Tag:Edwin Jackson
Posted on: November 1, 2011 1:39 pm
 

Carlos Beltran dumps agent Scott Boras

Carlos BeltranBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Beltran is no longer represented by Scott Boras, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com tweets. Beltran has switched to Dan Lozano, who is also the agent for Albert Pujols.

Beltran, 34, is a free agent for the first time since 2005, when he signed a seven-year, $119 million with the Mets with the help of Boras. Beltran was ranked as the No. 1 outfield free agent by CBSSports.com.

Lozano also represents Jimmy Rollins, another of the top free agents available. In our free agent rankings, Beltran, Pujols and Rollins were all among the top 10 position players available in free agency.

Boras isn't likely to go broke with the news, as he still represents Prince Fielder, Ryan Madson, Francisco Rodriguez, Edwin Jackson and more free agents.

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Posted on: October 27, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: October 27, 2011 6:19 pm
 

Cardinals pick up Adam Wainwright's option

Adam WainwrightBy C. Trent Rosecrans

We're going to have a lot of these reports in the next couple of days -- the things you knew would happen, but actually happened. Today's edition is that the Cardinals officially told right-hander Adam Wainwright they are picking up his 2012 and 2013 options at a total of $21 million, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Wainwright recorded the final out of the 2006 World Series for the Cardinals, but has been relegated to cheerleader in this year's World Series. Wainwright missed all of 2011 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, but is expected to be fully ready to pitch come spring training.

For all the free agency moves, check out our Free Agent tracker

Wainwright, 30, finished in the top three in Cy Young voting in both 2009 and 2010, going 20-11 with a 2.42 ERA in 2010. 

With the option picked up for $9 million in 2012, the Cardinals already have more than $74 million on the books for 10 players in 2012, with Albert Pujols unsigned. The team also has an option on shortstop Rafael Furcal, while Jason Motte, Mitchell Boggs and Ryan Theriot are all arbitration-eligiible. Right-hander Edwin Jackson, catcher Gerald Laird, infielder Nick Punto and outfielder Corey Patterson are also free agents.

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 1:18 am
Edited on: October 24, 2011 3:08 am
 

Grading Game 4 of the World Series

Holland

By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The "A" grade here isn't really going to shock you. But just because it's obvious doesn't mean it's not true.

Derek Holland was just dazzling. We knew he was capable of this because he threw four shutouts this season -- including a stretch of three shutouts in five starts during July -- but we just hadn't seen it for a while. So Holland gave a refresher. He located his 95-mph fastball and impressively commanded his breaking pitches. It's funny, if you didn't watch the game, his line -- 8 1/3 innings pitched, two hits, two walks, seven strikeouts -- almost doesn't do him justice. But, if you did watch the game, and had never even seen or heard of Holland before, you'd have thought he was a Cy Young candidate. This against a Cardinals offense that obliterated the Rangers Saturday night. The best part was preserving the stressed Texas bullpen.

We'll go with Neftali Feliz here. He came on and walked Allen Craig, which brought Albert Pujols -- you may have heard something about his power following Saturday's game -- to the plate with two on and one out. That's bad. But then Feliz got a soft lineout from Pujols and struck out Matt Holliday to preserve the victory.

I've held off long enough. We're going with Ron Washington's lineup here. It worked out in Game 4 because Josh Hamilton doubled in Elvis Andrus in the first inning and then Mike Napoli came through with the big blow in the sixth. But, seriously, opposing pitchers have to be much more fearful of the Beltre/Cruz/Napoli portion of the order than the 2-3-4 spots at this point. Beltre didn't have a good game Sunday night, but collected four hits Saturday. Napoli and Cruz have to scare the daylights out of Cardinals fans with their prodigious power, too. Meanwhile, Andrus is being asked to bunt Ian Kinsler over in the fifth inning. Why not get to the power earlier in the lineup and give those guys more at-bats? Napoli batting eighth just doesn't make any sense at all.

World Series
Edwin Jackson could have been much worse, but seven walks in 5 1/3 innings is pretty bad. He at least saved the bullpen from having to work as hard as it did following Kyle Lohse's bad outing in Game 3. Still, Jackson was so inefficient due to his lack of command that he couldn't get through six. And, again, seven walks. Man, that's bad. But only three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings isn't near as F-worthy as ...

