Why did Bruce Bochy keep Woody Williams in as long as he did?
-- Kim C.
Bochy thought Williams was sharp, and in actuality, it was mistakes in the field that hurt as much as anything. With a bullpen as strong and deep as the one the Padres have, the manager could have made the move earlier, but the inning really blew up after he was out. Cla Meredith had been so good all year, but hitting a batter and third baseman Russell Branyan's error were where it really went bad.
The Cardinals may not have the best staff left in the Major Leagues, but they might have the single best pitcher out of any of the teams left in the playoffs. How big of an advantage does this give them?
-- Max V.
Definitely a huge advantage in a best-of-seven series. Chris Carpenter is the favorite for the NL Cy Young Award and he proved it with outstanding work vs. the Padres. La Russa considered using him in the final game of the regular season, but -- as it turned out -- wisely kept him for Game 1 of the NLDS.
Dave Roberts is one of my favorite players. He's such a good guy and a great player. What does he mean to the Padres other than playing offense and defense with that wonderful spirit?
-- Hailey B.
Bochy was asked that question Sunday in St. Louis. Here's his response: "Dave brings so much energy to a ballclub. If you know Dave, the guy has passion for life, a passion for baseball and it shows when he walks into the clubhouse. And he's a guy that has a way of picking the guys up.
"He's very popular in that clubhouse because he's one of those guys that just never seems like he's had a bad day. He's always in a good mood."
What are the current payrolls of the teams that made the playoffs?
-- Mitch M.
The Cardinals ranked fourth in Major League Baseball with a payroll of about $107 million, while the Padres were 15th at $75 million. The Yankees topped baseball with $213 million. Other playoffs teams: Mets, second, $121.5 million; Tigers, ninth, $94 million; Dodgers, 10th, $91 million; Twins, 17th, $68.5 million; and the A's, 19th, $65 million.
Has La Russa been continuously employed as a manager since the 1970s in Oakland? If so, when did he change teams?
-- Dale L.
La Russa, who turned 62 on Wednesday, managed the Chicago White Sox from 1979 to 1986, the Oakland A's from 1986 to 1995 and became the Cardinals' field boss in 1996. His regular-season record is 2,297-1,986 (.536), best among active skippers. La Russa was named his league's Manager of the Year in 1983, 1988, 1992 and 2002.
What are the odds of the New York Mets actually making it in the World Series? I am a big Mets fan and have been one for years. Never got to see them play yet, but hoping one day I will.
-- Chad M.
The Mets shared MLB's best record at 97-65 (.599) this season, were sixth in ERA at 4.14 and finished sixth with 800 RBIs. They polished off the Dodgers quite easily in the NLDS after capturing the NL East title despite an injury-riddled season. This year, the Mets swept the Redbirds at Shea Stadium in three August games, and they were 1-2 in St. Louis.