Tag:Yuniesky BEtancourt
Posted on: February 8, 2012 4:11 pm
 

Spring position battle: American League Central



By C. Trent Rosecrans


Gearing up for spring training, we're headed east -- -but not too far east, just east from west, or in other words, to the Central, starting in the American League and what positional battles will be fought in the American League Central this spring, continuing the spring position battles series.

Chicago White Sox
Closer: Matt Thornton vs. Jesse Crain vs. Addison Reed

With Sergio Santos in Toronto and Chris Sale headed to the rotation, the White Sox are once again looking for a closer. Thornton saved three games last season and Crain one, but both are more or less keeping the seat warm for Reed, the team's top (and perhaps only) prospect. Thornton, an All-Star in 2010, won the closer battle last season before blowing his first four save opportunities to start the season and he was ultimately replaced by Santos. Crain pitched well last season, but it's Reed that has a chance to be special.

Cleveland Indians
Fifth starter: Kevin Slowey vs. David Huff vs. Jeanmar Gomez vs. Zach McAllister

Ubaldo Jimenez is the team's opening-day starter followed by Justin Masterson, Derek Lowe and Josh Tomlin. The fifth spot is probably Slowey's to lose. The 27-year-old right-hander was twice traded this offseason, first to Colorado and then to Cleveland. While he struggled last season (0-8 with a 6.67 ERA in eight starts and 14 games), he's a proven back-of-the-rotation starter with a 39-29 record and 4.66 ERA. He's also familiar with the AL Central. Gomez made 10 starts for the Indians last season, as did Huff, the only lefty of the group. McAllister made four starts and wasn't overly impressive.

Detroit Tigers
Third base: Miguel Cabrera vs. third base

When the Tigers signed Prince Fielder, the stated plan was that Cabrera will move to third, leaving the DH spot for Victor Martinez -- who isn't playing this year. The Tigers, it appears, are trying to keep Cabrera from getting too big to play third in preparation for 2013 when they'll really have a logjam at the position with Fielder, Cabrera, Martinez and Delmon Young. For now, it seems like wishful thinking that Cabrera can play a passable third base. But if he can, it helps the team out -- especially defensively in the outfield with Young not trying to figure out what to do with that that thing on his left hand.

Kansas City Royals
Second base: Johnny Giavotella vs. Chris Getz vs. Yuniesky Betancourt

What you've heard is true -- there's a ton of talent in Kansas City. In fact, the lineup is nearly set, except for second base and center field. Center should be manned by Lorenzo Cain, who doesn't have a realistic competitor for the spot, but second could be a question. Giavotella came up in 2011 to middling results - .247/.273/.376 with two homers and five stolen bases in 187 plate appearances, but he has a chance to take the position if he can play at the level he established in the minors, where he was a .305/.375/.437 hitter since being taken in the second round of the 2008 draft. While just 5-foot-8, he has shown the ability to make contract (striking out no more than 67 times in any of his minor league seasons) and walk nearly as much as he strikes out (192 minor-league walks to 212 strikeouts). He's not the best defender, but he's adequate. Getz is nobody's idea of a long-term answer. He hit .255/.313/.287 last season, but plays good defense. And then there's Betancourt, who was signed not add depth. The former Royals shortstop will not and should not be pressuring light-hitting Alcides Escobar, but he could add some pop to the infield at second.

Minnesota Twins
Disabled list: Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau vs. the disabled list

No two players may be as essential to their team's success as Mauer and Morneau. The two made a combined $37 million last season -- more than the entire Royals team. And, by the way, Kansas City finished eight games ahead of the Twins in the AL Central. The Twins just barely avoided being a $100-million, 100-loss team, but it took a 1-0 victory over the Royals on the last season to do it. Mauer played in 82 games, while Morneau played in just 69, with the two combining to hit seven home runs between them. Morneau's never seemed to fully recover from the concussion he suffered in July of 2010 and Mauer's had a variety of injuries, missing games with a leg injury, as well as lower back stiffness, a bruised shoulder, neck stiffness and pneumonia. Both players will play first base and DH some to try to keep them healthy, but questions will continue until either plays a productive 130-game-or-so season.

