Archive for the ‘MLB Preview Bonanza’ Category

Talkin’ Baseball: The World Series

Cardinals vs. Rangers

Well, just like Tim and John S always predicted (don’t bother looking it up), the 2011 season comes down to the Rangers and Cardinals. Will Tony La Russa prove his genius? Will a starting pitcher reach the seventh inning? Will Joe Buck emote? All that and predictions are discussed….

John S: Man, can you believe Jonathan Lucroy didn’t win NLCS MVP?! And can you believe someone almost as unlikely–David Freese–DID? You know, I usually hate the discussions that media outlets have every year that the Yankees/Phillies/Red Sox miss the World Series, where they make jokes about how angry FOX must be. But this World Series DOES seem conspicuously lacking in star power. At least last year the Rangers had Cliff Lee–the closest this year’s team has to such a star is Josh Hamilton, who had a disappointing season. The Cardinals, of course, have Albert Pujols, but after him their biggest star is Tony La Russa, who seems to wear out his welcome more and more every year. But while my instinct is to say that these two teams are mediocre, the evidence doesn’t really support me. The Rangers were better this year than they were in 2010, and even the Cards won 90 games, which is more the 2006 championship team won. Perhaps I should be more excited for this World Series… Am I off base about the lack of compelling personalities in this matchup?

TIM: No, I cannot believe Jonathan Lucroy didn’t win NLCS MVP. His .294 average in the six games was bested by only four Brewers, and like the four best Brewers in Randy Wolf, Jerry Hairston, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Ryan Braun. It was practically half of what Freese hit! I hate these traditionalist writers who always vote for the guy with the ..500+ average on the winning team. Continue reading

Talkin’ Baseball: NLCS

You’ve already seen how spot-on our resident baseball experts were in Game 1 of the ALCS — John remarkably predicted two rain delays lasting approximately 45 and 60 minutes, both occurring in the bottom of the fifth (he was half-a-frame off) — so you should be psyched to see them back at it for the NLCS — a battle of Central Division rivals who last met in the playoffs in the 1982 World Series. That’s right, it’s the first-ever rematch of a World Series in a non-World Series round of the postseason. History!

TIM: Alright, so I think I’m finally over the Mets loss in the 2006 NLCS to talk about…wait, the Cardinals are back in it? Didn’t they miss the playoffs by like 15 games?

JOHN: It certainly seemed heading for that a few months ago. But, hey, look on the bright side: They managed to make the playoffs thanks to a collapse by your hated Atlanta Braves!

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Talkin’ Baseball: ALCS

MLB’s new one off-day policy meant that John S and Tim didn’t have time to preview the Division Series this year. But now they’re back to discuss the American League Championship Series. Together, they preview the Tigers-Rangers matchup and make their predictions…

JOHN S: Alright, so I think I’m finally over the Yankees loss enough to talk about this potential LCS. First off, let’s talk about Verlander. All throughout the season, we’ve heard how Justin Verlander is the key to how far the Tigers can go. His entire MVP case seemed built around the idea that the rest of his squadron was a bunch of glorified Little Leaguers. Hopefully, though, the ALDS proved that the Tigers are actually quite good, even apart from their dominant ace. And yet there are still a few Around The Horn talking heads who insist that the Tigers only chance against Texas is if Verlander starts Games 1, 4 and 7 (which Jim Leyland won’t do). This idea seems insane to me. So just how important do you think Verlander is to the Tigers, on a scale of “C.J. Wilson to the Rangers” to “Jake Peavy to the ’05 Padres”?

TIM: Don Kelly? Ramon Santiago? Tell me these plucky kids aren’t Little Leaguers! Continue reading

MLB Preview: American League

We’re a full weekend into the baseball season, and NPI still hasn’t previewed the most important league! Don’t fret, though, John S is here to break it all down for you, and to make sure you don’t get fooled by Baltimore’s 3-0 start.

