Bud's committee considered radical realignment

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Ken Rosenthal took a stab at a radical realignment scheme a few weeks ago, and most people who think about the game have come up with their own plan from time to time, but this story from Tom Verducci is the first I’ve heard of someone with even quasi-authority mulling it over. The quasi-authority is Bud’s “special committee for on-field matters,” which reportedly discussed a radical form of “floating” realignment in which teams would not be
fixed to a division, but free to change divisions from year-to-year
based on “geography, payroll and their plans to contend or not.”  One possible example:

One example of floating realignment, according to one insider, would
work this way: Cleveland, which is rebuilding with a reduced payroll,
could opt to leave the AL Central to play in the AL East. The Indians
would benefit from an unbalanced schedule that would give them a total
of 18 lucrative home dates against the Yankees and Red Sox instead of
their current eight. A small or mid-market contender, such as Tampa Bay
or Baltimore, could move to the AL Central to get a better crack at
postseason play instead of continually fighting against the
mega-payrolls of New York and Boston.

Worth noting that this was just the stuff of brainstorming and no one is seriously considering it. That said, it’s pretty damn bad brainstorming. It’s bad enough when a team gives up on the season as it is. Formalizing a capitulation in such a matter would all but ensure that attendance went through the floor and that fans look to spend their summer entertainment dollar elsewhere.

Indeed, the first time a team decided to move to the AL East because they didn’t plan to compete, only to have the team get a little frisky and fall a few games short of the playoffs — which they would have likely made if they had stayed back home in their division — people would riot.

Video: Justin Turner gives Dodgers early Game 4 lead with two-run double

AP Photo/Julie Jacobson
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Clayton Kershaw has looked sharp on the mound and at the plate so far in this must-win NLDS Game 4 at New York’s Citi Field.

After no-hitting the Mets in the first two frames, Kershaw smacked a one-out single to left-center field in the top of third inning. Howie Kendrick followed soon after with a two-out single to left and then Adrian Gonzalez blooped a ball to shallow center that drove in Enrique Hernandez, who had reached earlier on a fielder’s choice grounder to second base.

That all set up this Justin Turner two-run double down the left field line that put Los Angeles up 3-0

That’s now four doubles this postseason for Turner, which is a Dodgers franchise record for the Division Series. Los Angeles is trying to force a Game 5.

Video: Hector Rondon closes it out, Cubs advance past Cardinals to NLCS

Hector Rondon
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

In the first postseason meeting between the two longtime archrivals, the Chicago Cubs prevailed over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Watch as Cubs closer Hector Rondon whiffs Cardinals outfielder Stephen Piscotty with a nasty 0-2 breaking ball to clinch a Division Series victory and send Wrigley Field into a frenzy (this is actually the first time in franchise history the Cubs have won a playoff series at home) …

Chicago dropped Game 1 but took three straight to finish off St. Louis. Next up is a matchup against either the Dodgers or Mets in the National League Championship Series.

Cardinals miss Martinez even more than Molina

Carlos Martinez

After taking Game 1 of the NLDS in an outstanding performance from John Lackey, the Cardinals dropped three straight to the Cubs by scores of 6-3, 8-6 and 6-4. It’s not difficult at all to imagine a healthy Carlos Martinez swinging one of those games.

Martinez wasn’t the Cardinals’ best starter this year, but he was the one who could shut a team down by himself, with little help from the defense needed. Martinez struck out 184 batters in 179 2/3 innings while going 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA. He left his next-to-last regular season start with a shoulder strain that was going to cost him the entirety of the postseason no matter how far the Cardinals advanced. It was a killer blow for a team whose offense had already been slowed by injuries.

October just came at the wrong time for the Cardinals, what with Martinez down, Yadier Molina nursing a significant thumb injury, Matt Holliday and Randal Grichuk far from 100 percent and Adam Wainwright still weeks short of potentially pulling off a Marcus Stroman-like return to the rotation.

It’s Molina absence Thursday and lack of effectiveness otherwise that serve as a popular explanation/excuse for the Cardinals’ loss. And the downgrade from him to Tony Cruz behind the plate was huge, even if Molina is no longer the hitter he was a couple of years back.

Martinez, though, had the potential to even up the NLDS just by doing what he did in the regular season. And had Martinez been in the rotation, the Cardinals wouldn’t have moved up Lackey to start Game 4 on three days’ rest. They’d have been the clear favorites in a Game 5 Jon Lester-Lackey rematch back in St. Louis, though we’ll never know how that might have worked out.