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October 11 2006

The news out of New York is so bizarre and unsettling it's hard to believe it is true.  It is.  Cory Lidle was killed this afternoon when the small plane he was in crashed into a Manhattan skyscraper.

The 34-year-old Lidle is survived by his wife and six-year-old son.

Lidle was a Philly as recently as July.  On July 30 he and Bobby Abreu were traded to the New York Yankees for minor leaguers CJ Henry, Matt Smith, Jesus Sanchez and Carlos Monasterios.

Lidle joined the Phils in an August, 2004, trade that sent minor leaguers Javon Moran, Joe Wilson and Elizardo Ramirez to the Cincinnati Reds.  Lidle got ten starts with the Phillies that season, going 5-2 with a 3.90 ERA.  In 2005 he went 13-11 with a 4.53 ERA in 31 starts for the Phils.  This season he made 21 starts, posting an 8-7 record and a 4.74 ERA.

Lidle was tenth in ERA (3.59) in the American League pitching for the A's in 2001.  In 2004 he threw three complete game shutouts, which tied him with Jason Schmidt that year for the most in all of baseball.   


October 11 2006

 

Team W-L R R/G AVG OBP SLG SB CS
STL 83-78 781 4.85 269 337 431 59 32
NYM 97-65 834 5.15 264 334 445 146 35
IP RA RA/G H BB SO ERA Ratio
STL 1429.2 762 4.73 1475 504 970 4.54 1.38
NYM 1461.1 731 4.51 1402 527 1161 4.16 1.32

New York's baseball teams have traditionally not been good about sharing the blinding spotlight their city can offer.  Now they don't have to.  For better or worse, the Mets, the best team in the National League this season, have it all right now -- and if they can keep from blinking they look poised to seal the deal and make a run at winning their first World Series since 1986. 

If the Mets are soaring, the St. Louis Cardinals, on the other hand, barely managed to limp into the playoffs.  Once there, however, they came to life behind their ace and other-worldly slugger, setting the Padres down in four games.  They've put themselves in a bit of a bind, however, having to call on their best pitcher to start two games to beat San Diego, reducing the role he'll play as they try to chop down the mighty Mets.

The St. Louis Cardinals will be in New York City tonight for the first game of the National League Championship Series.  The Cards held off the Houston Astros in unimpressive fashion in the regular season, going 3-7 in their last ten, to win the NL Central with an 83-78 record.  The Mets buried the rest of the league this season, winning the NL East by 12 games with their 97-65 record.  No team in baseball won more than the 97 games the Mets won this season -- in the National League no other team won more than 88 games.

Mets pitchers allowed the third fewest runs in the league this season.  Cardinals pitchers were also good, allowing the fifth fewest.  Both teams fared better with their pen then with their starters.  Mets starters threw to a 4.67 ERA, which was 8th-best in the NL while the 4.79 that St. Louis starters threw to was 12th-best among the 16 NL teams.  The New York pen was outstanding, leading the league with a 3.25 ERA.  The Cardinals pen posted a 4.06 ERA, which was seventh-best in the league.  Does it seem wacko to you that the Cardinals would be 12th in starting pitcher ERA and 7th in relief pitcher ERA but somehow 5th in runs allowed?  It did to me.  It looks like unearned runs is what gives the Redbirds a boost in this case, the Cardinals allowed the fewest of any team in the National League (41).

Chris Carpenter posted a 3.09 ERA for St. Louis this season, which was second-best in the NL.  Tom Glavine's 3.82 for the Mets was 14th-best.  Billy Wagner's 40 saves for New York was second-best in the league, while Isringhausen tallied 33 for the Cards, which tied him for fifth-best.  Isringhausen has been out since mid-September with a hip problem and won't play in the NLCS.

The Mets scored the third-most runs in the NL.  The Cardinals scored the sixth-most.  Both teams hit righties significantly better than lefties.  Using OPS as the measure, the Mets OPS against left-handed pitching this season was .738, which was just 14th-best in the NL.  The Cardinals OPS was .731 against lefties, 15th-best in the league.  Only the Cubs were worse against lefties than the Mets and Cards.  Since both teams scored a lot of runs it would follow logically that they rake righties, and they do.  The Mets .796 against righties was third-best in the league, while the Cards .784 was fourth-best.

