Results tagged ‘ Cardinals ’
My predictions for 2013 didn’t go as well this year as they have in previous years. But when it was all said and done, we had a great season to look back at and say there were some really big surprises. And some not-so-big surprises.
I will start with who I picked to make the postseason:
AL East: Tampa Bay (Won Wild Card, lost in ALDS to Boston.)
AL Central: Detroit (Won division, lost in ALCS to Boston.)
AL West: Texas (Lost Wild Card Tiebreaker Game.)
AL Wild Card: Boston (Won division and World Series) and Kansas City (Finished 5.5 game back, on the right track and will be back fighting in the Central next year)
NL East: Washington (The biggest disappointment in baseball in my opinion. I had them not only winning the east but making it to World Series. I still believe they will be a postseason team next year.)
NL Central: Cincinnati (Lost Wild Card game to Pittsburgh.)
NL West: Giants (Didn’t play nearly like the team that won the World Series in 2012.)
NL Wild Card: St. Louis (Won division and lost World Series to Boston) and Arizona (Started off strong before fading badly.)
The only positive thing I can say about my predictions is at least five of the teams I picked to make the postseason did so.
Looking back at what teams did this year that shocked me, first and foremost the pirates making the postseason was the biggest surprise by far. What that team and Clint Hurdle did this year was amazing to me. Another surprise was how well the Braves played when they got no production out of two of the guys they were counting on most in Dan Uggla and B.J. Upton. In spite of that, they ran away with the NL East. Great job of managing by Fredi Gonzalez. Also in my opinion the NL MVP is Freddie Freeman.
The game is so much about starting pitching these days that I believe sometimes great bullpens and bad bullpens get overlooked. The Pirates had the season they had in large part because their bullpen was awesome. The same can be said for the champs in Boston. They had two closers go down with injuries, yet managed to find a guy in Koji Uehara who was almost unhittable. The Cards’ young pen got them to the World Series in the postseason. Edwin Mujica did a great job of closing games until September, then Trevor Rosenthal and his 100-MPH fastball took over.
For the teams that had great rotations and subpar bullpens, we only need look as far as Detroit. Joaquin Benoit took over as closer in the second half and did great. But in the ALCS, the guys who were charged with getting the ball to Benoit were not so good, and cost the Tigers a chance to play in the World Series. It would not surprise me at all to see the Tigers go out and sign a free agent closer Joe Nathan, then trade Rick Porcello to land a couple of good, young arms — both left-handed and right — to add to their pen. If they do that, I will be picking them again next year.
Three of the saddest moments of this year were Charlie Manuel getting fired in Philly, Jim Leyland stepping down as manager of the Tigers, and Mariano Rivera retiring. Why are these sad to me? Because each and every one of those guys are what are sport should be about: pride, integrity, and class. Baseball will miss all of them. Of the three, I think we might see Charlie Manuel again. I’m not sure he has the game out of his system yet. I hope not anyway.
All in all, 2013 was a great year for MLB. Congrats to the Red Sox for bringing celebration to Boston after the senseless and inhumane act of the Marathon bombing.
With the series 3-2 in favor of the Red Sox heading into Game 6 tonight, there are many people who think it is over with the series moving back to Boston. I for one don’t think it is over, mainly for one reason. That reason is 22 years old and stands 6’6″ tall.
Michael Wacha! This kid has proven the big stage and bright lights don’t bother him. The Cardinals were down 0-1 in the series when he got the ball in one of the most hostile places in sports to play in, Fenway Park. He proved he was not intimidated by that.
The other reason is that he counts on his fastball and changeup. If you have to pitch in cold weather, those are the two pitches that your grip affects the least.
The Red Sox are not a team that is going down without a fight. John Lackey has proven that he is a big game pitcher. But his curveball is a huge part of his arsenal. If he doesn’t have a good grip on it, it will affect the bite and location of it. Game 5 really was the only game where a mistake didn’t lead to a team winning or losing. I believe the team that plays the best defense in Game 6 will win.
