Ken Davidoff's baseball insider

Yankees, Mets, trade rumors, free agents, off-the-wall predictions and other MLB musings.

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David Wright, Lou Piniella, Phil Hughes and Jim Spadafore

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Jim Spadafore covered the Michigan men's basketball team for The Detroit News for many years _ his byline is on the bottom of this story _ including 1992-93, the season I covered the Wolverines for The Michigan Daily. That season ended like this. Jim was a nice enough fellow, but what I remember most about him was when he and his Detroit News teammates wrote columns with the most simple format: News, and Views.

It would be something like this:

News: Michigan loses to Minnesota, 82-72.

Views: Bad loss for the Wolverines, who are now 5-11 lifetime at Williams Arena. Also, look for this team to be embroiled in a huge scandal.

Because I don't like to steal other people's ideas or words, I wanted to credit "Spad" and his Detroit News teammates of the time _ Terry Foster, Tom Gage and Mike O'Hara come to mind _ for making this blog entry possible.

But first, some updated playoff seedings:

AL

Angels (1) vs. Boston (4)

Tampa Bay (2) vs. White Sox (3)

NL

Cubs (1) vs. Mets (4) or Dodgers (3)

Philadelphia (2) vs. Dodgers (3) or Milwaukee (4)

News: It's Armageddon once more at Shea.

Views: Man oh man. Where do we begin? With the bottom of the ninth, IMHO. Daniel Murphy leads off with a triple, putting a Mets victory 90 feet away, and with righty Bob Howry on the mound, Cubs skipper Lou Piniella opts to pitch - carefully, mind you - to David Wright. Despite getting ahead, 3-and-0, Wright goes down swinging on a fastball outside the strike zone.

Then Piniella intentionally walks the hot Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran to load the bases go after the ice-cold Ryan Church and Ramon Castro. Perfectly played by Lou, as Church hits into the force play at home and Castro strikes out on three pitches.

Sweet Lou gets flack for his temper, for his handling of a pitching staff and for his abilitiy to wear down nearly everyone around him. But the man can manage some.

Meanwhile, Wright looked like he was pressing. He should've looked at that last pitch for ball four, at which point Howry would have needed to pitch to either Delgado or Beltran with no one out. Wright now has a .705 OPS (.329 OBP, .376 SLG) with runners in scoring position this year. Alex "He's why the Yankees never win it all" Rodriguez has an .847 OPS (.396 OBP, .451 SLG) in the same spots.

Does tonight now become Pedro Martinez's most important start as a Met? I'd say so. If Pedro checks in with a typically shaky first inning, Shea just might implode about 72 hours earlier than scheduled.

I still think the Mets survive and make the playoffs. They have too much talent - talent that is playing well at the moment - to blow it again.

News: The Brewers climb back into a playoff spot.

Views: With another game against the Pirates tonight, and then the "playoffs first" Cubs coming to Miller Park over the weekend, the Brewers are benefiting from an easy schedule. Nevertheless, a collapse can happen even with cream puff opponents, as we saw last year with the Mets. Credit the Brewers and interim manager Dale Sveum for righting themselves.

CC Sabathia, last night's winner on three days' rest, is making a case to be placed on NL Cy Young and MVP ballots _ if not first place, then somewhere. And with this heavy workload, he's got to be scaring prospective suitors this winter, at least a little.

News: The Yankees win again, and Phil Hughes pitches well.

Views: In my conversations with Yankees fans, I am seeing more of a divide than ever. There is a strong segment that is at peace with what transpired this year, that sees the team moving forward with more of an emphasis on youth and versatility. And there is an equally strong segment that thinks Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi and A-Rod should all be sent to the island from this movie.

As the regulars know, I'm taking the half-glass-full approach with this team. Yes, there are concerns for the future, and yes, it's fair to wonder exactly how good a job Cashman has done, and yes, you can especially question whether Girardi is the right person to handle the unique demands of being the Yankees' manager.

But the Yankees continue to develop interesting, young players. Now there's reason to be hopeful about Hughes again, and Alfredo Aceves and Phil Coke both have displayed potential. Austin Jackson had a promising year at Double-A Trenton. Maybe Brett Gardner, hitting low in the lineup, can keep the centerfield job warm for Jackson.

Most of them won't stick; where have you gone, Shelley Duncan? But the idea is, if you bring enough young talent into the organization, and you give enough of them a chance, then you can build a team using some of those players for your club and some as trade chips to get other, established players, like in the trade that acquired Damaso Marte and Xavier Nady.

News: The Twins beat the White Sox again, closing within a half-game of the AL Central lead.

Views: I have just one guarantee here. No matter who wins the division, the AL Division Series pitting Tampa Bay against the AL Central champ will not sniff prime time.

News: The Dodgers clinch a tie for the NL West title.

Views: Last fall, I agreed with those of you who thought it was time for Torre to leave the Yankees. But the lack of respect with which the Yankees have treated Torre, since Game 4 of the 2007 ALDS, is appalling.

First, there was the offer they wanted him to turn down, in the delusional hope that Yankees fans would be stupid enough to say, "It's Torre's fault! They made him an offer!" Then there was the snubbing at the Yankee Stadium farewell. And now Hank Steinbrenner, who had virtually nothing to do with the Yankees from 1996 through 2007, is sniping at Torre.

In Shaun Powell's column today, you'll see that Torre took the high road regarding the recent developments. Of course he did. Torre might have lost plenty of games for the Yankees due to strategical mistakes and poor bullpen usage. He might have lost his job, ultimately, because he couldn't get along with his Yankees superiors. But Torre's next PR loss will be his first.