The Cardinals offense followed up a historic performance in Game 3 by being shut down. I'd particularly shine the flashlight on Pujols and Holliday. The duo of All-Stars is among the best 3-4 combos in baseball, but they combined to go 0-for-8 with two strikeouts and four men left on base in Game 4. This came against a left-hander, too, who is much worse against righties than lefties. The entire offense -- other than Lance Berkman, who gathered the Cardinals' only two hits -- deserves an F here, but the big names need to be held the most accountable.

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Posted on: October 23, 2011 3:37 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 4:22 pm
 

World Series Game 4: Clutch outing needed


By Matt Snyder


Rangers at Cardinals, 7:05 p.m. CT, Rangers Ballpark, Arlington, Texas. Cardinals lead series 2-1.

ARLINGTON, Texas -- OK, so Game 3 gave us a bad call and an Albert Pujols barrage. That was it, right?

No, not exactly. For one thing, the Cardinals bullpen had to throw six innings while the Rangers was forced to work 5 1/3. With no off-days until after Game 5, a short start in Game 4 by either team would mean the bullpen is shot for Game 5. So it's up to Derek Holland of the Rangers and Edwin Jackson of the Cardinals to find a way to get deep into the game. Coincidentally, both have battled with command, control and inconsistency. They also both have the ability to completely lock down the opposition. Witness Holland's four shutouts this season or Jackson's 2010 no-hitter.

"Every now and then he has command problems, but when he's not having command problems, he's a quality pitcher," Rangers manager Ron Washington said about Jackson. "Our hands will be full tomorrow. I think a lot just has to do with us trying to make sure that we keep him in the strike zone. If we go to chasing his slider and chasing his fastball up in the zone, it could be a long night."

Holland, meanwhile, is looking for more than just saving the bullpen. He's looking to atone for last season's debacle in the World Series.

World Series, Game 3
"You know what happened. We can bring it up and everything. I went out there, threw 13 pitches, two for strikes," he said. "I feel like I've got a lot to prove after what happened last year, but it's obviously not going to take me out of my game or what I have to do for this next start."

So, yeah, the emphasis is on the fickle starters, at first. But if they can't get deep into the game, relievers like Alexi Ogando, Scott Feldman, Lance Lynn and Fernando Salas will be forced into early action again. And, if that happens, the complexion of Game 5 changes.

PITCHING MATCHUP

Holland vs. Cardinals:
Holland has never faced the Cardinals. He is, not surprisingly, far tougher on left-handers than right-handers. Unfortunately for the Rangers, that really doesn't help much. It does turn Berkman to his inferior side, but he's not a terrible right-handed hitter. The only left-hander that started Game 3 was Jon Jay. He was held hitless, but the rest of the team put up 16 runs.

Jackson vs. Rangers: He's 2-3 with a 4.02 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in seven career starts against the Rangers. Control has been a serious issue, with 22 walks in 47 innings. Of the current Rangers' starters, Jackson has trouble with many of them. Ian Kinsler is hitting .333 with two homers, six RBI and a 1.122 OPS in 20 plate appearances. Adrian Beltre is hitting .429 off Jackson (14 at-bats); Nelson Cruz .417 (12 at-bats). In all, current members of the Rangers own a collective .328/.392/.517 triple slash line off of Jackson.

LINEUPS

Cardinals Rangers
No. Name Pos No. Name Pos
1 Rafael Furcal SS 1 Ian Kinsler 2B
2 Allen Craig RF 2 Elvis Andrus SS
3 Albert Pujols 1B 3 Josh Hamilton CF
4 Matt Holliday LF 4 Michael Young DH
5 Lance Berkman DH 5 Adrian Beltre 3B
6 David Freese 3B 6 Nelson Cruz RF
7 Yadier Molina C 7 David Murphy LF
8 Jon Jay CF 8 Mike Napoli C
9 Nick Punto 2B 9 Mitch Moreland 1B
SP Edwin Jackson RHP SP Derek Holland LHP


NOTES

• Holland's home ERA this regular season? 4.69. His road ERA? 3.39.

• Even though Ryan Theriot had an RBI single in Game 3, Tony La Russa puts Nick Punto back at second base. The likely reason? Punto is 3-for-5 with a home run in his career against Holland.

• Both pitchers have a penchant for piling up the pitch count, even when they get hitters out. There's always a chance either one -- or both -- is able to save the bullpen. It's just not very likely. Expect to see lots of scoring and bullpen innings again.

