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View unanswered posts | View active topics It is currently Thu Jan 24, 2019 6:09 am



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The topics include the future of the Texas Rangers, the Braves handling of Dan Uggla, Steves playoff predictions and the future of some managers. 1. With the Texas Rangers missing out on the playoffs after losing a play-in-game against the Rays, do you think their World Series window closed? The Texas Rangers went to back-to-back World Series in 2010 and 2011, coming up short both times. In 2012, they were a Wild Card entrant in the playoffs, but were eliminated by the Orioles. In 2013, they played a 163rd game to try and make the playoffs, but lost to the Rays who have since advanced to the ALDS against the Red Sox. It has been a great run. They have won 90 or more games over four consecutive years. With their elimination this year, it is not unfair to consider whether their window of winning a World Series might be closing. I dont believe that it is closing, though. In fact, I think they are far from it. This team will be competitive for years to come. Consider all that went wrong this year: Josh Hamilton signed with Angels in the offseason; they traded Michael Young to the Phillies; Starting pitchers Neftali Feliz, Matt Harrison and Colby Lewis spent the season on the DL ; Alexi Ogando, Michael Kirkman, Joakim Soria and even ace pitcher Yu Darvish missed time too; the Rangers used 11 different starting pitchers; AJ Pierszynski and Ian Kinsler spent time on the DL, as did Mitch Moreland and Lance Berkman and they lost Nelson Cruz to a 50-game suspension. How in the world did the Rangers win 91 games? If I had told you that so much would go wrong before the season, you might not think they would even finish over .500. Manager Ron Washington keeps the pedal to the metal. He is not the best in-game manager, but he keeps his team focus and motivated. They never feel like victims, even when so much goes wrong. This Rangers team isnt going anywhere. They have key, core members under contract for next year and beyond. SS Elvis Andrus and 2B Ian Kinsler are both locked up contractually for years to come and they have a blue chip young prospect in Jurickson Profar to bolster their depth. Adrian Beltre and Alex Rios will be back in the middle of the lineup, as well. With Yu Darvish leading the rotation that will include Matt Harrison, Derek Holland and Martin Perez, their starting pitching will be very competitive. Closer Joe Nathan will be back, as well. On top of this, they have a well-stocked farm system to help feed the majors with more quality talent. The Rangers can use another bat in the lineup and maybe another starter, but I absolutely expect them to be back in 2014 with a very competitive team and a legitimate shot of getting back to the World Series. 2. After hitting .179 with 22 home runs this season, the Atlanta Braves left their highest paid player Dan Uggla off their NLDS playoff roster. Uggla has two years and $26 million left on his contract. Was the playoff omission the right move and is there a way for both sides to salvage this situation? It is always difficult on a manager and general manager when a player in the midst of a mega-contract loses his skills and production. During the regular season, a manager will try all the tricks to try and get him going. The player will take extra batting practice. Then, he may get a few days off to clear his head and flush out all of the negative thoughts. The manager may move a struggling player around in the line-up, hoping to put him in a spot where he will get good pitches to hit. A player may also get examined by a doctor to see if there is any physical problem causing his struggles. Sometimes a player will accept a short trip to the minor leagues to get a fresh start and work on making adjustments. Organizations have to try and get a return on their investment. Players are not disposable. If a player has a big contract, you cant just release him. No one would ever flush $26M down the toilet. So the Atlanta Braves tried everything this year with Dan Uggla. He is hitting .179/.309/.362 with a career-worst 31.8 percent strikeout rate. It was so bad this year that the Braves sent him to get LASIK eye surgery. The bigger problem is that he hit worse after the surgery. When it comes playoff time, it is not about contracts or feelings: It is about winning. The Braves made the right decision leaving Uggla off of their playoff roster. He may be disappointed but thats just too bad. He should be offended by his performance not the team. Moving forward the only thing that will salvage the relationship between Uggla and the Braves is if he starts to hit. If he doesnt hit, then the club will be faced with a final decision for Uggla and his career. Its that simple. 3. Now that the playoffs are set, which teams do you think will advance to the World Series and why? NLDS LA Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves This is an interesting match-up. It pits the team with the best starting pitching ERA in the Dodgers against the team with the best bullpen ERA in the Braves. Both offenses can score runs in bunches. The Braves are big swingers, proven by the facts that they led the NL in strikeouts and home runs. The Dodgers do it with a bit more contact. Give me the team with the better starting pitchers. Dodgers win in 5 games. St. Louis Cardinals vs. Pittsburgh Pirates The Pirates have been an amazing story. They finally made the playoffs for the first time since 1992. They are made up of one superstar (Andrew McCutchen) and a bunch of gritty, tough baseball players. But after losing Game 1 by a score of 9-1, it feels like they dont belong. Cardinals win series 3-0. ALDS Boston Red Sox vs. Tampa Bay Rays This is a great match-up with two AL East rivals. The Rays are one of the rare teams that can overcome multiple elimination games and still have a shot to win the next series. Their depth of starting pitching is a strength. They can win on any given night. That being said, the Red Sox can match them starter-for-starter, plus the Sox have a much more formidable offense. Sox win in 5 games. Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland As The Tigers have the names we all know. They have former MVP Miguel Cabrera and former Cy Young-winner Justin Verlander. The Tigers are led by a tough and gruff manager in Jim Leyland who desperately wants to win for owner Mike Illitch. The As are managed by the unassuming Bob Melvin and are a bunch of no- names. However, they can pitch and hit and catch the ball. This will be a closely played series with the Tigers winning in 5 games. NLCS St Louis Cardinals vs. LA Dodgers This will be a battle of the two best NL teams. Both teams have legitimate aces in Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright. Both teams have the ability to mix and match out of the bullpen. The Cardinals were the games best at hitting with runners in scoring position. The Dodgers can score in many different ways as well. They can slug the ball out of the ballpark or win the game with good base-running. The Dodgers will win this series in 7 games. ALCS Detroit Tigers vs. Boston Red Sox This is a battle of big arms and big bats. The teams were part of a big thre- team deal at the deadline that sent starter Jake Peavy to the Sox and shortstop Jose Iglesias to the Tigers. If the games turn into pitching duels, they match up well and, if it were a slugfest, they can stand toe-to-toe, as well. This will be a seven game series that can go either way. The Red Sox will prevail as the Tigers bullpen blows a game. Red Sox in 7 games. World Series Boston Red Sox vs. LA Dodgers What an amazing match-up. These two teams helped set the course for each other to get to this point with their big trade a year ago. The Dodgers took Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Nick Punto off the Sox hands, including about a quarter million dollars of their salaries. This allowed the Sox to quickly reconstruct their team. In the meantime, Crawford, Gonzalez and Punto found their games again and have been contributors to the Dodgers success. Both teams remade their bullpens over the course of the season. Both added starting pitchers, as well. Their managers and general managers have excelled all season long. The Red Sox win the series in 7 games. Fair or Foul This is the time of year that managers can lose their jobs. We all understand when we get hired in baseball that we will likely be fired someday, too. It is the nature of the beast. Every situation is different and unique to each organization. Sometimes a manager who has been with a club for a long time gets let go, regardless how much success he has had in the past. We saw that this season with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. He had managed the Phils for nine years. He won a World Series in 2009, but the team wasnt winning now and it just felt like it was time for a change. He didnt do anything wrong. He isnt a worse manager now than he was in 2009. It was just time. Dale Sveum was fired in Chicago. He had been hired to oversee the growth and development of young players in the majors. The Cubs are rebuilding and they wanted a development manager to teach their prospects how to win in the majors. They only won 61 and 66 games in his two years. There wasnt a lot of winning being taught or learned. Davey Johnson is stepping down in Washington from his role as manager, but that was predestined even before the season. He will serve as a consultant to the organization moving forward. Luckily for Johnson, this was predetermined because he would have been fired. The Nats underachieved significantly this year. Dusty Baker was fired on Friday despite leading the Reds to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and three of the last four years. Sure, they didnt advance beyond the League Division Series in any of those years, but it certainly wasnt because Dusty mismanaged the games. I mean, come on - He has led all three franchises he has managed to the playoffs. He is a two-time manager of the year while with the Giants. He finished second in the voting last season. It is pretty clear he is a quality manager, but the Reds want something more. Eric Wedge isnt returning to the Mariners despite the team actually wanting him to return. He cited a difference in the direction of the organization. It is a bit unclear what that means, as typically most organizations want to head in the direction of winning. I am kidding, of course. Often times, that is code for the team doesnt want to spend money on players and the manager thinks they should. There was plenty of speculation that Mike Scioscia was in jeopardy in Anaheim. Despite big off-season acquisitions and unfulfilled huge expectations, Scioscia remains with the Angels. He fits the Charlie Manuel mold. It was speculated that since the Rangers didnt make the playoffs after losing to the Rays in the tie-breaker game that Ron Washington was in trouble. He is similar to Dusty Baker. He made the playoffs in three of four years, twice advancing to the World Series. Fortunately, he hasnt lost his job. It was unclear whether the Mets would ask Terry Collins back to manage for a fourth year, as this large market team hasnt been over .500 during his tenure. Collins is like Dale Sveum in results, but was able to keep his job where the Cub manager lost his. It is a bit odd that in one off-season we will be replacing five managers for such a wide variety of reasons. Yet we can fit many other managers into the same categories who kept their jobs. So why do some managers get fired while others