Now that the one-game Wild Cards are over, we are ready for the real Major League Baseball playoffs to begin. And as always, there are several former Tacoma Rainiers players who hope to factor into a World Series run for their teams. Let’s take a look:
AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES (best-of-five)
Detroit vs. Baltimore (Game One starts at 2:30 Pacific on Thursday)
Detroit Tigers: when the Tigers traded Austin Jackson to Seattle at the deadline, they needed a center fielder. At that point they called up former Rainiers outfielder Ezequiel Carrera from Triple-A Toledo, and he has gone on to make the Tigers postseason roster. Carrera opened the 2010 season with Tacoma before being traded to the Cleveland Indians in late June for Russell Branyan.
Baltimore Orioles: the Orioles have one former Tacoma player, but he is arguably the most popular ex-Rainiers star who is not a current Mariner. That would be center fielder Adam Jones, who has found a real home in Baltimore and has been a key cog in the turnaround of the organization. Jones played for the Rainiers in 2006 and 2007, and he represented Tacoma in the Triple-A All-Star Game in 2007.
Kansas City vs. Los Angeles Angels (Game One at 6:00 Thursday)
Kansas City Royals: the Royals will not be represented by a former Rainiers player in the division series. In a move made earlier today, they announced that ex-Rainiers star Raul Ibanez will not be active for the opening series against the Angels. Ibanez will be with the team and they could activate him for the next series if they advance. Kansas City also has starting pitcher Jason Vargas, who opened the 2009 season with the Rainiers.
Los Angeles Angels: the Angels have no former Rainiers on their roster. This makes it really easy for us to root against them.
NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES (best-of-five)
San Francisco vs. Washington (Game One at noon Friday)
San Francisco Giants: the NLDS final 25-man rosters aren’t set yet, but the Giants are likely to carry two former Rainiers: pitcher Yusmeiro Petit won a PCL title with Tacoma in 2010, and catcher Guillermo Quiroz played parts of four seasons with Tacoma (2006, 2009-2010, 2012). While not former Rainiers, the Giants also have Washingtonians Tim Lincecum and Travis Ishikawa.
Washington Nationals: the Nats are loaded with former Tacoma Rainiers. Doug Fister (2009-2010) is a key cog in their rotation, and Rafael Soriano (2003-2005) is an important component in the bullpen (although he was removed from the closer role mid-season). They added Matt Thornton (2003-2004) on a waiver claim in August and he’ll be used against left-handed hitters. Another mid-season acquisition was infielder Asdrubal Cabrera (2005-2006), who has been playing second base.
St. Louis vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (Game One at 3:30 Friday)
This series doesn’t exist, as far as Tacoma is concerned. Both teams are completely void of ex-Rainiers.
OK, so who are we rooting for here?
I’m pulling for Adam Jones and the Orioles, Kansas City and the spirit of Raul Ibanez, the Nationals Tacoma quartet, and who cares. One thing we definitely don’t want is a Freeway World Series – that is the only possible zero-Rainiers outcome.
- Bob Dutton goes over several off-season issues facing the Mariners in today’s installment of the Mariners notebook.
- Ryan Divish listed the contract status of every Mariners player.
- Larry Stone writes that the Mariners could solve a big problem by signing the No. 1 free agent of the winter, Detroit’s Victor Martinez. I agree, but there is going to be a lot of competition for him. Martinez turns 36 this winter so it will be a short but expensive contract.
- Baseball America actually had a reporter at a Mariners-Indians instructional league game the other day, and it makes for an interesting read.
- Maybe the M’s will take a shot on the latest Cuban defector, outfielder Yasmany Tomas. The video makes him look like a Cuban Kirby Puckett.
- Lookout Landing suggests that Justin Smoak‘s time with the Mariners is over. I must reluctantly agree – if you know Justin a little bit, you can’t help but root for him.
- Fangraphs has an extraordinarily detailed look at the American League Cy Young Award competition.
- John McGrath has a column on the criticism of Royals manager Ned Yost after their wild 9-8 victory over Oakland.
- If you are interested in how an affiliation change affects a Triple-A broadcaster, or how Triple-A broadcasters have little connection to their major league affiliate, read this story by Albuquerque Isotopes broadcaster Josh Suchon.
- Must watch: the Library of Congress has released a four-minute newsreel of Game Seven of the 1924 World Series between the Washington Senators and New York Giants. It includes footage of Walter Johnson, a home run by Bucky Harris, Goose Goslin diving into first base, and of course the walk-off hit.
Two games today, and then Friday… uh, you might want to call in sick. We have playoff baseball on TV from 9:00 AM until 10:00 PM on Friday. It’s like March Madness in October.