After the action last night, the final four are set. The American League half of the bracket has teams that haven't been to the LCS in 29 years (Kansas City Royals) and 31 years (Baltimore Orioles), while the National League has teams that have been there as recently as last year (St. Louis Cardinals) and two years ago (San Francisco Giants). Per the playoff rooting rankings I wrote last week, Rockies fans are most likely rooting for an AL World Series winner (I'll be pulling for the Cardinals). The next round doesn't kick off until Friday night, because TV doesn't allow for any flexibility these days.
The Denver Post's Patrick Saunders answers eight questions in his regular mailbag. These questions include next year's payroll (which I'll expand upon soon), Justin Morneau sitting out the last two games of the year to win the batting title, trading Morneau, Todd Helton as hitting coach, left handed relief (you'll read about one of those today in Ranking the Rockies), and the possibility of moving up game start times because they are taking so long now.
The primary question though boils down to - who in management deserves the blame for a terrible 2014 season?
I'll preface my personal answer to this question by saying that in terms of measuring out blame for a poor 2014, injuries are a big piece, as is just a flat out lack of offensive execution on the road by the Rockies. If Colorado was even bad on the road this year (say, 33-47), they'd have been a team that was pushing .500. Ultimately, the team that took the field just wasn't talented enough to win enough games this year.
Some of the responsibility for that lack of talent and depth falls on the front office, who once again believed the talent they had assembled would be good enough to contend but were proven woefully wrong by the product on the field. Yet more responsibility lies on the ownership that has allowed them to do this again and again. Since we've been answering forms of this question for months now, I'll just leave it at that.
Jeremy Collins writes about the mastery of Greg Maddux, the tragedy of losing a best friend, and how the two will be forever connected in his mind. This might be the best piece of writing (baseball or otherwise) I've read this year - I highly recommend you take the 15 minutes to give it a read (and maybe have some tissues handy).
In another excellent read, Frank Jackson does a masterful job of painting a vivid picture of baseball played in a year when the entire country really was paying attention to the game - the 1951 season, the first year in which the playoffs were televised nationally.
Jeff Zimmerman writes about the market inefficiency that is short pitchers. While short pitchers do tend to get hurt more often than taller pitchers, they on average perform better at every minor league level and (to a lesser degree) in the major leagues.
Slate has a really cool map that shows where every current MLB player was born, then it divides the US into 50 states that equally distribute this talent. In the new baseball America, Colorado is part of one of the largest states because of the relative sparseness of MLB talent in the Rocky Mountain region.
In case you were curious about what the play clock being used in the AFL this year looks like, Bryan's got you covered. He's not a fan.
Former front office employee Tony Blengino of FanGraphs looks at the different ways the elite eight's bullpens were constructed. This is somewhat relevant for Rockies fans wondering how Colorado is going to fix their dumpster fire of a pen this season.
Wendy Thurm of FanGraphs writes about all of the money that the Rockies are not getting by virtue of missing the playoffs this year.