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Posted on: December 20, 2011 4:03 pm
 

Royals bring back Yuniesky Betancourt

By Matt Snyder

The Kansas City Royals have signed free agent Yuniesky Betancourt to a one-year deal, the club announced Tuesday afternoon. Betancourt had played with the Royals in the second half of 2009 and again in 2010, but he was sent to the Brewers as part of the Zack Greinke trade. He'll now return to Kansas City, at least for one season. The good news for Royals fans is that he won't be the starting shortstop. That job still belongs to defensive whiz -- so, like, the opposite of Betancourt -- Alcides Escobar.

FREE AGENT TRACKER

“We have been looking for a utility infielder who could play short, third and second base and we feel Yuni is a great fit,” said Royals’ general manager Dayton Moore in a statement. “He brings a right-handed bat with some power and is a guy we know fits in well in the clubhouse.”

Yes, Betancourt, 29, does have some power, having hit 16 homers in 2010 and 13 last season. Of course, he also makes a ton of outs. His career on-base percentage is a paltry .292. Last season, he hit .252/.271/.381 and is among the worst defensive shortstops in the majors. But, again, he's only going to serve as a backup to youngsters Escobar, Mike Moustakas and Johnny Giavotella around the infield. So it would appear his days as a regular starter are over.

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Posted on: November 28, 2011 11:54 am
Edited on: November 28, 2011 4:43 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Seattle Mariners



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.

The Seattle Mariners have finished last place in the AL West six of the past eight seasons. Would things have been different if management had done a better job of keeping the right organizational pieces? In a word: Yes. Check this out ...

Lineup

1. Ichiro Suzuki, RF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Alex Rodriguez, 3B
4. David Ortiz, DH
5. Adam Jones, CF
6. Shin-Soo Choo, LF
7. Dustin Ackley, 2B
8. Raul Ibanez, 1B
9. Jason Varitek, C

Starting Rotation

1. Felix Hernandez
2. Michael Pineda
3. Doug Fister
4. Brandon Morrow
5. Joel Pineiro

Bullpen

Closer - J.J. Putz
Set up - Rafael Soriano, Matt Thornton, Eric O'Flaherty, Brian Fuentes, Damaso Marte, George Sherrill
Long - Derek Lowe

Notable Bench Players

Adam Moore, Greg Dobbs, Bryan LaHair, Luis Valbuena, Jose Lopez, Yuniesky Betancourt, Willie Bloomquist, Michael Saunders, Carlos Peguero

What's Good?

Almost everything. The lineup is solid, the starting rotation is very good, the bullpen is great and there is some bench depth. There are superstars like King Felix and A-Rod with up-and-comers like Asdrubal Cabrera and Michael Pineda. And 2011 first-rounder Danny Hultzen (starting pitcher) will soon be added to the mix.

What's Not?

Age in some areas. A-Rod, Ortiz, Ichiro and Ibanez are all in different levels of decline, but there's no doubt they're all certainly in decline. Catcher is also a problem, as we're left deciding between a has-been (Varitek) and a possible never-will-be (Moore). Pick your poison there.

As for the lineup, I tried to figure out how to best work it. Maybe swap Jones and A-Rod spots? I'd be OK with that, considering the seasons those two had in 2011. Also, Ichiro's OBP was terrible for a leadoff man last season (.310), but wouldn't it make the back-end of the lineup too punchless if you batted Ackley leadoff? With the way I left it, the leadoff spot is weak.

Comparison to real 2011

The 2011 Mariners lost 95 games and this team above would have a shot at winning 95. You can take away from the older stars all you want, but with that pitching staff, the offense doesn't have to be great. It only has to be good, and it's easily good enough to get plenty of wins when only needing to put three or four runs on the board. Plus, as those older guys continue to decline, the likes of Jones, Ackley and Cabrera just get better. In Sunday's Homegrown Team, I said to expect to see the Cubs toward the bottom of the rankings (when we do them). This entry is the complete opposite. Expect to see the Mariners toward the top of the rankings. This is a great team. For now.