For Lackey to win, Boston is going to have to make more plays defensively than the Cards, because I believe Wacha will strike out more guys. That being said, to predict a winner in this series simply is a guess on anyone’s part. These teams are very evenly matched. All I am going to guess is that there will be a Game 7!
For all of those reading this, I’m a little late with my predictions for who will advance to the World Series. But I will say this: Game 2 of the ALCS hasn’t started yet, but with the Tigers winning Game 1 in Boston 1-0, I can tell you that I would have bet all I own that there was no way that the Tigers could have won a game against the Sox 1-0 where the Detroit bullpen had to throw three innings.
I really like Benoit as the closer and Smyly as the lefthander, but the rest of the Tiger pen has been a coin flip. I picked Detroit to win the series before it started, but that was based on their rotation. I wouldn’t hesitate to predict that a Tigers starter would go eight shutout innings and Benoit one inning in a 1-0 win.
The tigers have the best rotation in baseball, in my opinion. But for them to win the series, they can’t expect to get three innings a game out of their pen. Their starters will have to go deep in games. The Sox struck out 17 times last night. Even with Scherzer and Verlander being the next two starters, I don’t expect the Sox to punch out that much again. This series may go seven games.
As for the NLCS, at the very least I would have expected LA to leave St. Louis with a split. They had their top two starters going with Greinke and Kershaw. The Cards don’t hit lefties very well, and they didn’t yesterday, with the only run coming off a down-the-middle passed ball that put Freese on third with one out and John Jay hitting a sac fly for the only run. Meanwhile, Greinke threw eight innings and allowed just two runs, while the Cardinals started Kelly, who didn’t have great command, but got threw six innings, allowing only two runs. Both of those games should be wins for the Dodgers.
There are two really big reasons I don’t think the Dodgers can come back and win this series. The first being that Hanley Ramirez didn’t play in Game 2 because of bruised ribs from being hit by a Joe Kelly fastball. Since he couldn’t play yesterday, I don’t think he will play again in this series. That really hurts the Dodger lineup.
The second reason is now they have to face the Cards’ ace, Adam Wainwright, in Game 3. Oh yeah, and the Cardinals’ bullpen that has rookie after rookie that can come on and throw 98 to 101 MPH will make every game much shorter for manager Mike Matheny. Carlos Martinez throws 98 with movement and a wipeout slider, then you have Siegrist from the left side also throwing 98. And to top it off, their closer all year long, Edward Mujica, has not seen the field in two one-run games.
The closer’s job is now Trevor Rosenthal’s. He had three saves in September. Yesterday he came in to face the middle of the Dodger order and blew all three guys away like it was nothing. The last five outs of a 1-0 win were all strikeouts recorded by rookie Cardinals relievers.
I always have said that there is nothing more dangerous than youth, talent and confidence. This St. Louis team is loaded with all three of those things. The Cards will be in the World Series. The identity of their opponent is up in the air, but I believe it will be the Tigers because of their rotation.
With the season over and the playoffs upon us, I wish I could sit here and tell y’all who is going to win. It is so close in both leagues that it is almost impossible to predict.
We still don’t know the final Wild Card team from the AL. The Dodgers haven’t been playing that well to finish the season. Neither have the Tigers. The Dodgers lost Kemp for the postseason. The Tigers got no-hit in their last game. The hottest teams going into the playoffs are St. Louis and Pittsburgh in the NL and Cleveland in the AL. But Cleveland has had trouble with teams with winning records this season.
Experience plays a big role in the postseason, so I think the Reds will beat Pittsburgh in the NL Wild Card Game. I think Texas beats the Rays in the Tiebreaker Game and then Cleveland in the AL Wild Card Game. I had picked the Dodgers and Tigers for the World Series, and I am sticking with the Tigers. But I believe St. Louis will win the NL pennant. And I am sticking to my pick from before the season and taking the Tigers to win it all.
All that being said, this has been the most interesting trek to the postseason I have ever seen! And that is because of the Wild Card teams. Kudos, Bud Selig!
