Catching up with former Phillies as they pursue postseason glory.
What a cruel chore it is to endure postseason baseball. 48 hours after the Phils blow it isn’t enough time to adequately decompress. Last night, instead of watching the St. Louis game, I gladly elected to watch my wife purchase throw pillows at Pier 1. You can’t get away from it though. Today, a soggy Friday in the Northeast is a painful reminder of a certain wet, butchered, sorry excuse for a baseball field in Washington D.C., the unofficial site of the collapse.
I can officially admit I know nothing about baseball after the Cardinals shut out the Padres on four hits in a game started by Jeff Weaver. San Diego, the team with pitching and defense on their side, are teetering on the brink of elimination against a St. Louis squad that positively limped into the playoffs.
So much for momentum. I’ve never been more rightly put in my place on this site than I was last October, after a weak post detailing how vital it was to have momentum in the postseason. Like a slap in the face, one reader responded: "Yeah, momentum rules! That's why the Cards rode that Pujols HR all the way to the title!"
If the concept is debunked once and for all, it might be this season. Minnesota, Los Angeles and San Diego – teams with supposed "momentum" – are close to getting swept out of the first round. At least one potential winner - St. Louis - came in ice cold.
San Diego was my pick to represent the National League, but I’m personally pulling for none of them. Part of me wants the Mets to win and get it out of their system, so that next season they might become a less determined group of superstars. Realistically, one can only hope some intangible force can knock them down a peg or two (What’s that? Their pitching is getting old? Meh. They’ll get new ones).
Name the best pound-for-pound, late-season acquisition of 2006. My vote goes to former Phillies 2nd round pick Marlon Anderson, starting left-fielder for the Wild Card-winning Dodgers. All he's done in his 25 regular-season games with L.A. is hit seven homers, many of them biggies, and has since taken over most games in left-field. In Game 1, he belted an RBI double and dropped a beautiful bunt base hit to start their rally in the seventh.
In the words of Baseball Prospectus, this is a guy who played so well for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays a few years back, he would never again hold a starting job. Since then, it wouldn't be a stretch to call him the best NL bench player of the last two seasons. Now, he can add all-purpose outfielder to his resume, including post-season experience.
Then there’s Endy Chavez, who was let go by the Phils almost as quickly as the Mets snatched him off the market. Probably 100 percent of fans in both cities wondered why on earth the Mets needed him. A season later, L’il Endy has contributed about as much to his team’s cause as Pat Burrell did in 2006. He got into yesterday’s game and went 2-for-4 with a run scored.
Back in April during a brutal round of golf, I told a Met fan that Billy Wagner would cost them during the playoffs. It nearly happened Wednesday when he allowed a pair of doubles in the ninth. However, he bounced back yesterday and sat the Dodgers down in order to pick up his second save in as many tries.
Placido Polanco is 3-for-9 in the Yankees/Tigers series. I never had issue with trading Polly because the Phils were desperate for a setup man, and also to cut Chase Utley loose at second base. Unfortunately, Polanco was one of few players with any real value. David Bell had no value.
Across the field for the Yankees, Bobby Abreu has taken on an opposite role as the player who can do no wrong, only the script is all the same. As usual, he’s getting on base and knocking in runs, including four RBIs in Game 1. In other words, he's not necessarily a great post-season player. He's just a great player.