We’ve nearly reached the end of the line. With the League Championship Series’ behind us and the World Series set to commence, let’s take a look at what happened in the last week to get here.
Friedman Hired By Dodgers
Before we get to the games, there was some action in the management front last week. Aside from the Texas Rangers hiring a new manager (Pittsburgh Pirates bench coach Jeff Bannister), the big news was a personnel move by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were eliminated in the NLDS.
Looking for the extra push that was needed to get their team in World Series contention, the Dodgers turned to Tampa Bay Rays General Manager/Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Andrew Friedman to be their new President of Baseball Operations.
Friedman, who had been in his position with the Rays for the past 8 years, is one of the best minds in baseball, to say the least. He has consistently been able to keep the Rays in playoff contention year-in and year-out despite a shoestring budget. The situation that he’ll be walking into is almost a polar opposite.
The Dodgers, who sport the highest payroll of any of the four major professional sports teams, offer much more freedom financially, which could be scary given Friedman’s eye for talent. The team’s heavy spending on any and every big name player that hits the market may have come to an end, but I expect their decisions to be much more wise with Friedman at the helm. What do you think of this move? Who do you think the best General Manager in baseball is?
Ishikawa Catapults The Giants To The World Series
You could find an example of it every week, but the phrase “You can’t predict baseball,” has never rang more true for the finale of Game 5 of the NLCS between the San Francisco Giants and the St. Louis Cardinals.
To give a bit of background, Travis Ishikawa, a natural first baseman, was playing left field for the Giants (a position he had never played prior to this year). Earlier in the game, he had misjudged a fly ball in the outfield, which allowed a run to score. Luckily for him, however, he would have a chance to rectify his mistake.
With Michael Wacha on the mound and two men on base, the 31-year old journeyman turned on a 2-0 pitch and drilled it over the wall in right field to send the Giants to their third World Series in 5 years. Fittingly, it was the first home run of his postseason career.
It’s great to see someone like Ishikawa, a player who has been up and down from the minor leagues throughout his career, make a play on a big stage like that. It’s certainly a moment that he, his family or Giants fans will never forget. What are some of your favorite examples of surprising players who make a big impact?
World Series Matchup Set
Coming into this season, the odds on the Giants facing off with the Kansas City Royals in the World Series were 38,000 to 1. Looking back, I wish I had thrown the entirety of my bank account at that one. The series is set, but the favorite is far from clear.
The Giants come into this one riding the high of the previously mentioned Ishikawa walk-off home run to close off the Cardinals. The pitching is certainly there, with Madison Bumgarner, Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson manning the rotation. The question is if they’ll have enough hitting, but that problem has not arisen at any point throughout these playoffs.
The Royals, on the other side of things, have all the momentum in the world coming into this matchup. They have not lost a game thus far throughout the postseason and they’ve also done that on the backs of some solid pitching performances, namely a lights out bullpen.
While this doesn’t feature any big name, high spending teams, this has the makings of one of the better World Series’ in recent memory. I wouldn’t bet on either of these teams given that it should be such a toss-up, but if I had to I think that I would lean towards the Royals in 6 or 7 games. Who’s your pick to win the World Series?
This Week’s MVP: Lorenzo Cain (.533/.588/.667, 1 RBI)