2009 Playoff Predictions
It's the first time in 2 years that the Cubs won't be influencing my bracket. The last time that happened was in 2006 and I had the A's winning it all and the Tigers and Cardinals losing in the first round. It's always important to remember when reading my entries that I'm an idiot. If you want, MLB is running a bracket challenge that you can enter, or throw your guesses in the comments. I haven't seen a neat and tidy place with official playoff rosters, so the ex-Cub factor below is a guess at this point and it's possible I missed a Cub connection.
Cardinals vs. Dodgers
The Dodgers started off hot for 2 months and then coasted the last 4 months and their best pitcher had a 5.21 ERA in September (Billingsley). That leaves Randy Wolf as their ace, walk-happy Clayton Kershaw, and now Vicente Padilla(chuckle) getting Game 3. The Cardinals finished below .500 in Sept/Oct after a ridiculous August, but have the most feared hitter in the game, some decent protection around him for once and a solid bullpen. This series reminds me too much of the Cubs vs. Dodgers last year, except the Cards are the Dodgers this time.
unoffical ex-Cub Factor: Cards - 1(Mark DeRosa, Wellemeyer may still make roster, don't think Lohse counts), Dodgers - 1 (Juan Pierre, don't think Garland counts)
Secret Sauce: Dodgers
My Prediction: Cards in 3.
Rockies vs. Phillies
The Rockies were 72-41 since June and have a much better pitching staff than their Coors Field numbers suggest. Ubaldo Jimenez is as good as they get in my opinion, with Aaron Cook and Jason Hammel to follow. Poor Jason Marquis may not even get the Game 4 start, but that's probably best for the Rockies. Rockies were 2nd in the league in home runs and runs scored to the Phillies, so you'd expect some guys crossing the plate early and often, but you never know in 3-5 games what will happen. The Phillies would be wise to shelf Brad Lidge and hand over late innings to Ryan Madson and maybe Brett Myers. Cliff Lee has been beaten up since his first coupe of starts with the Phillies and Cole Hamels seems to be paying for all the innings he threw in their title run last year. I think the Phils will be tough to knock off as defending champs, but the Rockies will prevail. And when in doubt, bet against the ex-Cub factor.
unoffical ex-Cub Factor: Rockies - 1(Marquis), Phillies - 4 (Paul Bako, Matt Stairs, Miguel Cairo, Scott Eyre)
Secret Sauce: Colorado
My Prediction: Rockies in 5
Red Sox vs. Angels
When the Angels beat the Red Sox in a playoff series, I'll pick them. Until that happens, I'm going with the Red Sox, plus I like their starters and bullpen more.
unoffical ex-Cub Factor: Red Sox - 1(if Gathright makes postseason roster), Angels - 1 (Gary Matthews Jr.)
Secret Sauce: Boston
My Prediction: Red Sox in 4
Twins vs. Yankees
I could see the Twins taking Game 1 riding the wave of September and last night, but ultimately I can't get behind a team missing Justin Morneau and Kevin Slowey. The Yanks have easily been the best team in baseball all year, still have Mariano Rivera closing and I think Burnett, Sabathia and Petitte along with a far superior offense than any other team should carry them through the playoffs.
unoffical ex-Cub Factor: Twins- 2(Brendan Harris, Ron Mahay), Yankees - 3 (Chad Gaudin, Jose Molina, Jerry Hairston Jr....Eric Hinske doesn't count I believe)
Secret Sauce: Yankees
My Prediction: Yankees in 3
Cardinals over Rockies in 6, Yankees over Red Sox in 5
Secret Sauce: Rockies and Yankees
Yankees over Cardinals in 6
Secret Sauce: Yankees
HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).
Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.
I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.
One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players.
CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely.
Brooksbaseball.net has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.
As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?
AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?
Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.
AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.
I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.
But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.
Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.
Jason deGrom -- oh, my.
Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.
Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.
Considering how players reacted it seemed pretty accurate high and wide (to righties), but not so accurate low and in. I thought the strike zone by the ump was awful, but it was consistent and the Cubs never adjusted.
Rizzo and Bryant need to have good at bats. They are really looking outclassed in these two games.
that game sounds fun as hell.
I was just wondering the same thing. I'd rather not see it at all. If it's inaccurate, it's a bad viewer experience. If it's accurate, it shows some shitty calling by the umpire.
TBS' K Zone seems to be more harsh than the others.
I wonder if MLB will ask the networks to stop using them. They just make the umps, and the game, look bad, and it only pisses off the fans.