Last off-season, Toronto Blue Jays' president Paul Beeston told a "Town Hall" gathering of fans at Rogers Centre that he wanted a team that could make the post-season at least three of the next five seasons. Well this season wrapped up with the Jays in fourth.
It's great to have realistic goals, but what they really have to do is try to compete with the likes of the four organizations still alive in the playoffs.
The Yankees have made it to the post-season 12 of the last 13 years since 2000. They're made it to the ALCS seven times and have played in four World Series since 2000, going (2-2).
The Detroit Tigers have been to the "promised land" three times since 2000. They've made it to the ALCS twice and lost their only World Series appearance to St. Louis in 2006.
The Cardinals' numbers are almost as good as the Yankees. Nine post-season appearances in 13 years, with seven trips to the NLCS and two World Series wins in three attempts.
What makes St. Louis unique, is they've done all of this with almost a complete turnover of front office and on field staff. including two general managers, Walt Jocketty and John Mozeliak, as well as two managers in Tony LaRussa and Mike Matheny. They also lost Albery Pujols to free agency and keep rolling along.
San Francisco has made it to the playoffs five times, the NLCS three times and are (1-1) in the World Series since 2000.
Right now, we're not even mentioning Boston and Texas which have been to the World Series twice each. Boston (2-0) and Texas (0-2) as well as Philadelphia (1-1).
If you're keeping track, those seven teams have accounted for eight of the past 12 World Series titles.
Money alone doesn't make a championship team, but of the four teams left this year, St. Louis has the lowest payroll at $110.3 million, which is good for ninth in the Majors.
I still thinks Oakland's story this year slightly outshines Baltimore. Yet you can't say enough about the way the O's shored up their starting rotation in a relatively cheap, no risk way.
They picked up Jason Hammel in a trade with Colorado that cost them starter Jeremy Guthrie. They signed left Wei-in Chen as an International free agent, and Miguel Gonzalez after he was released by Boston. All three made significant contributions.
When it comes to instant replay, I'm generally old school and don't want it to become a dominant part of the game. Umpires usually get the call right and the human element of a controversial call is part of what makes the game so great. But after seeing Jeff Nelson make the incorrect call when the Tigers Omar Infante dived back into 2nd base, and should have been out, I could see each manager being allowed one challenge per game.
You don't see these kinds of calls every game and maybe it's time we bowed to technology. Better that than ridiculing an ump for making a call on a play where perhaps his view was obstructed.
The post-season often produces unsung heroes guys who seemingly come out of nowhere to lead their teams to victory. I was surprised to see that the highest batting average all-time in the World Series is held by former player and manager Phil Garner who now works in the A's organization. His career mark is .500 in 28 plate appearances. For a single series, Billy Hatcher of the Reds holds the mark after hitting .750 in the 1990 World Series upset of Oakland.
Within the next three weeks, probably by the 1st week of November, don't be surprised if the Jays acquire a solid starting pitcher. GM Alex Anthopoulos explaining on the Mike Richards show Monday morning, on TSN 1050 that picking up a starter early will set up everything else they want to do in the off season. Alex adding, there are pitchers out there, you wouldn't even expect, and the Jays will be right in the mix trying to get one of more of them.
Of the four teams left, Detroit has the deepest, and most effective starting rotation. The further into the post-season you get, the bigger a factor that becomes. That's why the Tigers still have to be the World Series favourites even with the struggles of their closer Jose Valverde.