Fans pick Yankees to win Series

Ask around for a World Series prediction, and many baseball fans forecast a November classic: Albert Pujols and his St. Louis Cardinals vs. Derek Jeter and the New York Yankees.

An Associated Press-Knowledge Networks poll released Friday asked fans to pick the World Series winner from all the likely playoff contenders. The New York Yankees were the choice by a nearly 3-to-1 margin over the Cardinals and Boston Red Sox.

“Right now we do have the best record and people probably look at that,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “But polls don’t mean anything, production does.”

When fans were asked to pick who would have the greatest impact in the postseason, Jeter and Pujols nearly tied at the top, doubling up the Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez and far ahead of David Ortiz of the Red Sox.

The Yankees were a runaway choice to win the championship, at 37 percent.

“Hopefully all Yankee fans expect us to win and they’ll be cheering loud in the playoffs. That’s all the matters,” New York first baseman Mark Teixeira said.

The poll was conducted Sept. 14-21 and involved interviews with 559 adults who said they were interested in Major League Baseball. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

Phillies’ closer role up for grabs

Brad Lidge is no longer the full-time closer for the Philadelphia Phillies. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. says the Phillies will consider options besides Lidge. Amaro added that Lidge could remain in the mix.

Around the horn

Phillies pitcher Pedro Martinez has been scratched from his start today because of a stiff neck. Martinez (5-1) injured his neck during an at-bat on Sept. 19. … Rangers reliever Eddie Guardado, a former Mariner, said he probably will retire after this season. … Giants shortstop Edgar Renteria will have surgery on his right elbow to remove bone chips and spurs. … Pitcher Francisco Liriano will return to the Minnesota Twins’ rotation and start against the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. … Cuban pitcher Aroldis Chapman has been declared a free agent, allowing teams to start pursuing the hard-throwing, 21-year-old left-hander. He is considered by scouts to be among the top pitching prospects in the world.