-bats…Cabrera is 2-for-4 with two home runs and a walk in five career plate appearances against Boston closer Uehara…Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks’ only plate appearance against Detroit reliever Al Alburquerque resulted in a grand slam…Detroit was only 7-8 in Sanchez’s 15 road starts this season.

Series Prediction: Boston in 6

Teaser:
Tigers and Red Sox square off for AL pennant
Post date: Saturday, October 12, 2013 - 10:46
Path: /mlb/nlcs-game-2-preview-dodgers-st-louis
Body:

National League Championship Series – Game 2
Los Angeles at St. Louis
3:07 ET TBS
Clayton Kershaw (16-9, 1.83) vs. Michael Wacha (4-1, 2.78)


The Dodgers and Cardinals played 13 innings for more than five hours before Carlos Beltran lined a shot to right field that scored pinch-hitter Daniel Descalso from second. Now the teams must turn around for a first pitch of Game 2 just 13 and half hours after the final pitch of Game 1. St. Louis Game 2 starter Michael Wacha followed a near no-hitter in his final start of the regular season by allowing just one hit over 7.1 innings to the Pirates. The lone hit was a long home run by Pedro Alvarez. Clayton Kershaw shut down the Braves in both Game 1 and 4. So we have two outstanding pitchers throwing well facing exhausted lineups. Yep, could be another epic, gut-wrenching affair this afternoon.

Keys for Los Angeles
The Dodgers must put last night behind them and quickly. That’s much easier to do with Kershaw on the hill. But Hanley Ramirez, who was hit in the ribs in the first inning, is likely sore, and the Dodgers can’t afford to lose his bat. Closer Kenley Jansen entered the game in the 13th inning and the first batter he faced in the series lined a walk-off single to right. He must forget that and move on to this afternoon.

Keys for St. Louis
Who will close tonight? Trevor Rosenthal threw 33 pitches Friday night. He topped 30 pitches just four times during the regular season and did not pitch the following night on any of those occasions. But this is the postseason. If he isn’t available, Kevin Siegrist or deposed closer Edward Mujica will be called on for the final outs. Even though the Cardinals beat Kershaw twice this season, they are susceptible to lefthanders.

Dodgers to Watch
None of the Dodgers have seen Wacha, so it may take a time through the order for any of the hitters to be comfortable. So much hinges on Kershaw. The lefthander lost two starts to St. Louis this season, and has a spotty postseason record prior to this season. Kershaw must get deep into this game given how taxed the bullpen was last night. In the two losses to the Cardinals, Kershaw wasn’t bad allowing a .265 average with a 4.15 ERA over 13 innings.

Cardinals to Watch
All eyes better be on Beltran. The man is calm and collected in pressure situations in the postseason. After a win in Game 1, there’s slightly less pressure on Wacha, but the Cardinals don’t want to allow Los Angeles to split the first two games. And, realistically, the Cardinals can’t expect too many runs off of Kershaw, so Wacha needs to be sharp. The youngster has been especially good at home and equally tough on lefty and righty hitters. Mike Matheny handed the 22-year-old the ball for one of the most important games of the season on Monday, and responded by taking a no-hitter into the late innings.

Key Stats
Beltran now has nine RBIs in this postseason, as many as his teammates have combined…In his career, Kershaw in 4-5 with a 3.75 ERA against the Cardinals…In 43 plate appearances vs. Kershaw, Matt Holliday is batting .303 with a .465 on-base percentage…Pete Kozma has three doubles and a single in his five plate appearances against Kershaw…Five Dodger regulars are hitting at a .348 clip or better this postseason (Ramirez, Juan Uribe, Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig)…Six St. Louis relievers — Rosenthal, Seth Maness, John Axford, Siegrist, Randy Choate and Mujica — have logged 12 innings this postseason with a 1.00 WHIP and 0.00 ERA.

