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First-Round Leftovers, Do-Overs and Hangovers

Today, during this strange pause in the playoff action, is a day for looking both behind and ahead -- as Boz did in this column. I'm taking advantage of the pause by mulling over my LCS picks for another day, but in the meantime, here are some random thoughts about what we have seen to this point, and what it might mean going forward. Please discuss:

*The suicide squeeze attempt that probably cost the Angels a victory in Game 4 was not a bad piece of strategy. If it had worked, we'd all be saying what a genius Mike Scioscia was to try it. He obviously felt he had a better chance to get the runner home from third with Erick Aybar laying down a bunt than by trying to hit a fly ball to the outfield. The count (2-0) was perfect for the squeeze, and even though the Red Sox say they saw it coming, the pitch from Manny Delcarmen was over the plate and begging to be bunted. Aybar simply missed it. Could Scioscia have pinch-hit for Aybar? Yes, but other than the backup catcher, his only option would have been Robb Quinlan, who, like Aybar, is right-handed, and not as good a bunter as Aybar.

*Speaking of the Angels, would you give closer Francisco Rodriguez, let's say, $60 million over five years? Not me. I believe almost every organization already has a great closer in its system -- the trick is identifying and developing him. The Angels have their closer-of-the-future -- and it's Jose Arredondo, not K-Rod. Despite K-Rod's hype, Arredondo was the more dominant reliever by any measure. He had a lower ERA (1.62 to 2.24), a lower opponents' batting average (.190 to .216) and OPS (.533 to .630) and a higher adjusted ERA+ (268 to 195, with 100 being league-average). Someone is going to give K-Rod the money, and they will almost certainly regret it at some point.

*Yes, the Rays have developed some outstanding players through their own farm system (B.J. Upton, Evan Longoria, James Shields, et al.). But they've actually been more productive with trades (Scott Kazmir, Grant Balfour, Dioner Navarro, Matt Garza, Jason Bartlett, Edwin Jackson, Dan Wheeler, J.P. Howell) and bottom-feeding for other teams' castoffs (Carlos Pena, Eric Hinske, Gabe Gross). In terms of how they have acquired their core players, the Rays actually resemble the Washington Nationals. But I guess you'd have to conclude the Rays have done a better job at it.

*What are the Cubs going to do with Kosuke Fukudome? There seems to be a sense that Lou Piniella has washed his hands of the guy (after crushing him in his news conference following the Game 2 loss). But they still owe him $38 million over the next three years. His disappearing act absolutely killed the Cubs in the Division Series, as it took away any semblance of balance in their lineup, making them almost exclusively right-handed against a Dodgers team loaded with shut-down right-handed arms. I recall the Nationals were very interested in Fukudome when he came out of Japan, but couldn't get close to the dollars the Cubs were willing to pay. But if the Cubs shop him around at a bargain-basement price (say, by offering to pick up half the contract to be rid of him), do you think the Nats should consider it?

*Did CC Sabathia's one bad start in the NLDS nullify what he did for the Brewers down the stretch and damage his free-agent value? I don't think so. But what could be a concern is the fact he has thrown 513 innings over the past two seasons, regular and postseason combined. (That's 37 more innings than the next-highest guy, Arizona's Brandon Webb.) Would you give him the Johan Santana deal (six years $137.5 million)? Again, not me. But someone almost certainly will.

*Unlike in the first round, the Red Sox will need four starters in the ALCS, and unless they want him to go on short rest (highly unlikely), Jon Lester won't be available until Game 2. That means Game 1 is a choice between a physically diminished Josh Beckett or a labor-intensive Daisuke Matsuzaka. Everybody in Boston is claiming publicly that Beckett is fine, but I suspect they will go with Matsuzaka, who did, after all, go 18-3 this year. But then the question will be whether to use Beckett or Lester in Game 2. By saving Lester until Game 3, they would also have him for Game 7 -- or the opener of the World Series, should they clinch early. But it's always dangerous to look ahead like that. Meantime, in Game 4 I think the Red Sox will choose Tim Wakefield over Paul Byrd, owing partly to the fact it's more difficult to bring Wakefield in from the bullpen -- since he also requires a change of catchers, with Kevin Cash replacing Jason Varitek.

If you're the Red Sox, how would you line up your rotation?

By Dave Sheinin  |  October 8, 2008; 8:50 AM ET
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Squeeze was over managing. A groundball, perhaps, and a fly, more than likely, score the run. And even if Aybar does not get Willits home, Figgins was hitting well.

Agree on Arredondo / Shields. Teixeira is more valuable than K-Rod. Offer Tex $150 million (6 years $24 million/ yr, with 2 options and a $6 million buyout), as an opening bid. Sign Chad cheap, too, as an extra option if neither Shields nor Arredondo work out ;-)

I've made the point about the Rays structure on NJ before. Only 2 of their high 1st round picks played this year (Upton and Longoria). Crawford was a 2d, IIRC. Really, Shields is their Lannan, and Sonnanstine is another middle round pick. Hammel & Howell I think are system products in the bullpen. Imagine if the Nats had signed Pena instead of Dmitri in '07 and Hinske insead of Boone in '08?

By comparison, the Red Sox are more of the internal development team this year, especially with Lugo out. 3 of 4 infielders, one outfielder, Lester, Papelbon, Delcarmen, Masterson.

Fukudome would be interesting. This team should build some sort of Japan visibility for the long term, and Fukudome might straighten out outside the Pinella influence.

Whoever signs CC needs to expect they will lose at least one year due to an arm injury, but it will take a 5 -6 year contract in the $20 million per year to land him.

Amalie Benjamin speculates it is Dice-K game 1, with Wakefield in game 4, because Wake is less useful in relief than Byrd. Francona does not want Tek to catch Wake when Tek is in.

Posted by: PTBNL | October 8, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

"But if the Cubs shop him around at a bargain-basement price (say, by offering to pick up half the contract to be rid of him), do you think the Nats should consider it?"

Only if the Cubs also pick up Dmitri Young and/or Austin Kearns and their contract(s) as part of the deal.

Posted by: An Briosca Mor | October 8, 2008 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I don't get this logic. The guy can't hit, so the Nats should sign him??

Posted by: ce | October 9, 2008 7:47 AM | Report abuse

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