Tagged: Wild Card

Episode 32 – Cardinals, Tigers, and Giants! Oh My!

Three Up Three Down is back to break down all the postseason action! We discuss our favorite Division Series and who we think will take the Championship Series all the way to the World Series.  Not only that, Mapes turns the tables in our “Defend Yo Self” segment where the guys back up their Rookie of the Year and Cy Young picks. Let us know what you think!

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast!

or use this link to download on iTunes

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=508049520

Twitter: @3U3D
Facebook: Three Up, Three Down

Enjoy!

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Do Any NL Teams DESERVE the 2nd Wild Card?

As you’re well aware by now, there is quite a heated battle for both newly instituted second Wild Card slots. With just about ten games remaining for everyone, there are no less than four teams in each league fighting for that last spot and a one-game playoff to move to the Divisional Series.

Let me first acknowledge a few things so you can’t yell at me later:

1) Yes, it has made the stretch run much more exciting. Just like the doctor ordered.

2) I understand that most professional sports leagues have at least 12 teams total in the playoffs, still more than MLB.

3) Every team that is still in the chase for that second spot, regardless of league, is a “good” club.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s cut to the chase. Is there really a National League team that deserves the second Wild Card? After all, the division leaders have all already clinched a playoff spot, and the Atlanta Braves are six games better than the next best contender.

The defending champion St. Louis Cardinals are currently holding the coveted fifth seed, 2.5 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers and 3.0 ahead of the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Philadelphia Phillies and Arizona Diamondbacks are barely hanging on, 4 and 5 games back, respectively.

Of those five, only the Cardinals have clinched a .500 season with a week and a half of games remaining. Again, don’t get me wrong. Those are some good teams. Among them we have the third-best team ERA in the league (L.A.), an offense led by the reigning league MVP (Milwaukee) and a team with the most dangerous starting rotation in baseball (Philadelphia).

But all these teams have seen their fair share of struggles. Hitting rough patches isn’t anything new – eventual World Champions will take their lumps over a long season as well.

If the Cardinals, Brewers, Dodgers, Phillies or D’Backs are going to sneak into the playoffs on the strength of a new Wild Card spot that was likely designed with the intention of getting the Angels, Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers into the A.L. postseason most years (Oops!), why do they get a do-or-die opportunity against a far superior team?

There is no question that the Braves have been a better team than all the above listed. You can’t really argue with that large of a gap in the standings, but I can argue that it’s absolutely ridiculous that they will face one of the lesser teams in a one-game playoff that determines who continues on in the playoffs. 

Putting such a fantastic season on the line in a one-game playoff where literally anything could happen seems crazy to me. Not that Bud Selig has ever done much to dispel the notion that he’s a little cuckoo, but this one is just too much. I appreciate the excitement the new Wild Card spot is bringing to the pennant chase, but I’d be pretty annoyed if I was a Braves fan.

Atlanta has arranged their schedule to send either Kris Medlen or Tim Hudson to the hill in a must-win. Both are great pitchers, but just because of the new rule, you could see them facing Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright, Clayton Kershaw, Roy Halladay…a whole slew of starters who have huge-game experience and success to their names.

The Braves could legitimately take that Wild Card spot by nearly ten games over the fifth seed and get sent right back home because of one, single game. As we’ve seen a million times in the past, anything can happen in a baseball game. The Astros beat the Reds a couple of weeks ago – why couldn’t that happen in a one-game playoff?

A bizarre error could change a game. A bad call. One wild pitch. In such a long season, it seems preposterous to allow a team that really earned a postseason berth to be in peril of going home at the hands of an 82-win team based on one game. At the very least, it should be a three-game series to truly determine (in most cases) a winner.

And don’t you even get me started on the fact that the Braves or whoever beats them in the one-game playoff will get the first two Division Series games at home. That’s a whole different beast.

So, it’s a very legitimate question that I’m posing here: Do any National League teams deserve that second Wild Card spot? And does the new postseason structure get re-thunk if the Braves get worked in the one-game playoff? We would love to hear your take on the issue, so comment and VOTE below!