dont when their results may be the same? It is all about time and place. Each team is in a certain time and place in its history. Where they are determines the expectations on the field and, therefore, the expectations for the manager. These expectations are the key to survival or termination. Some clubs are rebuilding. Within that definition of rebuilding, there are a variety of directions. A team may be disassembling and moving one step back to take two steps forward. Other teams are just going to give young prospects opportunities and hope they figure it out in the majors. Some clubs have already figured out which young players are ready to produce and are looking to add veterans to go with them. Teams that are believed to be pennant contenders automatically have a high level of expectations. The higher the expectations, the less margin for failure. The lower the expectations, the less distasteful losing may be. If the fans are disappointed, then a manager is in trouble. Here is the reality though: Good managers are made by good players. I am not saying all managers are created equal because they are not. I believe certain managers can impact certain individuals and teams in a more dramatic way than another. Tony LaRussa impacted the outcome of more games than any manager I have ever seen with his in-game decisions and moves. Jim Leylands players speak in "Leylandisms." His words impact his guys. So a good manager makes a difference. But I also believe that each manager fired could still win a championship with the team that fired him if they game him more time and better players. Managers learn from their mistakes. They learn more about their players and how to best utilize them in situations to succeed. So I understand this is what we do in baseball. If we dont win, we fire the manager because you cant fire all of the players. I would sure love to see teams just ride it out with their leaders believing that, at some point, they will find the right formula. Change isnt always good or necessary! Nike Air Max 95 Discount Cheap . Jamies number grades given are out of five, with five being the best mark. Steve Mason, Philadelphia (4) - Mason was brilliant all night long with save after big save on Benoit Pouliot, Carl Hagelin and Derick Brassard. Nike Air Max 95 Sale Outlet . Coetzees finish, with six birdies and no bogeys, took him to 19-under 268 overall and past South African compatriots Thomas Aiken and Justin Walters, the overnight co-leaders. Coetzee was flawless on the East Course at Royal Johannesburg and Kensington Golf Club to clinch his maiden title after 24 top 10 finishes. http://www.cheapnikeairmax95.com/ .C. -- The Steve Smith era in Carolina is over. Cheap Air Max 95 Wholesale . At 11:06 of the first period, Neal struck Marchand with his knee when Marchand was down on the ice. Marchand remained in the game. Neal was assessed a kneeing penalty for his hit on Marchand. Air Max 95 Cheap Authentic . - Andrew McCutchen went 4 for 5 and finished a home run short of a cycle, and Jordy Mercer drove in a career-high four runs to lead the Pittsburgh Pirates to an 8-2 rout of the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday.Eddie Jones wants England to be even sharper after their impressive 37-21 win over South Africa on Saturday. Tries from Jonny May, Courtney Lawes, George Ford and Owen Farrell, who finished with 19 points, saw England comfortably defeat South Africa at Twickenham and end their 10-year, 12-Test winless run against the Springboks. Highlights of Englands opening Autumn International against South Africa at Twickenham England have won all 10 games since Jones replaced Stuart Lancaster as head coach but the Australian believes there is still more to come from his side. It was far from perfect but satisfactory, Jones told Sky Sports.We have two weeks preparation and basically are a new team - we have 10 of the 30 guys who went to Australia not here. We have had to work hard to bring the team together - the players have been outstanding in their attitude and application.We were rewarded by a good result - not a great performance but a good result. We are moving in the right direction - we are still not sharp and if we want to be the number one team in the world then we have to be sharper. Joe Launchbury reacts to his man of the match performance against the Springboks at Twickenham South Africa had a promising opening quarter as their big men looked to bully England and went into an early 6-0 lead.dddddddddddd However Jones said that was to be expected and was happy with the way his players reacted.We knew the first 20 minutes were going to be the best period of the game for South Africa, added Jones.They are in a lot of pressure at home so they are always going to play with a lot of passion and aggression and they are big men. They forced us into a few penalties and we gave away a few silly penalties - attributed to us being on the back foot. But we fought our way out of that and came away very well at half time.Joe Launchbury was the official man of the match while Ben Youngs was the fans pick for the award but there were plenty of other eye-catching performances. Dylan Hartley thinks England still have a lot to work on after beating South Africa at Twickenham Joe was good, I though Courtney Lawes was also good in his 50th Test, said Jones.Chris Robshaw and Dan Coles work rate was absolutely exceptional. Billy Vunipola keeps on getting better and better. Ben Youngs and George Ford controlled the game well and Owen Farrell had his usual high standard game.Next up for England will be Fiji who were beaten 40-7 by the Barbarians on Friday night. However Jones is expecting a different challenge from the Fijians.Jones said: Fiji is a completely different game - they want to play an unstructured game. 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