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Posted on: November 16, 2011 6:27 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2011 6:33 pm
 

Brewers shortstop search includes Betancourt

By Matt Snyder

With the Brewers pretty well resigned to the fact that they're going to lose All-Star slugger Prince Fielder to free agency, it appears they've instead focused on shortstop. CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler reports that it's more likely they land Jose Reyes or Jimmy Rollins than retain Fielder. Of course, Knobler also reports that either Reyes or Rollins would be a longshot as well. So that means they'll likely have to focus their efforts a bit lower down the list of available shortstops.

Could Clint Barmes be a possibility? Tuesday, MLB.com reported the Brewers were taking a look at Barmes. He'd definitely be an affordable option and is a mildly productive player. He had a good defensive season while collecting 27 doubles and 12 homers in 495 plate appearances.

Rafael Furcal's name has been mentioned, too, but Knobler reported Tuesday that the Brewers have some serious reservations about going after Furcal and may just bring back Yuniesky Betancourt. Also, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has mentioned that general manager Doug Melvin continues to preach that Betancourt is better than his critics, which sounds a lot like he's bracing himself for another season of Yuni.

Betancourt, 29, is widely regarded as a poor defensive shortstop and hit .252/.271/.381 last season, his first in Milwaukee.

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Posted on: November 15, 2011 8:31 pm
Edited on: November 15, 2011 8:39 pm
 

Tuesday rumor roundup from GM Meetings

By Matt Snyder

With baseball's annual general manager meetings taking place in Milwaukee, there are many rumors floating around. Here's what CBSSports.com's Danny Knobler -- who is there -- heard Tuesday.

• The Yankees have met with Bob Garber, who is the agent for free agent starting pitchers C.J. Wilson and Roy Oswalt. The two sides are in preliminary discussions about both players, but several other teams are obviously still in play.

• The Red Sox are going to interview an unnamed candidate for a second time. Dale Sveum is also getting a second interview and several have speculated he's the front-runner.

• The Nationals need a center fielder and some other pieces, but are primarily focusing on one veteran starting pitcher. They're in on Wilson, Oswalt and Mark Buehrle. And we know they aren't shy when it comes to spending money (Exhibit A: Jayson Werth). Adding one of these guys to a rotation with young guns Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann would give the Nats a very strong rotation. The Nationals also wouldn't rule out any of the big-name offensive free agents (Albert Pujols, Prince Fielder, Jose Reyes), but it's much more likely they go pitching.

• The Orioles don't have near as much money to spend as some people thought they'd have. "We have to be smarter and work harder," new general manager Dan Duquette said. It looks like a payroll in the range of $90 million, which is an increase, but not a gigantic one. They opened last season with just over $85 million in player salaries.

• The Brewers have big reservations on signing Rafael Furcal and probably can't make a serious run at Jose Reyes, so don't be surprised if they bring back Yuniesky Betancourt to play shortstop. Also, Knobler told me it sounds like "the longest of longshots" Prince Fielder is back next season.

• Expect the owners to approve the sale of the Astros Thursday, and the move will also result in the Astros moving to the American League, starting in 2013. This will result in two 15-team leagues and interleague play all season.

• The Collective Bargaining Agreement will not be announced during the meetings. It will come Friday at the earliest, but don't worry, it's going to get done.

Here are some other notes from the meetings, compiled from other reporters:

• The Mets won't likely offer a six-year contract to Jose Reyes, Andy Martino of the Daily News reports. This isn't all too surprising but it's worth noting because the Marlins have reportedly offered Reyes six years and $90 million.

• The Reds are one of many teams that have contacted the Braves about All-Star pitcher Jair Jurrjens, but it's going to take "a ton" to land him, reports Jon Heyman of SI.com.

David Ortiz really wants to stay in Boston and will let the Red Sox match any offer he gets on the open market (Boston Herald).

Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com reports that the Red Sox, Reds, Blue Jays, Marlins, Dodgers, Angels, and Mets are all suitors for free agent closer Francisco Cordero. He's been a bit overshadowed in this free agency class by the likes of Jonathan Papelbon, Heath Bell and Ryan Madson, but Cordero has some serious pedigree as a closer. Only Mariano Rivera has more career saves among active players than Cordero.

