Tony La Russa: Game 5 Pitching Mishaps Were Result of Bullpen Miscommunications

Those of you who watched Game 5 of the World Series Monday night were likely left scratching your heads like the rest of us.  With the game tied 2-2 in the eighth, Michael Young led off for the Rangers and ripped a double off Octavio Dotel.  The hit prompted Tony La Russa to get on the phone with the bullpen immediately, but what transpired from that point on was bizarre to say the least.

After the phone call, left-hander Marc Rzepczynski began warming up in the bullpen.  According to La Russa, he had asked for right-hander Jason Motte to begin warming at the same time but bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist apparently could not hear the request over the roar of the crowd.  When La Russa realized Motte was not throwing alongside Rzepczynski, he called Lilliquist again to get Motte up.  Once again, Lilliquist allegedly did not hear him correctly and instead thought La Russa asked for right-hander Lance Lynn to begin throwing.

“It’s just like any other park,” Lilliquist explained according to an MLB.com article. “You get a bunch of people and it’s loud and he wanted Motte going easy to back [Rzepczynski] up, and I thought I heard Lynn.”

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Elvis Andrus Wants Rangers to Walk Albert Pujols Every Time He’s Up

If the Texas Rangers are going to win the World Series, they will have to shake off an ugly, ugly Game 3 loss.  Thanks in part to a missed call by the umpires in the fourth inning, St. Louis went on to win by a video game score of 16-7.  A pretty good Cardinals hitter named Albert Pujols had a little something to do with it as well.

Pujols went deep three times to lead the Cardinals to victory and give them a 2-1 series lead.  If Albert continues to look even close to that good at the plate for the remainder of the series, it will be enough to put St. Louis on his back and take home the trophy.  Unless, of course, the Rangers just walk him from now on.  Texas shortstop Elvis Andrus thinks that would be a pretty good idea.

“We cannot take chances on Pujols,” Andrus said after Game 3 according to the Dallas Morning News. “Everybody knows how good he is. We’ve got to execute pitches. If he doesn’t chase, give him first base. We’d rather seeMatt Holliday beat us than Pujols. You never want to see the best hitter beat you.”

We agree.  In fact, we challenge you to disagree.  There comes a time when you no longer attack a hitter like Pujols — especially in the World Series.  Albert is arguably the best hitter in all of baseball.  The Rangers are better off assuming he’s going to hit a home run every time he steps to the plate.  If the bases aren’t loaded, don’t throw him a strike.

Fist pound to Hardball Talk for the story.

Adrian Beltre Called Out on Ball Fouled off Foot in Ninth Inning (Picture)

Cue the cries for instant replay. Those of you who were watching Game 1 of the World Series on Fox Wednesday night got to experience their new “Hot Spot” infrared camera. While the concept is pretty strange, it did further prove that a blown call helped the Cardinals secure a 3-2 victory over the Rangers.

With one out in the ninth and trailing by a run, Adrian Beltre hit a ground ball to third and was thrown out. However, Beltre reacted like the ball had hit him off the foot and then chopped down to third, and replays revealed that it had. The “Hot Spot” camera clearly showed a heat mark where the ball had struck Beltre in the toe. Check out this picture that Big League Stew shared with us:

That is certainly a tough call for the home plate umpire to make considering how crisply the ball rolled to the third baseman, but it supports those like Jack McKeon who believe full instant replay would help the game of baseball.  In a one-run World Series game, that missed call is huge.  You can tell the ball hit Beltre’s foot even without the whacky infrared camera shot.  Bad call or no bad call: Cardinals 1, Rangers 0.

2011 MLB World Series Favorites: Philadelphia Phillies with Cliff Lee

The final post in a three-part series written by Alan Hull who is previewing the teams favored to win the 2011 MLB World Series.

Philadelphia Phillies

After reaching the World Series two years in a row, the Phillies fell short of their goal in 2010 when they lost to the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS. The Giants will have most of their players back next season, but it doesn’t stop us from making the Phillies one of our favorites to reach the Fall Classic in the upcoming season.

