17: 8 to 4

The Divisional series are upon us, where we narrow the field from the best 8 teams in baseball to the final four teams playing for a World Series berth.  Last night marked game one in the American League Divisional Series (ALDS) for the 4 AL teams (favorite with home field advantage in the best of 5 series listed first):

Today there are four games, game 2 for the above teams in the ALDS and 2 games for the following in the National League (NLDS):

I’m going to try to knock out another post on where I’ll focus my limited writing time:  the Cubs/Nationals series, but I wanted to give a brief overview of what’s going on overall.  None of these 8 teams are “out of it”…any of them could win the World Series.  The Indians are the odds-on favorite (and with good reason) and the Yankees have the worst odds to make it.

The NLDS and ALDS all play today, which is a rarity to have four playoff games on the same day (though this could happen again on Monday with games 4 for NLDS and games 5 for ALDS if all four are necessary).  It means you could sit at your TV from 2pm EDT until late into the night watching quality baseball non-stop.  Sadly you can’t and neither can I.

Predictions (to win best of 5 series):

  • Astros over Red Sox (see final note below)
  • Indians over Yankees
  • Diamondbacks over Dodgers
  • Cubs over Nationals

NOTE:

One of the things I love about baseball is that things are moving all year long.  Last night’s Astros/Sox game was likely to be one of the few pitcher’s battles in a year which boasted more home runs than any season of professional baseball, EVER.

The pitcher for the Red Sox, Chris Sale, was acquired via trade in the off season from the Chicago White Sox.  This is the last year of Sale’s contract and so there’s no guarantee the Red Sox can hang on to the pitcher next year.  This is referred to by some in baseball as a “rental.”  Players under control are valuable because they spread their value over multiple seasons, but the Red Sox traded off four players, including one of the top prospects in baseball, infield Yoan Moncada.  Moncada will likely be starting second base for the White Sox next year and has a very promising career ahead of him and will not be a free agent  until 2023.

If the Red Sox get swept (and probably even if they lose this series) they will have traded away an amazing infielder with team control for the next several years for a pitcher who helped them get to the playoffs but lost 8-2 in his opening outing which they needed to win.  Red Sox fans will be silly with rage over that. But if they win the World Series?  Completely worth it.  General managers for baseball teams make decisions like this all year long and some of them work and some don’t…but that’s the big picture view of last night’s 8-2 victory for the Astros, who also traded away prospects for Justin Verlander late this season.  He’s extremely expensive but is under team control until 2020.

Trades matter for a long time, but sometimes the short term value makes it worth it.  And sometimes it’s not.

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