• The Twins are interested in Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit, and that interest would heighten if Michael Cuddyer signs elsewhere (Star Tribune).

Hat-tips: MLB Trade Rumors

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Posted on: October 30, 2011 7:32 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 5:57 pm
 

Sabathia, Scutaro and more free agency notes

By Matt Snyder

Sunday morning officially marked the beginning of free agency in Major League Baseball. 148 players filed for free agency, and teams now have exclusivity on retaining their free agents until Thursday at 12:01 a.m. ET. Lots of smallish news broke Sunday with nothing really major, so let's check it all out here in a fun little bullet-pointed post for your perusal.

• The Yankees were expected to offer a contract extension to CC Sabathia this weekend (Jon Heyman) and ESPN New York reports they have done as much -- citing a source who said: "We believe it is a very fair offer, but we haven't heard anything back yet.''

Sabathia is signed through 2015, but he has an opt-out clause in his contract, and he's expected to do exercise it -- per multiple reports and common sense -- in order to get a longer and more lucrative deal.

• The Red Sox announced via press release that they have picked up shortstop Marco Scutaro's option for 2012, which is for $6 million. It's a bit of a birthday present, as he turned 36 Sunday.

More Free Agency
• The Cubs and Aramis Ramirez had a $16 million mutual option. The Cubs elected to exercise it, but Ramirez -- as has been expected for months -- declined it (Chicago Sun Times). So he'll be a free agent, and he's basically the only viable everyday third baseman on the market.

• The Giants have exercised relief pitcher Jeremy Affeldt's $5 million option for 2012 (Henry Schulman). You might recall Affeldt's 2011 season ended when he badly sliced open his hand while trying to separate some frozen hamburgers.

• The Giants also agreed to a two-year, $8.5 million contract with fellow left-handed reliever Javier Lopez.

• The Cardinals will exercise Yadier Molina's $7 million option, reports MLB.com's Matthew Leach.

• The Red Sox have not made an offer to Jonathan Papelbon, reports WEEI.com.

• The Brewers have declined their options on relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez and shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, making both free agents.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 27, 2011 3:05 pm
Edited on: October 27, 2011 3:06 pm
 

Free agent shortstop rankings: High risk, reward



By Matt Snyder

The theme here is high-risk, high-reward guys, at least toward the top. In the top two (and I'd include number four as well) teams are possibly looking at All-Star seasons or an albatross contract down the road, depending on how things shake out with health and the aging process. The entire list here contains gambles, but you know what? Sometimes in gambling you win.

List of MLB free agents

1. Jose Reyes. The 28 year old has now been an All-Star four times. He's led the majors in triples four times and the NL in steals three times. He upped his on-base percentage to .384 (nearly 30 points higher than his previous career high) in 2011 while winning the NL batting title. Had he not injured his hamstring twice, he may have been an MVP candidate. Of course, therein lies the issue. From 2005-08, Reyes was very durable. Since then, he's been unable to shake injuries. Someone is going to give him a big contract, there's little question about that. If Reyes can stay healthy, he'll be worth every dime. If he can't, the contract could end up handcuffing a franchise.
Potential teams: Mets, Tigers (shifting Jhonny Peralta to third), Giants, Nationals, Phillies, Brewers, Mariners

2. Jimmy Rollins. He turns 33 in a month and is actually coming off his best season since 2008. He can still steal bases, can still hit for moderate power and play good defense. He's just not a star anymore, and Rollins seems to be seeking a star-like contract. The hunch is some team that misses out on Reyes gives Rollins three to four years and regrets the deal by the third season, but it's possible he could be a good signing. 
Potential teams: Same as Reyes, Rollins is just the second option.

