Ike Davis is the NL’s second-best first baseman?

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With Albert Pujols and now Prince Fielder following Adrian Gonzalez to the American League, the NL has bled some remarkable talent at first base the last two winters. That’s one sure Hall of Famer and two more legitimate possibilities switching leagues while still in their primes. Left is Joey Votto and, well…

Reds: Joey Votto – .990 (2012 projected OPS)
Mets: Ike Davis – .864
Cardinals: Lance Berkman: .860
Phillies: Ryan Howard – .850/Ty Wigginton – .739
Braves: Freddie Freeman – .823
Rockies: Todd Helton – .815
D-backs: Paul Goldschmidt – .814
Marlins: Gaby Sanchez – .809
Astros: Carlos Lee: .787
Dodgers: James Loney: .776
Nationals: Adam LaRoche: .776
Brewers: Mat Gamel: .761
Cubs: Bryan LaHair: .756
Giants: Aubrey Huff: .739/Brandon Belt: .782
Padres: Yonder Alonso: .725
Pirates: Garrett Jones: .710/Casey McGehee: .728

In his MVP season of 2010, Votto only made the NL All-Star team by winning the final vote for the 32nd spot. I’m going to take a stab and say he’s not going to have much to worry about this year.

Davis and Freeman are potential All-Stars and new Cubs acquisition Anthony Rizzo might also have that kind of potential, but the list above simply isn’t very inspiring. Howard is likely to miss two months or more with his torn Achilles’ tendon, leaving Wigginton as the Phillies’ primary first baseman. I don’t understand why the Pirates decided to spend $15 million on Rod Barajas, Clint Barmes and Erik Bedard, only to get gunshy on reupping Derrek Lee. He’d be a big upgrade for them and a somewhat lesser one for the Brewers.

The Cubs live for another day, but death will come soon

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The Cubs had a nice night last night. Javier Baez finally broke his hitless streak with not one but two homers. Willson Contreras hit a nearly 500-foot homer. Jake Arrieta, possibly pitching for the last time as a Cub, dug down for a gutsy performance, pitching into the seventh inning, working around some walks to allow only one run while striking out nine.

After the game, Cubs players sounded hopeful notes about believing in themselves, taking them one game at a time, getting the series back to L.A. for a Game 6 and Game 7. They’re professional athletes who know better than any of us that to achieve a thing you have to believe you can achieve that thing, so it’d be dumb to expect anything else from them in this situation. Ballplayers, quite admirably, don’t sound a note of defeat until they are actually defeated.

But let’s be realistic there: they’re still a dead team walking.

  • They’re dead because, as we have been reminded oh so many times, only once in 35 tries has a team come back to win a seven game series in which they’ve found themselves down 0-3. That team did so because Dave Roberts worked some magic. Dave Roberts is working for the other team now.
  • They’re dead because their biggest weakness this postseason — their bullpen — is not going to have its best pitcher, Wade Davis, available today in Game 5 after throwing 48 pitches in Game 4.
  • They’re dead because while the Dodgers used five relievers last night, none of them were worked particularly hard and neither Brandon Morrow nor Kenley Jansen were used at all, allowing them to come in and work hard and heavy tonight if need be.
  • They’re dead because the man on the mound to start tonight’s game is Clayton Edward Kershaw. Yes, he has had some less-than-glory-filled moments in the postseason in recent years, but all of those have come at the tail end of starts, when his managers have left him in perhaps an inning too long. See the above bullet point — and Dave Roberts’ early hook in Game 1 — if you think that’ll be a problem tonight.

The Dodgers lost last night, yes, but it was their first loss in the postseason. All teams have lost at least one postseason game since it went to the three-round format, so it was likely inevitable that L.A. would drop one. Heck, maybe they’ll drop two before the NLCS is over, but they’re not going to drop the next three in a row.

Last night’s Cubs win was nice for them, but it only delayed the inevitable.