Albert Pujols led the league in on-base percentage (.431), slugging (.671) and (surprise!) OPS (1.102).  He was second in home runs with 49 and second in RBI with 137.  His .331 average was third-best.  Carlos Beltran's .982 OPS was fifth-best in the league, his .594 slugging fourth-best and 41 home runs tied for fifth-best.  Beltran and David Wright each had 116 RBI, which tied them for 7th in the league.  Wright's .311 average was ninth in the league.  Carlos Delgado tied for ninth in RBI with 114 and his 38 home runs was tied for eighth-best in the NL.  Jose Reyes led the league with 64 stolen bases.  Paul LoDuca hit .318, which was sixth in the NL.

Pujols (331/431/671 with 49 HR and 137 RBI) was the unquestioned heart of the Cardinals offense this season.  Scott Rolen (296/369/518) hit 22 home runs and drove in 95.  Newcomer Chris Duncan hit 293/363/589 with 22 home runs in just 280 at-bats.  Jim Edmonds struggled with injuries, hitting just 257/350/471 in 350 at-bats.

Beltran (275/388/594) led the Mets with 41 home runs and shared the team lead in RBI with David Wright (311/381/531) with 116.  Carlos Delgado (265/361/548) hit 38 home runs and drove in 114 runs.  Jose Reyes (300/354/487) had his best year, hitting 19 home runs and leading all of baseball with 17 triples.

Cliff Floyd left Saturday's game with the Dodgers after he aggravated his injury to his left achilles tendon.  The Mets may add Lastings Milledge or former Philly Ricky Ledee to their roster depending on the status of Floyd.  The Mets called on Endy Chavez to replace Floyd in game three.  Chavez was 3-for-8 in the NLDS with three singles after hitting 306/348/431 with the Mets this year.  Carlos Beltran has a small tear in his upper abdomen, but it should not keep him from playing.

A sore shoulder kept Scott Rolen out of game four of the ALDS and put Scott Spiezio at third base for the Cardinals.  Jim Edmonds is really dragging with problems with his left foot and shoulder.  According to an article you can read here, he will undergo shoulder surgery within two days of the end of the season.

During their three-game sweep of the Dodgers, the Mets used six pitchers in relief, lefties Billy Wagner, Pedro Feliciano and Darren Oliver and righties Chad Bradford, Guillermo Mota and Aaron Heilman.  Wagner struck out 94 in 72 1/3 innings while throwing to a 2.24 ERA.  Lefties hit .161 against him.  Oliver was solid during the regular season, throwing to a 3.44 ERA overall but was hit hard at the end of the year.  He posted a 6.39 ERA in August and a 7.15 ERA in September.  Feliciano allowed less than a hit an inning and just four home runs in 60 1/3 innings.  Bradford allowed one home run in 62 innings while throwing to a 2.90 ERA.  The Mets got Mota from Cleveland at the end of August, and after getting bombed with the Indians he was good in 18 innings for the Mets, throwing to a 1.00 ERA while allowing just 10 hits and striking out 19.  Heilman threw 87 innings for New York, all in relief.  He held opponents to a .231 average against him while throwing to a 3.62 ERA and allowing just five home runs.

