Last Night's Games
NLCS, Game 2: St. Louis 1, Los Angeles 0 (STL 2-0)
Although the Cardinals had home-field advantage, winning the first two games in my mind counts as an upset, particularly this game. Because the Cardinals beat Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in the big leagues. And they did it using a rookie pitcher who has been a revelation this year.
Earlier this week I covered Tyler Naquin, who was drafted by the Indians in the middle of the first round in 2012 out of Texas A&M. Well, the Cardinals selected Wacha, who was from the same school, four picks after the Indians. While Naquin is now playing the Arizona Fall League after a decent year in the Carolina League, Wacha has done this in two postseason games:
14.0 IP, 0.64 ERA, 6 H, 17 SO, 3 BB
Now obviously the Indians weren't the only club to miss on Wacha, but it's still a striking comparison.
If you're looking for an explanation as why the Cardinals haven't missed a beat since Albert Pujols left a couple years, you could look at their farm system. And it's worth noting that they haven't drafted higher than 13th since they selected J.D. Drew..in 1998. Yes, the Cardinals have had a good-sized payroll, but it hasn't been big enough to by itself keep them in contention.
ALCS Game 1: Detroit 1, Boston 0 (DET 1-0)
Yes, both games yesterday ended up with a 1-0 final score. And this one almost ended up as a no-hitter, as the Red Sox got their first with one out in the ninth inning. Anibal Sanchez, who most certainly was not developed by the Tigers, walked six batters but also struck out twelve in his six innings of work, and the Detroit bullpen, which was so bad in the first half of the season, shut down the Red Sox over the final three innings. Still, the Red Sox got the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but Xander Bogaerts popped up to end the game.
For the first time in a long time, the Indians will have something going for them if they have to go out onto the free agent market for pitching. Even if Scott Kazmir and Ubaldo Jimenez (who will almost certainly void his contract) leave, the Indians can still use Kazmir and Jimenez as reasons for other pitchers to join them in 2014. Kazmir was one bad spring from washing out of a baseball altogether, and Jimenez was one bad season from being in the same boat, turned their careers around in 2013, and although it's hard to separate how much of that was from their work and how much from Mickey Callaway, it's safe to say that Callaway had a lot to do with both pitchers' success. So if there's any high-profile pitchers coming off a poor season, I would think that the Indians would be a top destination.
AL Central News
The Royals are in a similar boat as the Indians, as Ervin Santana, who had a great comeback season, is also a free agent. And I'd expect the Indians to be in on many of the pitchers mentioned, such as Brett Anderson, Brandon McCarthy, or perhaps even Ohio native Chad Billingsley.
Yes, it's the annotated Hawk Harrelson. You know you want to read it.
A nice explanation of the Qualifying Offer, which has been in place now that last couple offseasons. Previous to the current system in place, the draft compensation system was really screwed up, with decent relievers becoming Type A free agents (giving the team they left a first round pick). And a team that traded for a pending free agent could get a first round compensation pick the next year. Well, the new system does away with a lot of that silliness through two rule changes:
- A player had to have been on the team's roster the entire season for compensation to apply.
- The team has to make a one-year qualifying offer that is the average of the top 125 players in MLB
This year that qualifying offer is expected to be in the $14.0M range, which removes all but the top free agents on market from getting their former clubs draft pick compensation. For the Indians, the only two players that they'd think about offering compensation to would be Ubaldo Jimenez and Scott Kazmir. If things don't work out, and both pitchers decline the offer and sign elsewhere, the Indians could be looking at three first round picks in 2014 if the teams that sign them don't have a top-10 protected pick and if that club didn't sign a "better" player.
This Week's Classic Clip
LGFT* Kelly Gruber ties Game 3 of the World Series with an eighth-inning home run off Steve Avery.
Gruber was the Indians' first round pick in 1980, but the Blue Jays selected him in the 1983 Rule 5 Draft.