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Regular season wrap-up: Mets, Yankees, Giants, Braves and Brewers

Your final playoff seedings:

AL: Tampa Bay (1) vs. Texas (3), Minnesota (2) vs. Yankees (4)

NL: Philadelphia (1) vs. Cincinnati (3), San Francisco (2) vs. Atlanta (4)

Playoff picks coming Wednesday.

For the first time since 2006, we go straight from Game 162 to the playoffs without a Game 163 anywhere. Too bad. Those are awesome. So as we tie up this regular season and move forward, let's deal with the matters at hand Spadafore style

News: The Mets are expected to dismiss Omar Minaya and Jerry Manuel today. 

Views: Here's what the Mets have to realize about themselves: Since they play in the National League, they're always a few breaks away from being contenders. Let's say, for instance, if Jason Bay had put up a characteristic (for him) 2010 and Jose Reyes hadn't suffered his thyroid condition and therefore enjoyed a full spring training.and consequently recorded better numbers during the regular season. The Mets certainly would've finished over .500, and who knows? Maybe they could have at least hung around until mid-September.

But what the Mets so desperately need is bigger than that. They need structure. A system. A process. A vision. Those don't put you a few breaks away from contending year after year. Those make you perennial contenders. 

Can the Mets make that happen, even if it doesn't deliver a short-term bump? This now becomes the most critical juncture for the franchise since the Wilpons bought out Nelson Doubleday in 2002.

News: The Yankees lose their final game to the Red Sox at Boston, securing the AL wild-card slot.

Views: As it turned out, Tampa Bay came back and defeated Kansas City, so the Yankees would've been done for even if they had defeated the Red Sox. But it was odd to watch the Yankees go at it so hard in Saturday night's Game 2 and then again Sunday - against a half-baked Red Sox squad - and fall short.

Odd as in, "Can these guys seriously mount a playoff run?"

I think they can. I think Joe Girardi (click his name for the link to my column from yesterday) is going to wind up looking good for his conservative approach of the past few weeks. I think the bullpen is in excellent shape, and the lineup is ready to rake.

I was speaking with an AL Central coach who assisted me (on the condition of anonymity) for my scouting report on the Twins, which we'll publish Wednesday. And his take was, essentially, "Besides Francisco Liriano, I don't see how any of their pitchers are going to stop the Yankees." 

In any case, from a storyline standpoint, the Yankees' wild-card status makes them more interesting. Makes them a little of an underdog, albeit an underdog with a payroll over $200 million.

News: The Giants and Braves qualify for the playoffs, and the Padres fall short. 

Views: Well, the least talented of the three teams missed out, so it's not surprising in that regard. The Padres should be very proud of what they accomplished this year. Now GM Jed Hoyer has to seriously take a look at what he has, and decide if a similarrun is viable in 2011. If he decides that this season was at least somewhat of a fluke, then he has to listen seriously to offers on Adrian Gonzalez. The All-Star first baseman can be a free agent after next season, and it's not realistic financially that the Padres can retain him.

As for the Giants and Braves, Atlanta staggered to the finish line, and you wonder how much they have left to offer retiring manager Bobby Cox. And while the Giants don't seem very good, either, the notion of Tim Lincecum taking on the Phillies in an NLCS doesn't sound too bad.

News: The Brewers and Pirates are set to change managers, while the Diamondbacks are going to retain Kirk Gibson. 

Views: It was apparent that Arizona wanted to retain Gibson as manager, even before hiring Kevin Towers as its new GM. The Milwaukee job is a good one, in a market that has become quiet baseball-happy the past few years and with an owner (Mark Attanasio) willing to spend some decent bucks relative to the team's market size - in a very winnable division. But just as important as finding Ken Macha's replacement will be finding some pitching, for GM Doug Melvin.

The Pittsburgh job? Well, I suppose you won't have to face much fan or media scrutiny. The Pirates do have a few young, talented players now in Pedro Alvarez and Andrew McCutchen. Yet there's little indication that the team is close to giving those guys a sufficient supporting cast.

News: Major League Baseball's attendance dropped slightly from 2009 to 2010.

Views: MLB will surely spin it by pointing out the very low percentage decrease (one percent) and reminding us of the bad economy.  I'm inclined to believe that. What I'm most curious to see is how Atlanta, Cincinnati and Tampa Bay perform next year, when they have a playoff berth to sell to their fans.

News: Longtime baseball writer Maury Allen died yesterday. 

Views: I can remember attending sleep-away camp for the first time in 1982, and I was quite the wimp back then and was very nervous about the whole thing, and one item that calmed me down was the copy of "Mr. October" that I had brought with me. I loved reading it during rest hour, right after lunch.

And then when I started covering baseball, I got to know Maury and worked with him on the BBWAA Dinner in 2003. He was a nice man who enjoyed telling ribald Mickey Mantle stories. There are worse ways to make conversation, surely.

Rest in peace, Maury.

--Remember our preseason picks contest? I do, sort of. At the end of the regular season, here are the standings:

1. Dennis: 14; 2. (tie) Bob Tufts, Jim, TheMask and Islander505, 12; 5. (tie) LosMets, NaOH and Poppy, 11; 8 (tie). Gary M, Richie G. and Sandy,. 10; 11. Expatriate Mets fan, 9.12. (tie) Cathy N, michaelhpolak and WhyNot, 8; 15. (tie) JE, 7; 16. KevM, 3. 

If I were contending, I'd be tied for eighth with Gary M, Richie and Sandy., with 10 points.Next update will come upon the completion of the Division Series.

--Live chat Wednesday at noon, from Minneapolis. I'm trying to book Prince as a special guest judge for the Live Chat MVP. I'll keep you posted.

--OK, I'll check in later after the Mets' news conference.

--UPDATE, 11:44 a.m.: The Mets have officially announced the firings of Minaya and Manuel, and ownership will meet with the media at 1:30 today at Citi Field.

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