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Wednesday Rockpile: Playoffs Begin, Rockies Not Invited

Off-Topic Thread

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

On Sunday, ESPN Insider kissed the Rockies goodbye, recapping the 2010 season. For those of you who aren't insiders, the gist of Buster Olney and Baseball Prospectus' conclusions is that the Rockies will be in contention for several years but they probably need to get a piece in free agency to supplement their core.

At the end of the piece, BP's prospect guru Kevin Goldstein mentions that it might be time to give Chris Nelson a real shot at the 2B job. Unfortunately, this report from the Denver Post (about Clint Barmes) isn't so encouraging on that front. My read is that Colorado sees Eric Young Jr as the starter with the others a few steps behind. Hopefully the Rockies will give Nelson's .313/.376/.492 line some more run in Spring Training. As for the article, Barmes will be non-tendered but could return if a starting gig doesn't materialize elsewhere.

In other Rockies news, two Colorado prospects made Baseball America's California League Top 20, with Juan Nicasio coming in at number 9 and Rex Brothers (who only spent a short time there) at 12. Inside the Rockies has more on each player, as does my breakdown of the Fall 2010 PuRPs list (Nicasio is #13, Brothers #12).

Steve Foster at ITR previews next season's bullpen. Like me, he doesn't see too much turnover for the Colorado relief corps.

Finally, one of my favorite baseball writers, Maury Brown, breaks down MLB attendance this year at Fangraphs. Colorado saw a 7.89% increase this year, the biggest by a non-playoff team and fourth-biggest overall. Good job Rockies fans! There's plenty more to be dissected in the article (NL West has the highest average attendance), but I'm running low on time.

Beginning tomorrow, I'll be conducting a full audit of the Rockies' 2010 season, beginning with the position players.

MLB Postseason Schedule

The playoffs start this morning at 11:37 MDT as Tampa Bay hosts Texas, with games at 3:07 MDT (Cincinatti at Philadelphia) and 6:37 MDT (New York at Minnesota) to follow. There are plenty of good previews out there, including at the Denver Post and Fangraphs, so if you're into that sort of thing you can spend most of your morning like a voyeur, reading about another team's playoff chances.

My division series predictions are after the jump...

ALDS: Tampa Bay over Texas in 4

Texas has an impressive lineup (especially if Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz are healthy) and a surprisingly good pitching staff (Cliff Lee is an ace while CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis are no slouches either), but Tampa Bay counters with a patient lineup (led by Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford) and a strong group of hurlers (David Price, James Shields, Matt Garza). Game one in particular will be a treat, as the lefties Lee and Price duel in a pitcher's park in Tampa. If Texas can win that game, they have an excellent chance to steal the series. In fact, if they do get past Tampa Bay, Texas is my choice to represent the AL in the World Series. As it is though, I see Tampa Bay's lineup depth wearing down Texas' pitching and taking the series.

Minnesota over New York in 5

This should be the best Division Series matchup, with two of the best offenses in the game meeting in the Great White North, the Evil Empire against what is many fans' second favorite team. Even without Justin Morneau's 5.3 WAR, the Twins have seven above average regulars (2+ WAR) in their lineup and a surprisingly strong playoff rotation led by 6 WAR man Francisco Liriano (who might be the most underrated pitcher in baseball). The Yankees counter with the best, most patient offense in baseball, in which eight players are over 2.4 WAR, and an expensive starting rotation with C.C. Sabathia at its head. Again, game one is crucial in this series, as neither team has a lockdown number two guy to follow their ace. In a series this close, I've got to go with homefield advantage and a five game series win by theTwins.

NLDS: Philadelphia over Cincinatti in 3

This is the easiest series to project, as Philadelphia's impressive (and finally healthy) offensive depth and outstanding playoff rotation should roll over the Reds. While the Reds do lead the NL in wOBA (no mean feat), the Phillies' numbers include large stretches without Chase Utley, among others, and should be adjusted accordingly. Philly will go Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, and Cole Hamels against the Reds, and the series will probably be over. Maybe Joey Votto and company can steal a game, but I can't see a series victory here for the NL Central winners.

San Francisco over Atlanta in 4

This series should consist mostly of pitching duels, especially with Atlanta hamstrung by injuries. Brian McCann and Jason Heyward lead the Braves while the Giants counter with Buster Posey, Andres Torres, and Aubrey Huff. Ultimately, if Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, and Derek Lowe can match up well with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Johnathan Sanchez, then Atlanta can take the series. I just don't see it though. The Giants should advance.

Just for kicks, here's how I see the rest of the playoffs shaking out:

ALCS: Tampa Bay over Minnesota in 6

NLCS: Philadelphia over San Francisco in 5

WS: Philadelphia over Tampa Bay in 7, with Halladay winning three games

For those of you confused about who you should be rooting for in the postseason, Jeff Sullivan of has some helpful tips. Hint: not the Yankees.

Feel free to make your own postseason predictions in the comments.