Eight Burning Questions About the Playoff Teams

October 6, 2009

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Colorado Rockies

Can the magic carpet ride continue? Huh – do you really think I’m going to throw my team under the bus? The Rockies dug themselves a huge hole early in the season, and played well enough the rest of the season to be on the cusp of the top record in the National League on Saturday. It didn’t happen, but they controlled their own destiny at that point.

The Rockies aren’t a team of superstars, though. There’s not a 40 homer slugger or a 20 game winner. In fact, there’s only one .300+ hitter – Todd Helton.

The team does have interesting depth, though. When catcher Chris Iannetta was struggling, Yorvit Torrealba provided some productive at bats. 24 year old Ian Stewart grabbed the starting 3B job from Garrett Atkins early in the year and hit 25 homers – but the former All Star Atkins was available as a right handed bat in the lineup. Brad Hawpe, Dexter Fowler, Carlos Gonzalez, and Seth Smith all logged quality time in the outfield.

On the pitching side, although nobody racked up more than 16 wins, all five starters won at least ten games, and all five also finished above .500.

The post-season is more of a sprint rather than a marathon, though, and the days off between series provide more rest than in the regular season – making depth less important.

Then there’s also the issue of the Phillies having a lefty heavy starting rotation to throw at us. Still, strange things happen in the post-season (remember that grand slame by, of all people, Kaz Matsui? Surely, you remember that, Evan) and I predict that the magic carpet ride does indeed continue! Rocktober redux, Rockies!

Philadelphia Phillies

Is Jamie Moyer a Hall of Famer? Ok, I’m stealing this ridiculous question from an ESPN.com poll earlier in the season. Sadly, half the people that that Moyer either was a HOF caliber player, or could grind his way in. In actuality, even if the septuagenarian (OK, he’s “only” 46) does get the 42 more wins he needs to get to 300, he won’t make it into the Hall of Fame – although he’d be a great candidate for the “Hall of Pretty Good for a Really Long Time and Cashed a Lot of Paychecks Along the Way.”

OK, my actual question. Is Charlie Manuel making a mistake by going with Brad Lidge as the closer? I understand that Lidge has been a fine closer over the course of his career. This year, however, Lidge has been bad, bad, bad. His BEST monthly ERA this year is the 5.91 he posted in July. Righties are hitting him, lefties are hitting him, his walk rate is up, his strikeout rate is down. Sure, he had 31 saves, but he also blew 11 save opportunities and was saddled with 8 losses (but, alas, not a single win). Are the bright lights of the post-season really the best environment for him to work out his issues?

St. Louis Cardinals

Are the Cardinals the best team in the National League? Pujols and Holliday are a formidable force in the heart of the lineup. On the pitching side, you could make a case that Adam Wainright and Chris Carpenter (or Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainright) should be 1-2 in the Cy Young voting.

You want leadership? How about John Smoltz on the pitching staff. Or manager Tony LaRussa and pitching coach Dave Duncan in the dugout. You want more supportive fans than the Busch faithful? You’ll be hard pressed to find them. St. Louis is a baseball town and darn proud of it.  My wife came to grips with this realization during a recent trip to St. Louis when she noticed that there were roughly 417 stores selling Cardinals merchandise for every one store selling Rams stuff.

I’d love to see the Rockies in the World Series, but I suspect that the Cardinals will emerge with the pennant.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Are the Dodgers toast? Yeah, stick a fork in them, they’re done. They stumbled to a 31-28 record after July 31 and very nearly coughed up the division title to the Rockies (who had trailed them by 15.5 games back in June).

This really hasn’t been the same team that burst out of the gates and established itself as the best team in baseball early in the season. Their rotation has been a bit in flux, and they’ll run up against Wainright and Carpenter in the first two games on the NLDS. I predict a quick exit for the Dodgers.

Wonder if the Dodgers are kicking themselves for not trading straight up for Jason Bay instead of Manny?  Interesting how Bay seems to get left out of conversations that center around how AL players always get better when they go to the NL – Bay hit 36 homers this year, in his first full season in the AL.

New York Yankees

Will A-Rod finally get the post-season monkey off his back? A-Rod drove in 7 runs in a single inning on Sunday. Certainly a fine achievement, but it wasn’t in the post-season, so it really doesn’t count, huh?

Would you believe me if I told you that A-Rod has put up better career post-season numbers than Derek Jeter?

Well, if you use OPS – a stat that any people swear by – it’s true. A-Rod’s career post-season OPS is .856, Jeter’s is .845. Jeter has more than a few post-season series in which he put up less-than-stellar numbers – but the fact that he has so many post-season plate appearances (563, to just 170 for A-Rod) has simply given him more opportunities to shine – and that’s what the fans remember.

Enough about Jeter, though. Will A-Rod shine this post-season? Sure, why not? He’s a hell of a hitter – the law of averages is bound to swing his way.

AL Central Winner

Do the Tigers or Twins have a shot against the Yankees?


Even if they didn’t have to face a team that won 17 more games than them during the regular season, the scheduling creates a huge disadvantage for them. Unlike one game playoffs in the past, there is no off day in between the one game playoff and the first game of the ALDS. So the team wins the game, jets off to New York, and then awakens to face the New York media before facing off against the Bronx Bombers with a depleted pitching staff?  Yikes.

This seems doubly unfair to the Tigers. They have absolutely no control over the scheduling conflict on Monday (Packers at Vikings on Monday Night Football), yet they suffer the consequences. I realize that the Twins won the right to host the one game playoff, but shouldn’t there be a stipulation that you have the ability to provide a venue on the specified date?

Note: This does, of course, assume that the Yankees choose to start their ALDS series on Wednesday, rather than Thursday. I can’t imagine why they would choose to give their opponents a day to recuperate – I wouldn’t.

Boston Red Sox

Is David Ortiz finished, done, kaput? Seriously, how can you ask this question? Are you still looking at his early season stats? The dude finished with 28 homers, 99 RBI, and within spitting distance of a .800 OPS. Those aren’t the fantastic numbers that we expect from Ortiz, but neither are they the dreadful numbers that we saw early in the year. From May 31 through the end of the season, Ortiz posted an OPS of exactly .900, with 27 homers in 368 at bats. Watch for Big Papi to have a strong post-season.


Did the Angels disrespect Nick Adenhardt? During the Angels’ celebration of their AL West title, some members of the team sprayed the jersey of Adenhart with champagne and beer. The 22 year old Adenhart was killed by a drunk driver after making his first start in April.

Honestly, it took me a second to even figure out what the fuss was. It was the fact that alcohol was a connection – being used both in the celebration and in the accident. However, I feel that Nick’s teammates were simply trying to include him in the celebration, much as they tried to include his memories in activities all season long.

I can never write more than a few sentences about Adenhart without getting choked up at the sadness surrounding his death. RIP, Nick.

Want more playoff coverage? Check out the SBNation blogs of all the playoff teams.

One Comment (+add yours?)

  1. kosmo
    Oct 06, 2009 @ 21:49:27

    The Twins knock off the Tigers, but it takes 12 innings and a bunch of pitchers … definitely not an optimal situation.

    I hope you beat the Yankees … but I don’t think it will happen.


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