Sunday, September 28, 2008
Slumping Into The Playoffs: Rangers 8, Angels 4Just an embarrassing game for the Halos, who gave away their second straight on a weak outing by one of their top two pitchers, Ervin Santana, who surrendered a season-high eight runs. Once again, Mike Scioscia started sending out the AAA taxi squad, so that by the end of the game the lineup was all but unrecognizeable, the only starter remaining in the ninth being Juan Rivera. At least Juan went 2-for-4; Jeff Mathis and Erick Aybar also finished the day with two hits each before being yanked, but it's games like this one that make me think about giving away today's tickets. The Chisox, Twins, Mets, and Brewers games all look like they've got something to win or lose — and the Angels don't.
Maddux Pitches A Gem, Passes Clemens On The All-Time Wins List With 355: Dodgers 2, Giants 1What I missed while I was watching the Angels pretend they were interested in winning: Greg Maddux tossed six innings on an incredibly economical — even by his high standards — 47 pitches. Want to know how many times he's done that before? Zero, that's how many. If this is his swan song, then it was one hell of a game to pass Roger Clemens on the all-time wins leaderboard, with 355. Congratulations, Greg!
- The Dodgers announced their starting rotation for the NLDS will consist of Derek Lowe, Chad Billingsley, and Hiroki Kuroda. Greg Maddux may or may not get a start, and may not even appear on the postseason roster.
- Hong-Chih Kuo will not be on the 11-man roster, and will get his elbow examined.
- The Cubs' Carlos Zambrano will not start today's game against Milwaukee. Angel Guzman will toe the rubber instead.
- With the Phillies' clinch yesterday, they became the first Phillies teams to win back-to-back division titles since the 1980-81 clubs.
Postseason Schedule Gets ClearerWith all but one of the postseason attendees locked up in each league, the postseason schedule is finally looking clearer:
Date Matchup ==================== 10/1 BOS @ LAA 10/2 MIN/CWS @ TB 10/3 MIN/CWS @ TB 10/3 BOS @ LAA 10/5 LAA @ BOS 10/5 TB @ MIN/CWS 10/6 LAA @ BOS* 10/6 TB @ MIN/CWS* 10/8 BOS @ LAA* 10/8 MIN/CWS @ TB*
* If necessary
- NL Wild Card: The Cubs beat the Brewers 7-3, and the Mets finished off the Marlins 2-0, bringing both teams to a tie. The Mets will start the inconsistent Oliver Perez; after yesterday's complete-game shutout by Johan Santana (on short rest, no less), he's got a hard act to follow.
- AL Central: As crazy and at times self-defeating as the Angels have been, one constant I have been grateful for 99% of the time has been Mike Scioscia. Scioscia rarely makes a questionable on-field move, is an excellent rules lawyer, and has a good sense of when to argue a call and how loudly. But most of all he never — and I mean never — calls out his underperforming players in public. The same cannot be said of Ozzie Guillen, who only two starts ago slagged on Javier Vazquez for his weak starts:
... [M]anager Ozzie Guillen acknowledged that Vazquez hasn't emerged as a big-game pitcher since leaving Montreal for the Yankees, Arizona and now in his three seasons with the Sox.Seriously: how would you like to be reading quotes like that in the paper before you go into a big stretch against your nearest opponent in a tight division race? Sure enough, Vazquez imploded in his next start against the Twins, and did the same yesterday, giving up seven runs, all earned, in a 12-6 drubbing by Cleveland. (In fairness to Guillen, it should be noted that Vazquez also humiliated himself against the Yankees in his previous September 18 start that resulted in a 9-2 loss.) But at what point does that become self-fulfilling prophesy?
"That's the bottom line," Guillen said of Vazquez, who is scheduled to pitch Tuesday night against Minnesota to open a pivotal three-game series. "Javy is a consistent pitcher sometimes, and we haven't scored enough runs for him. [But] sometimes he hasn't pitched well enough. I don't have an ace here.
"I have a good pitching staff. I don't have the guy who is going to step it up and fight for a Cy Young and win 20. I've got a good enough pitching staff to compete, and that's all I have."
The Twins lost to Kansas City 4-2 in a game blown by their lately-leaky bullpen, with Matt Guerrier taking the loss, so there was no movement in the AL Wild Card race.
If Bill Plaschke Thinks Re-Signing Manny Is A Bad Idea, Maybe There's Some Merit To ItHe's yet to be right about most everything else, but the arguments are unfortunately sound:
Acquiring Ramirez for prospects is already one of the best trades in Dodgers history.Bill Shaikin and Ross Newhan add up the numbers and figure that if the Dodgers had to pay his actual salary as footed by Boston, he would have just barely paid for himself. Fortunately, there are signs that Manny's translation to the west coast might be very happy for both sides, as in this T.J. Simers interview:
But if the Dodgers allow these two months to sucker them into signing him to the rich long-term deal he will demand, the trade will be one of their worst.
For the long-term future of the organization, Manny Ramirez is not Mr. Right, he is only Mr. Right Now.
He is a brilliant, Hall of Fame hitter. He is also a 36-year-old man with aching knees who will want the Dodgers to pay him until he is beyond 40.
He has feasted on National League pitching, loved National League ballparks. But because of his fielding problems, he will soon be needing the comfort of an American League designated-hitter role.
He has generated enough ticket and merchandise sales in two months to earn the Dodgers more than $10 million. But he is going to be asking for at least twice that much per season.
"The first time I stepped foot in Boston, I said to myself, 'Whoa.' I told Pedro Martinez, 'Damn, man, I just want to get traded and get out of here; this place is not me.' I was unhappy for eight years in Boston but still put up great numbers."
He signed a contract with Boston for $160 million, a deal with options that could've swelled to $200 million. And he was unhappy -- so unhappy he walked away from $40 million over the next two years.
"Baseball in Boston is like a Sunday football game, but played every day," he says. "We lose in L.A., I go to breakfast and people say, 'Well, you'll get them tomorrow.' In Boston, it's 'Hey, what's going on, the Yankees are coming.'
"It's just a different atmosphere. The fans in Boston got your back no matter what, but I'm talking about the people who write all this bull because it means so much to them. If your happiness depends on Boston winning or losing, you have to get a life."