The hit of this past week has gone once again to Mother Nature and the way it’s been battering the playoff schedule. The Tigers again fell victim to rain delays, and for the second time this post season Justin Verlander had his start cut short by rain.
Two rain delays in the fifth inning knocked out the starters and handed the ball off to the bullpens which both performed admirably. The Tigers lost on by a 3-2 score with Verlander being the pitcher of record. Normally in that sort of a game, it’s a disadvantage because it exposes the bullpen more and could result in higher scores. But ironically, it was Verlander who gave up all three of the Tigers runs.
Throughout the regular season, Verlander was undoubtedly the MLB’s best pitcher, but he’s left something to be desired for in the playoffs. Currently he’s 1-1 in three starts with an ERA of 5.54. He does have 17 strikeouts in 12 innings, but this certainly isn’t the pitcher we saw all season.
In the National League, the Phillies gave new meaning to the agony of defeat. On the last play of the game, Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard ruptured his Achilles tendon. The best case scenario is that he might be ready in time for the regular season, while the worst case could result in missing the first few months of the season.
Further to Howard, Hunter Pence and Placido Polanco both have sports hernias while starter Cole Hammels will undergo a procedure to remove loose bodies from his pitching elbow. Whether this is coming to light to help explain the Phillies massive collapse, we aren’t sure.
Before the Yankees can start preparing to right the sunken ship, they’ll have to figure out what to do with their GM Brian Cashman. His contract with the Yankees will expire after the season, giving both sides the opportunity to part ways should they choose to do so.
For Cashman, he’s been given a virtual blank check with which to do his business. He was against the (terrible) Alex Rodriguez contract that Hal Steinbrenner went ahead with, and he was verbally outspoke against the (stupid) Rafael Soriano deal that the ownership also went ahead with. He’s managed to compete in a big way every season and has often relied on surprise players like Shawn Chacon, Aaron Small, Aaron Boone, and Marcus Thames to have success.
From the Yankees point of view, $204 million sure doesn’t buy what they thought it would. The Yankees Dynasty steadily increased payroll every year, but it surged ahead with the signing of Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, Gary Sheffield, and others. Bob Watson is still credited with building the dynasty teams, and that leaves Cashman with only 2009 on his resume of championships. Besides that are a bunch of first round exits, and numerous underachievements.
Both the Yankees and Cashman have expressed optimism at reaching an agreement, but it’s wise to believe any rumors until you see them signed in ink. Outside of Cashman, there aren’t really any names being thrown around because great GM’s are harder to find than people would think.
Lastly, whether it’s based on personality, controversy, or something else entirely, Nyjer Morgan gave the Brewers walkoff win against the Diamondbacks a rousing “%$#@ Yeah!.” Nyjer is also remembered for starting brawls, inciting fights, playing dirty, and goading the crowd. Whether he’s baseball’s new answer to Milton Bradley, or just a fiery player who plays with passion, it remains to be seen. But nobody has ever talked down on his athletic abilities during the game.
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