The biggest news story in the playoffs has been the benching of Alex Rodriguez. Manager Joe Girardi looked like a genius for pinch hitting for ARod in game 3 of the ALDS after Raul Ibanez hit a game tying home run in the 9th inning, then the game winner in the 12th inning. ARod was a sport about it and was leading the cheering when Ibanez hit the game tying homer. But his response to being lifted for a pinch hitter in game 4 was very different, and some think that lead to him being benched in game 5. Well, that and he has looked terrible at the plate in the series. He wasn't catching up to 85 mph fastballs in one at bat I watched in game 4.
So, what should we expect from ARod in 2013? I have written about his drop in power a few times here, but here is a look at the trend in his power since his monster 2007 season:
2007: 54 HRs .330 ISO, .645 SLG
2008: 35 HRs, .271 ISO, .573 SLG
2009: 30 HRs, .245 ISO, .532 SLG
2010: 30 HRs, .236 ISO, .506 SLG
2011: 16 HRs, .185 ISO, .461 SLG
2012: 18 HRs, .158 ISO, .430 SLG
That's a pretty startling trend, and the Yankees have five more years of ARod on their books. It's fairly obvious that he is half the hitter he used to be, maybe not even half, and fantasy owners should stay away from him going forward. He is 37 years old, and has trouble catching up to average fastballs now. The Yankees face the Tigers in the ALCS beginning today, and I would not be surprised to see ARod benched a few more times in this series, especially against Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer.
A few days ago, the Mets announced that they are prepared to offer David Wright a contract in excess of $100 million. The first thing I thought of was "is that going to be enough?". Seriously. Wright is the face of the Mets franchise and all he has to do is look to the contracts that other players in a similar role have received recently. Matt Kemp signed an 8 year, $160 million contract this season. Troy Tulowitzki signed a 10 year, $157.75 million deal in 2010. Wright turns 30 years of age on December 20th, and I wonder why he would accept a contract in the $100 million neighborhood playing in the biggest market in baseball. I wonder why the Mets would even put this news report out there. Does this mean that $100 million is the highest they will go on Wright? I would not be surprised to hear the Mets talking about dealing Wright after failing to reach a contract extension with Wright.
Wright is another hitter who has seen his power production fluctuate over the past 3-4 seasons. Here is a look at his power rollercoaster since 2008:
2008: 33 HRs, .232 ISO, .534 SLG
2009: 10 HRs, .140 ISO, .447 SLG
2010: 29 HRs, .220 ISO, .503 SLG
2011: 14 HRs, .172 ISO, .427 SLG
2012: 21 HRs, .186 ISO, .492 SLG
Do we see his home run total drop in 2013? In odd years since 2008, he has hit 10 home runs and 14 home runs.
Folks, don't sleep on Cardinals hitters in 2013. Who would have thought that a year after seeing Albert Pujols leave to sign a mega contract with the Angels, the Cardinals would be going back to the NLCS? Not me. But, this team is full of guys who can flat out hit. From Matt Holliday to Allen Craig to Yadier Molina to David Freese to Carlos Beltran. I think a lot of praise has to go to hitting coach Mark McGwire, as he doesn't get the praise he deserves.
Get ready for non-stop questioning of why the Nationals shut down Stephen Strasburg when they did. Ok, maybe not non-stop, but many will be asking how and why you shut down your ace heading into the playoffs. All the Nationals have to do is look across the field and see Adam Wainwright starting game 5 of the playoffs. He didn't pitch well and he got knocked out of the game after 2.1 innings last night, but he threw 198.2 innings a year after having Tommy John surgery. Why was Strasburg shut down and Wainwright not shut down? Strasburg threw "just" 159.1 innings this season and was one of the most dominant starters in the game, but was shut down in early September. If the Nationals don't make the playoffs next year, there will be many more questions.