In their four games with the Padres, the Cardinals used seven relief pitchers.  They called on righties Adam Wainwright, Josh Kinney, Josh Hancock, Braden Looper and Brad Thompson and lefties Tyler Johnson and Randy Flores.  With Isringhausen down, Wainwright is likely first in line to get the ball in a save situation.  He hurled 75 innings for the Cardinals this year, allowing just 64 hits while throwing to a 3.12 ERA and striking out 72.  Righties hit .182 against him, but lefties hit .301 and slugged five of the six home runs he allowed.  Looper is another candidate in a save situation, he allowed 76 hits in 73 1/3 innings this season but just three home runs and a 3.56 ERA.  27-year-old Josh Kinney spent most of the year at Triple-A Memphis.  He threw to a 3.24 ERA in 25 innings with St. Louis and held opponents to a .189 average.  Josh Hancock threw to a 4.09 ERA on the year, but got hit hard at the end of the year, tagged with a 10.29 ERA in 11 games in September.  24-year-old Brad Thompson spent most of July and August at Triple-A before rejoining the Cards.  He pitched to a 3.34 ERA in 56 2/3 innings with the Cards on the year.  Tyler Johnson got hit pretty hard this year, the 25-year-old gave up five home runs in 36 1/3 innings while posting a 4.95 ERA.  Randy Flores had a 5.62 ERA with the Cards in 41 2/3 innings, righties hit .329 against him.

The Mets are likely to start lefty Tom Glavine (15-7, 3.82), righties John Maine (6-5, 3.60) and Steve Trachsel (15-8, 4.97) and lefty Oliver Perez (3-13, 6.55).  Glavine became the man for the Mets pitching when Pedro Martinez went down for the year with a calf injury.  So far so good.  In his last two starts he's thrown 12 scoreless innings while allowing just seven hits.  He threw six shutout innings to lead the Mets to a 4-1 win against the Dodgers on Thursday.  John Maine has allowed two or fewer earned runs in seven of his last nine starts.  He started on Wednesday against the Dodgers and held them to a run in 4 1/3 innings.  Trachsel's 4.97 ERA isn't impressive and he needed a lot of help from the Mets batters against the Dodgers on Saturday as he allowed two runs on six hits and a walk in 3 1/3 innings.  Righties hit .300 against Oliver Perez this season -- if he starts game four on Sunday he would be pitching for the first time since October 1.

The Cardinals will likely send out righties Jeff Weaver (5-4, 5.18), Jeff Suppan (12-7, 4.12), Chris Carpenter (15-8, 3.09) and Jason Marquis (14-16, 6.02).  Jeff Weaver came up huge for the Cardinals in game two of the ALDS, holding the Padres to two hits over five shutout innings as he got the win.  Lefties have hit .340 against him this year and tagged him for 22 home runs.  Suppan took the loss for the Cardinals in game three of the ALDS, giving up three runs in 4 1/3 innings.  Lefties hit .302 against him on the season.  The Cards finally get to start Carpenter in game three, he was 2-0 in the ALDS and allowed three earned runs in 13 1/3 innings (2.03 ERA).  It's still not completely clear who goes in game four, the choices appear to be Marquis, Anthony Reyes or Weaver on short rest.  Reyes seems like he would be the best choice, but Marquis may be the front-runner.  Marquis last pitched on September 28 and has been charged with 13 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings (14.05 ERA) over his last three outings.  He allowed 35 home runs on the season, which was the most in the NL. 

Jeff Weaver faces Tom Glavine tonight.

In game one of the ALCS last night, the Tigers beat the A's 5-1.  The Detroit hitters handled Barry Zito, tagging him for five runs on seven hits and three walks in just 3 2/3 innings.  The Tigers got solo home runs from Ivan Rodriguez and Brandon Inge.  Nate Robertson threw five shutout innings to get the win.  Detroit first baseman Sean Casey injured his calf during the game and is out for at least game two tonight, which accentuates the awful decision not to carry Chris Shelton on the roster.  The Tigers could go into tonight's game with Omar Infante or Neifi Perez in the lineup.  Last night Carlos Guillen moved to first and Ramon Santiago came in to play short.

The A's look to bounce back tonight with Esteban Loaiza facing Justin Verlander.

The Peoria Saguaros lost last night, falling 7-4 to the Scottsdale Scorpions to drop to 0-1 in Arizona Fall League action.  Gavin Floyd got the start and allowed a run on a hit and a walk over 2 2/3 innings.  He struck out three.  Gio Gonzalez allowed a run on two hits and two walks while striking out three in 1 1/3 innings.  Jason Jaramillo was 1-for-2 with a walk and a double.

Ryan Howard has been named the Sporting News Player of the Year.

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