3. Marco Scutaro. He'll be 36 in less than a week, but he should have enough left in the tank to be a meaningful starter for the next two seasons. He had a .358 OBP in a tough division, so Scutaro could prove a good option for some ballclub that isn't capable of spending big money to fill a hole at short. Of course, they probably won't have a chance, because the Red Sox are expected to pick up Scutaro's option.
Potential teams: Red Sox

4. Rafael Furcal. It seems like Furcal has been around forever, and that's because he was a rookie at the ripe young age of 22. He's 34 now and certainly has lost some speed and power. Plus, he has only been healthy enough to play at least 100 games once in the past four seasons. Furcal has played better since joining the Cardinals, but he still hasn't shown enough to be considered a big name on the free agency market. He has said publicly he wants to remain in St. Louis and a one-year deal there is a distinct possibility.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Twins, Reds, Giants, Brewers, Mariners, Phillies

5. Clint Barmes. Barmes had a decent 2011 season for the Astros, shifting back to being an everyday shortstop -- the position he lost to Troy Tulowitzki in Colorado. He'll be very affordable and the Astros may let him walk, considering that's very little chance for them to compete in the next two seasons. It makes Barmes a nice, cheap option for teams strapped for cash.
Potential teams: Twins, Reds, Braves, Pirates, Giants

6. Willie Bloomquist.
The Diamondbacks will be getting Stephen Drew back from injury, but Bloomquist still has value to the franchise as a sort of supersub -- someone who can be plugged in as an injury replacement anywhere on the field (in 2010 he played every position except pitcher and catcher). The D-Backs are expected to pick up his option.
Potential teams: Diamondbacks

7. Yuniesky Betancourt. He has power, but his inability to get on base (.271 OBP in '11) and awful range at shortstop make Betancourt a liability most games. He did have a great offensive NLCS, so it's possible that lands him a few extra bucks on the open market. It's possible the Brewers pick up Betancourt's option if they can't get one of the above guys, but it's a $6 million option. That's hard to justify for a guy who can't get on base or field very well.
Potential teams: Pirates, Astros, Brewers, Twins, Braves

8. Ronny Cedeno. He's 29 and already shown his upside is severely limited. If the Pirates don't pick up his option, it's hard to see anyone signing him to come in and be the starter, at least not unchallenged.
Potential teams: Astros? Otherwise he'll be a backup just about anywhere.

9. Alex Gonzalez. The veteran will be 35 before next season starts, but he still has some pop. A team looking to bolster the offense's power could give him a one-year deal. There is talk the Braves will end up keeping him, so that bears watching.
Potential teams: Braves, Twins, Giants, Mariners

10. Cesar Izturis. He's only 31, but he's long since shown that he can't be a decent major-league hitter. He can help someone as a backup middle infielder that is only used as a defensive replacement, but his value is minimal. Look for teams with a good offensive shortstop that can't field to see Izturis as a late-innings defensive replacement -- but it can't be a star. Stars don't usually come out of the game.
Potential teams: Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Rays, Nationals, Brewers, Retirement

11. John McDonald. Very similar to Izturis in that McDonald can play defense but not hit. He's just depth.
Potential teams: Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Braves, Padres, Rays, Nationals, Brewers

12. Edgar Renteria. Is there a place for an old backup who can barely hit or field anymore, but was once an All-Star and has a penchant for dramatic postseason hits? It's possible. Renteria could realistically be forced into retirement, but the guess is someone gives him a modest one-year deal.
Potential teams: Brewers, Twins, Mariners, Astros, Pirates, Retirement

13. Felipe Lopez. He's a headache off the field and has alienated himself from several ballclubs. He was an All-Star in 2005, when he hit 23 home runs and stole 11 bases, but Lopez hit just .206/.247/.277 in 2011 and he's north of 30 years old. If he gets a chance somewhere, it's gonna be on a minor-league deal.
Potential teams: anyone other than the eight teams he's already played for ... or forced retirement.

14. Orlando Cabrera. The soon-to-be 37 year old can't hit and his defense is drastically declining. With more and more teams ready to go young instead of wasting money on veterans, there is likely to be zero market for Cabrera's services early in the free agency period. It's possible when several of the names above fly off the board that some club grabs Cabrera on the cheap, but he also might end up like Jermaine Dye a few years ago ... just waiting on the right deal that never comes along.
Potential teams: Marlins? Mariners? Brewers? Retirement very possible.

