San Francisco Giants v Texas Rangers, Game 4

How bad is a 3-1 deficit?


How bad is a 3-1 deficit in the World Series? So bad that only five teams* have come back from being down 3-1 to win it all: the 1925 Pirates, 1958 Yankees, 1968 Tigers, 1979 Pirates, and 1985 Royals. Is there any hope for the Rangers to take away from history here?

  • Like Texas, that 1925 Pirates team was also shut out in Game 4. But unlike the Rangers, they got to play Games 6 and 7 at home. There were also multiple weather delays in this series, and Game 7 was played in driving rain, leading to AL MVP Roger Peckinpaugh to commit two costly errors at shortstop late, leading to four unearned runs which handed the Pirates victory.
  • In 1958, Whitey Ford pitched Game 6 on two days rest for the Yankees. If Cliff Lee wins it tonight, he might be a better option on one day’s rest than C.J. Wilson would be heading back to San Francisco, what with the blister and all.
  • Tim McCarver was an important part of the 1968 Cardinals team that woofed away a 3-1 lead to the Tigers. I wonder if we’ll hear much about that during tonight’s broadcast?
  • In 1979, the Pirates’ comeback was aided in the pivotal Game 5 by Bert Blyleven, who pitched four scoreless innings out of the pen. Too bad he never pitched any important games that could bolster his Hall of Fame case or anything.
  • The 1985 Royals, you may recall, had a bit of help clawing back from their 3-1 deficit.

The 1925 and 1958 comebacks aren’t all that instructive here, because it really was a different game then. After all, no Rangers pitcher is going to make two starts in the final three games of this one, not even for all the Burma Shave in the world. 1985 was rather freaky as well, as the Cardinals got boned on the Denkinger call.

That leaves the Rangers with the example of the 1968 Tigers and the 1979 Pirates. Can Colby Lewis channel his inner Mickey Lolich? Will Andres Torres badly misplay a ball in center like Curt Flood? Are the Rangers Fam-i-ly like those Willie Stargell Pirates were? I don’t think it would be right to say there was no chance at all, but boy howdy, the odds are certainly against them.

*The 1903 Boston Red Sox came back from a 3–1 deficit, but that was back when the Series was a best-of-nine thing.

The Cubs acquire Rex Brothers from the Rockies

Rex Brothers Rockies

The number of people who, if you held a gun to their head, would say that “Rex Brothers” was a game show host and/or local TV news personality from the late 1970s or early 80s is not insignificant. But if you’re a Rockies fan or if spend all day thinking about baseball you know that he’s a reliever who has played in Colorado for the past five years. Now you know him as a reliever for the Cubs:

Brothers — a former Best Shape of His Life All-Star — was pretty good until he hit a brick wall in 2014 and spent most of 2015 in Triple-A. He had something of a bounceback after being called up when rosters expanded in September, but that’s not the sort of thing to excite anyone. He could be useful for the Cubs or just spring training cannon fodder and organizational depth.

Cabrera just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago and pitched a grand total of 14 games in the Dominican Summer League. He’s young and was a $250,000 signee from the Dominican as a 16-year-old so, by definition, he’s a project. Worth giving up Rex Brothers for him if you’re the Rockies, worth risking for some depth in the pen if you’re the Cubs.

Diamondbacks hire Dave Magadan as hitting coach

Dave Magadan Rangers
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Steve Gilbert of reports that the Diamondbacks’ new hitting coach is Dave Magadan, who “parted ways” with the Rangers last month after three years filling the same role in Texas.

Magadan also previously was the Red Sox’s hitting coach and his teams have generally done pretty well, including the Rangers scoring the third-most runs in the league this year.

He’ll have plenty of talent to work with in Arizona, as the Diamondbacks scored the second-most runs in the league led by Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, and David Peralta. Turner Ward, who had been Arizona’s hitting coach, chose to leave the team two weeks ago.

A’s reacquire Jed Lowrie in trade with Astros

Jed Lowrie

Jed Lowrie, who was traded from the Astros to the A’s in 2013 and then re-signed with the Astros as a free agent last offseason, has now been traded back to the A’s.

Lowrie got a three-year, $23 million deal from the Astros with the idea that he’d play shortstop in the first season and then move to another position whenever stud prospect Carlos Correa arrived. Instead he got hurt right away, Correa became an immediate star, and the Astros weren’t so keen on paying him $15 million over the next two seasons.

He could resume playing shortstop for the A’s, who watched rookie Marcus Semien make an absurd number of errors there this year. Lowrie hit .271 with a .738 OPS in two seasons in Oakland, which is similar to his career totals and makes him a solidly above-average offensive shortstop. There’s a decent chance the A’s will have a Lowrie-Lawrie double-play duo in 2016.

In return the Astros get minor leaguer Brendan McCurry, a 24-year-old right-hander who split 2015 between high Single-A and Double-A with a 1.86 ERA and 82/17 K/BB ratio in 63 relief innings. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2014 and doesn’t have exceptional raw stuff, but McCurry’s numbers are incredible so far.

White Sox sign catcher Alex Avila to a one-year deal

Detroit Tigers' Alex Avila, right, is congratulated by third base coach Dave Clark after his solo home run in the third inning in the second game of a baseball doubleheader against the Chicago White Sox, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

There have been a lot of articles published in the past few days about how to navigate awkward Thanksgiving conversations with your relatives. Heck, we even wrote one.

But there’s always room for more! Such as “How to talk to your father at Thanksgiving dinner about the fact that he let you walk away from the only team you’ve ever known to sign with a division rival.” Which is what Alex Avila will likely be talking about with his father, Tigers GM Al Avila:

The older Avila can’t even say he did it because he’s opposed to nepotism. After all, he just hired his other son — who has had his law degree for just over a year — as the Tigers assistant legal counsel for baseball operations. Though I’m sure that wasn’t nepotism. He probably just aced the interview and impressed everyone more than the other candidates did.

OK, those are jokes. In all seriousness, this is a good move for Alex and Al and, probably, the White Sox. With the emergence of James McCann, there really is not space for Alex Avila in Detroit in anything other than a backup capacity. In Chicago, he’ll get more playing time. At least if he can (a) stay healthy; and (b) not hit .191/.339/.287 again like he did in 2015.