Oct 14

Dodgers name Friedman President, Colletti kicked upstairs

Today the Dodgers named Andrew Friedman, formerly of the Tampa Bay Rays, as President of Baseball Operations. Ned Colletti will remain with the team as senior advisor to Stan Kasten. This probably means that Friedman will name a new GM of his own choosing.

Under Friedman, the Rays posted the franchise’s first winning season and won the American League pennant in 2008, when he was named Sporting News’ Executive of the Year. After finishing below .500 in each of its first 10 years of existence, the Rays finished above the .500 mark in six consecutive seasons under Friedman from 2008-13.

Not bad for a guy in his thirties. He’s only 37 now.

Oct 14

NLCS & ALCS Day Three, 2014

Cardinals at Giants, 10:00AM HST/1:00PM PT, TV: FS1

Lackey for the Cards, Hudson for the Giants. The biggest lineup change is A.J. Pierzynski catching for the Redbirds in place of Yadier Molina, out with an oblique strain. It’s hard to believe, but this is Tim Hudson’s first start in an LCS game. His previous postseason appearances were in Division Series contests, and he has always been on the LDS-losing team until this year. Lackey has a well-deserved reputation for pitching well in big games.

Orioles at Royals, 2:00PM HST/5:00PM PT, TV: TBS

The managers stayed with the announced Game Three starters, Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen and Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, no matter the rainout yesterday.

Oct 13

ALCS Day Three, 2014

Update: It’s officially postponed till tomorrow at the same time. Game Four will be on Wednesday at 4:00PM ET and Game Five, if necessary, will be on Thursday at 4:00PM ET.

Orioles at Royals, 2:00PM HST/5:00PM PT, TV: TBS

Rain is threatening to postpone the game. The Kansas City Star says

According to the National Weather Service, there’s a 100 percent chance of rain in the Kansas City area Monday afternoon, with winds gusting to 26 mph and rainfall amounts reaching 1 inch. After the 7:07 p.m. scheduled first pitch, a 90 percent chance of rain is forecast with continued gusts and up to a half-inch of precipitation possible.

If there is a game tonight, the Royals will take a 2-0 lead and the chance to win the series at home into it. The Orioles are up against a wall, needing to win four of the next five.

Tonight’s pitchers: the right-handed Jeremy Guthrie for the Royals and the lefty Wei-Yin Chen for the Os. Chen is 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in two career starts at Kauffman Stadium. Guthrie played for Baltimore from 2007-2011, so he knows some of the Orioles’ players quite well.

Oct 12

NLCS Day Two, 2014

I know, I know, nobody cares. Well, in the interest of full documentation, I’m putting up a post about these games anyway.

Giants at Cardinals, 2:00PM HST/5:00PM PT, TV: Fox

Jake Peavy for the Giants, Lance Lynn for the Cardinals. The Cardinals need to win to even the series at a game apiece. Peavy is 6-4 with a 2.17 ERA in 12 starts with the Giants this year after going 1-9 with a 4.72 ERA with the Red Sox. Lynn was 15-10 for the second year in a row while shaving his ERA from 3.97 to 2.74.

Here. This may brighten your day.


Oct 11

ALCS Day Two, NLCS Day One, 2014

Royals at Orioles, 10:00AM HST/1:00PM PT, TV: TBS

In Game One the Royals reversed conventional wisdom and hit three home runs while stealing no bases. The Orioles did the opposite, stealing two bases and hitting no home runs. The two teams go at each other again Saturday afternoon with the Royals leading the series 1-0. Pitching for the Royals will be Yordano Ventura, who went seven innings against the Angels in the Division Series on Friday, surrendering five hits and one run while striking out six. Ventura’s career record against the Os is 0-1 with 17 strikeouts and a 1.26 ERA. His opponent will be Bud Norris, who pitched 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball against the Tigers in the final game of the ALDS, giving up two hits and striking out six. He was a hard-luck loser against the Royals in May, giving up one run in 7 1/3 innings.

Giants at Cardinals, 2:00PM HST/5:00PM PT, TV: Fox

Madison Bumgarner and Adam Wainwright are the two horses of their respective staffs. The Giants did well against Wainwright this season, roughing him up twice, including May 30 at home when they got to him for seven earned runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Bumgarner split two decisions against the Cardinals this year.

The teams are pretty even. Look at these numbers:

The similarities in the Giants and Cards are reflected in regular-season pitching numbers that are close to identical. Both teams finished with 3.50 team ERAs and eight complete games. The Cards, with 1,221 strikeouts, racked up 10 more than the Giants’ staff. Hitters batted .242 against the Cards, .241 against the Giants.
Oct 10

ALCS Day One, 2014

Royals at Orioles, 2:00PM HST/5:00PM PT, TV: TBS

We have all read this a lot: “Baltimore hasn’t reached the Fall Classic since 1983; Kansas City last made it to the playoffs in 1985.” (Trivia: who did Baltimore play in 1983? Who did the Royals play? What were the results?)

