Congrats to the Cardinals. As galling as it was to watch them dogpile on Friday night, you certainly have to give the players and organization credit for one of the most unlikely triumphs of both the regular season and playoffs. At some point I recalled how the Reds' 2010 division championship was given short shrift because of a poor record against the league's traditional heavyweights, like St. Louis (6-12). Well, this year they succeeded in getting the upper hand against the Cardinals (9-6), and they also played the Brewers to a respectable draw (8-8). I would gladly trade a worse record against those teams for a 35-10 whoopin of Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Houston.
Keith Law (Insider) scouts Aroldis at the AFL
Law reports that Aroldis Chapman looked great in his first outing thanks to his fastball but much less so in his second, when his slider didn't have much bite. Chapman threw just one change-up during the two appearances. He's got one more start today before heading to winter ball for more work as a starer.
Foster, Marty reflect on 1975 Series
Mark Sheldon talked to George Foster and Marty Brennaman after Game 6 to get a sense for what might be going on in the Rangers' minds. Marty had some interesting memories about Sparky, the eternal pessimist: "The players were very confident they would win Game 7 but Sparky was not... [Scout Ray Shore] and Sparky stayed up until 5 am talking and Sparky was convinced they would lose. He was scared to death after the way they lost Game 6. But the players were unflappable. You don’t hoot and holler that, especially with the way they lost, but they were sure they would win the seventh game."
Erardi - Comparing LaRussa, Sparky
Sparky was the only manager to win 3 championships split between the two leagues. After St. Louis' win, there are now two. John Erardi sets the record straight on who's the true innovator of modern bullpen usage, but he also doesn't deny TLR's his accolades. More importantly, he wants to know if the Reds can identify the next great manager: "Who is the young Turk out there who is destined to be the next Anderson/La Russa? I hope the Reds have already identified such a firebrand, not in anticipation of things going bad, but because that is what good organizations do: They are ahead of their competition when it comes to identifying the best talent, even where there might not be an immediate need." I'm sure St. Louis has given this some thought as well - TLR's been on a series of one-year contracts recently, and the combination of his health issues and roster flux means that his resignation should not come as a complete surprise. I'm thinking Jose Oquendo gets promoted and names the Sklar Brothers as his first and third base coaches.
The greatest Catcher ever
In the afterglow of the World Series, TLR made a throwaway comment about Yadier Molina being the best catcher in baseball history. That's fired up the Enquirer's Reds Blog - "And the Earth officially became flat again" - but I fail to see the big deal in some meaningless post-championship puffery.
If the Cardinals' championship has left a bitter taste in your mouth,
there's always nicotined-flavor nostalgia.
SBN's Ultimate Off-Season Survival Guide
If hanging onto every hot stove rumor isn't your thing, Wendy Thurm has you covered. Speaking of covers, she's included a note on Bronson Arroyo's album Covering the Bases. I don't care when Devin Mesoraco sees his shadow, this is going to be a long winter.
Sheldon summarizes the contract situations
With actual baseball out of the way, the hot stove has officially started. Eligible players have already filed for free agency, including Ramon Hernandez, Edgar Renteria, and Dontrelle Willis. Sheldon speculates that the options on both BP and Cordero "are expected to be either picked up at the very least or re-worked into a multi-year deals." I don't know if Cordero's return is a forgone conclusion. In fact, I'll be disappointed if he's back - not because he's a bad pitcher, but because it means the Reds didn't use the salary towards a frontline starting pitcher.
More business - new CBA on the way
Buster Olney (Insider) reports that MLB and the Union are close to finalizing the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which teams want in place before free agency starts up. A hard slotting system for the draft doesn't appear to be in place, but "there is talk of a draft tax through which teams that spend more than set amounts in their respective draft caps would have to pay a penalty. There also has been discussion about extra picks being given to low-revenue teams."