Giants' Ross and Posey react in the ninth inning of their team's loss to Phillies during Game 5 of their Major League Baseball NLCS playoff series in San Francisco

Giants, Rangers still have to be favored, but . . .

26 Comments

The good news for Rangers and Giants fans: in Major League Baseball history, 35 teams have been up 3-1 and then lost Game 5. Of those 35 Game 5 losers, 24 still went on to win the series. The good news for Giants fans: 17 of those Game 5 losers had to go on the road for Games 6 and 7, and 12 of those ended up winning the series. So yes, the odds still favor the plucky underdogs from Texas and San Francisco. Purely on history, the Rangers have a 67% chance at going on to the World Series and the Giants a 71% chance.

But as a great philosopher once said: never tell me the odds.

Why? Because of the 1987 NLCS. Because of the 2002 World Series. Neither of those Giants teams ever had a 3-1 lead, but each took a 3-2 lead on the road for games 6 and 7, and each of those teams woofed the final two. I like Matt Cain’s chances in a Game 7 better than Atlee Hammaker’s, and for all of the hostility in Citizens Bank Park, they don’t have the power of the Rally Monkey on their side in Philly, but you just know that Giants fans feel like they’ve been here before.  I still worry about the Phillies’ offense, but the juju of it all is in their favor, and that’s not nothing.

The Rangers, in my mind, are in a much, much better position. They’re at home. They face a shaky Phil Hughes tonight. If worst comes to worst they have the best postseason pitcher in baseball going in Game 7. Nothing in life, and especially nothing in baseball is guaranteed, but I’d probably give the Rangers something better than the two out of three odds history gives them.

Tense times for Philly, San Francisco, New York and Texas partisans. Awesomely entertaining times for the rest of us. Here’s to a fantastic weekend of playoff baseball.

Are the Cardinals about to go on a free agent binge?

John Mozeliak AP
Associated Press
Leave a comment

The Cardinals have always emphasized building from within. In the 2016-17 offseason, however, they may end up being one of the bigger free agent buyers. At least according to some informed speculation.

St. Louis is already in agreement with Dexter Fowler. But Derrick Goold and Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch write today that the Cardinals “could become more aggressive than previously believed,” with Mark Trumbo and Edwin Encarnacion as “possible pursuits.” Worth noting that separate reports alleged some interest on the part of the Cards front office in free agent third baseman Justin Turner.

The Cardinals are already losing their first round pick due to the Fowler signing, so any other top free agent won’t cost them more than the money he’s owed. And as far as money goes, the Cardinals have a great deal of it, despite being a small market team. They have a billion dollar TV deal coming online and Matt Holliday and Jaime Garcia are off the payroll now. Spending big on a free agent or three would not cripple them or anything.

Encarnacion or Trumbo would be first baseman, which wold fly in the face of the Cards’ move of Matt Carpenter to first base (and, at least as far as Encarnacion goes, would fly in the face of good defense). Getting either of them would push Carpenter back to second, displacing Kolten Wong, or over to third, displacing Jhonny Peralta. If you’re going to do that, I’d say that Turner would make more sense, but what do I know?

Either way, the Cardinals may be entering a pretty interesting phase of their offseason now. And an unfamiliar one as, quite possibly, the top free agent buyer on the market.

 

Bobby Valentine on short list to be U.S. Ambassador to Japan

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 12:  Former MLB player Bobby Valentine attends Annual Charity Day hosted by Cantor Fitzgerald, BGC and GFI at BGC Partners, INC on September 12, 2016 in New York City.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for Cantor Fitzgerald)
Getty Images
39 Comments

There is literally nothing you could tell me that the incoming administration is considering which would shock me anymore. As such, I saw this story when I woke up this morning, blinked once, took a sip of coffee, closed the browser window and just went on with my morning, as desensitized as a wisdom tooth about to be yanked.

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that Former Red Sox, Mets and Rangers manager Bobby Valentine is on a short-list of candidates for the job of United States Ambassador to Japan:

The 66-year-old, who currently serves as Sacred Heart University’s athletics director, has engaged in preliminary discussions with President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team regarding the position.

When contacted Thursday night, Valentine refused comment.

Huh. Given his history, I’d have assumed Valentine would be a better choice for the CIA, but what do I know?

Valentine managed the Chiba Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League for six seasons, leading the team to a championship in 2005. He also knows the current prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, as both went to USC. Assuming championship teams meet the country’s leader in Japan like they do in the United States, Valentine has at least twice the amount of experience with top political leaders than does, say, Ned Yost, so that’s something.

The former manager, more importantly, is friends with Donald Trump’s brother, with the two of them going way back. Which, given how this transition is going, seems like a far more important set of qualifications than anything else on this list.