Posted on: November 14, 2011 5:22 pm
MILWAUKEE -- Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder made it to the free-agent market.
Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez didn't.
It's always fun to look a few years down the line to see who what treats each year's free-agent marketplace will offer.
And it's always important to remember that those treats may or may not reach the market.
Matt Kemp could have been a free agent next winter. Jered Weaver could have, too.
Kemp and Weaver chose to take the big money upfront and stay in Southern California instead.
For now, Matt Cain and Cole Hamels remain on the list of possible 2012-13 free agents. In fact, right now Matt Cain and Cole Hamels probably top the list of 2012-13 free agents.
Hamels may not make it to the market, either. The Phillies would like to sign him to a long-term deal this winter.
Cain may not make it there, either. And it wouldn't exactly be shocking if Zack Greinke (another potential 2012-13 free agent) stays in Milwaukee.
The 2012-13 class was never going to match this winter's class. There wasn't a Fielder, and there wasn't a Pujols. There wasn't a Verlander or a Felix, two ace starters who would have been free agents this winter if they hadn't signed long-term deals with their own teams.
With Kemp and Weaver, though, the class would have featured a potential MVP and a potential Cy Young winner.
Without them, it just doesn't look as good.
Posted on: May 5, 2011 7:43 pm
You might think this is the worst time to face Andre Ethier.
R.A. Dickey thinks it's the best time.
"The percentages are in your favor the more games his streak goes on," the Mets knuckleballer said. "I'd rather he had a 50-game streak. You think, this is going to end sometime."
It's hard to know whether it will end this weekend, and not just because an inflamed elbow kept Ethier out of the Dodgers' Wednesday game against the Cubs, and has his status in some doubt for this weekend's series against the Mets.
What we do know is that Ethier has a .147 career average against the Mets, easily his lowest against any National League opponent.
We also know that Ethier's hitting streak is at 29 games, which gives the next couple of games extra significance. The longest hitting streak in Dodger history is 31, by Willie Davis in 1969.
Davis' 30th and 31st games came against . . . the Mets. His streak ended in the next series, in San Diego against the Padres.
If Ethier gets a hit Friday, he could tie Davis with another hit on Saturday night. While Ethier has bad career numbers against the Mets, he has great numbers (12-for-29, with six home runs) against Chris Young, the Mets' Saturday night starter.
"I'll just pencil him in for a hit," Young said with a smile.
Young said he met Ethier last year in the Dodger Stadium weight room, when Young was with the Padres.
"He came up and asked how I was doing," said Young, who was coming back from an injury. "He's first and foremost a nice guy, a great player, who has a ton of success off me.
"I had to apologize to him, because by getting hurt I cost him some hits."
If Ethier can carry his streak until Sunday, he'll face Dickey.
By then, the percentages may be in his favor.
On to 3 to watch:
1. The Giants and Rockies have played some fascinating games the last couple of years. And any matchup of Matt Cain and Ubaldo Jimenez is interesting, even if Cain gave up six runs the last time he faced Colorado and Jimenez has a 7.20 ERA. It'll be Cain and Jimenez, in Rockies at Giants, Friday night (10:15 ET) at AT&T Park.
2. Young can joke about his lack of success against Ethier, but his first four starts for the Mets have been no joke. He's just 1-0 (losing two potential wins to blown saves), but he has a 1.88 ERA and has allowed just 12 hits in 24 innings (with a .146 opponents batting average). Young faces Jon Garland in Dodgers at Mets, Saturday night (7:10 ET) at Citi Field.
3. Rangers fans probably don't need many reminders that their team went to the World Series last year, for the first time in its history. But having the Yankees in town for the first time since the American League Championship Series can't hurt. This hasn't been the best of times for either team, as both the Rangers and Yankees had their first three-game losing streak of the season. It's still a big-time series, and maybe the most interesting pitching matchup of the series will be CC Sabathia against Alexi Ogando, in Yankees at Rangers, Sunday afternoon (2:05 ET) at Rangers Ballpark.
Posted on: November 1, 2010 10:30 pm
ARLINGTON, Texas -- As it turns out, a team from San Francisco is allowed to win the World Series.
And as it turns out, you can win a World Series with a team built almost entirely on pitching.
It can be done. The Giants just proved it.
And if you're asking how in the world they became champions with that lineup, you're asking the wrong question. They became champions because of that rotation.
They shut down the Rangers one more time Monday night in Game 5, with Tim Lincecum outdueling Cliff Lee in a 3-1 game. The Giants, as usual, won with just enough offense, with a three-run Edgar Renteria home run in the seventh inning breaking up a scoreless game.
They won the World Series, four games to one, and in two of those wins, the Rangers never scored. In the five games combined, the Rangers had just 12 runs, after scoring 59 in 11 games to eliminate the Rays and the Yankees.
Lincecum wasn't able to match rotation mates Matt Cain and Madison Bumgarner by throwing the Giants' third shutout of the World Series, but he allowed just Nelson Cruz's solo home run in the seventh.
In their 15 postseason games, against the Braves, Phillies and Rangers, the Giants allowed just 41 runs, not even three a game on average. The starting rotation pitched a total of 97 2/3 innings in the postseason, allowing just 24 earned runs for a 2.21 ERA.
The bullpen was almost as good. Closer Brian Wilson didn't allow an earned run the entire postseason.
Because of the pitching, the Giants were able to win five postseason games where they scored three runs or fewer. They were able to win with a lineup that didn't come close to matching up in firepower with the one the Rangers put on the field each day.
In the clinching game, the Giants won with Cody Ross batting cleanup and Juan Uribe hitting fifth. Ross was a late-season waiver acquisition, and when the playoffs began he and Uribe hit near the bottom of the Giants order.