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Posted on: October 23, 2011 12:10 am
Edited on: October 23, 2011 4:11 am
 

Pujols, Cardinals slug way to Game 3 win



By Matt Snyder


ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Cardinals have taken Game 3 of the World Series from the Rangers, 16-7, and now hold a 2-1 lead.

Hero: As if there was any other choice. After a bad Game 2 and a slight media controversy, Albert Pujols went utterly ballistic. The line: 5-for-6 with three home runs, four runs and six RBI. It was only the eighth three home-run game in postseason history, and only the third in the World Series.
World Series, Game 3

Goat: The Rangers pitching and defense was huge in Game 2 and it totally faltered in Game 3. We're not going to single anyone out, but you can pick from this group: Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli, Matt Harrison, Scott Feldman, Alexi Ogando or even Elvis Andrus (OK, maybe not, but he had no business making an error on a routine play, and that runner did come around to score).

Turning point: It's gotta be Kinsler's throw/the blown call. There's no way of knowing how the game goes if Kinsler makes a decent throw or if Ron Kulpa makes the correct call, but the Cardinals took full advantage and led the rest of the way.

It was over when ... Pujols crushed an Ogando pitch into the upper deck. That three-run bomb gave the Cardinals an 11-6 lead in the top of the 6th. When it was 8-6, the game was certainly in doubt. In fact, it felt like the Rangers would come back and eight runs wouldn't be enough. But Pujols' prodigious blast put the game out of reach. Or, to better sum up how the Rangers fans felt on this homer, check out the Rangers sitting behind the plate.



Next: We'll do it again Sunday night in Game 4. Edwin Jackson is set to take the hill for the Cardinals while Derek Holland is pitching for Texas. As with the Game 3 slugfest, don't expect it to come down to the starters. As we just witnessed, this is an offensive park. First pitch at 7:05 p.m. CT. Don't miss it.



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Posted on: October 21, 2011 1:43 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 7:03 pm
 

Free-agent position rankings: Sabathia heads SP



By Evan Brunell


As you're going to quickly realize after going through the position-by-position rankings of free agents, the market is rather poor this year. There are a couple of intriguing options at any spot, but the overall quality and depth is severely lacking. That could lead to a healthy trade market. But these players have to sign somewhere. Let's take a look at the top 20 starting pitchers and what to expect in the market...

Sabathia1. C.C. Sabathia: Sabathia may not fetch what Cliff Lee did a year ago, but there's no arguing against the lefty here as one of the best pitchers in the game. Despite his weight, Sabathia has been extraordinarily durable and there are zero questions surrounding his ability to pitch in a big-league game. He has yet to have a transcendent season as a Yankee, but is always right there in the discussion for Cy Young votes. It's hard to imagine Sabathia not doing better than four years and $92 million, which is what is remaining on his deal.
Potential teams: Yankees, Angels, Rangers, Red Sox

Wainwright2. Adam Wainwright: It's difficult to imagine the Cardinals declining their 2012 and 2013 options on Wainwright, but if they do, he'll get a pretty good deal in free agency. Waino may be coming off Tommy John surgery, but the right-hander was one of the best pitchers in the game before injury and all indications have Wainwright's rehab being completely normal. If he hit the market, he would do rather well for himself, even beyond the $21 million due him in the options. That, or he would get a pricey one-year deal to re-establish his value. If Waino hits the market, teams will be throwing themselves after him.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Angels, Nationals

Wilson3. C.J. Wilson: Wilson has the numbers for a significant salary after posting a 2.94 ERA on the season in 223 1/3 innings pitched, but many around the game view him as more of a mid-rotation starter, which could depress his value.  While Wilson will never be an ace, those that are calling him a No. 3/4 long-term seem to be going overboard a bit. Over the last two years, Wilson has proven he should be considered a No. 2/3 team and this is someone who figures to see his market heat up once push comes to shove. Wilson has long been linked to one of the Los Angeles' teams given that's where he grew up, but he'll be looking for as much money as he can get.
Potential teams: Rangers, Angels, Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, Royals, Blue Jays, Nationals, Marlins

Kuroda4. Hiroki Kuroda: Kuroda is a fantastic pitcher, but also extremely loyal. He truly bleeds Dodger blue and many reports have him uninterested in pitching for any other MLB team. In fact, he is considering a return to Japan should the Dodgers not be interested, but they would be crazy to let Kuroda go. He's willing to work on a short-term contract and can be an important front-line starter as the Dodgers limp along in an uncertain financial future. Los Angeles could potentially see both Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp depart as free agents after 2012, so the Dodgers will be motivated to get as strong a team together as they can for 2012.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Japan

