Ortiz Will Play 1B In the World Series–Isn’t It Time That MLB Fully Addresses the DH Rule?

On Saturday evening, David Ortiz will lumber out to play first base for the Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series in St. Louis. Due to the one major rule difference between the American and National Leagues, Big Papi can’t be in the lineup unless he actually takes the field on defense. During the World Series, games played in AL home parks allow the designated hitter, while the NL parks force the pitcher to hit for himself.

For Ortiz, throwing on a first baseman’s mitt and trotting out on the diamond is a special occasion in and of itself. Since 2007, Ortiz has played a total of 32 games at first base. That averages to a little more than 4 games a season. When one thinks of a full-time DH, Ortiz is the prime example. He is paid to bat 4-5 times a game and that is it. In fact, Papi is generally used as a reason why the DH is patently unfair and extends players’ careers that otherwise would have been forced to retire or have a much reduced role.

Let’s face it. There is no way David Ortiz would have made $100 million in his playing career if there was no designated hitter in the game. Perhaps he could have been a full-time first baseman for some team over this entire span. Maybe. However, considering his size, weight gain over the years and lack of proficiency at the position, it is highly doubtful. Yet, due to his offensive ability, and the fact that all he has to do is swing the bat a few times a game, he’s been able to carve himself out a very lucrative career that will quite possibly land him in Cooperstown.

This isn’t meant to be an indictment of Ortiz. He’s naturally taken advantage of the situation in the American League and prospered. However, it does bring up the silliness that we still have a major rule difference between the two leagues. Over the past few years, we’ve seen interleague play get expanded, to the point that each team now plays 20 interleague games a year. That is 1/8th the entire schedule. Also, while the interleague schedule used to be during a certain time of the season, it now goes on throughout the entire year, so we are now subjected to the rule difference basically every day of the season.

At some point, MLB needs to make a decision and stick with it. Either have the DH be the rule for both leagues, or get rid of it. Considering that the DH has helped extend or improve the careers or many players, it seems highly unlikely that the players’ union will go along with the eradication of the rule. Therefore, the league basically just needs to go ahead and extend the DH to the National League. Sure, it may piss off some purists of the game, but the game has evolved and changed a ton anyway. No point holding on to another relic of a bygone era.

But, it isn’t going away in the AL. It’s been there since 1973. Interleague play isn’t going away, either. In fact, we might see interleague play continue to be expanded. Considering the increased frequency of NL teams playing in AL parks, we just have to start getting used to the idea of the DH as part of the game and move forward.

Or, MLB can sit on its hands a little longer and continue to ‘study the matter’, which has been Bud Selig’s position on pretty much everything that involved any real decision making. As this seems to be the likely scenario, prepare to see more World Series games in the future where the AL manager has to sit a player so he can get his DH into the lineup somehow.

2013 World Series Predictions

On paper, this has the makings of an excellent series. Both clubs hit the ball well and feature strong pitching staffs. But even with how rock solid the Cardinals are, I do think this is the Red Sox’s series to lose. Not only did they bounce back from an atrocious 2012 where they lost 93 games and finished in last place in the AL East, but with the clutch hitting they got in the ALCS at precisely when they needed it the most, not to mention the unhittable Koji Uehera closing out games who has been absolutely lights out, plus being an excellent home team that will have homefield advantage, I think Boston will finish it off the best way possible.
Boston in 6

 

Hey Cardinals! Please Don’t Complain About the Dodgers Being Unprofessional, OK?

Let me get the disclaimer out first. I am a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan. I have lived in the city, off and on, for the past 25 years. I typically attend about 20 games a year and rarely ever miss a game on TV. I follow the team religiously and pour over their stat sheets daily during the season. Nobody could call me impartial when it came down to the Redbirds.

That is why it pains me to write this article today. I have to call out my beloved team for not just hypocrisy, but for falling into the old ‘play the game the right way’ trap we’ve seen overtake MLB this season. Following Monday’s loss to the L.A. Dodgers, members of the Cardinals complained to the media about the ‘Mickey Mouse stuff‘ from some of the Dodger players and their celebrations. The Cardinals’ players are now taking over the position of Keymaster of Baseball’s Unwritten Rules.