Doesn't matter. They won, as Giants teams hadn't been able to win in three previous World Series trips since the franchise moved to San Francisco in 1958.
Giants fans remember Bobby Richardson's catch in 1962, and the earthquake that allowed the A's to use just two starting pitchers in 1989, and Game 6 against the Angels in 2002.
But now they'll also remember Lincecum and Cain, Bumgarner and Wilson, Renteria and Ross and Buster Posey.
They'll never forget the 2010 Giants, the team that proved it could be done.
Posted on: September 30, 2010 10:27 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2010 10:44 pm
The best game of the postseason last year wasn't officially a postseason game.
It was Game 163, Tigers at Twins, and by baseball rules it was a regular-season game.
But it sure did have a playoff feel, and it was great.
In an October/November where none of the seven official postseason series went to a final, winner-take-all final game, Game 163 was as good as it got. And it was plenty good, a 6-5, 12-inning Twins win that even the Tigers acknowledged as maybe the best game they'd ever played in.
We've had a Game 163 each of the last three years, and they've all been great ones. It was Matt Holliday scoring in the 13th inning for the Rockies against the Padres in 2007 (was he really safe?). It was Jim Thome homering off Nick Blackburn for a 1-0 White Sox win over the Twins in 2008.
And it was an Alexei Casilla single off Fernando Rodney (pitching his fourth inning), after home-plate umpire Randy Marsh missed Brandon Inge getting hit by a pitch in the top of the 12th.
So what are the chances we get a Game 163 this year?
Not too good, from the looks of things going into the final weekend. The Giants lead the Padres by three games in the National League West, which means the Padres would need to sweep this weekend's series at AT&T Park to force Game 163.
The Braves lead the Padres by two games in the NL wild-card race, which means the only chance of Game 163 in Atlanta would be if the Padres win two of three and the Braves lose two of three.
Or, if the Braves lose two of three and the Padres sweep, you'd have a three-way tie for the wild card/NL West and a pair of one-game play-in games.
Unlikely possibilities, all of them, and disappointing for neutrals, especially since as recently as Sunday night, the Giants, Braves and Padres were separated by just one game.
So what do we do? We settle for a final weekend with plenty still on the line, and then we hope for a great October (and early November).
A few things to watch for this weekend, besides the Padres, Giants and Braves:
-- The seeding race. The Rays have the tiebreaker against the Yankees (by winning the season series), so they enter the weekend with a magic number of three to clinch the American League East. The winner in the East hosts the Rangers, while the loser in the East is the wild card and goes to Minnesota. The Rays also had a magic number of three to clinch the AL's best record, and home field in a possible second-round matchup with the Twins.
In the NL, the Phillies have already clinched the best record, but this weekend will determine the first-round matchups, and home-field for the other two division winners.
-- The awards race. Buster Posey's big home run Thursday (and his big September overall) had to make an impact with voters in the toughest NL Rookie of the Year race in years, and the toughest of the major award races this year. It might come down to who has the best weekend between Posey and Jason Heyward, although Florida's Gaby Sanchez also deserves consideration.
-- The playoff questions. Yankee fans worried about their rotation will watch closely to see how Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett pitch on Friday and Saturday against the Red Sox. Ranger fans worried about their lineup will watch closely to see how Josh Hamilton looks, assuming he's able to return to the lineup as scheduled on Friday against the Angels. Phillie fans will keep an eye on Jimmy Rollins, who is 1-for-8 in his first three games back from a hamstring injury.
-- The Pirates. Their road record is 16-62, which is historically bad. How bad? Well, in the era of the 162-game schedule, the fewest road wins any team has had are 17, by the 1963 Mets, followed by 18, by the 1962 Mets. The Pirates are in Florida this weekend, with three games to go.
On to 3 to watch:
1. The Giants are one of the hottest teams in baseball, with eight wins in their last 10 games and an 18-8 record in September. The Padres are one of the coldest, with four losses in the last five games and a 12-22 record over the last month-plus. The Giants pitching was amazing in September, with a 1.78 team ERA. The Padres offense has been shaky all year and awful recently, with 81 runs in 28 games in September (28th among the 30 major-league teams). Now the Padres need to sweep this weekend's three games, starting with Padres at Giants, Friday night (10:15 ET) at AT&T Park . Their opponent Friday is Matt Cain, who has given up two runs in his last 22 innings.
2. The Braves chose Saturday to honor Bobby Cox, who is retiring at the end of this season. With a magic number of two, the Braves could clinch Cox's record 16th playoff appearance as soon as Friday night. But it wouldn't be bad if the clinch comes Saturday, when the Braves and Padres will play at the same time. Tommy Hanson, the Braves' best starter of late, will go in Phillies at Braves, Saturday afternoon (4:10 ET) at Turner Field .
3. As unlikely as it is, we're still holding out hope for Game 163. So save time on Monday. Just make sure you've got something else to do if it doesn't happen.
Posted on: November 10, 2008 4:23 pm
Edited on: November 10, 2008 4:41 pm
While the Giants' main focus this winter is on finding some way to add offense -- no surprise since San Francisco was 29th in the majors in runs scored -- they've also told teams that they'd love to dump Barry Zito.
"They're trying to give him away," said an official of one team that had spoken to the Giants. "I think they would eat as much money as it would take to get rid of him."
You can be sure it would take a lot. Zito has $101.5 million and five years still to go on the $126 million, seven-year deal he signed with the Giants two winters ago. Two years into that deal, Zito has lost his fastball and has also lost 30 games, going 21-30 with a 4.83 ERA for the Giants.
The Giants have decided to build their team around young starters Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, and they've told teams both are untouchable in trade talks. Somehow, though, the Giants will need to find some hitters.
"They're starving for power at the corners," the official said. "They want a third baseman, a right fielder, a first baseman. They just need bats."