Five scouts in town to watch Carlos Beltran; Giants the favorites?

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According to FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi, the Braves, Giants, Phillies, Rangers and Red Sox have all had scouts watching Carlos Beltran this weekend as the Mets take on the Marlins.

They should be liking what they’re seeing.  Beltran just drove in a run for the third straight game with a first-inning sac fly versus the Marlins.  He also walked once Friday and three times Saturday.  He entered Sunday’s game hitting .291/.393/.520 in 344 at-bats.

While the Giants and Phillies have been labeled as the favorites for Beltran by Jon Heyman, Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan says the Rangers are “coming hard.”

Passan, though, labels the Giants the front-runners and says outfielder Francisco Peguero could be part of a deal.  The Giants are likely trying to get Beltran without losing either their No. 1 position prospect, Gary Brown, or their No. 1 pitching prospect, Zack Wheeler.

Peguero a toolsy 23-year-old center fielder, has hit .269/.283/.417 with three homers in 108 at-bats for Double-A Richmond this season.  Last year, he hit .322 with 10 homers, 16 triples and 40 steals for Single-A San Jose, but it came with an 88/18 K/BB ratio in 510 at-bats.

2:20 p.m. EDT update: Heyman hears that the Phillies have said no to including either outfielder Domonic Brown or top pitching prospect Jarred Cosart in a deal for Beltran.  They have other quality pieces, such as first baseman Jonathan Singleton, RHP Brody Colvin and RHP Trevor May, but the Mets may be able to do better.

The Japanese playoffs are super unfair

Hiroshima Carp
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I know a little about Japanese baseball. Not a lot, mind you. Like, I couldn’t hold my own with people who actually watch it or report on it or whatever, but I could explain some of the broad differences and similarities between the NPB and the U.S. majors.  I can say a few things about how the two leagues compare competitively speaking. I can name some stars and (I think) all the clubs. But there’s, quite obviously, a ton I don’t know.

A thing I did not know until today: the NPB playoffs are really messed up.

The NPB is divided into two leagues, the Central and the Pacific, with the winner of each league facing off in the Japan Series. Like the U.S. majors, they have preliminary playoff rounds in each league. Each league has three playoff teams, with the second and third seed teams playing a series first, and the winner of that series playing the top seed — the team with the best record in the league — in what is called the Climax Series.

Here’s the weird part: the higher-seeded team in the Climax Series — the team which won the league in the regular season — gets every single playoff game at home. What’s more, that team begins the Climax Series with an automatic 1-0 advantage. So, yes, it’s a seven-game series on paper, but one of the teams only has to win three games to advance to the Japan Series.

Oh, in Japan, they also have no problems ending a playoff game early if it rains. That’s what happened in the Central League Climax Series last night, where the lower-seeded Yokohama BayStars took on the league champ Hiroshima Carp. Here’s the report from Jason Coskrey of The Japan Times:

The rainy conditions in Hiroshima caused the umpires to stop play for over 30 minutes and ultimately call the game after five innings, minutes after the Carp put three runs on the board. Just like that, it was over. The Carp won 3-0, with Yokohama robbed of the four innings (at least) it would’ve had to try and rally.

Even better: as Coskrey notes, there are five days in between the end of the Climax Series and the beginning of the Japan Series, so there is no reason they could not suspend a game and resume it the next day. They just choose not to. The upshot: the Carp now have a 2-0 series lead despite the fact that they’ve only played five innings of baseball.

Imagine if that happened in the NLCS. Imagine if the Dodgers began the series with a 1-0 lead over the Cubs and played all of their games in Los Angeles. Imagine there was a freak L.A. storm and it ended one of the game in the fifth inning, right after Justin Turner hit a homer. I’m pretty sure people would riot.

Kinda makes our complaints about the replay system seem rather quaint, eh?