Blog Entry

3 to Watch: The wild wild card edition

Posted on: May 15, 2011 10:44 pm
Edited on: May 15, 2011 11:15 pm
The last time the Yankees and Rays met at Tropicana Field, the games were great.

And basically meaningless.

It was last September, and both teams were headed to the playoffs. One would be the American League East champion, the other would be the wild card. Either route would be acceptable, and you even could have argued that the wild card was preferable (sure enough, the wild-card Yankees won a playoff series while the division champ Rays didn't).

Expanding the playoffs (and punishing the wild card) could take care of the problem, as soon as next year.

But there may not be a problem in the AL this year, if early-season results hold at all. The way things look, there's a real chance that the race for the wild-card spot could be a multi-team free-for-all deep into the season, which would mean no easy fall-back position for the AL East runner-up.

As of Sunday morning, eight of the 11 teams that didn't lead their divisions were within three games of the wild-card lead, with the Tigers in front. Obviously, not all those teams are going to stay in the race through the summer.

But do you want to bet right now that two or three of them don't?

So as the first-place Rays get ready to host the second-place Yankees for the first time this season, here's a suggestion: Win the division, and you don't need to worry about the wild card.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. Josh Johnson has faced the Mets 13 times in his career. He has lost just once, and in five of the 13 starts he allowed either two or three hits. So when Johnson goes against the Mets, as he will in Marlins at Mets, Monday night (7:10 ET) at Citi Field, it's worth paying attention. In his first start against the Mets this year, on opening night in Florida, Johnson took a no-hitter into the seventh inning.

2. The other day, I asked two scouts who had just seen the Rays what they liked about them, other than the starting rotation. The answer: "The starting rotation," both said. And if you want to know why that rotation looks even better than it did last year, look no farther than James Shields, who takes a 4-1 record and 2.08 ERA into Yankees at Rays, Tuesday night (6:40 ET) at Tropicana Field. Scouts say the big difference in Shields is that he is spotting his fastball better, and thus avoiding an over-reliance on his very good changeup.

3. Sunday's rainout in Detroit set up the pitching matchup of the week, with Justin Verlander going against Josh Beckett in Tigers at Red Sox, Thursday night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park. Verlander is 2-0 with a 1.99 ERA in his last three starts in Boston. It's an interesting two-game series, with the hot Tigers against the recovering Red Sox, and with Victor Martinez returning to Fenway. As bad as the Red Sox catching has been, you think anyone in New England will suggest that they should have kept Victor?


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3 to Watch: The wild wild card edition

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3 to Watch: The wild wild card edition

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Since: Nov 19, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 12:32 pm

3 to Watch: The wild wild card edition

Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 3, 2011 8:21 am

3 to Watch: The wild wild card edition

Since: Oct 21, 2011
Posted on: October 22, 2011 1:13 am
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Since: Dec 26, 2008
Posted on: May 16, 2011 3:41 pm

3 to Watch: The wild wild card edition

He is not a long term solution at C. The Tigers don't play him there and with the A Gon trade in the works and big Papi still under contract (I hope the resurgence continues) where was he to play? He is just as bad defensively as Salty or The Captain (21% CS rate in 2010 and 24% lifetime compared to Tek 21% 2010/24% lifetime and Salty 21% lifetime no 2010 numbers) and he would have cost a hell of a lot at 4yrs $50M. I think Theo was looking for a high risk/high reward cheap signing in Salty and they have the highly talented but raw Luis Exposito being groomed. I think that kid can be an impact big league catcher in the near future. 2012? 2013? They also have Adalberto Ibarra the Cuban defector and A baller Ryan Lavarnway. All are a ways away but maybe 2011 is the "bridge year" at C.

Since: May 7, 2011
Posted on: May 16, 2011 3:35 pm

3 to Watch: The wild wild card edition

They didn't want to commit big money and years to an aging star (see John Lackey) who was going to become a full time DH to save his knee's, and they wanted to save their money for the Gonzalez extension and Crawford signing.  They also thought they could get production from Salty for penny's on the dollar too bad that didn't work out.

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