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News » Lurie: Will Giants make playoffs? How will A's fare in '10? Answers within


Lurie: Will Giants make playoffs? How will A's fare in '10? Answers within


Lurie: Will Giants make playoffs? How will A's fare in '10? Answers within Baseball is known as a talking sport. There is no better way to start a discussion about the game then to ask a question.

Here are some questions that have come up in the press box over the past week:

Q: What roster addition will make the biggest impact on his team through the playoffs?

A: Philadelphia solidified its pitching rotation with the addition of lefty Cliff Lee from Cleveland. Lee throws with a nice, easy motion so he should have plenty left in the tank for a deep run into October.

The Cards had a struggling offense until Matt Holliday arrived from Oakland. The NL slugger has hit 11 home runs in 38 games after hitting 11 in 93 games for the A's. Albert Pujols, Holliday and Ryan Ludwick form a terrific middle of the order combination for the Cardinals.

Reliever George Sherrill took the pressure off the overworked Dodgers' bullpen as soon as he arrived from Baltimore. The lefty also gives manager Joe Torre an alternative to closer Jonathan Broxton, if the big righty falters closing games in the October.

If the Giants can get Freddy Sanchez back on the field, the second baseman will lift the S.F. batting order should the Giants make the playoffs. Pitcher Brad Penny won't be needed in the starting rotation during a five-game playoff series, but he will certainly help the club coming out of the 'pen, if necessary.

The Angels' Scott Kazmir has playoff experience. The lefty will not wilt under the pressure if the Angels face Boston or New York in the playoffs. Kazmir spent his whole career in the tough AL East, where every start against the Sox and Yanks was a hair-raising experience.

The Rangers promoted rookie pitcher Neftali Feliz at the right time. This kid throws two innings at a time, usually hitting 98 mph on the radar gun without difficulty. If Texas slips into the playoffs, Feliz will be an outstanding late-inning weapon for Ron Washington.

Boston solidified its offense with the addition of catcher Victor Martinez from Cleveland. Reliever Billy Wagner adds a veteran's touch to the Sox 'pen at just the right time.

Q: Should the Cubs or Rays give their season-ticket holders refunds?

A: No. Both teams were locked and loaded heading into the 2009 season.

The Rays added Pat Burrell and Gabe Kapler to bolster the lineup from the right side. The moves didn't work out.

Tampa's pitching really has been the team's undoing as the starters never lived up to their 2008 performance.

Injuries to Alfonso Soriano (knee) and Aramis Ramirez (shoulder) took the heart out of the Cubs attack for much of the summer. Milton Bradley brought too many personal issues to Wrigley Field to succeed. Bradley counted on to hit from the left side never did much that way in 2009.

Closer Kevin Gregg couldn't hold the closers job while his understudy Carlos Marmol simply walked too many batters to be effective.

Both organizations spent money in the off-season; the moves simply didn't pan out.

Q: Which managers are on thin ice for 2010?

A: Washington will need a new skipper in 2010. Interim manager Jim Riggleman did his best to turn the team around after Manny Acta was fired at the All-Star break. The club needs a new look for next season and it will start in the manager's office.

Cleveland has played better during the second half once again after falling out of the race in June. Eric Wedge should be replaced next season.

You can't have the kind of season that the Mets had in New York without someone paying the price. This usually means the manager will be dismissed. This time Jerry Manuel will take the hit for this dysfunctional organization.

Seems that Toronto icon Cito Gaston will follow general manager J.P. Ricciardi out the door once the season ends giving the Jays a totally new look in 2010.

With veterans speaking out about the lack of hustle in Houston, manager Cecil Cooper might be looking for a new job this off season.

Q: Do the A's have the makings of a good team next year?

A: Firs the A's have to determine what the plan is for 2010?

Do they enter the free-agent market and sign 28- to 32-year-olds who can still play Baseball without a daunting prior history of injuries?

Do they promote young hitters Brett Wallace, Chris Carter, Sean Doolittle, Adrian Cardenas and Jemile Weeks and let them play in the majors?

The young pitchers held their own in 2009. Will the A's take the same chance with the young hitting prospects?

The A's need help at the infield corners, DH and right field.

It sure would be nice to have Andre Ethier, Carlos Pena, Ryan Ludwick or Nelson Cruz back in the A's organization (all talented players who blossomed after leaving Oakland).

Q: Can the Giants make it to the postseason? If they do, can their hitting take them past the first round of the playoffs?

A: The Giants can make the playoffs. San Francisco's pitching looks stronger than ever with the addition of Penny and the solid performances turned in by Jonathan Sanchez.

Getting Sanchez and Bengie Molina on the field is the key for the offense. Rookie Buster Posey should not be expected to catch this pitching staff down the stretch. Can you imagine Posey calling a game or catching the pitches for Barry Zito or Tim Lincecum?

