Tag:2011 playoffs
Posted on: September 29, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 2:57 pm
 

2011 ALDS matchup: Rays vs. Rangers

By Evan Brunell

The Rays and Rangers will meet for the second year in a row. Last season, Texas came away with a victory, needing the maximum five games to do so. They would go on to advance to the World Series before losing to the San Francisco Giants. Both teams are in dramatically different places this time around, with the Rays team undergoing turnover while the Rangers' offense is one of the most fearsome in recent memory. Let's break down each team's position and determine who has the advantage....

TEAM INFORMATION

Tampa Bay Rays (host games 3, 4)
91-71, AL wild card champions
Manager: Joe Maddon
Team batting statistics: .244 batting average (25th in AL), .322 on-base percentage (13th), .402 slugging percentage (13th)
Team pitching statistics: 3.58 ERA (8th), 1.22 WHIP (2nd), 2.27 K/BB (2nd)
Star player: SP James Shields -- 16-12, 249 1/3 IP, 2.82 ERA, 3.25 xFIP, 65 BB, 225 K

Texas Rangers (host games 1, 2, 5)
96-66, AL West champions
Manager: Ron Washington
Team batting statistics: .283 batting average (1st), .340 on-base percentage (5th), .460 slugging percentage (2nd)
Team pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (13th), 1.24 WHIP (5th), 2.56 K/BB (5th)
Star player: C Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631, 432 plate appearances, 30 HR, 75 RBI

SCHEDULE (Click here to view the entire postseason schedule)

Full Playoff Coverage

Game 1: TB @ TEX, Sept. 30, 5:07 p.m. -- Matt Moore (1-0, 2.89 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94)**
Game 2: TB @ TEX, Oct. 1, 7:07 p.m. -- James Shields (16-12, 2.82) vs. Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95)
Game 3: TEX @ TB, Oct. 3, 5:07 p.m. -- Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95)
Game 4*: TB @ TEX, Oct. 4 -- Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40) vs. David Price (12-13, 3.49)
Game 5*: TB @ TEX, Oct. 6 -- James Shields (16-12, 2.82) vs. C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94)

* If necessary | ** all pitching matchups projected

TEAM BREAKDOWN (Click player name for statistics)

Catcher
Texas: Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba
Tampa Bay: John Jaso, Kelly Shoppach

The Rays' catcher situation is like that of shortstop: Choosing between bad or worse. Jaso and Shoppach have both combined for extremely disappointing seasons while Napoli was one of the best offensive players in the game, robbed of his due because his counting statistics aren't up to snuff due to playing in just 113 games, but Napoli can do serious damage. Torrealba isn't a zero either, but most of his value comes on defense.

Advantage: Rangers

First base
Texas: Mitch Moreland, Napoli
Tampa Bay: Casey Kotchman

Kotchman came out of nowhere to give Tampa fantastic value out of first base, hitting at a .306 clip and providing his usual stellar defense at first place. While no one expects Kotchman to keep this up next season, what matters is right now. And right now, Kotchman is head and shoulders better than Moreland, although if Texas goes with Torrealba behind the plate and Napoli at first base, this conversation changes.

Advantage: Rays

Second base
Texas: Ian Kinsler
Tampa Bay: Ben Zobrist

Both Kinsler and Zobrist had excellent seasons -- both at the plate and in the field. Picking one or the other amounts to nitpicking as both players have 30 stolen bases. Zobrist holds a small edge in batting average and Kinsler holds a small one in slugging percentage. Even fielding numbers aren't any help. This is as even as it gets.

Advantage: Tie

Shortstop
Texas: Elvis Andrus
Tampa Bay: Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac

As mentioned before, Tampa's shortstop spot is horrible. Between Rodriguez, Reid Brignac and Eliot Johnson, Rays shortstops combined to hit .193/.256/.282. League average was .266/.321/.386. That's simply awful, awful production. The Rangers clearly win out here, with Andrus' solid bat and strong glove.