Buerhle5. Mark Buehrle: The left-hander has sort of flown under the radar when it comes to free agency, but Buerhle could be in line for a big payday if he doesn't restrict himself. Buerhle has long thought to be only interested in playing for the White Sox or his hometown Cardinals. However, Chicago seems to want to "play the kids," and might prefer the compensation picks that would come with Buerhle. If the Cardinals extend Albert Pujols, they won't have the money for Buerhle, so he may have to look elsewhere for a job. He won't have difficulty finding one, topping 200 innings a season for the 11th straight season, starting as a rookie.
Potential teams: White Sox, Cardinals, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Rangers

Jackson6. Edwin Jackson: Jackson has been around the block, already pitching for his sixth team despite being 28 years old. He'll be looking for security and money in what will be the richest contract he'll ever get, which could open up some players beyond the top teams. Jackson is a No. 4 starter who tantalizes with No. 3 potential, which will be enough to get teams to open up their checkbooks once the bigger names on the market are gone. Jackson may not be a sexy pitcher, but plenty of teams recognize the fact that without depth in the rotation, there's nothing.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Angels, Dodgers, Marlins, Royals, Twins, Rangers, Cubs, Nationals, Rockies

Oswalt7. Roy Oswalt: Oswalt has threatened retirement and his back problems plagued his season in Philadelphia, so it would be a surprise to see his $16 million option exercised by the Phillies. Oswalt is certainly entering the phase in his career where he's going to be working on short-term injuries, especially with his back problems. It's difficult to imagine the righty deciding to hang up his cleats just yet, so should resurface somewhere on a one- or two-year deal. The Rangers, who figure to lose Wilson, could have interest in Oswalt to bring him back to Texas and have him mentor its young players.
Potential teams: Astros, Rangers, Phillies, Cardinals, Detroit, Angels, Dodgers

Dempster8. Ryan Dempster: Dempster holds a $14 million player option and it's hard to imagine him doing any better on the free-agent market on an annual basis, so you can expect this option to be picked up. If he does choose free agency, he'll command a contract similar to Edwin Jackson. The righty's ERA soared to 4.80 this season, but his peripherals were still strong, so you can bet on a bounceback season. Even though he will turn 35 next May, Dempster has shown to be very durable. There won't be any shortage of suitors for Dempster.
Potential teams: Cubs, Red Sox, Yankees, Angels, Dodgers, Blue Jays, Marlins

Hisashi Iwakuma9. Hisashi Iwakuma: Iwakuma tried to come stateside last season, but when the Athletics won his rights via the posting system, talks fell apart between GM Billy Beane and Iwakuma's agent, Don Nomura. The lefty will be an actual free agent this season, not bound by posting rights, so any team will be able to talk with Iwakuma. That should help his market, and as a left-hander with strong control, would play well in a pitcher's park. Iwakuma will likely fly under the radar as teams like Boston and New York seek more sure things.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Angels, Mariners, Nationals

Bedard10. Erik Bedard: Bedard slogged through yet another injury-plagued season but when he was on the mound, pitched rather well for the Mariners and Red Sox. His market will be depressed by his constant injuries, but at the same time, he's shown that he can still be an important part of the rotation and if he could get a full season's worth of starts for the first and only time since 2006, whatever deal he ends up signing will be a steal. Bedard will likely fall into the hands of a market that couldn't afford to sign any of the better free agents.
Potential teams: Cardinals, Mariners, Orioles, Blue Jays, Royals, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Brewers, Tigers

Vazquez11. Javier Vazquez: Will he retire or won't he? While it sounds like the righty could be departing, the second-half he had was incredible for Florida. It showed that Vazquez may finally return to normal after his second stint in New York went terribly and he looked kaput in the early going down south. If Vazquez does return, he's going to have a very short list of teams he will pitch for, and it may only have the Marlins on it. If he considers other teams, bet on it being in the NL.
Potential teams: Marlins, Nationals

