And a rookie shall lead them: Buster Posey carries Giants to brink of World Series


Juan Uribe surprisingly didn’t put up much of a fight in the bottom of the ninth inning when home plate umpire Wally Bell ruled that the 1-1 pitch from Roy Oswalt hit his bat handle and not his hand.

Instead of taking his base Uribe just waited a couple pitches and hit the game-winning sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Aubrey Huff from third base and putting the Giants one win away from the World Series.

Uribe delivered the walk-off blow and also made an excellent defensive play despite being in the game for all of one inning after coming in as part of a double-switch, but it was 23-year-old rookie catcher Buster Posey who carried the Giants all night.

Posey put the Giants up 1-0 with an RBI single in the first inning, made it a 2-0 lead with an RBI double in the third, doubled again in the seventh, and advanced Huff to third base with an opposite-field single off Oswalt in front of Uribe’s game-winning fly ball. Oh, and he also made a great defensive play to cut down Carlos Ruiz at the plate in the fifth inning, picking up a short-hop throw from center fielder Aaron Rowand and hanging on in a catcher-on-catcher collision.

Not a bad night for a kid who was at Triple-A until May 29.

Posey went 4-for-5 overall, becoming just the 13th player in baseball history to have a four-hit game in the playoffs at age 23 or younger. And it’s a helluva list: Miguel Cabrera, Derek Jeter, Manny Ramirez, Lenny Dykstra, Joe Garagiola, Hank Greenberg, Joe Medwick, Freddie Lindstrom, Goose Goslin, Frankie Frisch, Donie Bush, Ty Cobb.

Lost in Posey’s historic heroics is that Phillies manager Charlie Manuel made several questionable bullpen moves, including using Game 2 starter Roy Oswalt to pitch the ninth inning in relief on two days’ rest rather than turn to closer Brad Lidge. No doubt Manuel was holding Lidge back for a so-called save situation, but as so often happens when managers make tactical decisions based on the accumulation of that statistic there was ultimately never a lead for Lidge to close out.

If the Phillies are going to turn the NLCS around and get to a third straight World Series they’ll need Oswalt to come up big Saturday in Game 6, but first we’re in for an epic Game 1 rematch between reigning back-to-back Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and his likely successor Roy Halladay. San Francisco is one victory from the World Series, but if any team can stave off elimination for three straight games it’s the back-to-back National League champs with The Big Three of Halladay, Oswalt, and Cole Hamels.

The Diamondbacks met with Johnny Cueto’s agent

AP Photo/David Goldman
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Diamondbacks spoke with Bryce Dixon, the agent of free agent starter Johnny Cueto. However, Rosenthal notes that Cueto’s price tag is expected to exceed the Diamondbacks’ comfort level.

Cueto, 29, is one of a handful of highly touted starting pitchers in this offseason’s free agent class. He is joined by David Price and Zack Greinke, among others. Jordan Zimmermann inked a deal in the neighborhood of $110 million over five years with the Tigers on Sunday morning, which will serve as a barometer for Cueto.

Cueto finished the 2015 regular season, between the Reds and the Royals, with a 3.44 ERA and a 176/46 K/BB ratio over 212 innings. He made 13 shaky starts with the Royals, but outside of a shellacking in Game 3 of the ALCS against the Blue Jays, pitched well in the post-season. Cueto pitched a complete game in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, helping put the Royals up two games to none at the time.

As a result of switching teams during the season, Cueto was not eligible to receive a $15.8 million qualifying offer. This means that Cueto, unlike Zimmermann for example, does not come attached with draft pick compensation.

Red Sox president Dave Dombrowski is reportedly trying to trade Hanley Ramirez

Hanley Ramirez
AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File

Nick Cafardo provides this interesting nugget in his Sunday notes column at the Boston Globe

Hanley Ramirez, 1B-DH, Red Sox — There’s now talk in the front office that Dave Dombrowski is trying to move Ramirez in a deal. The Mariners, Orioles, and Angels seem to be the targets, and all three make sense.

Cafardo notes that “there are huge hurdles to cross” before a trade could happen — like how much of Hanley’s remaining salary the Red Sox would have to eat and what positions the soon-to-be 32-year-old is able to play defensively at this point in his career.

Boston’s higher-ups have asked Ramirez to learn first base and drop 20 pounds this winter. Whatever team is looking to acquire him would probably have to be comfortable with him serving primarily as a designated hitter.

Hanley is owed $68.2 million over the next three seasons and he carries a $22 million vesting option for 2019. He batted just .249/.291/.426 in 105 games this past year.

Ben Zobrist is the “Mets’ No. 1 target”

Ben Zobrist
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

Ben Zobrist posted a cool .809 OPS (120 OPS+) in 126 games this summer between Oakland and Kansas City while appearing defensively at second base, third base, and both corner outfield positions.

His steady bat and defensive versatility make him a fit for just about every club in Major League Baseball, and the defending National League champions are among the teams in hot pursuit …

It’s a little odd to see the rebuilding Braves listed there given that Zobrist is 34 years old, but Rosenthal says the interest stems from a “desire for him to serve as [a] model for younger players” as the club prepares to open a new ballpark in 2017. Wasn’t that supposed to be Nick Markakis‘ job?

Zobrist and his agent Alan Nero are believed to be seeking a four-year deal.

Tigers agree to deal with starter Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Hey, the hot stove is finally generating some real fire …

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Tigers have agreed to terms on a contract with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. It’s a five-year deal worth around $110 million, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

This should have a domino effect on a loaded starting pitching market. David Price, Zack Greinke, Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, and Jeff Samardzija are just a few of the names still out there.

Zimmermann, 29, posted a 3.66 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 164/39 K/BB ratio in 201 2/3 innings this past season for the Nationals. He had a 2.66 ERA in 2014 and threw a no-hitter on the final day of the regular season.

Zimmermann’s free agency is tied to draft pick compensation because he rejected a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer from Washington, but the Tigers finished with one of the 10-worst win-loss records in 2015 so their first-round pick in 2016 is protected. Detroit will give up its second-round pick instead.