Cardinals await conclusion of ALCS as World Series will be a rematch of 2004 or 2006

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With a thorough 9-0 drubbing of the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, the Cardinals clinched a World Series appearance for the first time since, uh, last week. At least it feels that way, anyway. They won the World Series in 2011 against the Texas Rangers in seven games.

The Cardinals are anxiously waiting for the ALCS to wrap up to find out where they’ll go and who they’ll play on Wednesday in Game 1 of the World Series. They’ll open up either in Boston or Detroit.

If it’s the Red Sox, who are up three games to two, it will be a rematch of the 2004 World Series. The Red Sox swept the Cardinals in four games, breaking the 86-year-old “Curse of the Bambino”. That World Series featured players such as Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, and Derek Lowe for Boston. For the Cardinals, they had Albert Pujols, Jim Edmonds, Scott Rolen, and Dan Haren. It was a long time ago.

If it’s the Tigers, it will be a rematch of the 2006 World Series, which the Cardinals took in five games. That World Series featured players such as Curtis Granderson, Magglio Ordonez, and Kenny Rogers for Detroit. The Cardinals had David Eckstein, Jeff Weaver, and Anthony Reyes. Ah, memories.

The Cardinals will have four whole days of rest, meaning they’ll be able to set up their rotation exactly the way they want. In fact, Michael Wacha would be on schedule if he were to start Game 1. It will be interesting to see in exactly which order the Cardinals line up their starters.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.