Colon12. Bartolo Colon: Colon had a nice resurgence in New York before tailing off. What he did will easily secure him another go-round with a team, but it's probably not going to be back with New York. Given what his market will be, virtually any team could be in play for Colon. We're entering the part of the starting pitching market in which these pitchers will start seeing their market develop once the top names come off the board. From hereon out, you're more likely to see small-market teams or those with an outside shot at contending come into play for these type of pitchers.
Potential teams: Padres, Orioles, Tigers, Royals, Indians, Angels, Mets, Marlins, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Astros

Capuano13. Chris Capuano: Capuano's market got a bit of an uptick as the season wound to a close given the Red Sox's attempt to acquire him for the final game of the season. Other than coming back as a reliever late in the year for the Brewers last season, Capuano hasn't been heard of since 2007. The 33-year-old showed that he still had plenty left in the tank, and, in fact, had his best season yet according to the advanced pitching metric xFIP. Plenty of NL teams, and even some AL teams, will kick the tires on Cappy.
Potential teams: Mets, Dodgers, Padres, Cubs, Royals, Twins, Red Sox

Chen14. Bruce Chen: Like Capuano, Chen has rebuilt his value the last couple of years. He came off a solid 2010 with the Royals into a free-agent market that had no interest in him, probably because there wasn't any idea if Chen could repeat his season. Well, he did, so he should be looking at a couple two-year offers on his plate this winter, and could attract attention from some wannabe contenders. Chen is still a risk, but there's a lot to like here as a backend starter.
Potential teams: Mets, Dodgers, Pirates, Royals, Diamondbacks, Padres, Marlins, Athletics, Astros

Maholm15. Paul Maholm: The Pirates hold rights to Maholm for one year at $9.75 million, but Pittsburgh is expected to decline. That would be a mistake. While Maholm isn't quite worth that amount of money, it's not all that far off, plus it gives the club a solid lefty for the price of one season under contract. That's a no-brainer, but if he hits the market, might be able to finagle a three-year deal by virtue of being one of the youngest pitchers on the free-agent market.  The lefty has shown flashes of being a very good pitcher -- including this year, and one might even argue that Maholm belongs higher on this list.
Potential teams: Mets, Pirates, Angels, Royals, Nationals, Tigers, Cubs, Cardinals, Angels, Orioles

Harden16. Rich Harden: Harden, predictably, kept on having his injury problems but when he was on the field, actually pitched rather well with command not seen since 2005, when he was one of baseball's blossoming talents. Harden can still throw gas. He may no longer be able to stick as a starter despite teams giving him every chance possible, but he has the potential to impact a game whichever inning he ends up pitching in.
Potential teams: Athletics, Rangers, Cubs, Red Sox, Padres, Dodgers, Mets, Marlins

Harang17. Aaron Harang: Harang pitched rather well for the Padres, but it's pretty easy to figure out why. His home park of Petco Park helped him immensely, so he probably won't find many offers much to his liking out on the market. He may not care, as he's made very clear that he wants to stay in San Diego. Should the Padres decline his $5 million option, he'll return -- just at a lower price.
Potential teams: Padres

Padilla18. Vicente Padilla: The Dodgers seemed to be high on Padilla last year, hoping he could serve as both a starter and reliever. That got cut short when Padilla began the season on the DL recovering from elbow surgery, then needing neck surgery mere weeks after coming off the DL. It appears as if Padilla has found a home in Los Angeles after signing a below-market deal to remain with the club. Likewise, the club also seems to like Padilla, who has struggled for years among allegations he's a heavy drinker and poor clubhouse personality, so a reunion with the cash-strapped Dodgers makes sense. A handful of other teams could be interested, but it's doubtful they will be any more attractive than L.A.
Potential teams: Dodgers, Astros, Giants, Marlins, Athletics

Francis19. Jeff Francis: At this point, Francis is pretty far off the "Jeffrey Franchise" label given to him when coming up with the Rockies. Francis rebuilt his value in Kansas City after missing all of 2009 and making 24 starts with Colorado in 2010. The lefty was able to put together 31 starts, even if he tallied just 183 innings. While he has strong control, his lack of a putaway pitch is his main drawback, and at this point, he's nothing more than a No. 4 starter. He'll find a spot this winter, but won't receive much money.
Potential teams: Royals, Cardinals, Padres, Dodgers, Orioles, White Sox, Mets, Marlins, Pirates, Astros

Garcia20. Freddy Garcia: Garcia once looked like the man whose major-league career was dwindling. But now, after the comeback he's had the last two years -- and especially in New York, where he was a more than able starter for the Yankees -- he's assured himself of at least a few more years' run in baseball. The righty is strictly a back-of-the-rotation starter who could serve as a swingman. His willingness to serve in such a role with the Yankees could have him back as a long reliever.
Potential teams: Really, he could land with any team.

