Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Post Game 2 World Series Notes

-Was Kenny Rogers cheating? Goodness, it certainly looks that way. I find it hard to believe that he'd have the same clump of dirt on the same place on his hand for two different games. And if it wasn't something illegal, why did he wash it off? It's really a non-issue at this point, though. There's nothing LaRussa can say about it without sounding like sour grapes, and so far he's been smart enough to avoid anything more than intentionally vague comments.

-The Cardinals need to do a better job of getting people on base ahead of Albert Pujols. So far he's been up eight times with a grand total of two people on base. Eckstein has been discussed before, and they're pretty clearly not going to move him, but they've used the likes of Scott Spiezio and Preston Wilson in the #2 spot so far this postseason. To me, Edmonds should be the top candidate. He gets on base, can threaten you with homer and double power, and still has enough speed to score from first on a double. More importantly though, he hits into very few double plays, a very important role for a two-spot, and one that managers don't seem to consider enough.

-Why Doug Jones in the 9th in Game 2? I'm not saying it because of the result, it just seems to me to be another situation of a manager managing to the save statistic, rather than the save statistic being an accurate reflection. Leyland had two better options, in my mind. The first is to go with Rogers, and give the entire bullpen a night off. If he wanted to go to the pen, though, why not Zumaya? He's already been up three times, and he's a guy who needed to work. Surely it would have made sense for the Tigers to see how his wrist would respond in that role, rather than in a higher leverage situation later on in the series. Instead, Jones got the work on consecutive days.

-For anyone asking, yes, it is perfectly acceptable to that when a Yankee fan says they need to trade A-Rod for someone who is "clutch in the playoffs," you suggest trading him for Jeff Weaver or Kenny Rogers.

-Despite the Cardinals problems with lefties, I still don't like the choice for the Tigers to go with Robertson rather than Bonderman in game 3 (and therefore, if necessary, game 7). The Cardinals may have problems with lefties, but Bonderman is the strikeout guy and is the one pitching better so far this postseason. I'm willing to give Leyland the benefit of the doubt on this one, though.

-Talking too much about players being "clutch" based on one or two hits leads to things like Yadier Molina (.216/.264/.329 against RHP this year) being allowed to bat with his team down by two with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth in game two of the World Series, with Chris Duncan (.318/.390/.644 against RHP) sitting on the bench.

-How Taguchi is he?

-I'm worried that I might blow out my shoulder just by watching Fernando Rodney's delivery.

-Carlos Guillen needs to bat higher than 5th. He's the best hitter on the Tigers. By a lot. Talk of him having to move off a SS in the future isn't as big a problem as it may seem, because he hits like a first baseman. If it weren't for durability concerns, I'd probably rate him as the best hitting shortstop in the game. In 90 less PA's than Jeter (who had by far his best year since 1999), he had two more doubles, 2 more triples, 14 more homers, two more walks 15 less strikeouts (a rate of about 1 per 100 less than Jeter). Yet Jeter will probably win the MVP, and Guillen will finish around 8th. Anyway, through two games of the World Series, Guillen is at .714/.750/1.143, and through the playoffs, he's .432/.488/.703. And the Mariners traded him for Ramon Santiago. Ouch.

-I'm higher on Jeff Weaver's chances for next year after his mediocre performance in Game 2 than I was after his good outings in the division series and the NLCS. For a long time, the book on Weaver was that he was fine once he got into a groove, but would blow up as soon as trouble began. On Sunday, when he got in trouble, he wasn't yelling into his glove or any of the stuff we'd come to expect from him over the years. He just worked through and made good pitches. He'd be smart to resign with the Cardinals, as it's becoming pretty clear that Duncan has connected with him.

-The term "must-win" is overused in the playoffs, but a loss in game 3 with Carpenter pitching would hurt the Cardinals much more than the Tigers, who have the significant edge in starting pitchers the following two nights. Even losing home-field advantage, I still favor the Tigers, because their pitching is so strong, and because I don't think the Cardinals will put enough people on base for Pujols to allow him to win the series on his own.

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