After Jane Austen and Alton Brown’s birthdays, today and tomorrow are the two biggest days in all of Keith Lawdom. Tomorrow it’s his top 100 prospects. Today: ranking the farm systems. The features are for ESPN Insider members only, but in all honesty, these are two of the features that make getting an Insider subscription worthwhile. If you care a lick about player development, you’ll be going back to them over and over.
Anyway, the systems: Texas leads the pack for the second year in a row. Frankly, seeing them so high again makes me feel a bit better, as I harbored a secret fear that last year’s top ranking was totally attributable to Frank Wren overpaying for Mark Teixeira a couple of years ago.
Other notables: Boston is second, my Braves are fifth, with Law giving me happy feelings about a potential shutdown rotation come, oh, 2013 or so. The Cubs are seventh. The Royals are ninth, which pleasantly surprised me because I still remember a time when the Royals were considered the class organization in the American League, and though I don’t root for them, I liked the world back then.
The Mets are at 15, which may be as close to the middle of the pack they get in any category this year. The Dodgers are at 19. The Yankees are at 25, but it’s not like they depend on the farm system all that much. And heck, if they’re unhappy with their rating maybe they can just buy Law himself and find themselves much higher next year. The Cardinals and White Sox come in at 29th and 30th, respectively.
As is always the case with these sorts of lists, the comments are more useful than the rankings themselves, so if you are able, I recommend giving the piece a read.
In a show of good sportsmanship, the Cleveland Cavaliers have moved their championship ring ceremony start time back to 7 PM EDT to avoid conflicting with the start of the World Series opener on Tuesday. The Indians are set to host Game 1 at Progressive Field on October 25, while the Cavs will open the 2016-17 NBA season against the New York Knicks at the nearby Quicken Loans Arena, preceded by a ceremony recognizing their first franchise title.
In the event that the Indians clinch a World Series title, it’ll be the first time Cleveland has seen two championships in the same calendar year since 1948, when the Indians’ last Series title came on the back of the Cleveland Browns’ All-American Football Conference championship against the Buffalo Bills. The same was true for the Dodgers in 1988, when their World Series win against the Athletics coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 11th championship, while Chicago has yet to see a multi-title year among their NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB franchises.
Regardless of the Series’ outcome, Cleveland fans will get the chance to revel in one long-awaited championship win on Tuesday before watching the beginning of a nail-biting conclusion to another long-awaited playoff run. The Cavaliers are scheduled for 7 PM EDT on October 25, while the Indians will take the field at 8 PM EDT.
If any team can turn a six-day rest period into an advantage, it’s the Indians. The club polished off their pennant race with another injured starter and an overtaxed bullpen, as Trevor Bauer exited in Game 3 of the ALCS with a laceration on his right pinky finger, leaving the bullpen to shoulder 16 innings through the last three games of the series. On Friday, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reported that injured starter Danny Salazar could rejoin the rotation in the World Series, though he’ll need at least one more simulated game before Terry Francona determines whether or not he’s fit to return for the team’s last postseason push.
Bauer, who has been under the close watch of hand specialist Dr. Thomas Graham, told the press that he feels confident that he’ll be ready for a World Series start when the final showdown commences on Tuesday. Keeping the wound bandaged is not an option during games, and Bauer said that Dr. Graham decided against additional stitches to keep the laceration from re-opening. Instead, they’re banking on extra days of rest to heal the cut naturally. Should Francona pencil the right-hander into the lineup for Game 3 or 4, he’ll have had 10-11 days to rest his finger between starts — just a hair under the seven games Bauer said he was prepared to pitch.
Salazar, too, has been preparing for a World Series showdown. He’s scheduled to pitch three innings of a simulated game this weekend, and if it goes well, it could land him a spot in the starting rotation alongside Bauer, Corey Kluber, Josh Tomlin, and newcomer Ryan Merritt. Salazar has been sidelined since September 9 with a right forearm strain, and even after undergoing a rigorous throwing program over the last several weeks, any kind of comeback is expected to be curbed by a strict innings limit. Francona has been understandably tight-lipped about his World Series roster, but he hasn’t yet nixed the idea of utilizing Salazar out of the rotation, provided the right-hander remains healthy for another week or so.
The Indians have had to remain flexible throughout their seven-game playoff run after weathering injuries to Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer, pushing their rotation through several games on short rest and relying heavily on Andrew Miller and Cody Allen‘s one-two punch in the ‘pen to clinch more than a few postseason victories. While history doesn’t always favor the first team to secure their league’s pennant race, an extra week of rest should only benefit Cleveland’s beleaguered pitching staff.