If you like what you see, you can follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Episode 29 – Playoff Panic and Movie Premieres

Your starting 5 are suited up and ready to talk baseball once again.  We touch on the happenings around baseball from Yunel Escobar to the Playoff Panic meter for each team involved in these closely contested Playoff races. The movie critics come out as well, when we discuss our favorite baseball movies in lieu of “Trouble With the Curve” debuting on Friday. All that and more inside this episode of “Three Up, Three Down”.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast!

or use this link to download on iTunes

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=508049520

Twitter: @3U3D
Facebook: Three Up, Three Down

Enjoy!

Episode 28 – So A Brewer And A Philly Walk Into A Bar…

This week’s episode is quick and to the point. We discuss a bit about instant replay, Stephen Strasburg’s Innings Limit, and give you your Fantasy Baseball playoff push pickups. May you win all of your leagues! We also touch on the surging playoff races as the Brewers and Phillies are closing the gap for the Wild Card quickly.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to the podcast!

or use this link to download on iTunes

http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=508049520

Twitter: @3U3D
Facebook: Three Up, Three Down

Enjoy!

Baltimore Orioles: Is Adding Randy Wolf a Good Move?

It seems like the Orioles are just snatching up pitchers like those damn hungry, hungry hippos. And they aren’t doing it in the lavish fashion that a certain Southern Californian team is…

If you believe MLB.com’s Orioles beat writer Britt Ghiroli (and you should!) on Twitter, the O’s are close to inking recently-cut lefty Randy Wolf.

This potential move comes just days after Baltimore worked out a waiver trade with the D’Backs to acquire another lefty starter in Joe Saunders. Apparently the Orioles aren’t very interested in letting their Cinderella ship sink like the Pittsburgh Pirates seem to enjoy doing.

So do you like this move? Comment below and VOTE in the poll!

All indications point to the signing being imminent, and if it does happen, it could significantly improve a struggling Orioles staff.

This willingness to make such moves shows me that the Orioles’ front office is very serious about their playoff run this season. Adding Wolf and Saunders to a top two of Wei-Yin Chen and Jason Hammel (when he comes back from injury) may very well be the deciding factor in Baltimore’s quest at a surprising playoff berth.

We know they have the offense and the bullpen, but the rotation has been shaky all year, and especially so after Hammel went down. Wolf has a lot of years on his resumé, but the numbers aren’t especially impressive in 2012: 3-10/5.69/1.57 in 24 starts with Milwaukee.

Despite some big time struggles in Milwaukee this year – hence the reason he was available in the first place – Wolf has a reputation for being a big-game pitcher and will bring invaluable veteran leadership to a very young staff. Ghiroli also pointed out on Twitter that Wolf might be primarily used as another lefty reliever, though some starts do seem likely.

Wolf isn’t all wisdom and experience though. I really believe the southpaw has some good innings left in the tank. If it means anything to you skeptical O’s fans, Wolf has a 2.89 ERA in September since 2009. That’s got to be worth something.

Anyway, a playoff race and a new home might do Wolf good. And if he throws well in the few starts he gets, the Orioles will be even more dangerous down the stretch.

I’ll give credit to CBS’ Jon Heyman for this tidbit: This move would potentially give the Orioles five lefty starters. That’s one way to neutralize the Yankees’ lefty-heavy lineup.

The Orioles currently sit just 3.5 games back from those dreaded Yankees, and holding on to a slim Wild Card lead. It’s the first chance this team has had to make the playoffs in a LONG time. Time will tell if this move pays off!

Don’t forget to follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Grade That Trade! Orioles Make a Sneaky Good Move Edition

Wait, you mean the apocalypse of baseball trades occurred yesterday and moves are still being made? Ugh. I thought I was done with this part of the job!

Fear not, lovers of trades. The Orioles and Diamondbacks are here to feed your appetite today. News just broke on a trade that sends a reliever to Arizona and a starter to Baltimore.

