Thursday, May 3, 2007

April Showers


My take on the first month of the baseball season. And those who think 'Yeah, it's just the first month of the season. Doesn't really mean anything' should check out this Jayson Stark article.

AL EAST

Baltimore Orioles: Young pitchers give them a shot in most games, but they're already sinking to the bottom after a decent start. This team is capable of winning 8 in a row, then losing 8 in a row.

Boston Red Sox: Promising start. Starting pitching is looking solid. Bullpen is light years better than last year's. Lineup seems more than capable. Cora needs to play more and let Pedroia spend more time in Pawtucket, but that's a minor quibble. Here's what's scary: This lineup hasn't even begun to live up to it's potential. Manny is hovering around .200, Papi has the numbers but still hasn't taken over entire series like he's capable, both Lugo and Youk should get in a groove at some point. Plus, they just spent the better part of this month playing only teams from the AL East, one of the toughest divisions in baseball. When everything starts clicking this team is going to be nearly impossible to beat. I know, it's April, but I like what I see.

New York Yankees: Let's see - starting pitching is a mess, injuries galore many from pulled or torn hamstrings, bullpen has ALREADY been over worked and it's only May, age has quickly caught up with many of the players, and Torre looks like he's suffering from senility and forgotten how to manage. On the plus side, looks like ARod will be the best player on a last place team again. Just the way he likes it. Note: learned after writing this that the Yankees have fired their strength and conditioning coach.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays: Probably have the most exciting talent of any team in either league (maybe not Florida), but with the exception of Kazmir, absolutely no pitching. As bad as the Yankess pitching has been, they've only given up 126 runs, as of yesterday. Guess how many the Rays have given up? Try 171!!. Holy crap! While talented, not a team that's going to outscore you very often. Much better than they have been and there are signs of hope, but will probably wind up in last place. Again.

Toronto Blue Jays: Tough to figure. Injuries are killing them, but Halladay looks nearly unhittable. Chacin is tough and once again it looks like this team is going to give the Sox fits and play .500 against the rest of the league.

AL CENTRAL

Chicago White Sox: The talent is there, but they seem to be having trouble pulling things together. Can't help but wonder it Ozzie has worn out his welcome. Like all over bearing coaches/managers, players tend to tune them out after a while.

Cleveland Indians: This team scares me more than any other team in the AL. Most complete and a killer lineup. Playing like we all expected them to play last year. Like last year, I hope they miss the playoffs.

Detroit Tigers: Another one that seems to be spinning it's wheels in the early going. Have displayed moments of 'wow, these guys are good', but wonder how much of a toll last year's playoff run had on their pitchers. Kenny Rogers is already on the DL for a long stretch and the young guns that propelled them last years seem to be sputtering.

Kansas City: What's the record for most consecutive 100 loss seasons?

Minnesota Twins: Another team that I hope misses the playoffs. Probably the best defensive team in the league and if they can throw Santana at you 3 times in a 7 game series you'd be in trouble.

AL WEST

LA Angels: Colon is back and Vlad is on a tear, but I have a hard time picturing them doing much damage if they make the playoffs. Can't seem to win against the better teams. Please reference April 10 - 16th.

Oakland Athletics: Hovering around .500 again, but, barring injuries, will probably make another second half run and pull some young pitching phenom out of their ass again. I may admire how the A's keep doing this, but I don't have to like it.

Texas Rangers: Wow, those off season pitching upgrades really helped. Second to Tampa Bay in runs given up. Where's Chan Ho Park when you need him? On the plus side, they'll be in the news again when Sammy Sosa tests positive for steroids or is named in some other HGH scandal.

Seattle Mariners: Hard to tell what's going to happen with these guys until the Hernandez injury becomes more clear. As it stands now he could be back next week or next season. It's been announced that he could potentially pitch against the Yankees this Friday, but I'll believe it when I see it. Good thing they signed a reliable veteran like Jeff Weaver for such emergencies.

NL EAST

Atlanta Braves: How the hell do they keep doing this? Pitching is fantastic again. Offense is just dangerous enough to be wary of. And somehow they keep finding gems like Kelly Johnson. If any team uses a crystal ball or Satanic rituals in their front office, my bet would be this one. Oh yeah, old friend Edgar Renteria is hitting .333 with 4 homers and 17 RBIs already.

