Baseball Beat/Change-UpOctober 09, 2007
Tuesday Blog
By Rich Lederer and Patrick Sullivan

We ordinarily would only post such a format on the Weekends but let's be serious here, what else are we going to write about today? We have playoffs on our scattered brains, and thus will unapologetically move full steam ahead with a blog format.

I couldn't help but notice yesterday that Rich seemed to be downplaying the contributions David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez made in Boston's sweep of the Los Angeles Angels. Rich said the following:

Although David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez will get a lot of the credit for lifting the Sox to the first-round victory, Josh Beckett and Curt Schilling shut out the Angels for 16 innings.

OK maybe he did not downplay it, but he failed to mention specifically what Ortiz and Ramirez did in the series. Combined, the two put up a ridiculous .533/.731/1.333 AVG/OBP/SLG line. Boston fans have long been treated to superb hitting from these two but never at this level simultaneously. It will be difficult to keep the momentum going, however, with a five day break and C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona set to go this weekend.

- Patrick Sullivan, 10/9, 8:15 AM ET

Before I can turn my full attention to the upcoming ALCS and NLCS, I feel the need to make the following comments with respect to Joe Torre, who may be on his way out in New York.

Joe Torre is a class act. He is a pro. Respected by his players and peers. Too bad the same thing can't be said of George Steinbrenner. Torre should have been able to leave on his own terms or at least with the dignity he showed throughout his 12-year career with the Yankees. He was good to baseball and baseball was good to him. Fifty years. Four world championships. Nine-time All-Star. MVP. Gold Glove. Batting title. And, yes, a Hall of Famer.

- Rich Lederer, 10/9, 8:30 AM PT

Two infielders famous for not living up to some lofty expectations came through in a major way for their teams in the LDS. Three others notable for carrying their teams at times and coming through when needed most did not. Have a look:

            AVG   OBP    SLG
K. Matsui  .417  .500  1.083
S. Drew    .500  .500  1.143
D. Jeter   .176  .176   .176 (3 GIDP)   
A. Soriano .143  .200   .143
A. Ramirez .000  .077   .000

It will be interesting to see if Arizona and Colorado continue to get heightened performance from Drew and Matsui, respectively.

- Patrick Sullivan, 10/9, 12:47 PM ET

They say good pitching beats good hitting, especially in the postseason. Well, the League Championship Series will feature four of the best pitching staffs in baseball.

Let's take a look:

       ERA+    Lg Rank
ARI    114       1
COL    110       4
       ERA+    Lg Rank
BOS    118       1
CLE    109       3

Don't let those hitters' ballparks fool you. Arizona, Colorado, and Boston can flat out pitch. And so can Cleveland. These teams also boast good defenses (with Colorado tied for second in the NL and Boston tied for first in the AL in defensive efficiency). It's important to note that a run saved is worth more than a run scored.

- Rich Lederer, 10/9, 10:25 AM PT


"never at this level simultaneously"? It was three games! I'd be certain we could find another three game stretch where they combined to be close to 2.000

Ben - have at it. Find a three game stretch, make sure the games are really important, and make sure they include some dramatic moments (like Manny's walkoff blast off of K-Rod) too.

I'll give it glance, should be an interesting answer. I won't include the dramatic moment factor, but this would certainly be near the top of that list. Busy day at work here, so not sure when I'll get to it, but I'll accept the challenge!

Keep up the good work!

So, i glanced a bit at the last two years and found a good deal of three game stretched OPS wise for both Ortiz and Manny. I didn't look at the playoffs (only went through 2006, so n/a there). An three game stretch to point out would be 6/29 - 7/1. 6/21-6/24 isnt bad either. And that was keeping 2000 as a target ops. I think it'd be interesting to find other playoff examples of three game stretched of teammates OPSing 2000 in a playoff situation. I'd bet it happens every few years or so. It's just such a small sample though, so i'm not sure it means much outside of a few good games. Interesting either way.

Can you believe the Tigers picked up I-Rod's $13MM option...discuss

I'm not surprised at all they picked up his option. He's not great, but there's not going to be much out there this off-season in terms of catchers.

While I recognize that I-Rod will be 36 years old and coming off the worst offensive season of his career, I can understand why the Tigers picked up his option.

Rodriguez probably ranks among the top ten catchers in baseball. While I-Rod is no longer the offensive force he once was, the guy still placed 12th out of 25 catchers who played in 100 or more games in OPS+. Add the fact that Rodriguez is still a plus catcher defensively and it becomes clearer that he still has value.

Mike Rabelo (.256/.300/.357) was the primary backup. He is 27-years-old and doesn't appear to be more than reserve for a team that wishes to compete for a world championship. Vance Wilson, 34, didn't play in 2007 and is coming off elbow surgery. The club's Triple-A catchers, Dane Sardinha (.202/.255/.325) and Andrew Graham (.208/.274/.292), are not of MLB quality.

Outside of the organization, there isn't much to choose from either. Here is the list of free agent catchers (as of my article last month):


Brad Ausmus         HOU
Paul Bako           BAL
Michael Barrett     SD
Gary Bennett        STL
Ramon Castro        NYM
Wiki Gonzalez       WAS
Jason Kendall       CHC
Jason LaRue         KC
Paul Lo Duca        NYM
Damian Miller       MIL
Chad Moeller        CIN
Jose Molina         NYY
Josh Paul           TB
Jorge Posada        NYY
Ivan Rodriguez      DET
Yorvit Torrealba    COL
Javier Valentin     CIN

Slim pickings. Other than Jorge Posada, there isn't anybody you'd want over I-Rod. Banking on Posada leaving the Yankees and competing with all of the other teams for his services doesn't seem like a prudent course of action.

With limited options, I think it was reasonable for the Tigers to bring back Rodriguez for one more season. Given the $3M buyout, the cost in bringing back I-Rod is really "only" $10M. I wouldn't be surprised if he could get a two- or three-year contract for somewhere in the neighborhood of $6-$8M per in the open market. As such, a 1 x 10 deal doesn't seem so preposterous.

Pudge at $10 million for one year isn't too far out of line in the current market. He'll be playing for a new contract, which should be a pretty good motivator.

Catchers suck. As such, one that has even a hint of hope at offering decent production merits overpayment.

Detroit could do a lot worse here.