That Was Quick

And, again, an American League team celebrates on foreign soil.  You’d think they’d start losing the All-Star Game so they could party at home, don’t you?

As for this whole “AL is dominant” stuff the major media keeps spewing….unfortunately, there may be something to that.  Since the strike year of ’94, the AL is 43-26 in the World Series, including five sweeps.  The closest the NL has gotten to a sweep was the Cardinals’ win in 5 games last year.  Right now, when coupled with their streak of winning All-Star games, it’s pretty apparent the AL is the top league, even though it’s painful to admit it.  These things are pretty cyclical, though.  A lot of the good young talent is in the NL, so they should be making some strides in the next few years.

Somewhere out there, a seven year old has seen two Red Sox championships and no Yankee titles.  Who’d have thought that’d ever happen?

A-Rod has already opted out of his deal.  However, I’m wondering if that might not come back to bite him.  The Yanks have been adamant that they aren’t going to deal with him.  The Cubs are in ownership flux, so they probably can’t go out and put together a record-setting package.  The Red Sox just won the title and they’ve said that they want to resign Lowell, so I’d be surprised if they made a major run at Rodriguez.  The Mets have been floated about, but they have Reyes at short and Wright at third.  Where would they put him?  It may just boil down to the Angels, and if they think they are the only ones in the race, there’s no way they’ll go $30 million per.  We’ll see how it pans out, but I think with the Yankees uninvolved, Rodriguez doesn’t get as much as he thinks he will.

Should be a busy week in baseball.  The Cardinals should announce their GM soon and the Yankees their manager.  The free agent market opens in two weeks.  While the season is great, the off-season has become a lot of fun in its own right!

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Short Series?

The Rockies gave it a valiant effort last night, but they came up short again, which puts them in a large hole, as I mentioned yesterday.

It did give me something to think about, though.  Ever since the whole “this game counts”/All-Star Game determining home field fiasco (don’t get me started on it, I’ll go all day), the American League has won home field advantage.  The downside to that is that no AL team has clinched the Series on their home field since 1999 (pre-ASG change) when the Yankees swept the Braves.

In 2003, the first year of the changes, the Marlins won in Yankee Stadium.  2004, the Red Sox swept the Cardinals and celebrated, movie stars and all, in Busch Stadium.  2005, the White Sox did the same to the Astros.  And, of course, in 2006, the Cardinals got to involve the home fans by clinching at home.

Can the Rockies force the Series back to Boston?  Sure, they can.  But will they?  I don’t know.  Baseball has a way of evening things out.  You’ll see long winning streaks followed up by a few losing streaks during the season.  21-1 wasn’t sustainable, obviously, but the pendulum may be swinging the other way.

I hope that if the Rockies are going to lose it, they lose it in Colorado.  Red Sox Nation can be obnoxious enough without them tearing up Fenway in celebration.

Passing the Time

Just not a lot going on right now, so some general thoughts:

  • The Cardinals say they have extended the time frame on the GM search. Also, LaRussa is getting daily reports on what’s going on, who they are talking to, etc., so it’s pretty obvious that Tony will be back for another year. The only way that extending the search turns out to be a positive thing is if the Cardinals bring in someone like a Chris Antonelli who is involved in the playoffs. If they take this valuable time and then just let Mozeliak have the job, they are really putting themselves behind the eight ball when it comes to things like contacting free agents, setting priorities, etc. Because, reasonably, Mozeliak can’t be planning all that far in advance since he doesn’t know if it’s his job or not.

    That said, what is the new GM going to think about having a manager already in place, and not only a manager, but a Hall-of-Famer who has the undivided attention of management? If they want to get their own guy in there, even if it’s next year, do they have the freedom to let Tony go? When push comes to shove, who is DeWitt going to listen to? To get top talent in that job, DeWitt is going to have to assure them that they outrank the field manager. That could be hard for him to do.

  • Josh Beckett is proving to be the next John Smoltz. It’s amazing how well he pitches in big games. I wanted Cleveland to win last night, but I knew when they got down 2-1, it was probably over. The only thing that gave Cleveland some hope was his response after the Lofton incident. He seemed to be overly pumped after that, having a little trouble with location and the Indians got two on with two out, but couldn’t convert. Then the Red Sox started tacking on and that was that.

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General Discussion

Thank you, Cleveland!  I’m not a huge Yankee hater–in fact, I kinda like them due to their rich history, etc.–but getting them out of the news and sparing us another overhyped Yankees/Red Sox ALCS is worthy of thanks.  (Plus, as noted, it makes the wife happy.)   I think I started turning somewhat against the Red Sox after 2004.  The sweep was bad enough, but the books, articles, etc. just seemed to keep coming and coming and I think it soured me on all that East Coast stuff.

The Yankee melodrama is, of course, not out of the papers yet though.  Joe Torre is likely gone, and so there are rumors that Tony LaRussa might like to take over that team.   Personally, I can’t see that happening and I think it’d be a terrible fit.  For once, TLR has barely tolerated the St. Louis media.  That’s nothing compared to 150 newspapers and 750 television outlets focusing on your every move.  I think he’d snap when all the press showed up to the first Sox/Yankees spring training game.

Also, the Yanks are starting to go younger.  Roger Clemens has, hopefully and finally, thrown his last pitch.  (Another thing to be thankful for–this should mean no more offseason posturing about “will he or won’t he come back” followed by a ridiculously large contract thrown at him.)  Mariano Rivera might even go somewhere else.  Jorge Posada is a free agent.  Alex Rodriguez may leave.  A lot of the old guard may not be there when 2008 comes along.

However, they’ve got young pitchers (Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy) and a few young position players, and according to GM Brian Cashman, he’d love to home-grow the whole team.  So it sounds like New York is going to go through a similar process as the Cardinals–trying to get younger and sticking with the kids.

TLR, while he can deal with kids better than some of his detractors indicate, does seem to prefer the seasoned veteran who he knows what he can expect from and how to get the most out of.  I can’t see LaRussa being ecstatic with the Yankees direction if he’s not liking what the Cardinals are doing.

Owner DeWitt is starting to make public noises about LaRussa making up his mind.  I’d expect we’ll know one way or another this week, but if he really does want to manage in 2008, he’ll probably stay in St. Louis.

I see the GM search is focusing on sabermetric types that are in their mid-30s to early 40s, instead of going the retread route.  I like that approach and I think it could be advantageous if the Cardinals are able to get the next rising star.

The Cardinal rumor mill is pretty quiet right now.  I don’t expect it will stay that way very long.