AL West

1. Oakland Athletics

2. Texas Rangers

3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

4. Seattle Mariners

So you’re on the A’s bandwagon? Yeah, and I’m not even going to pretend like I got on it particularly early. I was really just looking for someone to pick over the Rangers.

Why do you feel the need to mess with Texas? Well, I was early on the Rangers bandwagon, picking them to win the West at the beginning of 2010, so it’s not like I’m anti-Texas. This year, though, the defending AL champs are both overrated and underrated. They are underrated because people have inevitably focused on the loss of Cliff Lee this off-season; but while losing Lee is obviously big, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that the Rangers were in first before trading for Lee last season, and that they likely would have won the division even without his acquisition (Lee was actually pretty mediocre for Texas in the regular season). Continue reading

MLB Preview: National League

Yesterday was Opening Day, and while NPI still be caught up in college basketball excitement, that doesn’t mean we can’t bring you the brilliant baseball analysis you’ve come to expect. Today John S will be breaking down the National League, so brace yourself for backhanded compliments, ill-informed generalizations, and an overall tone of condescension and derision!

NL West

1. San Francisco Giants

2. Colorado Rockies

3. Los Angeles Dodgers

4. San Diego Padres

5. Arizona Diamondbacks

Hey, remember when the Padres were in first place? What? When did that happen?

For most of last year, actually. Lies! Next you’ll be telling me that it was largely due to someone named Luke Gregerson

Well, now that you mention it—Look, the Giants’ whole “underdog” thing was fun when they toppled the Phillies, but it sort of ignores the fact that San Francisco has great starters, including two of the best in baseball. And it’s not like any of the four had unsustainably great years—in fact, we can probably expect Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner to get better. After all, Lincecum had by far the worst year of his young career in 2010, and Bumgarner only pitched half a season. Continue reading

Talkin’ Baseball: The World Series

Tim and John S already proved their baseball knowledge by issuing World Series predictions that were proven wrong within moments of the series starting. Now, with Game 3 moments away, they reconvene to discuss the series in progress.

TIM: Two games into the World Series, John, and as everyone expected, the Giants are just bludgeoning the Rangers’ pitching. I don’t think I’m telling any tales out of school when I say that everyone knew Cliff Lee and C.J. Wilson could handle the Yankees, but neither one really stood any chance against this San Francisco lineup, right?

JOHN: Surely nobody expected Cliff Lee and his 1.26 postseason ERA to shut down a lineup that included Juan Uribe and Freddy Sanchez, but did anyone expect a dazzling 5.2 IP, 4 ER shutdown performance from Tim Lincecum? In all honesty, I think a lot of people were prepared for that matchup to disappoint after the relative anticlimax that was Lincecum-Halladay, but it was obviously shocking to see Lee pulled in the 5th for Darren O’Day. I think what Game 1 showed, though, was why the idea of a “great postseason pitcher” is kind of a flawed notion. Most of the time, Lee has excellent control and is masterful, but when he starts missing spots, even slightly as he did in Game 1 (only 1 BB and 1 HBP), he becomes a mediocre pitcher. The reason his playoff numbers were so great was that he simply hadn’t had a game like in the playoffs yet.

TIM: Well, I think you can say it shows why the idea of calling Cliff Lee a “great postseason pitcher” is flawed, but not the concept in and of itself — with the caveat, of course, that most great postseason pitchers are great pitchers, period. Even the best postseason pitchers — such as Bob Gibson and Curt Schilling — have had bad outings somewhat like Lee’s the other night. One bad outing may hurt his reputation, but it doesn’t tarnish it.

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MLB Postseason Preview: Giants vs. Phillies

San Francisco Giants (92-70) at Philadelphia Pillies (97-65)

OVERVIEW

The Phillies find themselves in their third consecutive NLCS, although this time not against the Dodgers. The Giants defeated the Braves in a great NLDS — seriously — and will now try to dethrone the two-time defending NL champions and their three-headed pitching Cerberus.*

*Or Cerbe-ROY-us. Get it?

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