Crown the Cardinals!

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We like to say that anything can happen in a short series, but at some point you have to acknowledge that some things happening are pretty unlikely, at least from a statistical/historical point of view.

Example: the team losing Game 1 of the World Series going on to win it.  In fact, as noted in the AP gamer, the winner of Game 1 of the World Series has won seven of the last eight titles, 12 of the last 14 and 19 of the last 23.

Of course the Rangers can still win this. They barely lost last night’s game against the opposition’s best starter in freezing conditions. There is no such thing as a locked-in fate or whatever, and I don’t want to oversell this idea.

It’s just that if they do win, just understand that they’ll be doing something that — by the numbers anyway — hasn’t happened all that often in recent years.

Mike Napoli and Rays have “mutual interest” in a deal

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Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.

Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.

Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.