Dodgers' honcho Mannion: the McCourt's Divorce has had no financial impact

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Wait, so they signed Jamey Carroll to start at second base by choice?!

How would you say the divorce proceedings between Frank and Jamie
McCourt have impacted the Dodgers’ spending this winter? Have you been
asked — by Frank McCourt, by Major League Baseball or by anyone else
— not to take on major long-term contracts this winter?

Our baseball and business decisions have not been impacted by the
proceedings. Neither [General Manager] Ned [Colletti] nor I have been
asked by anyone to limit long-term liabilities.

So how would you explain to skeptical fans why the Dodgers are not in on any of the best free agents?

Ned has demonstrated a fantastic ability to read the talent market. We
made back-to-back NLCS appearances for the first time in three decades
as a result of Ned’s ability to make the right acquisitions at the
right time. We want the same thing our fans want, a team that can
compete for a world championship year in and year out, and we’ve been
in that position for the last two seasons. We expect that to continue.

And if you believe that, I have a highly-leveraged, once-proud baseball franchise to sell ya.

The Dodgers refused to take a chance on their best pitcher in arbitration, they have holes in their rotation, and they have not been a player on any free agent or trade target of note.  Maybe they still figure to be the favorite in an NL West that seems collectively unwilling to make any moves, but the Dodgers have taken a fundamentally different approach to this offseason than they have in any previous year.  If the divorce is not the reason for this I’ll eat my hat.

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.