That 1983 Series was broadcast on ABC. The announcers? Al Michaels, Howard Cosell and Earl Weaver, who had retired as manager of the Os after the 1982 season.

In 1985 ABC had the Series again, but Cosell was removed from the broadcast team because his recent book had criticized everybody he’d ever worked with. In his place was Tim McCarver, making his first World Series broadcasting appearance.

To today’s game, then. The Orioles start Chris Tillman, who was 13-6 with a 3.34 ERA during the regular season and 1-0 with a 3.60 ERA in the ALDS against the Tigers. He went five innings in that game, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits and striking out 6. The Royals go with James Shields, 14-8 with a 3.21 ERA in the regular season and 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in the ALDS against the Angels. He went six innings, giving up 2 runs on 6 hits and striking out 6. Both teams have excellent bullpens and their managers are unafraid to use them.

The conventional narrative for this series seems to be “Royals run, Orioles bash.” We’ll see.

Oct 07

Who might go?

In end-of-the-season news, Josh Beckett announced his retirement after the game. He did better for the team than most of us anticipated he would, I think: 6-6 with a 2.88 ERA and a no-hitter before going down for the year with a torn labrum in his hip.

The Dodgers have a passel of free agents led by Hanley Ramirez. The team has until five days after the World Series to extend what’s called a Qualifying Offer of $15.3M (a number set by the Basic Agreement as the average of the 125 highest contracts by average annual value). That ensures that the Dodgers would get a compensating draft pick if Ramirez rejects the offer and goes elsewhere. On the other hand, he could accept it. If so, he and the Dodgers would be committed to one another for next year.

Other free agents: Chad Billingsley (team option of $14M or a $3M buyout — after two surgeries the Dodgers may elect to buy him out); Paul Maholm, Roberto Hernandez, Kevin Correia and Jamey Wright. Dan Haren has earned a $10M player option but even after Tuesday’s game said he remained undecided whether to play or retire. Brian Wilson has a $10M option he’s expected to accept.

Oct 07

“Wait till next year!”

There’s enough blame for the Dodgers’ failure to advance to go around, but here’s what sticks with me: the offense was 8 for 41 with runners in scoring position in four games. Three of those four games were decided by one run, and the fourth was decided by two. Had the offense just gotten two, three or four more timely hits the result might have been exactly the opposite of what it was.

Oct 07

NLDS Day Four, 2014

Dodgers at Cardinals, 2:00PM PT, TV: Fox Sports 1

This is it for the Dodgers. They must win today. If not, they’ll go home, lick their wounds and hunt for reliable middle relief in the offseason. Recognizing that, they’re sending Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in either league, out to do battle with Shelby Miller (10-9, 3.74 ERA), who’ll be making his first appearance of the postseason. Kershaw has to get past his uncharacteristic failure in Game One. Assuming he does, he still has to rely on the Dodgers’ offense, which has been anything but scintillating. In Game Three they were a dreadful 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position. They desperately need Gonzales (.167 for the series), Gordon (.154), Uribe (.077) and Puig (.250) to get untracked, and they need them today.

Nationals at Giants, 6:00PM PT, TV: Fox Sports 1

The Nationals must also win today or take the winter off early. In hopes of doing so they hand the ball to Gio Gonzales, who got on a roll in September, going 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA and righting what had been a forgettable season. His opponent will be Ryan Vogelsong, who did just the opposite in the last month, going 0-4 with a 5.53 ERA.

The Nationals too have a hitting problem. Third-baseman Anthony Rendon is 7-for-15 (.467) this postseason. The rest of the Nats’ starting position players have combined to go 13-for-96 (.135).

Oct 06

NLDS Day Three, 2014

Nationals at Giants, 2:00PM PT, TV: MLBN

The Nats have their backs against an 0-2 hole and need both a good outing from Doug Fister and some luck in order to beat the Giants and Madison Bumgarner. Fister has plenty of postseason experience, as does Bumgarner. The Nationals may start Ryan Zimmerman for the first time in the playoffs after two pinch-hitting appearances, which would add a potentially stronger bat to the lineup in left field and allow Bryce Harper to move to center, while putting the light-hitting Denard Span on the bench.

Dodgers at Cardinals, 6:00PM PT, TV: Fox Sports 1

The Dodgers rest their hopes on Hyun-Jin Ryu, who hasn’t pitched for nearly a month while resting a shoulder. Based on a simulated game he threw last Wednesday and two bullpen sessions, they think he’ll be fine. The Cardinals hope that the John Lackey who’s been a star during previous postseasons with the Angels and Red Sox is the one who shows up today, rather than the guy who went 3-3 with a 4.30 ERA after they acquired him at the trading deadline.