The live chat has done some serious travelling as of late - Toronto last week, St. Petersburg a few weeks prior to that. Today, at noon Eastern time, we'll do it from Minneapolis. Yankees playoffs, Mets GM search - whatever you've got, I'll try to answer it.
The person who asks the best questions will be awarded, at chat's end, with the "Live Chat MVP" honor.
Anyway, let's get down to business. I'm coming off a very rough 2009 in the playoff predictions department. Red Sox over Rockies? Yeesh. Let's try to get better this year.
AL: Yankees over Minnesota in 4. Texas over Tampa Bay in 3. Yankees over Texas in 6. I'm not buying the talk that this year's Twins team is a better match for the Yankees. I think last year's Twins team just might have pulled off the mammoth upset I incorrectly predicted if they had played to their strengths of strong fundamental play (remember Carlos Gomez's and Nick Punto's horrid baserunning errors?) and a good closer (turns out Joe Nathan was injured).
This year, though? The Twins don't run a lot - their 68 stolen bases tied them with Boston for 25th in the majors - so they're not a club that's really going to be able to capitalize on Jorge Posada's throwing problems behind the plate. Their bullpen is nothing special. Tonight's starter Francisco Liriano is interesting, in that he can dominate, but after that comes very hittable strike-throwers in Carl Pavano, Brian Duensing and Nick Blackburn.
And for all of the Yankees' supposed woes? The biggest concern has to be Game 2 starter Andy Pettitte. If he can't represent, then we could have a series on our hands. Everywhere else, though, the Yankees look to be in very strong shape.
As for the other AL series, to me, the Rays are the club that really limps into the playoffs. Evan Longoria has been out, mending a quadriceps injury. Game 2 starter "Big Game James" Shields' regular season was so awful that A.J. Burnett could turn to him and say, "I have a brother in the world now," just as David Banner said to Matt "Daredevil" Murdock in "Trial of the Incredible Hulk."
I think Texas' Game 1 starter Cliff Lee will be ready to turn the final lap of his contract run, and Game 2 starter C.J. Wilson is underrated. And just for the heck of it, Vladimir Guerrero will check in with a big series.
Yankees over Rangers in the ALCS? We'll get more into it if and when it actually happens, but I just think the Yankees have the overall superior team.
NL: Philadelphia over Cincinnati in 3. San Francisco over Atlanta in 4. Philadelphia over San Francisco in 6. The poor Reds. They worked so hard to get back into the postseason for the first time since 1995, and all they're going to get is one lousy home playoff game. They just seem like no threat to the rolling Phillies.
The Braves, meanwhile, stagger into the playoffs, whereas the Giants' pitchers come into this postseason having been absolutely dominant. In September and October, the Giants' pitchers held opposing batters to a .251 on-base percentage and .292 slugging percentage. That is just ridonkulous, as the kids say.
Not dominant enough, however, to defeat the Phillies in the NLCS.
World Series: Yankees over Phillies in 5. We know that Roy Halladay can shut down the Yankees (although he didn't in the one matchup this season). Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels, though? Let's wait and see.
--Concerning the Mets' GM search, Jerry Crasnick tweeted that Marlins executive Dan Jennings has the right to interview with the Mets. Jennings is, at the least, a worthwhile candidate.
--All right, see you at noon, and then I'll check in from Target Field before the Game starts.