The Manager of the Year for both leagues will be announced in about an hour. I’ve voted for this award several times and the criteria varies as it does this year.
Most often the award goes to a manager who leads an under achieving team into the playoffs or to a dramatic improvement. That’s the case this year with my choice, Jim Tracy of the Rockies. The Rockies entered the season ranked behind the Dodgers and Giants in the NL West, and in some circles behind Arizona.
But, the Rockies got hot in the second half, much like they did in 2007, and rolled into the playoffs. They lost to the Phillies, but that didn’t change the fact they had a surprising season.
Another variable is a lifetime achievement award when there’s no surprise winner. That would go to Mike Scioscia of the Angels, who always has his team playing alert, aggressive and fundamental baseball. OK, except for the ALCS this year, but the voting is done prior to the start of the playoffs.
After an afternoon of football, it’s time to return to baseball and tonight’s NLCS Game #3 between the Phillies and Dodgers. The Phillies were on the cusp of taking a commanding 2-0 series lead, but their bullpen collapsed.
LEE: Hot pitcher faces Dodgers.
Tonight, the Phillies will send Cliff Lee to the mound. He’s been nearly untouchable in his first two playoff starts against Colorado. He went the distance in Game 1 of the Division Series, beating the Rockies, 5-1. He gave up one earned run in the Game 4 clincher.
“He’s a guy that’s a gamer and that’s what I love about him,” said outfielder Shane Victorino. “It’s definitely a nice position to be in to have him getting the ball in Game 3.”
That the Phillies bullpen gave it up in Game 2 wasn’t a surprise. Neither that the Dodgers rallied. They’ve had 43 come-from-behind wins, including 23 in their last at-bat.
“We’ve been doing it all year, it seems like. We’re relentless. We never give up,” Dodgers catcher Russell Martin said. “We go out there and compete, play through 27 outs, and whatever happens, happens. But we never keep our heads down.”
According to published reports in Denver, the Colorado Rockies aren’t expected to bring back pitcher Jason Marquis (won 15 games and averaged 6 2/3 innings per start) or outfielder Brad Hawpe (who is scheduled to make $7.5 million next year).
MARQUIS: Would upgrade rotation.
Some consider Marquis a No. 3 starter, which would be true depending on the rotation. However, because there’s no other reliable arm outside of Johan Santana, Marquis would have to be a No. 2 candidate with the Mets.
Hawpe, who hit .285 with 23 homers and 86 RBI, would be more than a capable replacement in left field for Angel Pagan/Fernando Tatis. A definite upgrade. Hawpe is a productive player who doesn’t make considerable money, but I’m not so sure the Mets will want to deal for him if they can sign somebody else.
No real surprises last night in the first day of the Division Series. The Yankees, Phillies and Dodgers all won as the home teams rolled. Of the three losing teams, I see only the Cardinals of rebounding to take their series.
Obviously, the defending world champs aren’t a media darling. They have another afternoon game today. Cole Hamels is starting and could give the Phillies a chokehold in their series with the Rockies.
Actually, the headline is a misnomer. The only thing that will stop the slide is the end of the season. Tim Redding can only slow it down a bit.
The Mets have David Wright back, but he’s not in the line-up tonight. Jerry Manuel said he would rest him after his return. First, he said Wright would sit tonight. Then he said Wright would sit the first two games and sit tomorrow. Pick a plan, any plan.
Gary Sheffield is also out of the line-up, and with each game he misses it becomes more apparent the Mets missed their chance to unload him when they pulled him off waivers earlier this month. They might not have gotten much, but what are they getting now? Especially since the odds are long he’ll be back next year.
REDDING: Another stop-gap start.
The Mets have lost 22 of their last 33 games to fall completely out of contention. They’ve been in a slide since before the All-Star break when John Maine, Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes went down with injuries. The pitchers fell apart in the second half when Johan Santana and Oliver Perez were disabled.
In all fairness, the season was gone before Santana and Perez. Their departures simply opened the way for guys like Nelson Figueroa, Bobby Parnell and Redding (2-4, 5.94) to join the rotation.
Redding pitched well in his last start, giving up three runs in 6 2/3 innings in a victory at Florida. He is 1-2 with a 4.40 ERA in five career starts against the Rockies.