Let’s break it down:

Diamondbacks Get:

RP Matt Lindstrom

Orioles Get:

SP Joe Saunders

Yep, that’s all. No nine-figure contracts. No high-end prospects. No all-star sluggers. But let me just put it out there right now – this is still a hell of an important trade.

Both the D’Backs and Orioles are striving to make the playoffs. Both have a tough road as they will likely only have a shot in the Wild Card race, with legitimate competition in their respective leagues. As it stands now, the O’s are tied for the second Wild Card with the Oakland A’s, just percentage points behind the Tampa Bay Rays and one game ahead of the Detroit Tigers. And lest we forget about Mike Trout and his pesky Los Angeles Angels, still hanging around.

All in all, the American League looks to have five very good teams battling for two spots.

Over in the National League, the picture is just as muddled. Defending NL West champion Arizona sits 5.5 games behind the Braves, who have a slight lead on the St. Louis Cardinals, who have a slight lead on the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have a slight lead on the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Again, we are looking at five legit contenders battling for the final two NL playoff spots.

So if the D’backs want to return to the postseason and make this a regular thing, what did they have to do?

If the Orioles want to finally return to glory after years of cellar-ridden misery in the AL East, what moves could they make?

How about Joe Saunders to Baltimore, for Matt Lindstrom to Arizona? Hey! What do you know?!

The D’Backs were sitting right in the middle of the pack in team ERA and had 14 blown saves on the season. J.J. Putz is doing well at the back end, but how about another solid ‘pen arm to fortify a bullpen and hold late leads that the powerful offense has built?

Answer: Lindstrom. Every team Arizona is chasing in the Wild Card race has incredibly good pitching staffs. That needed to change in the desert, and now it has. Any time you can add a veteran bullpen arm with a sub-3.00 ERA, you did good. Especially when said arm has previous closing experience. Insurance is good, people!

Besides, they wanted to get rid of Saunders, based on the placement of the lefty starter on waivers early last week.

I won’t be coy about it. I think the Orioles made a brilliant move in acquiring Saunders. I think they won the trade if only for the immediate impact that another starting arm can add to that squad.

Because the Orioles have been playing fantastic baseball this season, and despite my high expectations of failure, have continued to chug along and contend this late into the season. The offense is there, but the one major question mark behind Wei-Yin Chen and Jason Hammel (when healthy) has been consistent starting pitching.

I’m not saying Saunders is some kind of super star, but he eats innings (only went less than five innings in two of his starts for Arizona this year) and has had multiple double-digit win seasons between Arizona and Los Angeles (AL). He has shown flashes of brilliance at certain points in his career, and new scenery could do him well.

Sure, the AL East is terrifying for pitchers, but if he even puts together three or four quality starts in big games for the O’s, they are on their way to a Wild Card spot.

On the 2012 season, Saunders has a 4.22 ERA and a scary 1.36 WHIP. Again, he’s no superstar, but will get you quality innings on most nights. Before getting shredded by the Miami Marlins for 9 earned runs in less than four innings in his last start, Saunders’ ERA was a respectable 3.70. Before that it was as low as 3.48.

So here is how I see the trade playing out: The D’Backs added a strong bullpen arm to add some legitimacy to their relief corps. With Tyler Skaggs, Trevor Bauer, Patrick Corbin and Rookie of the Year candidate Wade Miley all performing well as starters at certain points, Saunders became expendable.

The Orioles needed a little pitching depth to go with a hefty offensive attack. They were also middle of the pack in terms of team ERA and quality starts, trailing most teams in the Wild Card chase in those categories. With Hammel back in the fold in the next couple weeks and Chen continuing to grow, the Orioles now have a more solid, albeit very anonymous top three.

If either team makes the playoffs, you can thank the respective GMs for pulling off this very minor, yet impactful waiver trade.

Who do YOU think won this trade? Vote and comment below!

Don’t forget to follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook.

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)