Advantage: Rangers

Third base
Texas: Adrian Beltre
Tampa Bay: Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria has been one of the best third basemen in the game for a long time. Up until this year, you could have argued that he was the best AL third-baseman for years running. Alas, Beltre's second straight excellent season has supplanted Longoria, coming off a down year. Beltre's 32 homers rank fifth in the AL, and he missed a month and a half! Add in his all-world defense, and he runs away from Longoria even though Longo is still a threat and hit .289/.454/.589 in September.

Advantage: Rangers

Left field
Texas: David Murphy
Tampa Bay: Desmond Jennings

Murphy looked like he would have a lost season, but turned it on down the stretch and forced the Rangers to move Josh Hamilton to center for the playoffs in order to get Murphy's bat in the lineup. It's easy to remember that Jennings debuted with fantastic numbers in August, but September told a very different story. All in all, both players have things working both for and against them and nothing quite standing out.

Advantage: Tie

Center field
Texas: Josh Hamilton
Tampa Bay: B.J. Upton

This is pretty easily Hamilton's domain here after Upton hit just .243. Hamilton remains one of the best players in the game despite being injury-prone. When he's on the field, he produces. Upton can't say the same, although he turned on the jets at the right time for Tampa and had a productive September.

Advantage: Rangers

Right field
Texas: Nelson Cruz
Tampa Bay: Matt Joyce

Here's an interesting matchup. Cruz missed time with injury but when he was right, enjoyed yet another productive season, missing 30 homers by just one blast. Cruz's calling card is power, while Joyce counters with a better overall game, flashing a strong glove. With both players' offensive games basically evening out, the balance tips to defense, and Joyce wins there.

Advantage: Rays

Designated Hitter
Texas: Michael Young, Napoli
Tampa Bay: Johnny Damon

Yet another win for the Rangers on offense. We all know what Napoli can do, but Young figures to get most of the at-bats at DH. Despite Young having to adjust to the DH spot on a full-time basis for the first time in his career, Young coolly racked up 106 RBI and should get some MVP attention. Damon, by comparison, falls far short.

Advantage: Rangers

Starting pitching
Texas: C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis
Tampa Bay: Jeff Niemann, James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson

The Rays win here, although Rangers fans will probably beg to differ. Yes, Wilson had a fantastic season -- you can't take that away from him. But Shields, Price and Hellickson all had excellent years as well. No one's shorting Holland and Harrison here, but at best, these two pitchers are no better than fifth best overall with three of the first four spots belonging to Tampa. The Rays are in the postseason for their pitching, not their offense.

Advantage: Rays

Relief pitching
Texas closer: Neftali Feliz
Tampa Bay closer: Kyle Farnsworth

Feliz's future as a closer was in doubt even as late as early August, but he clamped down the rest of the way and will pair with Mike Adams for a formidable 1-2 punch. There isn't a soft underbelly of middle relief either, and this bullpen has the potential to pick up the slack left over from the starting rotation to beat Tampa. But the Rays have taken a completely remade bullpen and turned it into an elite corps, too. Tampa's relief ERA of 3.73 is 10 spots higher than Texas' 4.11, but Texas' bullpen is different after importing Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez. Let's call it even.

Advantage: Tie

Total advantage: Rangers (5), Rays (2), Tie (3)

PREDICTION (click here to see full postseason predictions)

CBS Experts
Evan Brunell: Rays in 4
Gregg Doyel: Rays in 4
Danny Knobler: Rangers in 5
Scott Miller: Rangers in 4
Trent Rosecrans: Rangers in 4
Matt Snyder: Rays in 5

Evan's take: The Rangers are a fearsome club, there's no doubt about that. The offense is awe-inspiring and the pitching has the ability to hang tough with Tampa Bay. The Rangers basically cruised to the division title in September, so it's easy to overlook the club because of lack of press, but those who overlook the club are making a mistake. I selected the Rays in four because in the postseason, I believe far more in pitching than offense. I also give credence to how teams played down the stretch. Tampa went 17-10 in September (of course, Texas went 19-8, so there's that) and was in playoff mode for two weeks, constantly playing must-win games then seeing it all pay off when Evan Longoria's second homer of the night went over the fence to give T.B. the wild card. The combination of pitching and the hot hand tilt me toward predicting the Rays to advance.

