Monday, October 22, 2007

Beginning of The End

On the eve of the final baseball games of 2007....

The World Series will not end until November, after at least one or two rain/snowouts. The Rockies will win it in six games because their young pitchers, unfamiliar to the Red Sox, will have the advantage and their bats can match Boston's. A few of the Rockies' veterans know Josh Beckett, which together with $5.75 will probably buy you a Coors Light (though heaven knows why anyone actually drinks that stuff.)

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From the like father-like-son-department, the new Yankees management won't be shy about upstaging the biggest event of the season: Joe Girardi will be named manager during the Series. Oh, and the Steinbrenner fils will continue to bad-mouth Joe Torre at every opportunity. For his part, Torre has said what he has to say and will move on.

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Aaron Rowand will not re-sign with the White Sox because as much as he loves that city, he doesn't love that team's prospects.

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Jimmy Rollins will be named NL MVP even though many pundits believe he is "only" the third or fourth best shortstop in the league. This may be the Golden Age of shortstops in the National League.

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Ryan Howard will be awarded a huge salary increase and his parents will still complain it isn't enough. I firmly believe his off-season pique in 2006 at not being made the highest paid second-year player in MLB history affected his play early in the year. The coming season will be a critical one for Howard. Is he a guy who can hit for average as well as power, or will he be a .265 hitter with power who strikes out at a prodigious rate?

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No matter what the outcome of the World Series, Boston is not deep in the starting rotation with Tim Wakefield ailing and Dice-K being less than the second coming of Cy Young let alone Luis Tiant. Therefore, they will probably attempt to re-sign Curt Schilling if he is willing to accept a short-term deal for less money and despite the fact that he has worn out his welcome in the clubhouse and around town. The politically conservative Schilling is not too popular in Liberal Boston.

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The San Diego Padres are living proof that good pitching is not enough. They must go after a big bat this off-season.

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Self-anointed genius Tony LaRussa has re-signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for two years. At his signing he admitted that he gets along with everyone on the team except Scott Rolen, who clearly has "his issues" with LaRussa. Who doesn't Rolen have issues with? Yes, I'm beating a dead horse, but Rolen's departure from Philadelphia really had little to do with the so-called unwillingness of the Phillies to build a winner and much more to do with the talented but now oft-injured third baseman's chronic discontent. More truths be told, Rolen thinks of himself as something of an intellectual among ball players and his ego was guaranteed to take offense at the equally super-sized one of his manager.

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Things we'd like to see this off-season: Chase Utley will be asked to join the All-Star squad that tours Japan after the Series but the Phillies will urge him to decline and he will agree with them.


Anonymous David said...

Your blog today reads like a 'notes' column, which I always enjoy reading in the papers more than anything.

I agree with most of your prognostications, though I don't know about the Rockies winning the Series. Agreed on Girardi, Rowand, Rollins. Girardi has obviously been targeted since the day he left Miami. I tend not to believe Boston will push hard to re-sign an old and injury-prone Schilling.

As far as Howard, I've made my opinion well known on another blog, but I'll restate it here. I think power without any additional assets is highly over-rated, and I think Howard is over-rated. The raise he'll get in arbitration will be more than fair, as he has made a lot of money for the Phillies already and was somewhat short-changed last season. However, at this point I would need to see considerable improvements to his overall game in order to advocate a long-term contract for him. The Phillies have been burned too often by allowing players who lack in dimension to commandeer too large a portion of the payroll. The Howard of '06 was one thing, but I don't believe he'll ever approach those numbers again, and I don't think the 45-homer, 200-strikeout, 260-pound version of Howard is something worth building around. Besides that, the Phils have a young second baseman (perhaps ready for AA next season) named Adrian Cardenas who is thought to be of major league caliber - someone who would cost far less, obviously, and who could send Utley over to first base. I believe the plights of Howard and Cardenas in 2008 are something worth keeping a very attentive eye on in considering the future of this team. Locking Howard in makes more sense for marketing purposes but I don't believe it makes sense for baseball purposes. Is there anyone in the Phillies organization who will stand up and recognize this, or are they just as deluded as the public at large that homeruns are more important than pitching? I do take your point about the Padres, but the Phillies have other capable bats as it is. A large and long contract for Howard is a virtual guarantee that the imbalance that defined the 2007 team will perpetuate for years to come.

2:35 PM  

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