Tag:World Series
Posted on: February 17, 2012 1:49 pm
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$69.5 million for 1 win? Yankees will take it

Is $69.5 million too much to pay for one win?

Not necessarily.

What if without that one win, you don't win the World Series? And with it, you do?

I asked basically that question, boiled down to 140 characters, on Twitter Friday morning. And Yankee fans overwhelmingly answered that yes, the ridiculous amount of money they spent on A.J. Burnett was worth it.

And I agree.

The maddeningly inconsistent Burnett was more bad than good in his three years in the Bronx. His ERA for the three years (4.79) is the highest in Yankee history for anyone allowed to make 80 or more career starts.

And while I'll agree that win-loss records don't tell the entire story about starting pitchers, Burnett's 34-35 Yankee record (for a team that was 104 games over .500 during that span) tells a lot.

His postseason numbers (2-2, 5.08 in seven starts) are really no better, and the Yankees' reluctance to allow him to start in the playoffs is more telling than anything else.

But about that one win . . .

It came in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series, against the defending champ Phillies. Without it, the Yankees go down two games to none, heading to Citizens Bank Park for Games 3, 4 and 5.

Without it, you could easily argue that the Yankees don't win in 2009, and that they go into spring training this year still having won no World Series since 2000.

Burnett pitched well that night, and he had to. He allowed just one run on four hits in seven innings, with nine strikeouts, and handed the ball directly to Mariano Rivera, which is the formula for success for any Yankee starter. Here's the column I wrote on Burnett that night.

It was a shock to many, including the Phillies.

"He never got outside of himself," Jimmy Rollins said that night. "That's very untypical of A.J."

Burnett had other good games as a Yankee, but you could argue for the rest of his New York career, he was no better (and often worse) than any pitcher the Yankees could have signed for a lot less than $82.5 million for five years.

Or $69.5 million for three years, since the Pirates have agreed to pay Burnett $13 million in exchange for taking him off the Yankees' hands.

The Pirates originally hoped to do the deal for just $10 million, leaving the Yankees on the hook to Burnett for $72.5 million.

Apparently, they decided that was too much for one win. But $69.5 million wasn't.
Posted on: October 29, 2011 6:47 pm
 

Best game ever? How about best month ever?

The Yankees don't think it was such a great month. The Phillies are sure it wasn't a great month.

Oh, and the Red Sox? No, the last 31 days weren't exactly pleasant for them.

But it sure was great for the rest of us, the best month of baseball most of us have seen, or will see, in our lifetimes.

If it gets better than this, I won't complain. But I'm not planning on it.

We had the best single regular-season night ever, on the final night of the regular season, and maybe the best game ever, on the next-to-last night of the World Series.

We had so many great games that the best individual offensive performance in World Series history barely makes the list. So many that Chris Carpenter's three-hit 1-0 shutout in a winner-take-all Game 5 wasn't even his most important performance of the month.

This is the third year now that I've written a postseason recap, and it's the first time that the best game of the month wasn't the first game I saw. Nothing against Tigers-Twins (Game 163 in 2009) or Roy Halladay's no-hitter (Division Series 2010), but it's a better month when the drama builds.

This month, we saw Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera, Chris Carpenter, Nelson Cruz and David Freese. We saw squirrels. We saw Na-po-li. We saw history.

We saw Game 6.

What a month.

Here's a look back:

Best game: Some people are insisting that Game 6 of the World Series can't be called great, because there were physical errors early and possible managerial errors late. Sorry, but that's ridiculous. So it wasn't the best-played game ever. Fine. It had thrills, it had drama, it had plenty to second-guess, it had great performances and gritty performances. You go ahead and say it wasn't perfect. I'm going to say it was the best game I've ever seen.

Best moment: The flashbulbs going off when Albert Pujols batted in the seventh inning of Game 7 were great. Yes, it could have been his final Cardinals at-bat. But the best moment of the postseason -- Pujols' best moment -- was when he called time out to allow the Miller Park crowd to honor Prince Fielder, who very, very likely was stepping to the plate for his final Brewers at-bat.

Best chant: In the end, maybe this wasn't the Year of the Napoli, after all. But it sure was the month of the "Na!-Po!-Li!" at Rangers Ballpark. Mike Napoli became such an instant hero that I saw a Rangers fan who had altered his year-old Cliff Lee jersey, adding "Na-po" above the "Lee."