Teaser:
After a 13-inning nail-biter in Game 1, the Cardinals and Dodgers face a quick turnaround for Game 2.
Post date: Saturday, October 12, 2013 - 09:14
Path: /mlb/nlcs-game-1-preview-dodgers-visit-st-louis
Body:

National League Championship Series – Game 1
Los Angeles at St. Louis
8:30 ET TBS
Zack Greinke (15-4, 2.63) vs. Joe Kelly (10-5, 2.69)


The Cardinals won a hard-fought battle with NL Central rival Pittsburgh to advance to the NLCS for the third consecutive year. The Dodgers didn’t exactly breeze by the Braves, but there was less resistance from Atlanta than expected. With Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw pitching the first two games in St. Louis, the Dodgers have an excellent opportunity to steal a road game. However, with Adam Wainwright scheduled to pitch Game 3 in Los Angeles, the Cardinals can easily return the favor. This series certainly shapes up for St. Louis to have Wainwright on the hill for game 7.

Keys for Los Angeles
The Dodgers need to get to Game 1 starter Joe Kelly early and not allow him to settle in. That can be said for most starting pitchers, but forcing Mike Matheny’s hand going to the bullpen early is not a good sign for St. Louis. The Cardinals, with Yadier Molina behind the plate, are not friendly toward an offense built around stolen bases. But the Dodgers can take extra bases on the St. Louis outfield. Of course, if they continue to get extra-base hits at a torrid pace, scoring runs will not be a problem.

Keys for St. Louis
Some good news from the NLDS with Pittsburgh is that Cardinals pitchers held the Pirates to a .201 batting average. The bad news? St. Louis hit just .209. Pittsburgh hitters’ primary problems were Wainwright and Michael Wacha. The Cardinals must hit better than .209 in order to win when those two don’t pitch. The Cardinals rolled to 97 wins during the regular season due to their uncanny hitting with runners in scoring position. The .330 average in those situations blew away previous records for any team. But St. Louis hit just .192 (5-for-26) against the Pirates in those situations, which made the Redbirds’ work much more difficult. Without their leading man in that role, Allen Craig, the Cardinals need to find that regular-season magic.

Dodgers to Watch
The Dodgers were wearing their hitting shoes in the series against Atlanta and jumping on Kelly early would set a nice tone for the series for the men in blue. Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez trigger the Dodgers’ offense. The Cardinals will probably find a way to hold Yasiel Puig in check, but getting Crawford on base and Ramirez hitting with runners in scoring position is a nice formula for the Dodgers. Skip Schumaker is a name to remember. The former Cardinal, very popular in St. Louis with many friends on the team, will be in position to haunt the Redbirds. He’ll likely be up to the task.

Cardinals to Watch
Matt Carpenter, who sparked the Cardinals’ offense all season, must be the happiest player in the big leagues right now to see Pittsburgh pitchers leave town. The Pirates kept the NL hits and runs leader off base and made him a non-factor. The Cardinals expect Carlos Beltran and David Freese to come up big this time of year, but producing runs becomes so much easier with Carpenter leading the way.

Key Stats
Greinke has more career wins (8) against the Cardinals than any team other than the Tigers (13)…In two starts vs. St. Louis in the 2011 NLCS while with Milwaukee, Greinke gave up 15 hits and eight earned runs in 11.2 innings…Freese, Matt Holliday and Molina are batting a combined .333 against Greinke with 10 RBIs in 66 at-bats…Six of the Dodgers’ regular eight position players hit .333 or better in the NLDS against Atlanta…The Dodgers had 18 extra-base hits, including seven home runs in the four games…This is the Cardinals’ eighth appearance in the NLCS in the 2000s, more than twice as many as any other National League team. St. Louis has played in 43 NLCS games since 2000, winning 19…This is the Dodgers’ third NLCS appearance since 2008…Los Angeles won just two of eight games vs. the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008-09…The anticipated starting eight for L.A. is batting .278 against Kelly, albeit from a small sample. If Mattingly decides to play Nick Punto, a former Cardinal, at second base rather than Mark Ellis, the average goes up to .418.

