Yanks now the team to beat

By Steve Sell
October 12, 2017

Thursday’s thoughts…

• YANKEES NOW FAVORED — Prior to the Major League Baseball playoffs, I said the winner of the Cleveland-New York series would be your World Champion.

And I picked Cleveland in 5.

The first four games played out just as I had thought. Cleveland would win two at home, then New York would win two on the road and with Corey Kluber going in Game 5, the Indians would prevail.

But they didn’t and the Yankees completed the comeback by winning the last three games.

So they are now my pick to win it.

I really thought the way Cleveland was playing it could not be stopped. Kluber had been so invincible the last two months of the season, I thought it was about as much of a sure thing as there could be in Game 5.

For whatever reason, Kluber just hasn’t been the same pitcher in October as he is the other six months of the season. He’s starting to become a righty version of Los Angeles’ Clayton Kershaw, who is lights-out in the regular season and turns mediocre when the playoff bell rings.

The Astros will be a tough out for the Yankees, especially since Houston is home for four of the seven. But after Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel, the starting pitching is suspect.

I had the Astros dispatching the Red Sox and four and that held true. Boston simply didn’t have enough firepower.

The Dodgers easily won their series, winning all three games from Arizona. I had that one going for the Boys in Blue in 4.

Chicago and Washington are going the limit, with Game 5 today. I was surprised the Cubs didn’t finish off the Nationals on Wednesday, but Kyle Hendricks has been in this position before and I think he’ll get it done in Game 5.

These baseball playoffs have been exciting and will only get better from here.

• NO HELP FROM FARM — According to The Kansas City Star, there's little help on the way for the Kansas City Royals.

Kansas City, which about seven years ago was lauded for perhaps having the best farm system in baseball, now has one of the worst as MLB.com released its rankings recently.

Stunningly, not one Royals prospect is among the Top 100 in the rankings. This is not good news for a team about to be gutted by free agency as six key players could leave and most of them probably will.

It's a little scary when one of the top prospects, Semir Duenez, batted only .252 at Double A, though he has good pop. 

KC has whiffed badly in recent drafts, including busts such as Bubba Starling, Hunter Dozier and Kyle Zimmer. In defense of Dozier and Zimmer, though, they are dogged by injuries. Starling was a feast-or-famine pick who probably will never make it despite being an incredible athlete, as McPherson fans saw when he played football and basketball at Gardner-Edgerton.

When you factor in the mass exodus of players about to happen plus slim pickings down on the farm, you just don't hope the Royals don't return to those pre-Hosmer days.

• REDBIRDS REBUILDING — The St. Louis Cardinals, who have somewhat of a fan base in this area, also are rebuilding.

The Cardinals missed the playoffs for the second straight year, almost unheard in the last decade. They've fallen far behind the Cubs in their division and were even passed this year by Milwaukee.

The pitching fell apart and the offense was sporadic. St. Louis, which drew more than 3 million fans this year, is careful with its money and doesn't lavish that many big contracts on free agents, though it opened the wallet last year for Dexter Fowler.

The Cardinals are flush with a half-dozen outfielders and could package two or three to get some starting pitching or a top reliever, something they desperately need.