Posey should be used as often as possible as a bat late in the game. The longer he sits around without playing the tougher it will be for him to deliver when asked down the stretch.

With their pitching, the Giants are every team's nightmare as a first-round opponent.

Q: Do the Dodgers have enough pitching to thrive in the postseason?

A: Pitching isn't the problem with Los Angeles. The hitters are disappearing more often than not for the club. Pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Randy Wolf, Chad Billingsley, Vicente Padilla and Jon Garland are capable of six good innings. The Dodgers will go to the 'pen as they have all season for the last three innings.

Q: Who is the front runner for the AL's Cy Young award?

Kansas City's Zack Greinke is considered the best starter in the AL. No one wants to give him the award because of his paltry win total for the last-place Royals. If Greinke wins 16 games he just might win the Cy Young.

Mariano Rivera is the latest entry for this coveted award. Rivera, currently sidelined with a groin strain, has converted 34 straight save opportunities, not giving up a run since June 12. Rivera has never won the award. Closers Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter, Eric Gagne, Sparky Lyle and Mark Davis have all been Cy Young award winners in the past. Doesn't seem right that the greatest closer of all-time Rivera is not on that list.

Joining Rivera as a late entry is Texas righty Scott Feldman of Burlingame. No question Feldman (15-4) has been Texas' best pitcher during the season.

CC Sabathia, Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander still are in the running. Right now, the Cy Young is Sabathia's if he wins 20 games or more.

Q: How strong are the Angels?

A: The Angels have struggled all year crafting a reliable bullpen.

The Halos are a much better team with Kevin Jepsen in the setup role. Jepsen has never been down the stretch before so how he will fare under the bright, late-season lights remains to be seen.

Los Angeles hits the ball even though it has slumped with the bats this week. Kendry Morales is in the top five for the AL MVP award.

With John Lackey, Scott Kazmir and Jered Weaver heading the rotation, this club has to be considered a threat in the playoffs.

Q: Who would rather have coming off the bench late in the game Jim Thome or Jason Giambi?

A: Both sluggers work the count trying to get a good pitch to hit. I'd take Giambi because he plays with more enthusiasm than Thome. Both are feared more for what they have accomplished in the past than for who they are now. If you need a home run, Thome's power is still there while Giambi's power has clearly waned.

Q: Will the injuries to Michael Young and Josh Hamilton sink the Rangers playoff chances?

Q: Young's hamstring injury and Hamilton's back woes certainly will hurt the club. Nelson Cruz has picked up the slack, but he is a streaky hitter. Ian Kinsler has not had a consistently good season. Losing Young for the next three weeks will clearly put a crimp in the Texas offense. If Hamilton comes back this week there is still hope for the club. Without these two playing for an extended period whatever chances the Rangers had to make the playoffs will go out of the window.

Q: Can the Phillies repeat with Brad Lidge as closer?

Q: This doesn't seem likely since Lidge hasn't pitched well for any extended periods during the entire season. Lidge just doesn't have command of his pitches. Watching him work the ninth inning is painful. Either Ryan Madson steps into the role or Brett Myers returns from the DL to take the job, or the Phillies will not repeat as World Champions no matter how well they hit the ball in their cozy little ballpark.

Q: Should the Yankees be concerned about their pitching rotation for the playoffs?

A: The Yankees might be looking for a new third starter unless Joba Chamberlain turns his awful second half around. Chamberlain's innings are being monitored very closely (Joba's Rules) by the club. Even when he takes the mound for three- to four-inning stints Chamberlain has been ineffective.

Sabathia and A.J. Burnett are ready to go, but Burnett's erratic performances have to give manager Joe Girardi some concern.

The Yanks starting pitching just might be their most glaring weakness going into the playoffs.

Questions from longtime Baseball man and former minor league manager Ray Malgradi, who just celebrated his 87th birthday:

Why don't today's pitchers work from the windup with a man on third base, thus giving them a better chance to throw a quality pitch? Years ago, no one stole home with any regularity when a pitcher wound up in his delivery instead of being in the set position.

Why do batters stare at the third base coach for a sign with the count 3-1 and 3-2 with two outs? The batter's only job is to hit the ball.

Why doesn't the on-deck hitter remove the bat when there is a play at the plate?

Why all the hand-slapping when a batter accidentally moves a runner or runners up on the bases?

As I said, Baseball is a talking sport full of questions.

I'm glad Ray Malgradi is still asking the questions.

Marty Lurie hosts ``Right Off The Bat,'' now in its 12th year, and ``Memories of the Game'' on KTRB 860 AM before A's games. His Web site is loveofthegameproductions.com and his e-mail is luriem@earthlink.net

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Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 6, 2009

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