Check out this illustration the St. Louis Post-Dispatch is using for the NLCS

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The image to the right was included in the National League Championship Series coverage provided by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, including this column by Derrick Goold.

It’s quite funny. You have the Monopoly guy holding a bag of money, representing the Dodgers. He is denied access to the World Series trophy, adorned by a “Not For Sale” sign, by a muscular, defiant Cardinal wagging his finger.

True, the Dodgers have spent a lot of money on their 2013 squad — nearly $217 million, in fact. Seven players on the Dodgers’ payroll will have been paid at least $15 million for this season alone. However, the Cardinals aren’t exactly in a position to play the role of small-market underdog as if they were the Oakland Athletics. The Cardinals opened the season with a payroll of approximately $117 million, the 11th-largest among all 30 teams and nearly $50 million more than the A’s to whom they’re often compared.

What is true is that, of the four remaining teams, the Cardinals had the smallest Opening Day payroll. The Dodgers, Red Sox ($159 million), and Tigers ($149 million) ranked second, fourth, and fifth, respectively. Money doesn’t buy championships, but it sure doesn’t hurt to have it.

Yu Darvish’s no-trade list revealed

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Ken Rosenthal has found out the ten teams on Yu Darvish‘s no-trade list per his contract. They are the Orioles, Red Sox, Cubs, Indians, Rockies, White Sox, Tigers, A’s, Pirates and Blue Jays. He has no right to veto trades to any other team.

As we’ve noted in recent days, the Dodgers are said to have a “strong interest” in Darvish. It’d not be at all surprising to see other contenders in on him too, at least as long as the Rangers keep listening to offers. In the no-trade category, it would seem that the Cubs and Indians would have a need, but it’s doubtful the Indians would make that kind of deal. The Cubs may, but of course they’d have to sweeten the deal for Darvish in order to get him to agree to waive his no-trade rights (which is often the point of having a no-trade provision).

Beyond the Dodgers, the Yankees and Astros are obvious potential suitors.

Darvish is 6-8 with a 3.44 ERA and has struck out 143 batters to only 43 walks in 133.1 innings.

The Royals are talking to the Jays about Francisco Liriano

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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Kansas City Royals are in talks with the Toronto Blue Jays about a trade for Francisco Liriano.

Liriano is not having a good year, but an arm is an arm I suppose. Liriano’s arm has posted 5.99 ERA and 70/42 K/BB ratio through 76.2 innings across 17 starts. He’s a free agent to be, so he shouldn’t cost too much, of course.

Earlier this week Kansas City picked up  Trevor Cahill, Brandon Maurer, and Ryan Buchter from the Padres. They’ve also won seven in a row and are just a game and a half behind the first place Indians. They’re going for it with whatever help they can find.