This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race

krodcitifieldMy mild disappointment at learning that Omar Minaya had pitched in $13+ million per year to land Francisco Rodriguez was leavened somewhat by learning that it was only a three-year deal. Having watched a large slate of Angels games over the past few years, I’m mildly concerned about the knock on him as a 9th inning flower, who rarely, if ever came in to have to get four, five, or six out saves in the AL.

Then again, anyone to solidify ANY inning not pitched by a starter is a considerable upgrade over the mess the Mets bullpen was last season — even when Billy Wagner’s elbow didn’t give out on him.

Getting Seattle’s former closer J.J. Putz in a three-way trade to play set-up man also seems like a step in the right direction — any direction is good as long as it involves getting rid of the long-reviled Aaron Heilman, who was nothing but a leaking gas tank for the past couple of season. Whether it actually pays off would be dependent upon the rest of the bullpen being reliable enough to handle innings six or seven — and whether the starting rotation remains in good enough shape.

Across Manhattan Island, the big news is the agreement in principle to make CC Sabathia the highest paid pitcher in baseball with a 161 million dollar deal over seven years.  The money was so stupid that Sabathia had to take it and ditch his preference to play in his home state of California, but the nagging questions about the hurler are his physique (6’7″ and 311 lbs.) and more importantly, how much form will he regain in returning to the American League?

Bear in mind that Sabathia was mired in a half-season of mediocrity when the Tribe shipped hiim off to Milwaukee — he then proceeded to destroy NL line-ups, with the easier turnover of the bottom third.  He may like hitting, but you can’t be so sure that AL pitchers have figured him out, although so much of his struggles with Cleveland were due to the offense not hitting for him. (These things can be fickle: obviously Cliff Lee got enough run support in combination with wicked stuff to win 20+ games and a Cy Young.)

There’s a reason the Yanks are also looking at A.J. Burnett despite his injury history, is all I’m saying.

Stealing Signals: The End

Marlins 4, Mets 2 – I actually think a loss like last year’s (where Tom Glavine got walloped) would have been easier to take rather than watching Scott Schoeneweis and Luis Ayala give up two solo home runs to the Marlins in the eighth inning; today was the inevitable confirmation of the sinking ship tha the Metros’ bullpen had been all year.  Billy Wagner was able to keep it afloat some nights, but the bullpen is what ultimately cost Willie Randolph his job.  I’m not quite sure how Omar Minaya got a four-year extension as general manager (I would have gone with two), but he needs to scrap this bullpen and start over, because Jerry Manuel had one hand tied behind his back with the detritus in it. Yes, Mets fans can and should also place a bit of blame on both Jose Reyes and David Wright for not hitting well at points down the stretch (Carlos Delgado had been damn near superhuman and Carlos Beltran at least looked like he was putting in max effort and his two run homer kept the team in the game), but there is plenty to build on if we can get rid of the cans of gasoline when CitiField opens.

Brewers 3, Cubs 1 – Somehow, this is the way it was supposed to be for Milwaukee. Bringing out CC Sabathia once again on short rest results in a four-hit complete game, topped off with an 8th inning home-run by Ryan Braun.  Brewers fans are so starved for post-season baseball; they’ve not gone to the playoffs since the year I was born. In that time, they’ve had Hall of Famers finish out their careers, switch leagues, and had to learn how to win with a very young team.  They’ll probably be whipped by the Phillies in 4 games, but at least they got there.

White Sox 5, Indians 1 – Mark Buehrle will not let the South Siders go quietly. Facing a must win situation, he threw seven great innings and got four double plays turned behind him.  Paul Konerko homered for the fourth time in the last three games, and the ChiSox offense benefitted when likely Cy Young winner Cliff Lee was scratched.

Twins 6, Royals 0 – And Minnesota will sit and wait, a half-game up, as the White Sox host Detroit tomorrow.  Scott Baker threw seven shutout innings, bolstered by a two-run single from Delmon Young and a two-run triple from Joe Mauer.

