Wild Card Game lineups: Cardinals vs. Braves

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source: AP

Here are the Cardinals’ and Braves’ lineups for the Wild Card playoff game:

   ST. LOUIS CARDINALS         ATLANTA BRAVES
1. Jon Jay, CF              1. Michael Bourn, CF
2. Carlos Beltran, RF       2. Martin Prado, LF
3. Matt Holliday, LF        3. Jason Heyward, RF
4. Allen Craig, 1B          4. Chipper Jones, 3B
5. Yadier Molina, C         5. Freddie Freeman, 1B
6. David Freese, 3B         6. Dan Uggla, 2B
7. Daniel Descalso, 2B      7. David Ross, C
8. Pete Kozma, SS           8. Andrelton Simmons, SS
9. Kyle Lohse, P            9. Kris Medlen, P

Mike Matheny is going with what became the Cardinals’ standard stretch-run lineup and batting order without the injured Lance Berkman and Rafael Furcal. After beginning with a left-handed hitter and a switch-hitter the lineup’s 3-4-5-6 spots are all right-handed bats against Braves right-hander Kris Medlen, but then again he held both righties and lefties to a sub-.210 batting average anyway.

Fredi Gonzalez decided to bench six-time all-star Brian McCann following his terrible August and September, so David Ross gets the start at catcher for the Braves. Ross caught Medlen for 44 of his 138 total innings and they had a ridiculous 0.81 ERA together, so that shouldn’t be an issue. And of course he’s the stat you’ll hear about constantly during the game: Atlanta has won 23 consecutive games started by Medlen and they’re favored tonight.

Feel free to chat during the game in the comments section.

Rays lose, clinching postseason berth for Athletics

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The Rays lost 4-1 to the Yankees on Monday night, which clinched a postseason berth for the Athletics just as they began their own game against the Mariners. For the 94-62 A’s, it’s their first postseason appearance since 2014 when they lost the AL Wild Card game to the Royals.

Major League Baseball celebrated the Athletics’ achievement by tweeting this fact: The A’s are the first team since 1988 to make the postseason with baseball’s lowest Opening Day payroll ($66 million).

Yay?

John J. Fisher, who has owned the A’s since 2005, has a net worth approaching $3 billion. The Athletics franchise is valued at over $1 billion. Yet the A’s have never had an Opening Day payroll at $90 million or above and have consistently been among the teams with the lowest payrolls. The cultural shift towards embracing analytics has allowed the A’s to get away with investing as little money as possible into the team. Moneyball helped change baseball’s zeitgeist such that many began to fetishize doing things on the cheap and now the league itself is embracing it.

What the fact MLB tweeted says is actually this: John J. Fisher was able to save a few bucks this year and the A’s still somehow made it to the postseason.

The Athletics’ success is due to a whole host of players, but particularly youngsters Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Sean Manaea, Daniel Mengden, Lou Trivino, among others. All are pre-arbitration aside from Manaea. When it comes time to pay them something approaching what they’re actually worth, will the A’s reward them for their contributions or will they do what they’ve always done and cut bait? After reaching the postseason in 2014, the A’s traded away Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss, Jeff Samardzija, and John Jaso. Each was a big influence on the club’s success. Athletics fans should be happy their favorite team has reached the postseason, but if the team’s history is any precedent, they shouldn’t get attached to any of the players. Is that really something Major League Baseball should be advocating?