Florida Marlins: Absolutely loaded with young talent. From pitching to fielding to hitting. If this team can stick together for the next 5-7 years, it will be a powerhouse. Plus, since this is the Red Sox National League farm team, it will be fun to watch them play in Boston when they get called up.

New York Mets: The only team in the National League that I can see winning the whole thing. Well rounded lineup, good pitching, dynamic players like Wright and Reyes (my favorite non Red Sox player). What's scary is this: While other teams will be wheeling and dealing to make themselves better, the Mets can sit and relax and STILL add one of the best starting pitchers of all time to their rotation. No, not Clemens. Pedro. He's rehabbing and expected to be ready mid season. How would that be for a pickup? AND, he'll be rested and healthy for the playoffs.

Philadelphia Phillies: Prediction: Manual will be fired by All Star break, then Phillies will go on an Oakland A's type of run the second half of the season and just miss the wild card by thiissss much.

Washington Nationals: Entertaining for the sole reason of potentially being one of the worst teams of our generation. What's the record for most losses in a season?

NL CENTRAL

Cincinatti Reds: As of yesterday, sitting at 13-13. Expect them to be right around .500 at the end of the year, too.

Chicago Cubs: After spending approximately 100 billion dollars in the off season and getting Lou Pinella in as manger, they seem to be marginally better than last year. Have somehow morphed into the Washington Redskins of baseball. Collecting high priced, 'name' players that don't seem to be meshing. Nice work.

Houston Astros: Whether they get Clemens or not, they'll be in a hard fought battle for NL East mediocrity with the Reds.

Milwaukee Brewers: The feel good team of the young season. Well, it would be feel good if Selig didn't own the team. Good, young players. Starting pitching coming together. Bullpen a bit questionable. Will probably fade in the second half, but this division is so crappy, they just might pull it out. Of all the teams, this one is most at risk if any injuries strike. One or two of their pitchers goes down and they're toast.

Pittsburg Pirates: Will surprise a lot of teams this year. If they can develop some pitching this year, they may even be next year's Florida Marlins. Figure below .500, but not by much.

St Louis Cardinals: What in holy hell is going on? They've scored the fewest runs of any team in the majors except the Nationals. And even then they've only outscored them by 3 runs!! They do realize Albert Pujols is on the team, right? Are teams just pitching around him and letting the other players not beat them? Now on top of everything, they'll be dealing with the premature death of a teammate and questions about whether he was drinking and high. Couple this with LaRussa's DUI nap and this team is a fucking mess. Lamest defending champ since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

NL WEST

Arizona Diamondbacks: I'll be honest, save for Randy Johnson and Eric Brynes (Mr. Web Gem), I have no idea who's on this team. It's been over hauled so many times I've stopped keeping track.

Colorado Rockies: Superstar in the making with Matt Holiday, but when your best starting pitcher is Jason Hirsch, your closer is Brian Fuentes, and your pitching staff includes Byung-Hyun Kim I don't have much hope for you.

LA Dodgers: The Mets biggest NL challenge. Seem to have a nice mix of veterans (Nomar, Kent, Gonzalez), young ones and pitching. If Brad Penny and Jason Schmidt can stay healthy (big IF) and old friend Derek Lowe can keep his ERA under 5, they should go far.

San Diego Padres: Three of their four most indispensable pitchers are 39 (Hoffman), 41 (Maddux) and 43 (Wells). Only Jake Peavy isn't ready to be fitted for a truss. So, health is their main issue. If the old guys can stay on the field, they might make the playoffs. Might.

San Fransico Giants: All about Bonds this year. Despite my hoping he accidentally kills himself with an HGH overdose (it could still happen), it looks inevitable he'll break Aaron's record. Please, I am begging any fan outside the SF area that somehow catches that record breaking home run ball, just throw it back. Wipe your ass with it first. Or throw it into the nearest men's room and have everyone piss on it.

Today's distraction: A home run derby with a twist. There is no letup. The pitcher keeps hurling balls at you and moving around on the pitchers mound. Insane, intense and aggravating.

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