Bonus pick: Yu Darvish: If Darvish gets posted, it will give teams an opportunity to get the best pitcher on the free agent market. The only thing that will hold Darvish back is skepticsm as to how his game translates to America, but he is just 25 and put up video-game numbers in Japan, so even if teams talk Darvish down publicly, there will be no shortage of bids. He will also be attractive to teams who covet draft picks, as he won't cost one to sign. Anyone with funds will make a play, even teams who aren't currently competitive. Given his age, Darvish might even work best on a building club, as he would be able to debut on a team with minimal expectations and get his feet wet.
Potential teams: Blue Jays, Cubs, Mets, Nationals, Rangers, Red Sox, Royals, Yankees

Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

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Posted on: October 18, 2011 7:06 pm
 

Rangers, Cardinals tentatively line up pitching

By Matt Snyder

ST. LOUIS -- Neither World Series manager would commit to a firm plan in terms of how their respective starting rotations would line up in the series, but both do have a good idea what direction they are going.

Rangers skipper Ron Washington said that after C.J. Wilson -- who has already been announced as the Game 1 starter -- he would go with Colby Lewis in Game 2 and "we're still up in the air as to where we'll go after that, but Colby will throw the second game."

Matt Harrison and Derek Holland have been in the postseason rotation behind Wilson and Lewis, but Washington hasn't made any decisions for anything beyond Game 2.

For the Cardinals, manager Tony La Russa has named pitchers through Game 4, but it's still subject to change.

World Series coverage
"We are going to announce that Jaime (Garcia) is pitching Game 2, and right now (pitching coach) Dave (Duncan) is home, will be back tomorrow, and I know that we're going to look at it closely. But I think we'll be penciling in Kyle Lohse for 3 and Edwin (Jackson) for 4, but that might change when we talk a little more."

A major concern for both teams was the ineffectiveness of most starters in each respective LCS. The Rangers' starters had a 6.59 ERA in the ALCS while the Cardinals starters have a 5.43 ERA in the entire playoffs.

The Cardinals were reportedly having an additional scare, too: Chris Carpenter's elbow was recently said to be a problem. La Russa attempted to alleviate some of that fear.

"If he wasn't sound, he wouldn't be pitching (Wednesday)," La Russa said, when asked if Carpenter's health was sound. "I think what I understand is that way back in August every once in a while he would find -- his elbow was a little stiff, so he would monitor his bullpens, but he also finished really strong. He's been getting treatment, and I know put his hand on the Bible the other day, a couple days ago, with the trainers and the doctor, and they all feel he's good to go."

Carpenter seemed a bit annoyed that talk was centered on his health.

"I'll speak about it one time, and that's it," he said. "Coming out of that start in Milwaukee, I had 200-something innings, 4,000 pitches or whatever and it's the middle of October. Everybody has got soreness and everybody has got aches. I got some treatment on my elbow. My elbow is fine. Tony and 'Dunc' would not throw me out there if it wasn't, and neither would the trainers or doctors. I would have been fine to pitch two days ago or yesterday, whatever day Game 7 would have been, and I'm fine to go Wednesday. I wouldn't go out there if I wasn't. That wouldn't help my team anyway."

That's about as emphatic as one could be, so it would appear he's perfectly fine.

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Posted on: October 16, 2011 11:50 pm
Edited on: October 17, 2011 1:24 pm
 

World Series preview: Rangers vs. Cardinals



By Matt Snyder


Talk about your clashes in historical pedigree.

The St. Louis Cardinals franchise began all the way back in 1882 (as the St. Louis Brown Stockings). After having just won the 2011 NL pennant, the Cardinals now have 18 NL titles and 10 World Series championships -- looking to add No. 11 in the next week and a half or so. The history of the franchise is loaded with Hall of Famers and transcendent personalities, and the city is often said to be one of the best baseball towns in the country. Manager Tony La Russa has been playing bullpen matchups since before Al Gore invented the Internet.