15. Drew Sutton. He hit .315/.362/.444 in 31 games for the Red Sox, but there is little chance of that keeping up in the long run. Sutton is probably more likely to land a job -- for different reasons -- than Cabrera (age), Lopez (personality) or Renteria (asking price), but it's hard to tell who is going to view him as the proper fit to back up their shortstop.
Potential teams: Anyone and everyone.

Other free agents who could play shortstop: Jamey Carroll, Jerry Hairston, Ramon Santiago, Jack Wilson, Nick Punto, Omar Vizquel, Craig Counsell, Alex Cora

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Posted on: October 17, 2011 2:21 am
Edited on: October 17, 2011 3:06 am
 

NLCS Grades: La Russa made all the right moves

Tony La Russa

By C. Trent Rosecrans


MILWAUKEE -- In a series that provided plenty of hits and seemingly as many pitching changes, the St. Louis Cardinals hit their way to their 18th National League pennant, defeating the Brewers four games to two onthe heels of a 12-6 victory in Game 6 on Sunday.

Tony La Russa: The Cardinals manager is sometimes maddening to watch and worse to listen to -- but he's darn good at his job, and that's not making bloggers happy. Seemingly every move he made in this series worked, especially working a trail from the dugout to the mound, using 28 pitching changes and getting 28 2/3 innings out of his bullpen while limiting his starters to 24 1/3 innings. La Russa carried eight relievers on his postseason roster to make sure he always had enough arms that he could play matchup with the right-handed Ryan Braun and left-handed Prince Fielder. La Russa gambled that the rest of the Brewers wouldn't hurt him as much as those two, so he tried to limit their effect on the series. The thinking being that the other Brewers could hurt him and cost him a game, but only Braun and Fielder would cost him the series.

Ryan Braun: Braun hit .333/.385/.583 in the series and knocked in five runs -- it's hard to say that's not good. He also got on base in the first inning in each of the first five games, something that's huge when you have a run producer like Fielder hitting behind you. However, Braun was held hitless in the final game and had just one homer in the series, making him a B player for the series. That's not exactly what anyone in Milwaukee was hoping for a guy that should collect an MVP trophy for his regular-season work.

St. Louis starters: The Cardinals' starters didn't do much -- but they weren't asked to do much. No starter went more than five innings -- the first time in postseason history a team has won a series with that bizarre statistic. Chris Carpenter's Game 2 start was the longest, at just five innings. The starters had a 7.06 ERA in the series, nothing to crow about -- but they were just good enough, especially with the potent Cardinal offense. That's why it's hard to give them anything but a passing grade, but it's not going to come without a talk to the teacher and a stern warning that they aren't living up to their potential.

Milwaukee starters: If it weren't for Randy Wolf, this would be an easy F. But Wolf pitched fantastically -- much better than any other starters in the series -- in Game 4, but the rest of his mates let him down. Zack Greinke, who whined his way out of Kansas City so he could pitch in the postseason, laid an egg -- twice. And then there's Shaun Marcum, who couldn't make it to the second inning in the season's biggest game. Marcum took the loss in Game 6, and amazingly he started half of all of the Brewers' home losses this season, including the postseason (13 of 26). Even Yovani Gallardo, who pitched so well in his two starts against the Diamondbacks was ineffective against the Cardinals, giving up four runs on eight hits in five innings in his one start. Overall, the team had a 7.24 ERA in the series.

Milwaukee's defense: Somehow, some way, Yuniesky Betancourt wasn't the Brewers' worst defensive player. And when you're saying that… well, you're saying quite a bit. The Brewers committed 10 errors in the NLCS, tying the record for an LCS set by the 1999 Red Sox. In Game 6, the Brewers committed three errors -- two of them by Jerry Hairston Jr. on the same play. He had a costly error in Game 5, as well. Rickie Weeks also had three errors in the series -- and four in the postseason. The rest of the postseason games featured just two errors by second basemen other than Weeks. The Brewers pitchers weren't great, but their fielding wasn't doing them any favors, either.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com