More Rangers-Rays ALDS coverage

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


Posted on: September 29, 2011 1:32 pm
 

Brando, Vasgersian talk baseball

After Wednesday night's incredible action on the baseball diamond, MLB Network's Matt Vasgersian joined Tim Brando on CBS Sports Network's Tim Brando Show to discuss everything. Check out the video clip below.

Category: MLB
Posted on: September 29, 2011 1:17 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:16 am
 

2011 MLB Playoffs: Fan guide

By Matt Snyder

Hopefully in the next month we get the kind of excitement baseball provided to us Wednesday night. If that happens, here's how you'll be able to take it all in.

Internet

We've got you covered here. The schedule and results page will be updated throughout the postseason. You can see -- and mock, I'm sure -- our predictions. I've always maintained you don't have the right to complain without listing your own in the comments section, so man up and post them. Also, throughout the postseason, if you can't watch the game on TV, our scoreboard updates live by the pitch. There's even a comments board where you can fight amongst yourselves, which is always popular. And much safer than doing so in person.

Also, if you're on Twitter, follow @EyeOnBaseball, @ScottMCBSSports, @DKnobler, @greggdoyelcbs, @MattSnyder27, @ctrent and @EvanBrunell. Engaging with us on that forum is definitely encouraged.

TV

TBS has all NLDS and ALDS games. It also has the NLCS. Fox has the ALCS and the World Series.

TBS' lead broadcast team is Brian Anderson -- who has been the Brewers' play-by-play announcer -- along with color commentators John Smoltz and Ron Darling. That team will handle the NLCS and the Yankees-Tigers series. Tom Verducci will be the field reporter with this team. The other three broadcast teams for the divisional series are:
• Dick Stockton and Bob Brenly will work the Phillies-Cardinals series with Craig Sager reporting.
• Don Orsillo and Buck Martinez will work the Rangers-Rays series with Jaime Maggio reporting.
• Victor Rojas and Joe Simpson have the Brewers-Diamondbacks series with Sam Ryan reporting.

Of note, Ernie Johnson has been the top play-by-play man for TBS in the past, but he's unable to do so this year as he's with his family. His son has muscular dystrophy and has been hospitalized for weeks.

In the studio, TBS will go with Matt Winer as the host and a trio of former major-leaguers to analyze the action: David Wells and Hall of Famers Cal Ripken and Dennis Eckersley.

Fox will go with the Joe Buck-Tim McCarver tandem for both the ALCS and World Series as things currently stand. If Buck is unable to do so due to his coverage with the NFL -- and he's had voice issues this season -- expect either Thom Brennaman or Kenny Albert to take over. Ken Rosenthal will be the field reporter. Their studio show will be hosted by Chris Rose, with former players Mark Grace and Eric Karros analyzing. Also, White Sox catcher A.J. Pierzynski has been added as another analyst (Chicago Tribune).

APPs

Appatalism.com has a few good ones.

Live play-by-play.

At bat lite, with video clips.

So let's all sit back and enjoy what should be a wonderful postseason.

For more postseason coverage.

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

Posted on: September 29, 2011 11:48 am
Edited on: September 29, 2011 4:00 pm
 

Pepper: Scutaro stumble costs Red Sox

Scutaro

By Evan Brunell


The Red Sox authored an unimaginable collapse, riding a 7-20 September all the way toward falling out of the playoffs at the last moment. As Boston fell to Baltimore 4-3, the Rays walked off against the Yankees 8-7 in an amazing end to the season. There's one play that stands out when looking back at how Boston blew Game 162 against the Orioles, and it appears to have been influenced by Red Sox Nation invading Camden Yards.

The setting: Red Sox shortstop Marco Scutaro is on first base in the eighth inning with Boston up 3-2. Carl Crawford at the plate. He slices a line drive to left fielder Nolan Reimold, who dove in an attempt to catch the ball. Scutaro, rounding second, heard cheers from the crowd. Scutaro, having briefly lost sight of the ball, paused, thinking cheers meant Reimold had made the catch. Except that Camden Yards is sometimes called Fenway Park South and it was no exception Wednesday. So the cheers actually meant Reimold had missed the ball.

