The Rundown: Astros World Series Bound, Espada Gets Second Interview, Chapman Takes Some Heat
In the playoffs, series winning walk-off home runs are rare and exciting feats. And last night we were treated to a walk-off bomb by José Altuve off Aroldis Chapman with two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning. The blast gave the Astros a 6-4 win over the Yankees and a berth in the World Series against the Washington Nationals.
ALTUVE SENDS THE @ASTROS TO THE #WORLDSERIES! pic.twitter.com/NYx1yzRFDY
— MLB (@MLB) October 20, 2019
Altuve’s heroics came just after the Yankees’ DJ Lemahieu had tied the game with a two-run blast of his own in the top of the 9th. A stellar end to the much anticipated ALCS matchup.
Fans of baseball who love epic pitching duels can now drool over a World Series that will feature the game’s top pitchers, including Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, and Patrick Corbin for Washington; Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, and Zack Greinke for Houston. Hopefully there will be no bullpen games for either team as the Nationals attempt to continue their surprising playoff run against a juggernaut Astros team.
The 2019 World Series kicks off Tuesday night at 7:08 PM in Houston.
Cubs News & Notes
- The recent restructuring of the player development side of the front office is designed to give the Cubs a more modern and innovative approach to maximizing the potential of their young players.
- Justin Stone will be in charge of developing hitters and Cubs Insider‘s Evan Altman provides a nice analysis of Stone’s new position.
- Craig Breslow is Theo Epstein’s new Director of Strategic Operations and will oversee pitching development. His exact function within the organization is to help to evaluate and implement data-based processes throughout all facets of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs.
- Patrick Mooney of The Athletic has a nice profile on David Ross and why he may be the probable favorite to be chosen as the next manager of the Cubs (subscription required).
- Retaining Nicholas Castellanos in free agency might not cost the Cubs as much as one may think.
- Ben Zobrist is of the mindset he can still be a full-time player, and his retirement after this season is certainly not a foregone conclusion. If BenZo doesn’t re-sign with the Cubs, he might have a spot waiting for him with the Angels.
- Nico Hoerner believes he’s ready for a full time gig as Chicago’s second baseman.
- The 2016 World Series between the Cubs and Indians has been the best of the decade so far according to Will Leitch of MLB.com.
- This just in: The Cubs are going to interview Astros bench coach Joe Espada for a second time.
Apropos of Nothing
The one and only Alex Bregman: "We knew this morning when we woke up, we’re going to be watching football tomorrow.”
— Brian McTaggart (@brianmctaggart) October 20, 2019
Updates On Nine
- Espada has been in the spotlight quite a bit during Houston’s remarkable playoff run, and he’s suddenly a hot commodity to be named to one of the remaining open managerial positions. Espada has already interviewed with the Cubs once, and both the Giants and Pirates are said to be enamored with him as well. After three years with the Yankees under Joe Girardi, Espada was hired by Houston GM Jeffrey Luhnow to work alongside Manager AJ Hinch. He therefore represents a kind of rare connective tissue between the two like-minded, analytically inclined organizations. With the Cubs renewed focus on analytics on the player development side, Espada might represent their best option to replace Joe Maddon.
- Bruce Jenkins of the San Francisco Chronicle believes the Angels made the “perfect” managerial hire with Maddon. As far as hot stove implications go, Jenkins speculates that the Maddon led Angels will make an appealing destination for Cole or Strasburg.
- The pressure will be on Brian Cashman to sign or trade for an ace this offseason and Cole will give the Yankees President of Baseball Operations an opportunity to break the bank. Cole is in the midst of one of the greatest walk-year campaigns in history, and Cashman got a first-hand look at the right-hander in ALCS Game 3 when Cole tossed seven scoreless innings in a pivotal win for the Astros. Barring any trades, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, and suspended rookie Domingo German will fill out New York’s rotation in 2020.
- It’s less clear if Didi Gregorius is part of the team’s future, but the fifth-year Yankee told reporters he’d like to return to the Bronx. The 29-year-old is ticketed for free agency, where he profiles as the top shortstop option on the market. The Yankees have nine players who could enter free agency this season, led by Gregorius and Chapman.
