The Phillies look like the clear favorite heading into a postseason derby filled with the very talented (Phillies, Yankees, Rays), resourceful (Rays), youthful (Reds, Rangers) and exciting (Rays, Reds). If pitching tells the story, the Phillies have a big edge, but the Giants, who also have excellent pitching, might have a say-so. If its offense, we could have a repeat World Series winner. If it's a little of each, we could easily have a repeat of last year's Series matchup.
There are some surprises in this year's postseason (Reds, Rangers), as well as a couple just-as-surprising omissions (Angels, Cardinals). Here go my ranking of the final eight teams and their chances to win it all.
They are first, far and away at this point. It's amazing what one great trade can do -- though to be fair, it's way more than the midseason pickup of pitching star
They get the benefit of the doubt for their talent and even their tradition. But their recent performance (especially their starting pitchers' bad performances) has been nothing short of worrisome. After ace
Their pitching has been excellent all year, so they are a clear threat. The bullpen has been nearly impeccable as winter pickups
They are "very dangerous'' in the words of one competing NL GM. And what makes them so is their excellent trio of starters --
Nobody wants to play the Rangers, especially in a first round where stud pitcher
They have a nice young nucleus that's shown a spark. They demonstrated a feistiness in standing up to the favored, more veteran Cardinals and a knack for coming through in the clutch with all their walk-off wins. But they "don't look like they can match the Phillies,'' in the words of one competing GM. But then, let's not forget that no one expected them to handle the Cardinals, either. Cincinnati's pitching is better than you think, with a 4.03 overall ERA, which was 13th-best. They may be just brash enough to surprise a few folks. Odds: 16-1
They have a very solid team and are a nice story in manager
• Angels owner
• Speaking of shake-ups, the Diamondbacks might be making changes to their roster after striking out an MLB record 1,507 times (more than nine whiffs a game). It seems there were plans in place to do this anyway, but new GM
• The Mets will be looking for someone new to run their baseball operations department after announcing the firing of Minaya on Monday. With his reputation and personality, he should be able to get a job elsewhere rather easily. Among those expected to be considered to head the department are ex-Diamondbacks GM