Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post reports that the Phillies are “strong players” for free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez. Meanwhile, Todd Zolecki of MLB.com confirms that the Phils do indeed have interest.
The most likely scenario is that the Phillies envision Ramirez as a fallback option for their lineup if they are unable to retain free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins. They can’t possibly afford both, right? Buster Olney of ESPN.com wrote earlier this morning that it appears the Phils’ biggest competition for Rollins may come from the Brewers or Cardinals, though his colleague Jerry Crasnick hears that St. Louis doesn’t plan to pursue him even if they are unable to re-sign Albert Pujols.
Placido Polanco is still owed $6.25 million next season while his contract includes a $5.5 million mutual option for 2013 or a $1 million buyout. The 36-year-old is coming off an injury-plagued year which limited him to just 122 games, but if the Phils would likely attempt to flip him if they end up signing Ramirez.
The Yankees and Astros are set for Game 7 of the American League Championship Series on Saturday, and neither team will hold back as they seek a World Series berth. The Astros are prepared to back starter Charlie Morton with any able-bodied pitcher in their ranks — including Justin Verlander, though A.J. Hinch said it would be a “dream scenario” to get anything more from his ace — while the Yankees are prepared to utilize all but a few of their arms. One pitcher you won’t see? Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who last took the hill for the Yankees during their Game 5 shutout on Wednesday.
Tanaka expended 103 pitches over seven scoreless innings in his last start, fending off the Astros with three hits, a walk and eight strikeouts. He hasn’t pitched on fewer than three days of rest all year, and even with a do-or-die scenario facing the Yankees on Saturday night, manager Joe Girardi doesn’t want to compromise his starter’s ability to stay rested and ready for the World Series.
Girardi will also play it safe with fellow right-hander Sonny Gray, who dominated in a five-inning performance in Game 4. All other pitchers should be available and ready to go, though the club is hoping for a lengthy outing from veteran starter CC Sabathia. Sabathia is no stranger to the postseason: over eight separate playoff runs, he touts one championship title and a collective 4.24 ERA in 123 innings. He held the Astros scoreless in his Game 3 start, blanking them over six innings on three hits, four walks and five strikeouts for an eventual 8-1 win.
Even without Tanaka or Gray likely to take the mound for Game 7, the Yankees will enter the series finale with history on their side. Per MLB.com, they have a 4-3 road record in Game 7s and are 6-7 in all 13 Game 7 finales to date. The Astros, on the other hand, dropped their first and only Game 7 clincher back in 2004, when the Cardinals capped the NLCS with a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The teams are scheduled to face off for the first-ever Game 7 at Minute Maid Park on Saturday at 8:00 PM ET.