"I heard the screaming, but I don't know if it was their crowd or our crowd, so I don't know if he made the play or not," Scutaro told the Providence Journal. "I just got a bad read. I should have just kept going."

Scutaro picked it back up once he realized what happened, and third base coach Tim Bogar tried to send him home anyways. The ball took a few hops to reach Matt Wieters, but it reached him before Scutaro did. Out.

Who knows if the Orioles would still have tied the game up or won in the ninth, but that extra insurance run and the wasted opportunity will haunt the dreams of Red Sox players all offseason.

"It seems like, the whole September, nothing works out for us," Scutaro said. "Everything went different ways and everything was against us, pretty much. I guess it was our destiny to be out of the playoffs. Nothing worked out. We didn't play good enough. What can I say? That's baseball."

Wakefield returning: Tim Wakefield has decided he wants to play another year and intends to return to the Red Sox. “I’ve definitely made up my mind that I definitely want to come back next year,” Wakefield told Fox Sports. “I have another goal in front of me that I’d like to accomplish, and that’s the all-time record for the Red Sox in wins. I’m only seven away. I think the fans deserve an opportunity to watch me chase that record. We’ll see what happens.”

Pavanostache: Carl Pavano had a mustache in 2010 that drew all manner of attention and was dubbed the Pavanostache, and enjoyed one of his best seasons. He didn't rock it at all in 2011 -- until Wednesday's final game, where he tossed his first shutout of the year, throwing a five-hitter. Does the mustache have some mystical power we don't know about? (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Payroll rising: The Marlins' payroll will rise, but president David Samson reined in expectations, saying that it won't reach as high as $100 million. The Marlins will set a record for payroll at the very least, he says, but payroll figures to top out at $80 million. (Miami Herald)

Moneyball: The controversy over Moneyball continues, and the subject of both the book and movie finally weighed in. GM Billy Beane responded to allegations from manager Art Howe that Beane had a hand in crafting Howe's negative portrayal in the movie. "I was wondering who was going to be the first guy to think I produced, wrote or directed this movie," Beane told the San Jose Mercury News, saying he wasn't involved in making the movie. "Now I have my answer. [Howe's] comments are completely misguided."

Skippering: Davey Johnson wants to return to the Nationals in 2012, but Washington is going to continue with interviewing other internal candidates. It still appears likely Johnson will return. (MASN)

Arrested: Milton Bradley has been arrested for the second time this year after allegedly swinging a bat at his wife and missing. He was booked on felony assault, released on bail and is due back in court Oct. 18. (Los Angeles Times)

Affair: Yankees GM Brian Cashman has just been caught up in what could be a messy affair. He is alleged to have entered into a relationship with a woman in 2009 who was married. (Deadspin)

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


Posted on: September 29, 2011 10:56 am
Edited on: September 30, 2011 9:17 am
 

2011 CBSSports.com MLB playoff predictions

2011 MLB postseason predictions
Predictions
Brunell

Doyel

Knobler

Miller

Snyder

Rosecrans
DET/NYY ALDS
in 4

in 5

in 5

in 5

in 5

in 5
TB/TEX ALDS
in 4

in 4

in 5

in 4

in 5

in 4
ARI/MIL NLDS
in 5

in 5

in 5

in 4

in 4

in 4
STL/PHI NLDS
in 3

in 3

in 5

in 4

in 3

in 4
ALCS
in 7

in 6

in 7

in 7

in 7

in 6
ALCS MVP Justin Verlander James Shields Russell Martin Miguel Cabrera Doug Fister Jose Valverde
NLCS
in 6

in 7

in 7

in 6

in 7

in 5
NLCS MVP Prince Fielder Ryan Braun Justin Upton Hunter Pence Chase Utley Roy Halladay
WORLD SERIES
in 5

in 6

in 7

in 7

in 7

in 6
WORLD SERIES MVP Zack Greinke Corey Hart Derek Jeter Roy Halladay Cliff Lee Miguel Cabrera

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