St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright is the one who made the ‘Mickey Mouse’ comments. He made it in reference to Adrian Gonzalez, who hit an RBI double in the 4th inning and was excited afterwards. Wainwright took exception to his antics and made the comment. Later in that inning, Yasiel Puig hit a triple to score Gonzalez and make it a 2-0 game. Puig reacted right after hitting the ball as he thought he had a home run. After righting himself, he made it into third standing up and played to the crowd, trying to pump them up.

Cardinals’ outfielder Carlos Beltran took exception to this. When asked later about it, he had this to say: “As a player, I just think he doesn’t know [about how to act]. That’s what I think. He really doesn’t know. He must think that he’s still playing somewhere else…He has a lot of passion, no doubt about that — great ability, great talent. I think with time, he’ll learn that you’ve got to act with a little bit more calm.”

A couple of points need to be made here. First off, it isn’t exactly like the Cardinals play the game all stoically and never get excited on the field. If you look over the past two or three seasons, you can make a whole DVD of St. Louis players celebrating and acting demonstrably after a great play or a game-winning hit or a big strikeout. Heck, in Game 2, one need only look at Yadier Molina pumping his fists while on his knees after a big play at the plate. It just comes across as hypocritical to whine about other teams reacting on the field when your team isn’t exactly known as being low-key.

Another point is why do the Cardinals’ players feel they have to comment on this at all? What is it lately with the uber-sensitivity of major-league baseball players? Why is it that once we see a player act a little excited or admire a home run a little too long, we have to deal with The Code and opponents getting all butthurt about being shown up? When did MLB players get to be such whiny little bitches? Sheesh.

Outside of the St. Louis area, the Cardinals have found themselves more and more hated among baseball fans. Perhaps it is the air of haughty arrogance when fans discuss the ‘Cardinal Way.’ Maybe it is the way the fanbase describes St. Louis and Busch Stadium as ‘Baseball Heaven.’ Heck, it could just be the sustained success the franchise has enjoyed, leading the team to go from being respected by baseball fans to being hated. Whatever it is, I just know that these recent comments don’t do much to endear others to the Cards or their fans.

2013 MLB Postseason: ALCS & NLCS Predictions

Los Angeles Dodgers vs St Louis Cardinals

What I think will be key for this series is that for the Cardinals, they will not have ace Adam Wainwright available until Game 3, while Los Angeles gets to throw out Zach Greinke and more importantly Clayton Kershaw without having them go up against Wainwright. I think that as well as an offense that is popping right now thanks in part to Carl Crawford looking tremendous at the dish gives the Dodgers a nice route to the World Series. Los Angeles in 5.

Detroit Tigers vs Boston Red Sox

This has the makings of an excellent ALCS as both clubs feature powerful offenses as well as strong and deep pitching. Detroit features the expected Cy Young winner in Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, who was awesome in Game 5 against Oakland, as well as Anibal Sanchez, who has also been sleepy good this year as well as a personal friend in Doug Fister. Boston’s rotation is less top-heavy but a crop of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester and Jake Peavy is none too shabby. I like think the top of that Detroit rotation as well as the new age Bash Brothers of Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder barely gives them an edge. Detroit in 7 

2013 MLB Postseason: Divisional Series Predictions

ALDS: (1) Boston Red Sox vs. (WC) Tampa Bay Rays

The Red Sox definitely got the tougher draw of the Wild Card clubs as the Rays stand a much better chance than the Indians would have (although TBS would have loved the Tito storyline). Their deep rotation as well as a strong defense means they can keep the score low, a must with an offense with not that many impact bats. However, they are not a great road team and struggled at Fenway Park all season. I like Boston in 4 
 

ALDS: (2) Oakland Athletics vs. (3) Detroit Tigers

On paper, these two teams are polar opposites, as the Tigers are loaded with star power while the A’s are a relatively unheralded group. My guess is this series will be an absolute dog fight, but at the end of the day, a pair of terrific starts from Max Scherzer proves to be the difference for Detroit. Tigers in 3

NLDS: (1) St. Louis Cardinals vs. (WC) Pittsburgh Pirates

When you have a club that hits as well as the Cardinals do with runners in scoring position, as well as a strong ace in Adam Wainwright, that means you are going places. However, Pittsburgh is playing with house money and has the rotation to get the job done and get to the bullpen. I think this series will come down to the bullpens for these team and while the Pirates have a great pen, the Cardinals are all over the place there. Pittsburgh in 5.
 

