You’ve got to love baseball’s offseason. In addition to the non-stop carousel of rumors, free-agent signings and blockbuster trades, you’ve got the sense of eternal optimism heading into the upcoming season (unless you’re a Royals fan). No one is in last place. No one is cursed, and no one is worried about Milton Bradley.
Which brings me to Lou Piniella’s statements on his Cubs, as told by Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.
“I’m looking forward to a team that will win this division again and give itself another chance to go on and get a World Series win,” the Cubs’ manager said Wednesday at Harry Caray’s Restaurant, a stop on the winter caravan. “That’s what I’m hoping for, and that’s what we’re striving for.”
Piniella points out that the Cubs won 83 games and finished second in the NL Central despite having 10 players miss at least 20 games, and also hints that the removal of Bradley from their delicate clubhouse will help.
… if we can win 83 games with all those problems and all those injuries and we stay relatively healthy this year, we can add another eight, 10 wins and get to the postseason and win in the postseason.”
He’s so adorable when he’s optimistic. I hate to rain on his parade, but here’s why the Cubs won’t win the World Series:
- The Cubs are 0-6 in the postseason under Piniella, and those teams were relatively healthy and sans-Bradley. Though I don’t believe in curses, those previous playoff teams folded as soon as they ran into any adversity, almost as if they expected to lose.
- The Cubs are already battling injury problems, with left-handed starter Ted Lilly, their only All-Star in 2009, expected to miss at least the first month of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery.
- Carlos Silva, the man Chicago acquired in the Bradley trade, is expected to improve clubhouse chemistry and possibly take Lilly’s spot in the rotation. The problem is, Silva sucks. Also, he was not a particularly good clubhouse presence in Seattle, calling out teammates publicly despite carrying no leadership weight because, well, he sucks. Did I mention he sucks?
- And finally: Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and the St. Louis Cardinals.
A championship for the Cubs? Go ahead and dream about it while you can, Lou.
Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre, who’s been playing through an assortment of injuries for much of the season, left Game 1 of the ALDS in the third inning after tweaking his back on an RBI single.
Beltre grimaced in pain during the follow-through of his swing and could barely make it down the first base line. He remained in the game, but looked even worse trying to go to second base on Prince Fielder‘s ground out and was removed after the half-inning. He exited the field in tears.
Beltre is one of the best all-around third basemen in MLB history and even at age 36 had a fantastic season, hitting .287 with 18 homers and a .788 OPS in 143 games. That includes hitting .318 with 11 homers and an .884 OPS in the second half.
His pain threshold has been extremely high over the years, but based on how bad Beltre looked before exiting the game it’s hard to imagine him being available for a while. Texas has the option of removing him from the ALDS roster and adding another player, but doing so would make Beltre ineligible to return for the ALCS.
Hanser Alberto replaced Beltre and the Rangers are short on infield depth, making it an especially tough loss. According to the team, Beltre first hurt his back sliding into second base in the first inning and then worsened it with his third-inning swing.
St. Louis announced its roster for the NLDS and the biggest news is the inclusion of Adam Wainwright as a reliever.
Expected to miss the entire season following a torn Achilles’ tendon in April, he instead returned to make three relief appearances in the final week of the season and now may be counted on to get some key late-inning outs against the Cubs.
Right-hander Steve Cishek and left-hander Randy Choate are not on the NLDS roster, losing their bullpen spots to Tyler Lyons and Carlos Villanueva. Outfielders Jon Jay and Tommy Pham both made the roster, which had been a topic of much debate in Cardinals nation.
First baseman Mark Reynolds made the roster, but first baseman Matt Adams did not despite returning from the disabled list for some late-season action. And of course catcher Yadier Molina is on the roster and will give it a go playing through a sprained left thumb that’s sidelined him since September 20.
John Lackey will start Game 1, followed in the rotation by Jaime Garcia in Game 2, Michael Wacha in Game 3, and Lance Lynn in Game 4.
Here are the Rangers and Blue Jays lineups for Game 1 of the ALDS in Toronto:
CF Delino DeShields
RF Shin-Soo Choo
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Prince Fielder
1B Mike Napoli
LF Josh Hamilton
SS Elvis Andrus
2B Rougned Odor
C Robinson Chirinos
SP Yovani Gallardo
With left-hander David Price on the mound for Toronto the Rangers are going with Mike Napoli at first base over Mitch Moreland. Beyond that it’s a pretty standard lineup for Texas, or at least standard for what manager Jeff Banister used down the stretch once Josh Hamilton was healthy enough to play left field.
LF Ben Revere
3B Josh Donaldson
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
SS Troy Tulowitzki
1B Justin Smoak
C Russell Martin
2B Ryan Goins
CF Kevin Pillar
SP David Price
After returning from the disabled list for the final weekend of the regular season Troy Tulowitzki is in the lineup and batting fifth. That allows Ryan Goins to play second base in place of the injured Devon Travis. Justin Smoak gets the nod over Chris Colabello at first base against a right-hander.