Random observations from Game Six

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You saw it, and even if you didn’t, Matthew has told you all of the details (any he missed can be found here). Now’s the time for some random impressions:

An obviously gutsy performance from Andy Pettitte on short rest. He didn’t seem to suffer much for it, which is amazing considering the mileage on that left arm of his.

A just as gutsy performance from Pedro, even in defeat. He certainly knew before anyone — and probably well before the game
started — that he had nothing last night. He’s Pedro, though, and he
did his vain best to figure out a way to work around it. It’s weird: for a
Hall of Famer, I’ve always thought that Pedro’s character as a
pitcher was better defined by his losses than his wins. In the 2003
ALCS, last night, and many other times, I’ve come away strangely more
impressed by him when he leaves a game in defeat, and I’m not sure why
that is. Your theories are welcome.

Matsui. What can you really say? For a guy who often looks like he’s in
pain when he’s hitting, he made it look rather easy last night. He was
as good an MVP choice as anyone else.

Nine years ago is when Jeter, Posada, Rivera and Pettitte last won it
all. I know that beyond them there has been massive roster turnover
since 1996, but I’m struggling to come up with an example of a team
with at least a handful of core players winning World Series outside
the context of a continuing dynasty. This would be like Mickey Mantle
and Whitey Ford hanging around to win one with the 1971 Yankees, or
Chipper, Maddux and Smoltz doing it in 2004. I suppose this is mostly a
function of them being so young when they were winning them back in the
90s, but it is kind of odd to think about it.

Factoid I found on ESPN: “Wednesday’s clincher marked the sixth time
New York has defeated the defending champ in the World Series.” Without looking it up, I’ll say the Phillies last night, the Braves
in 1996, the Braves in 1958, the Dodgers in 1956, Cardinals in 1943,
and, um . . . I’m blanking. First one to figure it out wins a fully paid subscription to Circling The Bases.

I, along with all of you, wait with great anticipation to hear what the “PHILLIES IN __! MARK MY WORDS!” guy writes in the comments today.  Don’t disappoint us, dude.

After an offseason of terrible predictions, I’m rather pleased with myself. I picked the Yankees in six based on the strength of their rotation, but noted that Cliff Lee will get his.  Hey, even a blind pig finds an acorn once in a while, right?

151 days until Opening Day.  I wish it would hurry up already.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.