Stealing Signals: Best In The West

Padres 7, Dodgers 5 – The result in this game really didn’t matter. I mention this score first because pictures of Manny Ramirez getting a beer bukakke are always funny, and really, the Dodgers wouldn’t be anywhere close to this without him. Depending on the Wild Card Winner, the Dodgers will head to either Chicago or Philadelphia for the Division Series.

Cardinals 12, Diamondbacks 3 – And Arizona allowed L.A. to have the awkward celebration of a divison title after a loss (but fitting considering the NL West’s mediocrity this year) by giving up four RBIs to Albert Pujols, homers to Pujols and Ryan Ludwick, and three hits to Felipe Lopez. Unless the Phillies’ Ryan Howard strikes out six times in the last few games, Mark Reynolds will hold a unique position: leading the league in both errors (35) and strikeouts (201) for a season.

Twins 7, White Sox 6 – Coming back from four runs down, Minnesota got the game into extra innings and Alexi Casilla drove in the game-winner in the 10th inning with a single to complete the sweep of the ChiSox.  Minny hosts Kansas City for the last three, and Chicago will host Cleveland.

Red Sox 6, Indians 1 – Jon Lester looks ready to go for the playoffs, throwing six no-hit innings on his way to a demolition of Cleveland. Essentially, the Sox have to win their next three and have Tampa lose its next three to get the AL East crown.

Tigers 7, Rays 4 – Scott Kazmir got shelled, giving up four lead-off solo home runs, from which Tampa really never recovered.  The Rays will finish up in Detroit, with the division title on the line.

Mets 7, Cubs 6 – A walk-off RBI single from Carlos Beltran holds the Mets in place in the Wild Card, moves them up to a game behind the Phillies, and keeps them from falling apart for now.

Brewers 5, Pirates 1 – The best of several walk-off finishes: Ryan Braun goes Operation Grandslam off of reliever Jesse Chavez.

Stealing Signals: Finding New Ways To Lose

Cubs 9, Mets 6 – When you get a four-run lead courtesy of a Carlos Delgado grand slam off Carlos Zambrano, it would help if you didn’t blow it. But the Mets did, and left seven runners on base in the late innings, losing to the North Siders and falling into a tie for the Wild Card.

Braves 10, Phillies 4 – The worst part of this is that the Phils aren’t solid either, begging the Mets to come back into the NL East race, as Brett Myers got knocked around early.

Brewers 4, Pirates 2 – CC Sabathia strikes out 11 over seven innings to bring the Brew Crew back to the verge o fhte playoffs.

Rays 11, Orioles 6 – Tampa comes back from a 6-run deficit to make it a four-game sweep of Baltimore, but they couldn’t clinch the AL East yet because….

Red Sox 5, Indians 4 – Boston opened up a 4-0 lead, let the Indians back in, and pulled it out to stay close to the Rays.

Twins 3, White Sox 2 – The AL Central margin is now a half game, as Minnesota has taken the first two from the South Siders.  Nick Blackburn bested Mark Buehrle, even though he had to struggle through five innings.

Dodgers 12, Padres 4 – L.A.’s clinched a tie for the NL West at the very least, with both Manny Ramirez and Nomar Garciaparra homering. Ramirez, Garciaparra, Angel Berroa, and James Loney each drove in two runs.

Cardinals 4, Diamondbacks 2 – Thanks to St. Louis starter Adam Wainwright pitching out of two bases-loaded jams, Arizona is in “lose again and you’re done” situation.

Stealing Signals: Sox In, Yanks Out

Red Sox 5, Indians 4 – Tim Wakefield outhurls for-certain Cy Young winner Cliff Lee, and Jonathan Papelbon gets out of a bases-loaded jam to lock up a playoff spot and send the New York Yankees home early.

Yankees 3, Blue Jays 1 – Mike Mussina pitches 5 innings for his 19th win; Jason Giambi homers; all for naught.

Rays 5, Orioles 2; Rays 7, Orioles 5 – Tampa gets its first doubleheader sweep in franchise history, putting thme three games up on the BoSox in the battle for the AL East crown (and the right to avoid the Angels in the Division Series.)