- Chapman was offended by any insinuation that he was laughing or smirking after giving up a walk-off home run to Altuve in the Yankees’ loss to the Astros in Game 6 of the ALCS. “That is so stupid. How can anyone possibly think that? We had just fought back to tie Game 6 and were trying to send the series to a Game 7. I don’t know what they’re referring to, but I was simply in shock. I couldn’t believe that happened.”
- Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus doesn’t plan on opting out of his contract with three years and $43 million remaining, according to a tweet by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. Andus had the opportunity to opt out after the 2018 season and declined as well.
- If you’re looking for an outfielder that can give you production similar to Castellanos but at a lower cost, the Twins may have what you need. Minnesota might put outfielder Eddie Rosario on the trade block this offseason as a way to improve other areas of the roster. Over the past three years, Rosario has emerged as a productive, everyday left fielder hitting .284 with an average of 28 homers and 88 RBIs per season. The 28-year-old is coming off an exceptional year that included 32 homers, 109 RBIs and 91 runs scored. He’s entering his second year of arbitration after making just less than $5 million in 2019. Rosario will become a free agent after the 2022 season.
- The Dodgers could be planning to make a run at Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon. Los Angeles GM Andrew Friedman might be more aggressive this offseason after another disappointing exit from the 2019 playoffs. The club has won seven straight National League West titles but continually falls short of a World Series championship. Per Andy McCullough of The Athletic, executives with the Dodgers salivate over Rendon’s ability, and there exists a perception in the sport that the third-sacker might be enticed to take the sort of short-term contract with record-breaking average annual value that Bryce Harper rejected from the Dodgers last winter.
- Harper opened up about his former Washington teammates reaching the World Series. Spoiler alert: He says he is not jealous at all. Sure, Bryce.
Sunday Baseball Trivia
Players who hit a walkoff HR to end any postseason series after their team had blown the lead in the same inning:
Jose Altuve Game 6, 2019 ALCS vs. #Yankees
Bill Mazeroski Game 7, 1960 WS vs. Yankees
That’s all, folks.
— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) October 20, 2019
Sunday Morning Flashback
If you want to start your morning with a nice trip down memory lane, let’s set the Hot Tub Time Machine to 1967. Two things worth noting about 1967 in music: The Monkees sold more records than anybody that year, including the Beatles, while future country crooner Kenny Rogers dabbled in psychedelic rock.
- ‘Star Collector’ by The Monkees
- ‘I Am the Walrus’ by the Beatles
- ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ by Amboy Dukes
- ‘Dear Mr. Fantasy’ by Traffic
- ‘She’s a Rainbow’ by the Rolling Stones
- ‘Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)’ by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition
- ‘Red House’ by Jimi Hendrix
- ‘T.B. Sheets’ by Van Morrison
- ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ by the Beatles
- ‘Moonlight Drive’ by the Doors
This is tragic. And though Baseball America is a subscription site, this article is in front of their paywall and worth reading.
MLBs proposal would eliminate 25 percent of Minor League teams.
Many others would be subjected to a dramatic reorganization of teams and classifications. https://t.co/KoUQlUpds0
— Baseball America (@BaseballAmerica) October 20, 2019
They Said It
- “We use a lot of information to help our coaches do their jobs. [Joe Espada] is very receptive to it. He pushes us when he doesn’t agree, but ultimately he’s responsible for making sure everybody — all of our coaches and players — are following the plan that AJ [Hinch] sets.” – Jeffrey Luhnow
- “I think it’s about being able to be the person that I am,” he went on, “and not saying to myself, `Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m not a National.’ Or, `Oh my gosh, those guys are doing what they’re doing. I can’t believe it. I’m so jealous.’ No. I’m so happy for them. You know how hard it is to get into the postseason and win games. For them to be able to put it together this year the way they have, it’s an amazing thing.” – Bryce Harper
Sunday Walk Up Song
‘Goodbye to You’ by Patty Smyth & Scandal. So long, Yankees.