2013 has turned out to be the year that the Pirates have broken a 20-year stretch of losing seasons. Last night they won their 81st game of the year. It has been a great story to watch unfold and I am happy to see that streak come to an end.
There are players on that team who have endured a lot over their time in Pittsburgh. There are also fans who have had to live through those dismal summers. They have one of the nicest ballparks — if not the nicest ballpark — in the game. Now they have a team that has made it worthwhile to come out and watch. This team is not loaded with superstars. It is, however, loaded with guys who play every out of every game. As a former player, I love to see that. I believe that with the money players make now (and even when I played), that they owe that effort every night to their fan base. This years Pirates do that.
Now comes the question: Will they make the Postseason? I believe they will. But I believe it will be as the first Wild Card team. I still believe that the Reds will win the Central. I think the they have too much talent. They have yet to get on a run, but I believe they will. I could be very wrong, but that is how I see it.
I also see a St. Louis pitching staff that is young and getting tired. When a pitcher is tired, he has to make pitches. Add in the stress of a pennant race and I just feel that the Cards’ staff is running out of gas. I would say — as so many are saying — that both NL Wild Card teams will come out of the Central. But with the weakest division in the NL being the East , I am not sure that the Nationals might not slip in there for the second Wild Card spot. They will play most of their games in their own division in September, as will the Cardinals. That’s to Washington’s advantage, as the Central is a much tougher division.
Back to the Pirates. Congrats to them, but I have a feeling they ain’t satisfied with just a winning season. They have too much fight in them to set their goals that low!
With September nearly upon us , I thought I would look at who is going to be in the 2013 Postseason in the National League.
In the East, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say the Braves have that locked up. They hold a lead that I don’t believe can possibly be overtaken.
In the west, I would say the same thing about the Dodgers . That is something I didn’t think would happen this year for them. Not because they didn’t have the talent, but because of chemistry. They seem to have that in abundance now.
Where the NL gets cloudy is in the Central. St. Louis is leading the division by a game and a half over the Pirates, with the Reds 3.5 back, as we sit here on the 28th of August. They are both Wild Card teams right now, but the NL it could get very interesting is the final month.
With so many games played against each other, the Pirates , Reds and Cards could be their own worst enemies. If they all beat up on each other in a fight for the Central, that could give Washington and maybe the D-Backs a chance to sneak into one of the Wild Card spots, as the NL East and West are much weaker divisions than the Central. It would only take a run by one of those teams to keep both Wild Card teams from coming from the Central.
Pittsburgh has been struggling lately and the Reds have yet to make a strong run. It is great to see that the Pirates will enjoy their first winning season in 21 years, but do they have the experience to withstand a playoff push? Time will tell.
Last month I said that I thought both Wild Card teams will come from the Central. I have since changed that opinion. I believe that either Washington or Arizona will sneak in and take one of the Wild Card spots based solely on the strengths of the divisions.
When it is all said and done, I believe LA will be representing the NL in the World Series.
We finally know the two teams that will play for the 2012 World Series crown. The Giants completed two of the better Postseason comebacks you’ll see, being all but dead and buried at 0-2 down to the Reds in the Division Series, and having to go to Cincy and win three straight games against a team that had not lost three straight games at home all year long.
The Giants took the only approach you can in that situation. Some people will say take it one game at a time. I don’t buy into that. In order to win three straight games in a win-or-go-home situation, you have to break it down as far as you can. And that is a pitch-to-pitch approach. That is what the Giants did in both series. They put away the Cardinals in convincing fashion last night:
That tells you what kind of team the Tigers will be facing in the Fall Classic. Many people would have said that the Giants would be the team that would have a better chance against the Tigers than the Cards. I am not one of those people. The Cardinals’ bullpen is a stronger one than the Giants’ and the Cards’ lineup is more dangerous because of the right-handed power bats. Detroit does not have a left-handed starter, and that would make many people
think the Giants’ lineup would be better against the right-handed power arms that Detroit will run out there.
But the Cards love hitting against hard-throwing pitchers and the Giants have many left-handed or switch hitters in their lineup, which I feel helps the Tigers because of the change-ups that Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer possess! In his two starts prior his last outing, Verlander struck out 22 hitters, and 17 of them were left-handed hitters.
