Are the Rangers targeting Cliff Lee?

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It’s often hard to tell what the question was that led to a given answer in an interview, but this story in today’s Dallas Morning News suggests that the Rangers are targeting Cliff Lee.

I say “suggests” because it’s rare that any GM will say “yeah, we’re interested in such-and-such a guy,” and in fact Jon Daniels does not say in the linked article that he’s going after Cliff Lee.  What he does say — prompted, I’m guessing, by a general question — is that he wouldn’t be averse to trading within the division.  Of course I’m also guessing that the comment came in a general conversation about wanting to get a starter so, yeah, you can put 2 and 2 together and have it equal Cliff Lee, but it could also just be academic musing on Daniels’ part.

Should the Rangers go after Lee? Seems like gamble to me. Despite what the story says, I don’t think the price of admission for Lee will be lower than that for Roy Oswalt. At least not for the Rangers. Sure, Oswalt is under contract for an extra year, but (a) Lee is cheaper and thus more valuable; and (b) the Mariners value prospects a bit more highly than the Astros have in recent years and would likely make noise — possibly disingenuous noise, but still — about needing a premium to send Lee to a division rival.

The upshot: Texas would probably be paying a much higher price in terms of talent to the Mariners than they would the Astros. And for the deal to really be worth it for Texas, the Rangers would have to think about keeping Lee around after he’s a free agent, which gets you back into the money issues that everyone is saying will hold up an Oswalt deal.

So Texas’ choice is this: better prospects and some serious pressure to spend a lot of money after this season for Lee, or a b-grade prospect or two and the certainty of spending a lot of money for Oswalt right now.

I think it’s a lot closer a call than many think.

Cardinals playoff roster: Wainwright and Molina in, Adams and Choate out

Adam Wainwright

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.

ALDS, Game 1: Rangers vs. Blue Jays lineups

Toronto Blue Jays' starting pitcher David Price works against the Baltimore Orioles during first inning of a baseball game in Toronto, Saturday, Sept. 5, 2015. (Darren Calabrese/The Canadian Press via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

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.

Astros leave Chad Qualls off playoff roster, add Preston Tucker

Chad Qualls Getty
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Houston made one unexpected change to the roster for the ALDS, leaving off veteran reliever Chad Qualls.

Qualls warmed up but never appeared in the Wild Card game win over the Yankees and during the regular season the 36-year-old right-hander logged 49 innings with a 4.38 ERA and 46/9 K/BB ratio. Qualls was on the Astros’ last playoff team in 2005.

Utility man Jonathan Villar has been bumped off the roster in favor of outfielder Preston Tucker, as the Astros opted for a good left-handed bat off the bench versus the Royals rather than Villar’s speed.