* If I were one of the 20 Rays fans out there, I would be second guessing last night’s game. If that were the Yankees, I probably wouldn’t be able to sleep for 2 weeks. I’m not sure how Maddon lets J.P. Howell bat in the late innings of a close game. But most of all – how does Chad Bradford see action in that situation with David Price still left in the bullpen? I know Bradford had a 1.42 ERA with Tampa this season, but you can’t really measure relievers on ERA (and it’s arguable if you should measure starters by it either). Bradford’s WHIP was almost 1.4 (Edwar Ramirez’s WHIP was 1.2, for some perspective). He allowed 18 hits and 8 walks in 19 innings. He only struck out 4 guys. Yes, this is a small sample size, but it’s on par with his normal AL numbers with Boston and Baltimore. Remember, Boston cut him despite a 3.86 ERA. As soon as he came in, I said “the Phillies are going to score here.” And of course, they did. When it’s win and or go home, you have to lose with your best pitcher. That was definitely not Chad Bradford.
(And since I mentioned WHIP earlier, I just want to point out that Mariano Rivera had a WHIP of 0.665, which is absolutely insane and by far the lowest of his brilliant career. No one has talked about it much because the Yankees missed the playoffs, but 2008 might have been his best year, despite having shoulder soreness. He should get some votes for the Cy Young.)
* I really thought Tampa had it when Baldelli hit that homerun. Gotta give the Phillies credit – Chad Bradford or not, they kept coming.
* How much has Baldelli’s stock rose thanks to the postseason? He could very easily end up pricing himself out of the “bargain” range.
* Speaking of which, shouldn’t the Phillies at least put out feelers to see what the market is for Victorino? I don’t know their system very well, so maybe he would be impossible for them to replace, but I can’t imagine his value ever being higher. I personally don’t see him being much more than a slightly above average player for the next few years, yet they could probably get a serious haul in return for him.
* The popular angle today seems to be “don’t worry, the Rays will be back.” I wouldn’t be so confident. Yes, the Rays have a lot of young talent, but that young talent will get pricier every year. Their achilles heel is their bullpen and without money to spend, that figures to get worse. Also, what are the odds they have the kind of luck they did this year health wise? I know Steve Phillips wrote that stupid article earlier in the season saying the Rays were just as unlucky as the Yankees because they “used the DL” almost as much, but truth is the Rays were very lucky in the health department. Their 5 starters made every single start all season except for 7. That is amazing. What are the odds they can do it again? And when you play in the AL East and have such a limited payroll, your margin for error is pretty much nil.
* I have to say I’ve become a little disillusioned about the World Series over the past couple seasons and I’m not sure if my cynicism is just because the Yankees haven’t been in it or because I’m getting older and follow baseball so closely. It started in 2004, seeing how a few bad breaks and a few bad calls cost the Yankees the ALCS. Did those things that were out of their control really mean they were a worse team? I figured that whatever, it happens, and it’s just worse because it’s MY team.
Well in 2006 it was difficult watching the Cardinals take the title of champs, despite clearly not being one of the top teams in the league. This has nothing to do with the Cardinals; as far as teams go, I cheer for them against both the Mets and Tigers. But it’s just that there is no way they were the best team that year. They weren’t one of the top 8. They only made the playoffs because of their division.
This year is somewhat similar though not as obvious an example. The Phillies did well in that World Series but I don’t know if I believe they are a better team than the Rays. So I guess what I’m getting at is that if I no longer believe that winning in the playoffs means anything, will I even care if (and I’d argue when), the Yankees do it again? I’d like to think so. But who knows.