Series Prediction: St. Louis in 7

Teaser:
Two franchises steeped in tradition meet with the NL pennant on the line.
Post date: Friday, October 11, 2013 - 12:29
All taxonomy terms: MLB
Path: /mlb/worst-mlb-manager-tenures-1961
Body:
From the Cubs' ill-conceived College of Coaches in 1961 to Bobby V and Ozzie G in 2012, here are the worst managerial tenures over the past half-century.
 

When the American League expanded to 10 teams in 1961, with the National League set to follow the next year, baseball ushered in a new era. With both leagues fully integrated by that time, and many players from Latin America finding their way into the big leagues, this was in many ways the beginning of a Golden Age of baseball. For the first time there was a 162-game schedule. From this Expansion Era, we rank the worst managerial disasters.

1. College of Coaches, Chicago Cubs, 1961-62    123-193    .389
Chicago Cubs owner P.K. Wrigley, who for a while must have thought himself to be P.T. Barnum, instituted an unorthodox College of Coaches to lead the Cubs in 1961-62. The concept called for a group of coaches to lead the team with each one having a turn as manager for a number of games. Wrigley thought that exposing players to multiple ways of thinking would benefit his troops. But the results were disastrous. The Cubs managed to finish seventh in 1961, but lost a franchise-record 103 games in 1962, finishing above only the expansion New York Mets and six games behind the first-year Colt 45’s. Although they were quite young, future Hall of Famers Lou Brock, Ron Santo and Billy Williams joined veteran Ernie Banks in the everyday lineup. George Altman was the leading hitter with a .318 average and second baseman Ken Hubbs was NL Rookie of the Year.

2. Bobby Valentine, Boston, 2012    69-93    .426
As has been the case since the turn of the century, the Red Sox are expected to contend every year. Valentine’s tenure landed the Sox in last place, 26 games out of first place and threatened to cause lasting damage. The .426 winning percentage was the lowest of Bobby V’s managerial career in a full season.

3. Ozzie Guillen, Miami, 2012    69-93    .426
After a term as the White Sox most successful skipper since Al Rosen of the 1950s, Guillen was hand-picked to lead the new-look, newly-named Miami Marlins as they opened a new stadium and were stocked with pricey free agents. The season was a disaster from the beginning. From racial misspeaks to friction with players to mounting losses, Guillen’s time in Miami could not have gone much worse.

4. Bob Geren, Oakland, 2007-11    334-376    .470
He finished one season at an even .500 (2010) followed by three losing years. The A’s won the division under Ken Macha the year prior to Geren’s arrival, and won it again under Bob Melvin the year after his departure.

5. Larry Bowa, San Diego, 1987-88    81-127    .389
The rookie skipper led the Padres to their first last-place finish in six years, and it would be another half dozen seasons before they would finish at the bottom of the NL West again. He began the 1988 season with a 16-30 record, and Jack McKeon ended the campaign with a 67-48 ledger.

6. Jim Davenport, San Francisco, 1985    56-88    .389
The 1985 season is the low-water mark for the franchise between 1944 and the present. Oops. The Giants have had just four managers since Davenport.

7. Don Heffner, Cincinnati, 1966    37-46    .446
Heffner took over a team accustomed to contending and led the Reds to an eighth-place standing before being dismissed midseason.

8. Ted Turner, Atlanta, 1977    0-1    .000
After the Braves dropped 16 straight games, owner Ted Turner told manager Dave Bristol to take some time off and that he would manage the team for what was originally thought to be about 10 days or so. Turner’s one stint in the dugout yielded nothing more than the Braves’ 17th consecutive defeat. The next day, Turner was told by National League President Chub Feeney, backed by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, that anyone with ownership in a team was not allowed to manage. Turner didn’t make a pitching change (Phil Niekro pitched a complete game in a 2-1 loss at Pittsburgh) and used a pinch-runner for his catcher and two pinch-hitters in the ninth inning. Third base coach Vern Benson managed the next game before Bristol returned for the remainder of the season.