Off-season Moves: The Phillies had an outstanding off-season, re-signing J.C. Romero and backup catcher Brian Schneider, and those were not their only moves. Most notably, they signed the best pitcher in baseball who wasn’t already on their team, Cliff Lee. They also made the easiest decision of the off-season, not paying Jayson Werth $126 million.

Strengths: Their rotation is historically good. With four Hall of Fame-caliber pitchers (not that they all will make the Hall or that any beyond Roy Halladay will, but that they are in their primes and perform at a HOF level), this team will win A LOT of ball games and will be very exciting to watch in the playoffs, if they all stay healthy. They also have a balanced offense (power/speed), are well-coached and play well as a unit. They should be serviceable defensively at every position except for left field and probably first base.

Weaknesses: Raul Ibanez. Their bullpen is good, not great. Brad Lidge is an every-other-year guy, so expect about a 8.50 ERA from him and 15 blown saves. They could really use bounce-back, offensive seasons from Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Shane Victorino, Placido Polanco and Ibanez (Rollins and Ibanez are in contract years, so…).

Summary: Cliff Lee, bitches.

Also see Thursday W.S. favorite: Boston Red Sox
Friday W.S. favorite: New York Yankees

2011 MLB World Series Favorites: New York Yankees with Soriano in the Pen

The second post in a three-part series written by Alan Hull who is previewing the teams favored to win the 2011 MLB World Series.

New York Yankees

The Yankees seem to be in the middle of the World Series chase every single season. Of course when you have the payroll they do, it’s expected, but they’ve still done well reaching the ALCS the last two seasons. Though they were quiet this off-season compared to the Red Sox and even the Rays, they still are a World Series contender.

Off-season Moves: After missing out on all of the major free agents, the Yankees settled on adding complimentary pieces, signing back-up/starting catcher in Russell Martin, a setup man (Rafael Soriano – to the tune of $35 million) and a lefty specialist in Pedro Feliciano. They are still the Yankees and there is a lot to like.

Strengths: The Yankees are older on the positional side, but this is still a team of Hall of Famers and Hall of Very Good-types. Maybe Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Jorge Posada, Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin all won’t have comeback seasons, but I bet a few of them will. Combine that with a MVP-candidate in Robinson Cano and great guys/great hitters in Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner, and this team will put up some runs. The Yankees also feature a good bullpen, anchored by THE Mariano Rivera.

Weaknesses: They really, really needed to add a starting pitcher. Their number four and five starter, if Andy Pettitte retires, are some guys named Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. Those two started 10 games combined in 2010. If they ever had plans to convert Joba Chamberlain back into a starter, this is the season to do it. I certainly would. Look for the Yankees to get creative mid-season and pick up a good starting pitcher or two for the stretch run.

Summary: While I mock their starting pitching, I anticipate Pettitte will be back and their pitching will be pretty good … until they trade for Josh Johnson.

Also see Thursday W.S. favorite: Boston Red Sox

2011 MLB World Series Favorites: Boston Red Sox Rising with Crawford, Gonzalez

Let’s get this straight: once an MLB team makes the playoffs, whether it is by division championship or wild card berth, all is fair and any team can win a World Series.  The San Francisco Giants certainly proved that in 2010, scratching their way to 92 regular season wins in the lackluster National League West with a starting nine full of misfit toys and cast-off veterans.  Edgar Renteria, in the second year of a bad contract and coming off a bad year, was their World Series MVP.  Simply making the playoffs gives teams a chance.  Just ask the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals, the 2005 Chicago White Sox, the 2003 Florida Marlins, the 2002 Anaheim Angels, or the 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks. You get the point.

With that in mind, we’re taking a look at the teams in 2011 that appear to be preseason locks for a playoff spot, ensuring the best chance at winning a World Series title.  The first team we’re examining in our three-part series previewing World Series favorites are the Boston Red Sox.

Boston Red Sox

Off-season Moves: No team did more to improve themselves in the 2010-11 off-season than the Boston Red Sox.  Offering up both long-term financial commitment and prospects, the already-good Red Sox acquired two impact players in Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.   Adding two centerpiece-type players like this would do wonders for any team, but with a core as strong as the Red Sox already had, this makes them a favorite for playoff success. They also bolstered their bullpen, adding Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenks, to get the ball to Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon.

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