Mets 6, Cubs 2 – Eight innings and 10 Ks for Johan Santana and a broken-bat infield single to spur the offense. Jose Reyes adds a bases-loaded triple, and the Mets are now 1.5 behind the Phillies…

Braves 3, Phillies 2 – …because Mike Hampton got his first win in a month by holding Philly to two runs over six innings.

Twins 9, White Sox 3 – Hell of a day for Jason Kubel — two homers and a triple as Minny routs the South Siders, moving 1.5 back in the AL Central.

Brewers 7, Pirates 5 – Prince Fielder tees off of T.J. Beam for a walk-off shot to keep the Brew Crew one game behind the Mets in the Wild Card.

Dodgers 10, Padres 1 – Three-run homers from Nomar Garciaparra and Blake DeWitt, plus a two-run double from Manny Ramirez. San Diego ran Wade LeBlanc out to start, who gave up seven runs in less than 3 innings of work.

Cardinals 7, Diamondbacks 4 – St. Louis may be out of it, but they’d be happy to ruin someone else’s playoff dreams. Ryan Ludwick hit his 35th homer off Randy Johnson in the first.

Stealing Signals: Giving In

Cubs 9, Mets 5 – The Mets will give up the Wild Card to the Brewers. It’s going to happen. It just will. Jason Marquis drove in five runs (four of those on a grand slam) as the Cubs snagged home-field advantage throughout hte NL playoffs in Shea Stadium.

Indians 4, Red Sox 3 – Boston will have to wait a bit longer to clinch its playoff spot, as Josh Beckett wasn’t anything near himself and the Saws blew quite a few good situations with runners in scoring position.

Phillies 6, Braves 2 – Philadelphia opens up a 2.5 game lead on the Mets thanks to a 3-run jack by Pat Burrell.

Rays 4, Orioles 2 – Tampa picks up a game on Boston in the race to the AL East crown; David Price throws 5.1, gets a no-decision, yet has some sick strikeout pitches.

Diamondbacks 4, Cardinals 2 – Brandon Webb ties Cliff Lee for the major league lead in wins with 22, while Stphen Drew comes up a triple short of the cycle.

Stealing Signals: Ya Gotta Bereave

Nationals 1, Mets 0 – [sighs]. How much do you suck when Odalis Fucking Perez is throwing seven innings of shutout ball against you?  Even better, the Mets lose Fernando Tatis, who was having a pretty good year after coming up from Triple A with some clutch hits and homers for the team.

Phillies 8, Braves 7 – Ryan Howard gets four hits, including the go-ahead homer in the eighth, while Brad Lidge works his way out of a bases loaded jam in the ninth to take first place from the Mets.

Rays 2, Red Sox 1 – Catcher Dioner Navarro drives in the winning run with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth.  Carlos Pena ruined a very good start by Josh Beckett by teeing off with a solo homer in the 7th; Andy Sonnanstine threw six good ones, only giving up a sac fly to Kevin Youkilis. The Rays take the AL East lead back.

Dodgers 6, Pirates 2 – Casey Blake homers and triples, Manny Ramirez gets three hits for the second straight game, and L.A. wins its 14th game in the last 16 with Derek Lowe throwing seven innings.

Diamondbacks 2, Giants 0 – Dan Haren strikes out 12 in his first career shutout to keep Arizona 4.5 games back of L.A.

Cubs 5, Brewers 4 – The North Siders become the first team to deal CC Sabathia a loss in a Milwaukee uniform, as he gave up four runs and was outpitched by Ryan Dempster. Alfonso Soriano teed off on Sabathia in the seventh; Prince Fielder took yard shots off Dempster and reliever Carlos Marmol.

White Sox 6, Yankees 2 – Gavin Floyd only gives up 2 runs to the Yanks in seven innings while the Pale Hose knocked around Andy Pettitte for a few runs.

Indians 12, Twins 9 – Minnesota sinks to 2.5 behind the White Sox when Victor Martinez tees off for a three-run walk-off homer in the 11th inning.