First, your updated playoff seedings:

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

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

Thoughts: The Giants are even in the loss column with San Diego - San Francisco's additional win gives it the edge in our theoretical seedings - and the Rockies sit just one game behind in the loss column. So what happens if the season concludes with a three-way tie? Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News offers a decent explanation here

Guess where I found that story? Hey, how did you know

And now, a look at the upcoming pennant-race week:

Series of the Week: Went with Yankees at Rays last week, and no regrets there, so let's go with Rays at Yankees, starting tonight for four games. These two teams seem to be able to bring us great baseball theater even though they're fighting for a seed, rather than a spot. They have us jonesing for an ALCS rematch.

Junior Varsity Series of the Week: That's probably not a very nice way to refer to the National League, but hey, the truth hurts sometimes. In any case, Braves at Phillies for three games, starting tonight, gives Atlanta a last chance to climb back into the NL East penthouse. The Braves begin the series trailing the Phils by three.

At the same time, the Braves have to keep winning because they lead San Diego by two games in the loss column (and Colorado by three games) for the NL wild-card spot.

Division of the Week: The NL West, of course. Love it. All three competitors take today off. Then the Giants go to Wrigley Field, the Rockies go to Phoenix and the Padres go to Los Angeles for the next three days; in other words, all three teams will be playing sub-.500 clubs, so there will be pressure to sweep through.

Over the weekend, the level of competition intensifies significantly: The Rockies and Giants will go head to head in Denver, while the Padres will play host to the Reds.

Player of the Week: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado. Check out his September stats (scroll down just a little). Sick. 

Pitcher of the Week: Carl Pavano, Minnesota. The Idle pitches tomorrow night at home against Cleveland, and he'll be looking to tie his career high (set in 2004, when he duped the Yankees into giving him $39.95 million) 18 wins. But since you know how we feel about wins here at the home office, it's worth noting that he's approaching his career high in WAR; he has 4.7, and he had 5.1 in 2004.

Just as important, as he looks to be among the second tier of starting pitchers on the free-agent market this winter - with Cliff Lee and only Cliff Lee representing the first tier - Pavano prepares to increase his bona fides, as he'll probably start one of the Twins' first two postseason games. 

Reconciliation of the Week: Joe Torre and Don Mattingly will be at Yankee Stadium tonight, as the Yankees honor George Steinbrenner with a monument at Monument Park. What a tremendous idea. The death of Steinbrenner gives both sides good reason to toss aside the recent past and embrace what they accomplished together.

Remember, as Torre documented in his infamous book, the reason he and the Yankees' leadership grew apart was not due to George being George. It was due to George not being George. The Boss' fading health meant that Torre no longer had an avenue in which he could simply meet face-to-face with Steinbrenner and clear the air. 

Remember, too, that for all of Steinbrenner's bluster, he ultimately wanted everyone back in the Yankees family, whether it was Yogi Berra, Billy Martin, Mel Stottlemyre or Reggie Jackson. I'm sure The Boss would be very pleased to have Torre and Mattingly there tonight.

BTW, who gets a bigger ovation tonight, Torre or Mattingly? I say Mattingly, easily. I think there are many Yankees fans still resentful that the Yankees chose Joe Girardi over Mattingly to manage the team in 2008.

Scoreboard Series of the Week: Both the Twins, at home against Cleveland, and the Rangers, in Los Angeles against the Angels, will be watching the White Sox-A's score intently over the next three days. Minnesota's magic number to clinch the AL Central is 4, Texas' magic number to clinch the AL West is 6 and the White Sox and A's are the second-place teams. 

--Big start for Andy Pettitte yesterday, and just as important, I think I figured out the mystery of A.J. Burnett's black eye: It turns out that he and his cousins were going at it with some of Boss Hogg's henchmen concerning a case of unclaimed moonshine, and when Uncle Jesse tried to break it up, he accidentally whacked Burnett in the eye with his cane.

Hey, this stuff happens.

--Last week, I reported some details about Jayson Werth and his representation, including the fact that Werth had spoken with agents Scott Boras and Sam and Seth Levinson. Yesterday, CSN's Jim Salisbury reported that Werth had signed with Boras, giving Boras juice this winter that he didn't have with his other free-agent clients (Johnny Damon, Kevin Millwood).

It's too early to say who will sign Werth and for how much, although I like the Red Sox as an early favorite. But I can guarantee this: Werth will make his decision after Lee and Carl Crawford. When you sign up with Boras as an impending free agent, you agree to let Boras try to use the clock to his advantage.

--Live chat at noon Wednesday. It's gonna be a good one. I can just feel it.

--I'll check in tonight from the Stadium.

 

 

 

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