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Monday, September 7, 2009

The Playoff Threat Report

Posted By on Mon, Sep 7, 2009 at 8:05 AM

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me first tell you how much I respect the Gods of Baseball. I truly, truly do. They are fearsome, vengeful, old testament sorts who will reach down and quite mightily smite any foolish enough to spit in their faces. Disrespect them, friends, and your sorrow shall multiply. Rather, you must always fear the Gods of Baseball; revere them by showing proper deference to thine enemies even when presented with a seemingly insurmountable lead. Revere them by never speaking of perfect games or no-hitters or World Series matchups before the playoffs begin. Fear always the Gods of Baseball, gentle readers, and you just may find the path to October. 
click to enlarge That's me, flying right into the heart of this playoff preview. Like the loincloth? - MENTERA.ORG
  • That's me, flying right into the heart of this playoff preview. Like the loincloth?
With all that being said, the division race in the NL Central is over. That's right, it's over. Has been for awhile now, in fact. Sure, there's quite a bit of baseball left, but the Cardinals are going to the playoffs. GOBs be damned. 

Thus, in order to play Icarus to the very hilt this fine holiday morning, I would like to lead you through the possible matchups the Cardinals may see when it comes playoff time. Even I'm not quite foolish enough to suggest yet the Birds are Series bound, so I'll keep it strictly to the National League. So join me, won't you, as I take a look at just what sort of threat each of the likely opponents might pose to our boys in red. I'm only going to review the four most likely, as anyone further back is going to have a very difficult climb to make the postseason. We'll begin with the least threatening, and move onward to those black thunderheads in the sky, out in the East, shall we? 

Colorado Rockies
Division: NL West, possible division winner or wild card
Currently leading Wild Card, 3.5 games back of division lead

Threat Level: Kitten

Oh, look! It's a cute little kitten! Isn't it cute? Oh, it's rolling around, wants you to rub its belly. That's so cute! 

You should probably be a little careful if you do reach down to pet said kitten, though, as it just might be in a playful mood and grab hold of your hand. And let me tell you something, kitten claws are wicked sharp, and the scratches itch like crazy. They bite, too. Of course, if it pisses you off, you could always just pick the kitten up and hold it so it can't scratch you. After all, it's still a kitten, and you're way bigger than it is. 
click to enlarge Vegas is currently giving 5-1 odds on this kitten making the playoffs.
  • Vegas is currently giving 5-1 odds on this kitten making the playoffs.
That's the Colorado Rockies. They're cute, making another one of those charming, against-all-odds, sports movie runs to the playoffs this year. Kind of like Major League 2, come to think of it. Sure, they were good before, but somehow we're all still surprised they're good again, and it's kind of a novelty. The claws, though? Well, they are pretty sharp, with an offense that's gone absolutely berserk for a pretty good portion of this season. Reach down to pet them, and there's a very good chance you're going to get scratched. 

Still, the Rockies' rotation features Jason Marquis in a very prominent role, and no matter how good the offense, I just can't work up much fear of such a team. After all, this is the same man who earned the nickname Bipolar Betty 'round these parts, a man who I honestly believe thinks a hanger is an actual pitch that will surprise the batter into making an out. 

Ubaldo Jimenez is wicked good, but beyond that, there just isn't enough pitching here to make them a really frightening team. If Huston Street can come back, the bullpen is quite nice. If not, it has a couple good arms, but is maybe a little thin on depth. I'll take either Carpenter or Wainwright against Jimenez, and then let the chips fall where they may with the rest of the pitching. 

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