So I feel that the Giants are the team the Tigers would rather face. All that being said, be careful what you wish for. Because this Giants team does the most important part of winning games: they play one pitch at a time and they do it as a team. I’m picking the Tigers in six games, but the Tigers had better not fall into the trap that the Reds and Cardinals did in thinking that if they get an early lead in the series, it is over. Because like Yogi famously said, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over!”
We are in the middle of one of the best Postseasons we have seen in a long time, with all four Division Series going the full five games.
Of the two Division Series still undecided, the NL is the tougher one to predict. The Nationals and Cardinals are very closely matched. It will come down to the pitchers. If Gio Gonzalez has his emotions under control, I see the Nats moving on to the NLCS. If he goes out overamped like he did in Game 1, I see the Cards moving on.
The AL is a little easier to predict. Pitching will definitely decide Game 5 of the Yankees-Orioles series. Neither team is swinging the bats well. The Yankees are beat up: Jeter is on one leg, Teixeira has a bad calf and Cano has a bad calf. A-Rod cant catch up with a fastball and Girardi has pinch hit for him twice in the last two games. That is not a good sign for the Yankees, considering they have five years of $30 million a year that they still owe him. But CC will put the Yanks through to the ALCS.
When the League Champions Series start, the AL will be much easier to predict a winner. With the feel-good story of the A’s coming to an end, I don’t think the Yankees are healthy enough to beat Detroit. That could be a quick series. The NL will be much tougher to predict. With the Nats and Cards still unsettled, with Giants awaiting the winner, either way the NLCS will be much more compelling. But I see Washington facing Detroit in the World Series.
Next week I will have more on the World Series. I picked Detroit out of Spring Training to win it all, so I doubt I will change that pick!
Last week I have my AL playoff team predictions, this week the NL.
In the East, it is simple: Washington is going win it. In the Central it is even more simple: the Reds have an 11-game lead over the second-place Cardinals. The West is equally unexciting. The huge trades the Dodgers pulled off have done nothing to help this team. If anything, they have made them more inconsistent. The Giants hold a 7.5-game lead.
But this is where the Wild Card has made the month of September so exciting — especially the last two seasons. As a baseball fan and as an analyst, I can’t stress enough how important the Wild Cards has become in keeping our game relevant to watch in the final month of the season. Not only for fans, but for players as well.
When I played, there were teams I was a part of that by the All-Star break had zero chance at making the Postseason. As for me, I never needed a reason to go out and play as hard as I could every time I walked on the field. But I would be lying if I said all players felt and acted the way I did. I played with many teammates over the years who, once the postseason wasn’t a possibility, didn’t have to take every pitch or every at-bat as seriously. What the Wild Card has done is force these types of players to do what they should do anyway. We were payed to play all 162 games to win.
I wasn’t the most talented pitcher to ever put on a uniform by a long shot. But the one thing I had a great deal of was pride — and an extreme hatred for losing! Now the Wild Card is forcing all the players to go out and play every game like its the last game they will get to play.
As for the Wild Card races in the NL, this is where the excitement comes in. There are 15 games left on the schedule, and there are five teams within 4.5 games of a Wild Card spot. The Dodgers are one game back of St. Louis, the brewers 2.5 games, Pittsburgh at 3 games, the Phillies at 4, and the D-backs at 4.5.
Had I written this blog four days ago, I would have said Philly would be the team to leapfrog the teams in front of them. They had won seven straight games and were heading to Houston (who at the time had won 45 games all year long) to play a four-game series. They promptly lost three out of four to Houston. So I believe Philly is done.
I think the great first-half story of the Pittsburgh Pirates is done as well. They are down to one game over .500 and are now looking at the possibility of their 20th straight losing season. Arizona I don’t think has the pitching to string together a streak of seven or eight wins in a row, and that is what it is going to take to win that final spot.