9. Vern Rapp, Cincinnati, 1984    51-70    .421
The Reds were on pace for a six-game decline from a disappointing 1983 season when Pete Rose replaced Rapp in August.

10. Moose Stubing, California, 1988    0-8    .000
The tenure was short, but Stubing holds the dubious mark of the most games managed since 1900 without a win. Stubing finished his playing career — which consisted of two weeks in August of 1967 — hitless in five plate appearances with four strikeouts.

11. Alan Trammell, Detroit, 2003-05    186-300    .383
After the 119-loss debacle in 2003, the team slightly improved, but didn’t come within 20 games of first place in the AL Central.

12. Karl Kuehl, Montreal, 1976    43-85    .336
Gene Mauch left an improving expansion franchise on the cusp of a .500 record for the first time in Expos history, but Kuehl wrecked the club. The Expos were on pace for 108 losses when Kuehl was relieved of his only job as manager.

13. Manny Acta, Washington Nationals, 2007-09    158-252    .385    
Acta lost 89 games his first season in Washington, followed that with a 102-loss season, and was on pace to lose 114 games when he was fired in 2009.

14. Jim Riggleman, San Diego, 1992-94    112-179    .385
In two seasons at the helm in San Diego, Riggleman oversaw the two worst seasons for the Padres from 1987 until now, finishing last in the seven-team NL West in 1993, and was running in last place in the four-team division when the strike ended the 1994 season.

15. Joe Torre, New York Mets, 1977-81    286-420    .405
Hired as a player-manager in 1977, Torre guided the Mets to four of their 14 worst seasons.

16. John McNamara, California, 1983-84    151-173    .466
Gene Mauch won 93 games the year before McNamara arrived, then 90 and 92 the following two years. Mac topped out at 81.

17. Al Pedrique, Arizona, 2004    22-61    .265
His abysmal winning percentage is easily the worst in franchise history, with the next worst that of A.J. Hinch at .420.

18. Bill Plummer, Seattle, 1992    64-98    .395
Jim Lefebvre managed the Mariners to the first winning season in its 15-year history the year before Plummer was hired. The new manager sent the team down the drain with a decline of 19 wins, matching the team’s 64-98 record as an expansion team in 1977. Lou Piniella brought a winner back in 1993 with a 18-game improvement.

19. Maury Wills, Seattle, 1980-81    26-56    .317
Wills owns the worst winning percentage in Mariners history. And Seattle has had some pretty bad teams, especially in the early years.

20. Eddie Haas, Atlanta, 1985    50-71    .413
The Braves finished first, second and second in three years under Joe Torre. Haas immediately took them to fifth. The Braves lost 12 of the manager’s final 13 games, then immediately launched a five-game win streak under new boss, Bobby Wine.

21. Jeff Torborg, New York Mets, 1992-93    85-115    .425
Expectations were high in New York in 1992, with many experts predicting a division title. Aces David Cone and Dwight Gooden were joined by free agents Bret Saberhagen, Eddie Murray and Bobby Bonilla in a star-studded clubhouse. The Mets finished fifth, 18 games below .500. Torborg began the following season 13-25 and was fired. While the Mets improved after his dismissal, the 1993 season remains the club’s worst season since 1965.

22. A.J. Hinch, Arizona, 2009-10    89-123    .420
His Arizona tenure was bookended by a second-place 2008 team and a division champion in 2011.

23. Terry Francona, Philadelphia, 1997-2000    285-363    .440
The Phillies topped out at eight games below .500 and a third-place finish in 1999 under Francona, who took the experience of some hard lessons to Boston.

24. Bob Boone, Cincinnati, 2001-03    190-238    .444
Boone took over a franchise coming off back-to-back second-place finishes. He proceeded to steer the club to its worst finish between 1982 and the present. He launched what would become nine straight losing seasons.