The Rangers' franchise, on the other hand, has only been around since 1961 (as the Washington Senators -- they moved to Texas and became the Rangers in 1972). Prior to 1996, the Rangers/Senators had never been to the playoffs. Prior to last season, they'd only won one playoff game in franchise history. The only individual Hall of Fame plaque with a Texas Rangers cap is Nolan Ryan's. Sitting right in the middle of die-hard football country, Arlington hasn't exactly been romanticized as a baseball hot spot. Manager Ron Washington took his first managing job in 2007.

Full playoff coverage
Of course, history has absolutely nothing to do with this series. The players are the ones who will win this series, not the uniforms or any flags in the respective stadiums honoring the past.

The Rangers are now making their second consecutive trip to the World Series and there's no doubt they're a current baseball powerhouse. Anyone who watched Game 6 of the ALCS can attest that the fans are as great as anywhere, too, because Rangers Ballpark was rocking.

These two teams have lots of similarities, too.

Both lost an ace before the season even began. The Rangers lost Cliff Lee to free agency while the Cardinals lost Adam Wainwright to a torn UCL in his throwing elbow -- requiring season-ending Tommy John surgery. Both offenses feature several power hitters while the bullpens got stronger down the stretch on the strength of midseason acquisitions and some roster/role tinkering. And both teams have been scorching hot for the past six or so weeks.

Sure, the Cardinals late surge got lots of attention and rightfully so. It's because they were running down the Braves from a double-digit deficit in the NL wild-card race. But check this out:

Rangers' September record: 19-6
Cardinals' September record: 18-8

Rangers' October record: 7-3
Cardinals' October record: 7-4

So if you're going to argue for the hotter team winning the series, you're picking the Rangers -- not the Cardinals. Since a Sept. 10 loss to the A's, the Rangers are 21-5. To put that in perspective, that's a 162-game pace of 131 wins. To reiterate, the Cardinals are playing exceptional baseball right now and deserve all the credit they've gotten for the huge comeback in the regular season and run in the playoffs, but let's not be fooled into thinking they come in hotter than their Texas-sized opponent.

TEAM INFORMATION

Texas Rangers (host Games 3, 4, 5*)
96-66, AL West winner.
ALDS: Beat Tampa Bay three games to one.
ALCS: Beat Detroit four games to two.
Manager: Ron Washington
Offensive ranks: 3rd in R, 2nd in HR, 1st in AVG, 5th in OBP, 2nd in SLG
Pitching ranks: 13th in ERA, 12th in K, 5th in WHIP

St. Louis Cardinals (host Game 1, 2, 6*, 7*)
90-72, NL wild card winner.
NLDS: Beat Philadelphia three games to two.
NLCS: Beat Milwaukee four games to two.
Manager: Tony La Russa
Offensive ranks: 5th in R, 13th in HR, 5th in AVG, 3rd in OBP, 6th in SLG
Pitching ranks: 12th in ERA, 21st in K, 15th in WHIP

*if necessary
[Note: All rankings were regular season and for the entire MLB]

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN -- WHO HAS THE EDGE?

Catcher: Mike Napoli vs. Yadier Molina


Big offensive advantage to Napoli here, but Molina can hit, too. Big defensive advantage to Molina here, but we've seen what Napoli can do behind the plate this postseason. This is a tough call for many reasons. We're weighing Napoli's power stroke (30 HR in 369 at-bats this season) against Molina's ability to completely eliminate the opposing running game. Ultimately, it's a toss up between two really good players.

First base: Michael Young vs. Albert Pujols


Young is a very good hitter. A great one at times, including most of the 2011 season. He just became the first player in LCS history to record two extra-base hits in one inning. He's gotten some noise in the AL MVP argument. It's just that he's not Albert Pujols in any aspect of the game.

Second base: Ian Kinsler vs. Ryan Theriot


Theriot's a scrappy singles hitter who makes lots of baserunning mistakes. He's not a defensive liability at second like he was at short, but he's still not much more than just an average player. Even if Skip Schumaker can return at full health, the upgrade is pretty minor. Kinsler had 32 homers and 30 stolen bases in the regular season and is far superior with the glove. 

Shortstop: Elvis Andrus vs. Rafael Furcal


Andrus is a solid defender and base stealer, but not a very good hitter. Furcal has provided St. Louis a bit of a power-speed combo atop the order since his acquisition. It's a really close call here, but Furcal seems to be providing his team more of a spark at this point in time. Things could easily change by the second inning of Game 1, but we're going Furcal by a nose for now.

