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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Few Series Reflections



    By Ross Newhan

    --Clifff Lee was 0-2 with a 6.94 earned-run average in the World Series, failing to pitch back to his ALDS and ALCS dominance, but it is unlikely to impact his pursuit as a free agent, with it likely coming down to his Rangers and the Yankees providing he simply doesn't get it over with and sign with Texas in their private, five day window that begins today. Lee has pitched with four teams in the last two years, a hired gun of the highest order. Lee's wife, Kristin, blistered the treatment Ranger families received from Yankee fans during the ALCS, but money and longevity may outweigh that abuse, although the suspicion here is that he will remain with the Rangers, virtually next door to his Arkansas home.

    --There is no minimizing the performance of their young and homegrown rotation, but how many of their self-identified misfits and castoffs--Aubrey Huff, Cody Ross, Edgar Renteria and Juan Uribe, among them-- are the Giants prepared to retain while still owing Barry Zito $64.5 million over the next three years? It is hard to see them picking up Renteria's $10.5 million option, for example, even with his Series MVP award and two game turning home runs. Then again, there are always misfits and castoffs out there--and how much more is needed with that pitching?

   --So, the Rangers had the best offense in the American League and they were shutout twice and held to one run once during the five Series games and it's a bit of head shaking wonder to remember that Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are 26, Madison Bumgarner is 21, Jonathan Sanchez (don't forget that he has no-hit stuff despite his wavering control and emotions during the postseason) is 28, and that that homegrown rotation has a homegrown catcher in probable Rookie of the Year winner Buster Posey, who is 23 and may eventually end up at third base or in left field. Give their scouts credit and snicker again at the moneyball computers.

   --I don't understand why celebrating fans feel they have to go on a violent rampage as they did in San Francisco Monday night. I recall vividly sitting in the old Tiger Stadium after Detroit had defeated San Diego in the 1984 World Series amid constant explosions and frightening fires to the extent that the press corps was prevented from leaving and a helicopter landed in the middle of the infield, bringing in pizzas (the Tigers were then owned by Domino's Tom Monaghan) so that, god forbid, we didn't go hungry.

   --Bruce Bochy has now taken two teams to the World Series, the 1998 Padres and the 2010 Giants, and it is time to recognize him as one of baseball's best managers. He is unafraid to make lineup changes or remove pitchers or ask players who may not be familiar with certain functions--such as Huff sacrificing for the first time in his career--to perform the unexpected. He is not the most quotable personality, which often leads to the lack of publicity and recognition he deserves, but his handling of those misfits and castoffs should now leave no doubt that he belongs in the upper echelon of big league skippers.

   --Vladimir Guerrero's 29 homers and 115 runs batted in prompted Anaheim fans to wonder if their Angels had given up on him prematurely, but he looked severely overmatched in the postseason, batting .220 with no home runs and six RBI, and what had once seemed to be an automatic resigning by the Rangers now may be in doubt, although general manager Jon Daniels insists "you have to consider his body of work."     

    --Beyond the magical work of the San Francisco rotation and the spirited performance of the Misfits this wasn't the most spellbinding World Series, but it did prove again that a carefully increased system of replays is needed despite the commissioner's concern about the "pace" of games. Of course, commercial breaks of 2 1/2 to 3 minutes don't exactly enhance the pace, but then somebody has to pay Fox for helping underwrite the industry, and the greater groundswell among owners doesn't seem to be for more replay but either 1) the addition of another wild card team, 2) a one game wild card play-in, or 3) increasing the division series from  five to seven games. More on those possibilities at a later date. 

          

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