This brings us to St. Louis and Milwaukee. The Cards are not playing the kind of baseball this year that they did last year in September, thanks to very inconsistent pitching and offense. So I feel that the Brewers — who had every reason to fold up their tents and call it a year not too long ago — have done what every team and every player ought to do. They have played hard every night and are right now the team that I think has the momentem to over take the Cardinals. So I believe the five teams that will represent the NL in the Postseason will be the Nats, Reds, Giants, Braves, and the Brewers.
This would mean that the Braves would play the Brewers in a one-game playoff in the Wild Card game, which for me means the Brewers — if Fredi Gonzalez does what I think he should do, as he has the cushion to set it up this way — would have to beat Kris Medlen, who in my opinion is the best pitcher in the game at this moment! It may only be a great run he is on, but there is not another pitcher right now who can claim his team has won 21 straight games he has started!
Before the season started, I made predictions as to what teams I thought would be Postseason teams. We are in the first week of July, and there are some teams that I thought would win divisions that are either not playing good baseball and are still in the hunt and there is one team that sits dead last in its division — the Phillies being that team.
As I sit here today, the American League East is shaping up to much like I thought it would, with the Yankees leading the division. The big surprise is that the Orioles sit in second place. I still believe that the Yankees will win that division, and I am sticking by my pick of Boston being one of the Wild Card teams. They have endured more days of players being on the DL than any other team in baseball, with over 900 games missed. And they still are only 6.5 games out of first. That means when they do get healthy, the Red Sox will be very deep heading into the second half.
The AL Central has not played out in the first half like I thought it would. I had Detroit running away with the division, but they have not played well as a team yet. I still see them doing much like they did last year and winning the division by a wide margin. Their starting pitching hasn’t been as dominant yet this year. Namely Doug Fister. He came to Detroit last year at the Trade Deadline and went 8-1 for the Tigers. He is 1-6 at this point. That won’t last.
The AL West is right where I thought it would be, with the Rangers leading the division, and the Angels in second place, which will earn them the other Wild Card spot.
In the NL, it has been much harder to figure out what has happened. The Dodgers got off to a great start, but the loss of Matt Kemp due to a hamstring injury has left their offense unable to out-hit average starting pitching. The Giants lead the division, but the team I picked to win the division, Arizona, has started to gain a little ground and they are getting healthier. I still feel that they will win the West.
In the Central, I picked the Cardinals to win the division. They started off on fire this year, but have since come back down to earth. The team that has shocked me and every other so-called expert is the Pirates. They have pitched well and are starting to hit a little bit. This is one division I am changing my pick to win from St. Louis to the Reds. They are at the top of the division in spite of the fact that they have not hit well all year long. They will hit in the second half and win the Central.
The NL East is a division that looks upside-down. In the spring, I picked the Phillies to win the division, even though Ryan Howard and Chase Utley were starting the year on the DL. They are in last place and 11 games out of first. Roy Halladay hasn’t pitched in well over a month. Cliff Lee has not won a game. All of these things will change in the second half. Utley is back, Howard is rehabbing in the minors, and Lee will start winning games. Washington, who I picked to finish second and be a Wild Card team is leading the division and is a very deep team. Atlanta is getting healthy, despite losing Brandon Beachy for the year. They have gotten Jair Jurrjens back, and he has thrown very well in his first two starts. People are going to think I’m nuts, and that is ok. I’ve been nuts before. But I think Washington is going to win this division, and the two Wild Card teams are going to come out of the East, with Philly and Atlanta being the two Wild Card teams.
I think Philly is going to trade Cole Hamels at the deadline to get a big right handed bat to hit behind Howard and also get an arm or two in the deal. There is zero chance of Hamels resigning with the Phillies, in my opinion. He is a Southern Cal boy, and the Dodgers will overpay to get him in their rotation, to go along with Clayton Kershaw. Hamels is at his peak as far as trade value. If the Phillies get a big bat and a bullpen arm or two in the deal, they can win games with Halladay, Lee, and Worley in the top 3 spots in that rotation.
Like I said, people will think I’m nuts. Well, I have papers to prove it! So let’s see how it all shakes out.