Thoughts as the League Championship Series get started:
* The Orioles need a big-game, season-saving pitcher, ala the Yankees' CC Sabathia. The Orioles' pitching depth is nice, but a Sabathia-type pitcher would be ideal. Sabathia beat the Orioles twice in the Division Series, once with 120 pitches and another with 121. This offseason, the Orioles should sign Nate McLouth and renegotiate with Mark Reynolds - maybe two years and $11 million instead of picking up the one-year option. The Orioles need an upgrade at second base and should allow Brian Matusz and Jake Arrieta each another shot in the rotation. Chris Davis should be the full-time DH when Nick Markakis returns to play right. If all that happens, the Orioles will be the favorite to win the AL East in 2013.
* The biggest decision in the offseason for the Nationals is what to do with 32-year-old Adam LaRoche. The two sides have a mutual option for $10 million, but LaRoche is going to want a multi-year deal and likely will command three years and at least $30 million. If LaRoche goes, the Nationals could use Michael Morse or Tyler Moore at first base.
* This postseason started with future Hall of Famers getting a last chance to play in the World Series. But Jim Thome got knocked out with the Orioles. The Braves' Chipper Jones is out. So that leaves the Yankees' Ichiro Suzuki, 38, as the only one left with a chance to play in the World Series. Ichiro is back in the ALCS for the first time since 2001.
* Don't ever give up on the Cardinals, the defending World Series champions: Until Game 5 of their Division Series against the Nationals, no team has ever come back from a four-run deficit in a winner-take-all series game. The Cardinals fell behind the Nationals 6-0 in Game 5 after three innings, but they rallied with four runs in the ninth inning against closer Drew Storen to keep a repeat title season alive. The Cardinals haven't lost two consecutive games since Sept. 15. "Unbelievable," Cardinals batting coach Mark McGwire said.
* Storen said the hurt of giving up four runs in the ninth inning of Game 5 is going to linger for a couple of months. "But when the wounds heal, I'm sure we will see what we have learned from this season," he said. Said Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond: "There are too many positives to hang our heads, but it's going to take a while to get over."
* The Nationals and Orioles aren't going to the World Series, so my preferred World Series teams are the Giants and the Tigers. The freshness would be welcome. The two teams have never played each other in the World Series, and it'd be fun to see the Giants' rotation against the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. If that doesn't happen, I'll take the Giants and Yankees and hope for a Sabathia-Matt Cain matchup. The Cardinals-Yankees would be boring because the Yankees won't be able to hit the Cardinals' flame-throwing bullpen, and there's no need to see a repeat of the Cardinals-Tigers from 2006, although Justin Verlander pitching against the St. Louis lineup is tempting.
Thanks for reading!