Best crowd: It was incredibly loud all month in Texas. It was louder than ever in St. Louis for the final outs of Game 7. But everyone who was at Miller Park this month came back raving about the atmosphere and the Brewers' fans (and everyone who was at Chase Field said there was barely any atmosphere for the Diamondbacks' two home games).

Best player: Tough call. Freese was a revelation, and not just in the World Series. Cabrera was outstanding. So was Ryan Braun. But Pujols was the guy I'll remember most, from his great defensive play against the Phillies to his historic three-homer game against the Rangers.

Best movie review: Moneyball took a beating every time Cardinals manager Tony La Russa took to the podium. La Russa went to see the movie the night Game 6 was rained out, and the next night he said that it "strains the credibility a little bit." La Russa, like others, complained about the portrayal of scouts, and about the lack of mentions of Miguel Tejada, Eric Chavez, Mark Mulder, Barry Zito and Tim Hudson. "That club was carried by those guys that were signed, developed the old-fashioned way," La Russa said. "That part wasn't enjoyable, because it's a nice story but it is not accurate enough."

Most disappointing team: The Red Sox. The Phillies didn't make it out of the first round. Neither did the Yankees, who then apologized to their fans for their "failure." But Boston's collapse was so bad that it led to the departure of the manager and general manager who broke the curse. The Red Sox will recover, but they'll never be the same.

Best prediction: It's well established by now that I can't pick winners. But when the postseason began, I jokingly wrote that every series would go the distance. Turned out I was almost right, as 38 of a possible 41 games were required. Three of the four Division Series went the distance (and none were sweeps). Both League Championship Series went six games. And the World Series went seven, for the first time in nine years. Oh, and I even picked the World Series winner, Cardinals in 7, even if I did it because Rangers officials demanded that I pick against them.

Five who helped themselves: 1. Pujols. I'm not saying it makes a difference in his final free-agent price, but a great postseason reminded all of us how good he really is.

2. John Mozeliak. You think Cardinals fans will finally admit that it was a good idea to trade Colby Rasmus to help this team win now?

3. Mike Napoli. The Angels traded this guy for Vernon Wells. The Blue Jays then traded this guy for Frank Francisco. The Rangers will not be trading him.

4. Ryan Braun. MVP voting includes only the regular season, and not the postseason. But anyone who chose Braun over Matt Kemp in the National League race had to be happy to see him hit .405 with a 1.182 OPS in October.

5. David Freese. He was the best story of the month, the hometown kid who quit baseball after high school, and came back to become the World Series MVP. Now everyone knows him.

Five who hurt themselves: 1. C.J. Wilson. He's still going to get overpaid on the free-agent market, but imagine how much he might have gotten if he'd had a good October, instead of a lousy one.

2. CC Sabathia. He's still going to get a great new contract, too, but imagine how much he might have gotten if his postseason ERA was 1.23, instead of 6.23 (and if his waist size didn't expand just as fast).

3. Cliff Lee. The team he left went to the World Series without him. And the team he couldn't beat in Game 2, after his teammates gave him a 4-0 lead, went on to win the World Series.

4. Alex Rodriguez. Two years ago, he had a nice October and shed the label of postseason choker. This year, he went 2-for-18 against the Tigers and appeared on the back page of the New York Post as one of the Three Stooges (along with Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira).

5. Tony La Russa (for about 48 hours). I'm guessing Cardinals fans will now totally forgive him for the phone/noise/bullpen mess from Game 5. He's now the guy who has won two World Series in St. Louis, to go with the one he won in Oakland. Still one of the very best managers in the game -- in the history of the game, that is.


Posted on: October 29, 2011 2:42 am
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Posted on: October 29, 2011 2:37 am
 

Rangers bullpen won ALCS, lost World Series

ST. LOUIS -- The innings added up. The innings caught up to them.

We don't know for sure if that's the answer for what happened to the Rangers bullpen, but it seems like a reasonable guess.

We do know the results.

In six American League Championship Series games against the Tigers, the Ranger relievers were basically unhittable, with a 1.32 ERA.

In seven World Series games against the Cardinals, the Ranger relievers were basically unwatchable, with a 7.43 ERA.

"The bullpen won the ALCS," general manager Jon Daniels said. "Then they struggled here."

