Well, my pick of St. Louis defeating SF in the NLCS was a little premature and totally incorrect. What a colossal gag job for the ages by the Cardinals and what a phenomenal comeback (again) for the Giants! The SF pitching staff just seemed to make a decision after game 4 that the Cards were just not going to score anymore and the Cardinals defense and hitting with RISP seemed to just disappear. In the end it was an amazing comeback for the second series in a row for the Giants and a massive and unexpected choke job by the Cardinals who are usually steely solid in the post season. Short and sweet this week while the World Series in on the go. Let’s get it!
Top Performances in the NLCS:
- Marco Scutaro, 2B/SS, SF: 14-28, 6R, 3 2B, 4RBI – NLCS MVP for the little man playing second in SF. After getting run over by Matt Holliday while trying to turn a double play early in the series, Scutaro stepped up and led by example hitting .500 and showed the usual solid fielding we expect from him.
- Pablo Sandoval, 3B, SF: 9-24, 4R, 2 2B, 2HR, 6RBI – Panda had a solid NLCS leading the Giants offense in RBIs. Like I said before, it is amazing how good this guy is while looking like some sort of round, doughy animal.
- Yadier Molina, C, STL: 11-28, 2R, 2B, 2RBI – Yadi hit the ball well, but failed mightily with RISP, just like the rest the Redbirds did over the final 3 games.
- Carols Beltran, OF, STL: 6-20, 2R, 3 2B, HR, 2RBI, 2SB – Beltran had an overall excellent post season but ultimately could not carry STL to the WS.
- Brandon Belt, 1B/OF, SF: 7-23, 6R, 2B, 3B, HR, 2RBI, SB – This young slugger had a solid NLCS filling the stat categories and coming up big for SF on a few occasions…likely a preview of the future for Belt if and when he is given a full time job to call his own.
- Matt Cain, SP, SF: 12.1IP, 1-1, 11H, 3ER, 6K:2BB – After a sluggish first start and a loss Cain came out and closed out the deal for SF.
- Ryan Vogelsong, SP, SF: 14.0IP, 2-0, 8H, 2ER, 12K:2BB – This guy was my pick for MVP of the NLCS after two solid outings and two wins, can’t say enough good things about this whole story.
- Barry Zito, SP, SF: 7.2IP, Win, 6H, 0ER, 6K:1BB – If anyone in the world said that they expected Barry freakin’ Zito to save the Giants season and shut down the Cardinals in Game 5 they are a liar.
Rants and Ramblings:
Well, what a three game show put on by the Giants to win the NLCS! Down 3-1 in St. Louis, Barry Zito showed up like circa 2002 and totally shut down the Cardinals, and from that point on it seemed like SF had all the confidence in the world at the plate and on the mound, and STL was devastated in every way.
The Cardinals defense became like a sieve it seemed, with rookie Peter Kozma, finally succumbing to the playoff pressure he ignored during the first 8 games, making a few critical gaffs in the field that cost the Cardinals dearly. 6 errors by St. Louis and 10 un-earned runs given up essentially were what gave the Giants the three straight wins they needed.
Mike Matheny had an excellent first year as a big league manager. The Cardinals should have been much better, won more games in the regular season, and should be in the world series right now, so he does have work to do - but don’t for a second put their short comings entirely on him. The Cardinals were a top shelf offense all year but suffered from severe and deep lapses at the plate with RISP which cost them the NLCS in the end. The pitching was solid and the bullpen was well managed by Matheny who has a bright future in the bigs. Manager of the year for him.
We have seen how clutch Kung Fu Panda can become when locked in and healthy and this should only fuel a productive 2013 season upcoming. I will leave most of the World Series review until it is over and the Giants defeat the Tigers and bring a third straight WS title home to the NL – but game 1 was something to behold for Panda. Three home runs in his first three at-bats, two off the best pitching in the world = wow! Puts him in elite company with Ruth, Jackson and Pujols as the only 4 guys to have 3 HRs in a World Series game.
Marco Scutaro should also land a decent deal somewhere if the Giants don’t sign him for maybe a 2 year deal after his playoff performance to date. I would expect a standard year for Marco in 2013 (.280-80-10-65-10) which will be good (but not great) production at the variety of infield positions he plays (which is the key with him).
The one thing I can still not solve is what’s up with Tim Lincecum starting? Out of the bullpen he is lights out this post season, but starting he was atrocious. I still have no doubts he sorts it out and is top 2 in NL Cy Young voting next year (which is a contract year) – for all those fools out there that think he is the next coming of Tom Gordon and will willingly move to the bullpen, go’way! Why would Lincecum, in his prime years, cut his pay in half (starter to reliever)? Regardless of the wear and tear on his arm and his velocity and all that stuff, it still isn’t worth him moving to the bullpen yet after only a single off season.
Start thinking about next season and your keepers now, at least get them in an order of some sorts. Some of the guys we will have to discuss and dissect in the coming weeks: Paul Goldschmidt, Melky Cabrera, Allen Craig, Michael Morse, Pablo Sandoval, Brian McCann, Dee Gordon, Ryan Howard, Roy Halladay, Tim Lincecum, and Daniel Hudson…
Catch me on Twitter @CanuckHoppy