Don’t count on the NLCS winner being gassed for the World Series

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The Cards and Giants are beating each others’ brains out up until less than 48 hours before the World Series starts. Heck, if it rains tonight, maybe to within 24 hours.  As Buster Olney says, this has to be good for the Tigers, right?

For the Detroit Tigers, the drawn-out series between the Cards and Giants is all good, because the rotations of the NL teams will be left in a jumble, the bullpens taxed. The Tigers are lined up and all ready to go with Justin Verlander, et al.

Except the last time they were in the World Series it was set up very much like this. Detroit dispatched the Athletics in the 2006 ALCS in four games, with the last one being on October 14.  The Mets and Cardinals, in contrast, played a seven game series that ended on October 19.  The World Series began two days later, with the Tigers having had a full week to rest bodies and set up the rotation, with the Cardinals in a putative “jumble.”  And the Cardinals ended up winning that series in five games.

It’s quite possible that, yes, whoever comes out of the NLCS will be jumbled. And I imagine that after 2006 the Tigers learned some lessons about how to spend a long layoff (thus the scrimmages they’ve been playing against minor leaguers and such). But if history shows us anything it’s that we can’t really predict how layoffs and frantic run-ups to a series will play out.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.