The bullpen pitched too much in the first two rounds, because the starters didn't pitch enough. To be fair, the Cardinals had the same problem . . . and maybe that's why their bullpen leaked a little at the end, as well.

You could see it happening. I wrote about it when the Rangers lost Game 3. Mike Adams admitted then that fatigue could be setting in, especially with ALCS difference-maker Alexi Ogando (who would end up allowing 14 baserunners in just 2 2/3 World Series innings).

When it was over, Adams said he wasn't sure.

"You never know," he said. "I'm not sure you can say that's why we weren't as effective.

"The bullpen had a good run. We just didn't pitch as well [in the World Series] as we did in the last series."

You've got to think the workload had something to do with it. But it's not like they could have done much to lighten that load, short of risking an ALCS loss by forcing more innings from their rotation.

"You're aware of it," Daniels said. "But at that point, there's not much you can do about it."

He had tried. He was as active as any GM in seeking bullpen help in midseason trades, adding Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez. But Adams seemed to run out of gas, Uehara was a complete bust in the postseason (three appearances, three home runs), and Gonzalez was only mildly effective.

And the bullpen that beat the Tigers never made it to the World Series.

The bullpen that won the ALCS basically lost the World Series.


Posted on: October 28, 2011 4:51 pm
 

In Game 7, home team has edge (or not)

ST. LOUIS -- You've no doubt heard by now that no road team has won a World Series Game 7 in 32 years.

The Cardinals won at home in 1982, the Royals did it in 1985, the Mets in 1986, the Twins in both 1987 and 1991, the Marlins in 1997, the Diamondbacks in 2001 and the Angels in 2002.

It's tough to win the decisive game on the road . . . except when it isn't.

There were three decisive Game 5's in the Division Series this month. Two of the three were won by the road team (Cardinals over Phillies, Tigers over Yankees).

The Rangers won a decisive Game 5 last year at Tampa Bay.

The Cardinals won Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series on the road.

In fact, over the last 10 years, there have been 18 decisive games in the postseason (Game 5 in the Division Series, Game 7 in the LCS or World Series), and the visiting team has won 11 of them.

After Game 5 three weeks ago at Yankee Stadium, Tigers manager Jim Leyland made the argument that it can actually be an advantage to be on the road, because there's more pressure on the home team (certainly true in the cases of the Yankees and Phillies), and because there are more distractions at home.

Oh, and about those eight straight road-team wins in Game 7 of the World Series?

Go back through eight more Game 7's, and it basically evens out. From 1965-79, the road team won seven out of eight Game 7's.


Posted on: October 28, 2011 4:07 pm
Edited on: October 28, 2011 7:50 pm
 

Cruz, Napoli in Rangers' Game 7 lineup

ST. LOUIS -- Mike Napoli is hurting. Nelson Cruz is hurting.

But it's Game 7.

It's Game 7 of the World Series, and both Napoli (left ankle) and Cruz (right groin) are in the Rangers' lineup for Friday night's game at Busch Stadium. Both were regarded as questionable after getting hurt in Thursday's incredible Game 6.

Napoli, in line for World Series MVP honors if the Rangers win, hurt his ankle when he went into second base awkwardly in the fourth inning Thursday. He stayed in the game, but said afterwards that the ankle was "pretty sore."

"He showed the type of warrior he is," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "If you hadn't seen him hurt the ankle, you wouldn't have even known it was hurt."

Cruz left the game after batting in the top of the 11th inning. The Rangers believe he got hurt banging into the wall trying to catch David Freese's game-tying triple in the ninth inning.

Cruz was in more doubt Friday, but the Rangers decided after batting practice that he was good enough to go. The Rangers didn't seriously consider removing him from the World Series roster, in part because they thought that at the very least he could give them a pinch-hit at-bat.

While Napoli and Cruz are in the lineup, Cardinals outfielder Matt Holliday is out. Holliday severely injured his right pinky when he was picked off third base in the sixth inning. The Cardinals replaced him on the roster with Adron Chambers, and Allen Craig replaced him in the Cardinals lineup for Game 7.

Cardinals manager Tony La Russa made another lineup change, dropping Rafael Furcal out of the leadoff spot for the first time this postseason, and putting Ryan Theriot atop the order.