25. Brad Mills, Houston, 2010-12    171-274    .384
It’s true that the Astros were embarking on a major rebuilding program. But the team regressed from 76 wins to 56 to a pace for 52 when Mills was mercifully relieved of his duties.

26. Dave Bristol, Atlanta, 1976-77    130-192    .404
The 1970s was a bad decade for the Braves. They finished in the upper division just twice and last four times. Bristol oversaw two of the last-place finishes and was replaced by Bobby Cox. Bristol managed for four different franchises and was replaced by Sparky Anderson, Cox, Frank Robinson and Del Crandall.

27. Bucky Dent, New York Yankees, 1989-90    36-53    .404
Winning barely 40 percent of his games, Dent owns the worst winning percentage of any Yankees skipper since 1912. (That’s two years before Babe Ruth debuted with the Red Sox.)

28. Butch Hobson, Boston, 1992-94    207-232    .472
The Red Sox finished first in 1990, then second in 1991. Hobson took over in 1992 and led the Sox to their first last-place finish since 1932, repeated only by Bobby Valentine’s troops in 2012.

29. Ralph Houk, Detroit, 1974-78    363-443    .450
From 1971-88, the Detroit Tigers had just four losing seasons. Houk managed all four, finishing in the lower half of the AL East all five seasons he was at the helm.

30. Charlie Metro, Kansas City Royals, 1970    19-33    .365
After the Royals won 69 games in their inaugural season under Joe Gordon, Metro had the team on pace for just 59 wins when he was replaced by Bob Lemon. The following season Lemon led the team to a winning season and second place in the AL West.

31. Buddy Bell, Detroit, 1996-98    184-277    .399
Bell followed the Hall of Famer Sparky Anderson and led the Tigers to their worst season since 1952. The 109 losses were the most in team history at the time.

32. Dave Trembley, Baltimore, 2008-10    187-283    .398
Although the club was floundering when he was hired, Trembley’s first full season was also the first for the Orioles in last place in the five-team AL East. The situation didn’t improve as Trembley saw nothing but the cellar after that.

33. Russ Nixon, Atlanta, 1988-90    130-216    .376
Of all the Braves’ managers with at least 30 games since 1930, Nixon’s winning percentage ranks last.

34. Jerry Narron, Texas, 2001-02    134-162    .453
How could a team with Ivan Rodriguez, Alex Rodriguez, Michael Young, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez finish in last place in the AL West? And 21 games behind third-place Seattle.

35. Dave Miley, Cincinnati, 2003-05    125-164    .433
Miley is the only Reds manager since World War II to manage as many as 250 games with a winning percentage below .440.

36. Ken Macha, Milwaukee Brewers, 2009-10    157-167    .485
Macha’s two sub-.500 seasons were sandwiched by the Brewers’ wild-card team in 2008 and the 2011 NL Central division champs.

37. John Russell, Pittsburgh, 2008-10    186-299    .384
Of the 20 years of losing suffered in Pittsburgh, Russell was in charge during the worst and third-worst seasons. His first team was one game worse than the year before and the team proceeded to decline by five games in his next two seasons.

38. Mel McGaha, Kansas City Athletics, 1964-65    45-91    .331
The 13 years the A’s spent in Kansas City were all losers. Eight games below .500 in 1958 was the high-water mark. Two of the three worst seasons involved McGaha, who finished the 1964 season, then started 1965 with a 5-21 mark.

39. Davey Lopes, Milwaukee Brewers, 2000-02    144-195    .425
The former Dodgers’ All-Star second baseman took over a team that had won 74 games, led them to 73 and 68 wins and got off to a 3-12 start in 2002 when he was dismissed in favor of Jerry Royster.

40. Johnny Keane, New York Yankees, 1965-66    81-101    .445
The 1964 American League champs hired Keane away from the 1964 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals after the season. But Keane got just 46 games from Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle batted .255 with 19 home runs and 46 RBIs. The Yankees finished sixth despite Whitey Ford, Mel Stottlemyre and Al Downing combining to start 105 games with a 48-36 record.