Third base: Adrian Beltre vs. David Freese


A healthy Freese has been a monumental boost for the Cardinals' offense, especially as Matt Holliday has dealt with some injuries. Freese was a really good hitter in the regular season and absolutely exploded in the NLCS. Beltre can match and exceed his firepower, though. Beltre had 32 regular-season homers and then went yard three times in the clinching ALDS Game 4 at Tampa Bay. He's also a great defender. Before the NLCS, Freese was underrated, but let's not overcorrect based upon six games. He closed the gap, but is still slightly behind Beltre overall.

Left field: David Murphy vs. Matt Holliday


When healthy, Holliday is an elite player. He's starting to look healthy based upon the last few games, too, so this is an easy call.

Center field: Josh Hamilton vs. Jon Jay


Jay isn't a bad player by any stretch, but he's out of his league here. When Hamilton can keep himself on the field, he's one of the most feared sluggers in the league, and will also sell out his body to make a big defensive play (see Game 6, for example).

Right field: Nelson Cruz vs. Lance Berkman


We cannot discount the season that Berkman, the NL Comeback Player of the Year, put together. He was great, and especially valuable early in the season when Holliday was hurt and Pujols was struggling. But Cruz still almost matched his power production despite playing 21 fewer games in the regular season. In the playoffs, Cruz has been the best hitter in baseball, not to mention that he's a much better defender than Berkman. This one would be a toss up, but Cruz's hot hand pushes him over the top. Put it this way, Cardinals fans: What if you could trade Berkman for Cruz straight up for the series? You'd do it. Don't lie.

Designated hitter


The designated hitter for the Rangers is a mix and match thing. Young or Napoli can be used there, which would get Mitch Moreland or Yorvit Torrealba into the lineup. It's also possible Washington goes with Endy Chavez or Craig Gentry in the outfield and uses Murphy at DH. So, essentially, we're judging the bench here. For the Cardinals, the smart money is on Berkman being used as the DH, which then puts Allen Craig in the outfield. So what we're really judging here is which offense benefits more from being able to use a DH and, oddly enough, the NL team here does. Craig is a much better offensive player than Moreland, Torrealba, Chavez or Gentry. So the three games in Texas will actually favor the Cardinals in this one aspect of the game, however small it is.

Starting rotation: C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison, Derek Holland vs. Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Edwin Jackson, Kyle Lohse


Both rotations have good ability yet have been shaky at times. Holland and Garcia particularly struggled in their respective LCS'. Wilson and Carpenter both pitched like aces at several points throughout the regular season, but the deciding factor here is that Carpenter has shown he can carry his team in a big game. Wilson, meanwhile, is 1-4 with a 5.40 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in seven career postseason starts.

Bullpen: Neftali Feliz et al vs. Jason Motte et al


The fact that both teams won four of six games against their respective LCS opponents with zero quality starts tells you all you need to know about how good the bullpens are right now. The Cardinals' bullpen has significantly improved down the stretch, as Motte has stepped in as the closer -- despite not being "officially" named as such. Marc Rzepczynski has been a solid left-handed addition just as right-hander Octavio Dotel has gotten some really big outs. Especially after the NLCS, you have to say the Cardinals have a very strong bullpen right now. The way things have gone for Texas of late, though, it's even better. Scott Feldman and Alexi Ogando have proven to be an exceptional duo to bridge the gap from the starters to the potentially dominant Mike Adams and Neftali Feliz at the back-end.

Defense


Getting Furcal helped the Cardinals, as will being able to use Craig in right instead of Berkman when the games are played in Texas, but this isn't really a match. The two teams had virtually identical fielding percentages during the regular season, but that doesn't measure range. The advanced metrics that do measure range pretty heavily side with the Rangers here. If you just go by position, only at catcher and first base are the Cardinals clearly better. Everywhere else it's either debatable or definitely the Rangers.

PREDICTION

First of all, keep in mind all categories above aren't created equal. Having a slight edge at shortstop, for example, isn't near as important as having an edge in the bullpen. The position-by-position breakdown is just a snapshot at the different strengths and weaknesses of each team. Adding everything together, including the momentum and swagger heading into the World Series, the Rangers have a better offense, defense and bullpen. And while the Cardinals have been having all their happy flights, the Rangers haven't lost consecutive games since August 23-25. The Cardinals' run has been a great story and nothing would surprise us here, but we'll go with the St. Louis run ending when it runs into a more talented buzzsaw. Rangers in six.

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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