Furcal sparked the Cardinals for a while, and his first-inning triple was the biggest hit in their 1-0 Game 5 Division Series win over the Phillies. But in his last 11 games, Furcal has hit just .128 (6-for-47) with a .196 on-base percentage.

Full lineups for both teams are in Matt Snyder's excellent Game 7 preview, available here.


Posted on: October 28, 2011 4:04 am
 

Hamilton says his HR was called, from above

ST. LOUIS -- Josh Hamilton hadn't homered in more than a month.

He's hurting. We all know that by now. He has a groin injury, maybe a sports hernia.

By this time next week, he may well be having surgery.

And when he came to the plate in the 10th inning of an incredible Game 6, he knew he was going to hit a home run.

"The Lord told me it was going to happen," Hamilton said. "He said, 'You haven't hit a home run in a while. You're going to hit one now.'

"Believe it if you want."

As you might have guessed, Hamilton believed it.

"It was probably the most relaxed, peaceful at-bat I've had in a long time," he said.

Did the Lord tell him what pitch Jason Motte would throw?

"No, but I kind of figured that out on my own," said Hamilton, who hit a 98 mph fastball.

Hamilton's home run put the Rangers ahead of the Cardinals, 9-7. It stood to be a World Series winner, until the Cards scored twice to tie the game in the bottom of the 10th.

But Hamilton said none of that was in the message he heard as he walked to the plate.

"It wasn't like a premonition, 'You're going to do this, and you're going to win,'" Hamilton said. "It was, 'You're going to do this -- period.'"

He heard it, and he did it.

"It was pretty cool, man," he said.

Believe it if you want.
Posted on: October 28, 2011 3:48 am
 

Rangers bullpen is fine; Cruz, Napoli may not be

ST. LOUIS -- Ron Washington said he'll have his full bullpen available for Game 7 of the World Series.

"I've got it all," the Rangers manager said after Thursday night's Game 6.

What about Derek Holland, the Game 4 winner who gave him two innings in Game 6?

"I've got it all," Washington repeated. "There's only one game left."

He has his bullpen, but will he have his catcher? Will he have his right fielder?

"We'll just wait and see," Washington said, about both catcher Mike Napoli and right fielder Nelson Cruz, who were hurt during Game 6.

Napoli had X-rays on his right ankle, which he hurt in the fourth inning Thursday (but stayed in the game). Cruz strained his right groin on his final at-bat, in the 11th inning, and left the game.

Both said they hope to play Friday.

"It's pretty sore," said Napoli, a possible World Series MVP if the Rangers win. "I'll try to do everything I can to play. We'll ice it, and keep it elevated."

Napoli was hurt when he went in awkwardly to second base on a Colby Lewis bunt. Napoli said he thought the Cardinals were throwing the ball to first base, which explains (sort of) why he didn't slide.

He played seven innings after getting hurt, was on base three more times and made the defensive play of the night when he picked Matt Holliday off third base in the sixth inning.

"He showed the type of warrior he is," Washington said. "If you hadn't seen him hurt the ankle, you wouldn't have even known it was hurt."

Washington used seven relievers Thursday, basically everyone he had available. But none of the relievers threw more than 23 pitches.

Washington explained his tougher decisions in Game 6.

He said he never planned to hit for Lewis in the fifth inning, and that he sent a pinch hitter out on deck as a decoy.

"I certainly wasn't ready to take Colby out," he said. "He was throwing the ball well."

He said he went to left-hander Darren Oliver in the 10th inning, rather than sticking with Feliz, because he felt good about the matchup.

"I thought the [Cardinal] lineup set up perfectly, with two lefties and the pitcher," he said.

And Washington said he didn't believe that the problem on David Freese's game-tying triple was that Cruz was playing too shallow in right field.

"Look at the replay, and you'll see he froze on the ball," Washington said. "If he gets back like he should, he catches it. When [Freese] hit it, I knew we had him. I thought it would be caught, for sure.

"It didn't work out that way."

Finally, in the top of the 11th, Washington said he originally planned to send Yorvit Torrealba up to hit for pitcher Scott Feldman, with two out and a runner on first. Right then, he was told that Cruz's groin injury would force him out of the game, and force the Rangers to put Esteban German in the outfield.

Rather than hit Torrealba and burn his final two position players, Washington sent German up to bat for Feldman instead. German grounded out, and minutes later, Freese won the game with his home run off Mark Lowe.


 
 
 
 
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