41. Don Gutteridge, Chicago White Sox, 1969-70    109-172    .388
From 1949 through 2013, the 1970 season ranks as the low-point in White Sox annals.

42. George Bamberger, New York Mets, 1982-83    81-127    .389
Bamby’s two last-place clubs were followed by Davey Johnson’s six straight seasons of first or second place. His .389 winning percentage is the Mets’ lowest for post-1967 managers.

43. Stump Merrill, New York Yankees, 1990-91    120-155    .436
The two seasons in which Merrill spent time in the Yankees’ dugout just happened to be the two lowest win totals in non-strike seasons for the Yankees between 1967 and, well, now.

44. Joe Adcock, Cleveland, 1967    75-87    .463
The .463 winning percentage was the Indians’ worst since 1946. It followed .537 and .500 seasons, and preceded a .534 season under Al Dark.

45. Billy Herman, Boston, 1964-66    128-182    .413
Herman’s two ninth-place teams morphed into an AL champion the season after he was gone.

46. Jim Lemon, Washington Senators, 1968    65-96    .404
In his only stint as a manager, Lemon’s team was 11 games worse than the year before, and 20 games worse than the following season.

47. Jim Marshall, Oakland, 1979    54-108    .333
The .333 winning percentage remains the franchise’s worst showing since 1954, the club’s final season in Philadelphia before moving to Kansas City.

48. Paul Richards, Chicago White Sox, 1976    64-97    .398
Richards’ second stint as White Sox field boss turned out to be the second-worst season on the South Side between 1950 and today.

49. Frank Howard, San Diego, 1981    41-69    .373
It must have been difficult to manage through the strike-interrupted season of 1981. But the Padres joined the Blue Jays as the only teams to finish in last place in both the first and second halves, going a miserable 18-36 after the strike.

50. Jim Marshall, Chicago Cubs, 1974-76    175-218    .445
This was certainly not a disaster — especially by Cubs standards — but it was the three worst seasons on the North Side from 1967-79.

 

Teaser:
Post date: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - 12:21
Path: /mlb/you-wont-believe-everything-thats-happened-pirates-had-winning-season
Body:

It’s been a long time since the Pittsburgh Pirates had a winning season. A well-documented long time. My daughter is a junior in college, and the Pirates have not had a season with a winning record in her lifetime.

But, last night, the Pirates won their 82nd game of the season, ensuring themselves of a winning year in 2013.

A few notable events have happened in baseball since the Bucs were winners back in 1992. Here are a few:

The Florida Marlins, now the Miami Marlins, and the Colorado Rockies came into being. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Arizona Diamondbacks came into being.

The Marlins won two World Series. The Diamondbacks won a World Series. The Boston Red Sox won two World Series. Even the White Sox won a World Series. In fact, 11 different franchises have won the World Series.

Joe Torre was hired by George Steinbrenner to manage the New York Yankees. Tony La Russa was hired as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Montreal Expos abandoned Canada and moved to Washington to become the Nationals. Postseason baseball was played in our nation’s capital, but not in Pittsburgh.

American League and National League teams began playing each other in the regular season — and the games actually count. Central Divisions were created in both leagues. Wild card teams were introduced.

A new generation of superstars has been introduced to fans since the Pirates were last winners. Chipper Jones made his major league debut. Mariano Rivera made his major league debut. Derek Jeter made his major league debut. Alex Rodriguez made his major league debut.

Cal Ripken was still 396 games away from breaking Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak of 2,130 the last time the Bucs were winners.

 

And 10 players — Jeter, Rodriguez, Johnny Damon, Ichiro Suzuki, Jones, Ivan Rodriguez, Vladimir Guerrero, Manny Ramirez, Garret Anderson and Todd Helton — all amassed at least 2,500 hits during that time. Ichiro collected 3,983 in Japan and the U.S. during that time.

