- Phillies 5-Dodgers 1:
If Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal’s ankle, which was banged up in the first inning on a hard slide by Jayson Werth, caused those three errors he made in the fifth inning, then his selfish desire to stay in the game without concern of whether or not he could do his job correctly almost directly cost the Dodgers this game.
Furcal isn’t a Gold Glove shortstop, but he’s not as bad as he looked on those plays which allowed the Phillies to score those two runs; the difference between a 3-0 lead and a 5-0 lead is the difference between one swing of Manny Ramirez’s bat tying the game and needing a load of baserunners to tie the game. It’s not an easy thing to tell your manager, trainer, teammates and fans that you can’t continue because of injury, but I’d rather have my player be 100% honest and say that he can’t do his job to the best of his abilities than to be a hero and do what Furcal did and cost his team two runs with fielding gaffes that probably wouldn’t have happened without the ankle injury and definitely wouldn’t have happened had Angel Berroa taken over at shortstop.
It’s likely that the Dodgers would’ve lost anyway; it looks like one of those years for the Phillies, but at least it wouldn’t have been because an injured player wasn’t honest and hurt his team because of it. We’ll probably never know how badly hurt Furcal was unless he has a broken bone that’s revealed on X-ray, but if he couldn’t move properly, he should’ve pulled himself from the game. No one with a brain would’ve thought less of him because he would’ve been thinking of the team first.
- The Dodgers will look vastly different next year:
Here’s a list of the Dodgers impending free agents: Joe Beimel; Casey Blake; Rafael Furcal; Nomar Garciaparra; Jeff Kent; Derek Lowe; Greg Maddux; Brad Penny (option/buyout); and Manny Ramirez.
They’re going to have to give Beimel a raise and probably a three-year deal to keep him because he’s a lefty specialist with a history of some success. Blake is going to get a lot of money from someone who needs a durable, versatile, professional hitter and good guy. Furcal has back issues that will curtail the money he’s going to get. Garciappara looks finished and will have to take a low-level job as a utility player because no one’s going to pay him big money for his diminished skills. Kent may retire. Lowe’s going to attract a lot of interest from many teams, but I think he may end up staying in LA. Maddux may stay; may go back to San Diego; may go to Arizona; may go to San Francisco; or may retire (unlikely).
Depending the condition of Penny’s shoulder and whether the fissures between the pitcher and the team can be repaired (Penny is a little tempestuous and says stupid things because of his temper; he’s also not the brightest guy in the world), but with Penny’s option at $8.25 million with a $2 million buyout, they have to pay that $2 million anyway for him to go pitch somewhere else, so they’ll be better off picking up the option if he’s healthy enough to pitch. He’s well worth the money if he can give them 30 starts.
Who knows what’s going to happen with Manny? The Dodgers fans will make a push for the team to keep him and they do have a load of money coming off the books this year and especially next year when both Andruw Jones’s and Jason Schmidt’s huge money investments (with little return) are exorcised; if they’re creative with deferred money, they can absolutely afford to keep Manny.
The positive thing that the Dodgers have going for them is that the majority of the players mentioned above didn’t have much of anything to do with their run to the NLCS, so it’s not as if they’re breaking up a successful formula; and they have so many prospects that they’re going to be better next year if they allocate that money to fill their holes instead of on veteran superstars who don’t produce.
And mark this down: James McDonald is going to be a star.
- Mike Francesa’s act is beyond tiresome:
The most amazing thing about Mike Francesa is that he’s so consistently wrong about so many different things, yet still offers his opinions as if he’s this infallible authority; he conveniently forgets when he’s wrong, clings to the few times he’s been right and makes broad based statements as the all-knowing, all-seeing genius behind all things sports.
Despite his insistence that any and all players can be moved to first base and seeing them fail repeatedly, he continues with this belief among many others. I’m not going to get into all of Francesa’s statements again (Link 1; Link 2; more links available therein) but he quite literally will…not…stop about this concept that the Mets have to change their core to take the next step from their annual collapse into a championship contender.
First off, the Mets aren’t trading Jose Reyes or David Wright; nor should they. And here’s something Francesa has yet to notice or won’t admit when he goes into one of his rants about how great the Phillies are: the Phillies took four years to
finally make the playoffs as they developed their players and learned how to win. Included in those four years were the facts that they left both Ryan Howard and Chase Utley in the minors for far too long and they pulled their own versions of a Mets collapse in 2003 and a Blue Jays late-season hot streak to look like contenders when they really weren’t in 2004 and 2005. It wasn’t as if they suddenly arrived on the scene and knew how to win; it was a process in which they learned how to play in those big games. The Mets young stars may learn from what happened to them, they may not; but trading them on an angry whim is the epitome of Francesa—-a nonsesnical rant without intelligence, reasoning or accountability becuase he’ll be the first to rip these proposed trades if they don’t work as if he never advocated them in the first place.
- The Rays switch from James Shields to Scott Kazmir is understandable, but I wouldn’t do it:
The numbers are there for all to see—-ESPN Story—-as to why Rays manager Joe Maddon flip-flopped his starters for games five and six. Scott Kazmir is good at Fenway Park; James Shields isn’t; blah, blah blah; but I wouldn’t make this move. The one thing that the Rays do not want to do is have to head back to Tampa with the whole series riding on game six because I’m saying right now that if they get to a game seven, the Red Sox are going to win.
The schools of thought are to either rely on the numbers and take advantage of the 3-1 series lead to manipulate the pitching staff and hope that they’re able to close things out in game five; or to go with the best pitcher available and end things now before the Red Sox start to think they can come back and win. The best example I can think of for the latter argument (regardless of the meaningless numbers) is Jack McKeon going with Josh Beckett on short rest in game six of the 2003 World Series to try and close out the Yankees. The vast majority of observers disputed the decision, but I knew then just as I know now that if the game had gotten to game seven, the Yankees would’ve won. Presumably, McKeon knew that as well without elucidating the fact. Beckett pitched a masterful, five-hit shutout and the Marlins won the title.
Shields is the better option than Kazmir for a multitude of reasons—-his stuff is better right now; he’s more efficient; he throws strikes and appears mentally tougher. I don’t even want to hear about that “feud” between Kazmir and umpire Derryl Cousins from an altercation in June; to me, that’s a non-issue. Cousins, a big league umpire for nearly 30 years, isn’t going to let any animosity affect his ball and strike calls. They should go with Shields tonight, slam down the hammer and end the series as quickly as possible; in retrospect, this could be seen as the mistake that cost the Rays the series.