NLDS: (2) Atlanta Braves vs. (3) Los Angeles Dodgers

The Braves are 56-25 at home this season, compared to 40-41 on the road, so having home-field advantage here is significant. However, in the end, the duo of Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke atop the rotation is too much for the Braves’ streaky lineup. Dodgers in 4.

St. Louis Cardinals Clinch Division Title; Still Fighting Atlanta Braves For Best NL Record

Despite the Pittsburgh Pirates winning 4-1 earlier Friday evening, the St. Louis Cardinals finally clinched the NL Central with a 7-0 win over the Chicago Cubs. All of the playoff teams had been determined in the National League by the early part of this week, but it was still mathematically possible for the Pirates to catch up with the Cardinals for the NL Central crown. That was taken away this evening and the Pirates and Reds, who are facing each other this weekend, will meet in the Wild Card playoff game next week.

For the Bucs, they knew that the likely scenario was them being in the Wild Card. However, they still have something at stake in their series with Cincy. If the Pirates can win one of these final two games, they will host the Wild Card game. Winning tomorrow would be best, as they can then rest their lineup with nothing at stake on Sunday. Also, they have rookie Gerrit Cole scheduled to start on Sunday. If they win Saturday, they will rest Cole and have him available on Tuesday out of the bullpen during the Wild Card game.

The Cardinals are also still hoping to finish with the best record in the National League. Currently, they are tied with the Atlanta Braves for that honor, as both teams are 95-65 with two games left to play. The Braves are wrapping up the season at home against Philadelphia. They squeaked out a 1-0 win Friday evening against Cliff Lee as Chris Johnson hit a solo homer in the 8th off the Philly ace.

Expect to see both St. Louis and Atlanta play a little harder these final two games, even though both have wrapped up their divisions. You have to figure both managers would prefer their teams to face either the Reds or Pirates rather than face the Dodgers, if for no other reason than the dodgers have two bona fide aces in their starting rotation in Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw. In a short series, as the NLDS is, it’s possible that you could see Kershaw and Greinke twice a piece.

This is the 3rd straight year that the Cardinals will make the postseason. However, this is the first time since 2009 that they’ve won their division. The last two years, they were a Wild Card team. Also, it should be noted that manager Mike Matheny has started his managing career with two straight playoff appearances. Last season, as a rookie manager, he took the Cards to the NLCS, where they lost to the eventual World Champion San Francisco Giants  in 7 games after having a 3-1 lead.

St Louis Cardinals Might Be Without Allen Craig For Rest Of Year

It looks like the St. Louis Cardinals might be without first baseman Allen Craig for not just the final week of the season, but for the postseason as well. Craig has been out since Sept. 4th with a sprained left foot. He has had a boot on the foot since injuring it. While initial X-Rays and an MRI showed no fracture or extended damage, Craig has not been able to resume any activities. Cardinals GM John Mozeliak stated to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that Craig will get another X-Ray of the foot on Thursday, which is a day off for the Cardinals.

Mozeliak didn’t sound too confident about Craig coming back. When asked what the next step will be should X-Rays come back clean, Mozeliak said that they’d either send Craig down to the Instructional League to get some at-bats, or try to get him in a simulated game in St. Louis. However, Mozeliak pointed out that was only if Craig was able to move forward.

That sounds to me like someone who is resigned to the fact that Craig will not be available for the rest of the year. Initially, when Craig injured his foot, it seemed like he’d be out 7-10 days and that he’d be able to get back in the lineup before the playoffs began. Now, there are only 5 games left in the regular season and he’s still in a walking boot. Even if he can take off the boot on Thursday, he’d have only 3 regular season games to get any meaningful at-bats. From the looks of it, he has little, if any, chance to get in shape before the Cardinals play their first postseason game.

Craig, 29, was having an MVP-like season prior to going down with the injury. At the time, he was hitting .315/.373/.457 with 13 HRs and 97 RBI. On top of that, he is hitting an insane .454 with runners in scoring position, as well as .448 in that situation with 2 outs. Thankfully for the Cards, Matt Adams has done a wonderful job filling in for Craig this month. Since the day Craig went down, Adams is hitting .329/.356/.629 with 7 HRs and 14 RBI. For the season, the big left-handed hitter is hitting .282/.334/.498 with 16 HRs and 50 RBI in 103 games.