Former Pirate Barry Bonds hit 586 home runs and has been retired long enough to be on the Hall of Fame ballot. Alex Rodriguez topped that with 651 clouts. A third player, Jim Thome, also hit more than 600 homers. And another three players — Sammy Sosa, Ramirez and Ken Griffey — hit more than 500 home runs.

The single-season 70-home run barrier was broken twice. The single-season 60-home run barrier was broken six times.

There have been 45 no-hitters in the big leagues, including gems by Chris Bosio, Jose Jimenez and Bud Smith, since the Pirates celebrated a winning season, none by Pittsburgh pitchers. The Bucs have been no-hit once during that time.

Greg Maddux, Andy Pettitte and Randy Johnson each won 250 or more games since the Pirates were a .500 team. Mike Mussina missed by two. The only two pitchers with more than 600 saves — Rivera and Trevor Hoffman — did all their closing work since then.


And Sabermetrics were introduced to baseball fans.

There have been more World Series cancellations than Pirates’ winning seasons in the last 20 years. Heck, there has been more cancelled hockey seasons.

A few things have happened in other sports as well.

In the NFL, the Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens and Houston Texans came into existence. The Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Titans. The Rams moved to St. Louis from Los Angeles, but not before winning nine games over two seasons as the Los Angeles Rams.

A total of 12 franchises won a Super Bowl. Peyton Manning made his debut — for the University of Tennessee.

Michael Jordan won four NBA titles with the Chicago Bulls. Yep, it’s been a while since the Pirates won as many as 82 games.

LeBron James made his debut — for Saint Vincent-Saint Mary High School in Akron. Chris Webber was drafted No. 1 overall by Orlando and immediately traded to Golden State. Isaiah Rider made his NBA debut. Jason Kidd and Grant Hill were drafted.

Boston has celebrated seven championships among the four major North American sports. And in Pittsburgh, the Steelers won two Super Bowls and the Penguins captured a Stanley Cup.

In college athletics, Chris Webber called timeout. Tommie Frazier led Nebraska to back-to-back national titles. And let’s not forget that Corliss Williamson, Tony Delk and Miles Simon each won the NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player Award.

Rick Pitino won national championships at both Kentucky and Louisville and dismantled the Boston Celtics in between. Both Tubby Smith and Lon Kruger took four different schools to the NCAA Tournament.

The BCS was invented. The BCS was disposed. And two college football national championships were shared.

Nine non-SEC teams have won undisputed national championships in college football during the Pirates’ Losing Era.

Mack Brown was hired at Texas. Nick Saban was introduced at Michigan State, and the University of Pittsburgh has hired eight head football coaches. Pete Carroll coached the New York Jets.

Penn State gave up its long-standing independent status and joined the Big Ten. Texas A&M won two Southwest Conference championships. Nebraska won three Big Eight Conference championships.

And, oh, by the way, ESPN.com was launched as ESPNet.SportsZone.com and ESPN2 hit the airwaves.

And here’s a little perspective outside the world of sports:

The United Kingdom handed over Hong Kong to China. Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa. And Monica Lewinsky became a White House intern. O.J. Simpson became a criminal.

The Dow Jones topped 5000. GM launched its Saturn Division (“A New Kind of Car Company”). And MP3 players were introduced.

Y2K freaked many people out, needlessly. And the Euro was adopted by the European Union.

“Schindler’s List,” “Forrest Gump” and “Braveheart” debuted on the big screen while “Beavis and Butthead” debuted on MTV.

Bill Clinton was elected President. The “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy was adopted by the military. Sony’s PlayStation was developed. Taylor Swift celebrated her fourth birthday.

And Bryce Harper was born.

All these memories were created since Atlanta’s Sid Bream scored on a base hit by Francisco Cabrera to end the Pirates’ 1992 season, their last with a winning record.

Teaser:
It’s been a long time since the Pittsburgh Pirates had a winning season. A well-documented long time. But, last night, the Pirates won their 82nd game of the season, ensuring themselves of a winning season in 2013. A few notable events have happened in baseball since the Bucs were winners.
Post date: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 - 18:22

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