Yesterday the American League. Today the National League. I’m spoiling you. I really am. I hope you appreciate me and don’t realize how good you have it until I’m gone. Ingrates!
Off we go.
* All stats as of 5/29/08
Florida Marlins (30-21): Look how the little Marlins have all grown up. They finally sign one of their own players to a long term deal!!! Aren’t they so stinkin’ cute? Truth be told they have been signing most of their players to one year deals. Dan Uggla (.310/16/38) is making $417,000 this year and will be free to go. Nice gig if you can get it. While the lineup has been good, the pitching isn’t anything to write home about. Sure Hendrickson is 7-2, but his ERA is nearly 5 and old friend Anibel Sanchez has yet to see the light of day or….uh….night lights. He’s still hurt is what I’m trying to say. Considering they seem to be doing it with smoke and mirrors at this point, I can’t see this lasting.
Fun Fact: Between Sanchez, Lester and Buchholz pitchers emerging from the Red Sox system have accounted for 3 of the last 5 no hitters. Lesson? The Red Sox RULE!!
Philadelphia Phillies (30-24): I would think the Phillies should be happy where they are considering Ryan Howard is copying Big Papi and hitting slightly above .200. They can thank Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins for keeping up the pace. But, like last year, the starting pitching is questionable. After Hamels, they throw out Jamie Moyer (4.45 ERA), Kyle Kendrick (4.84), Adam Eaton (5.37) and Brett Myers (5.79). Yikes! If any team should have outbid the Mets for Johan, it was this one. Oh, well.
Fun Fact: While Philly is called ‘The City of Brotherly Love’ it was meant in a ‘give you a wedgie then noogie and make fun of you for crying’ kind of brotherly love.
Atlanta Braves (28-24): Hey look! Another team with a potential triple crown winner that we all know will never happen on it’s roster. In this case we’re talking about Chipper Jones who always cools off just when it starts to matter. Like every Braves team in my lifetime, this one is centered around pitching. Tim Hudson seems to be back in form, Smoltz still looks effective even though he’s been hurt, Jair Jurriens has come out of nowhere, and even Tom Glavine has been better that 4/5 of the Phillies starting pitching. Wait, that’s not saying much. Scratch that. Still, the bullpen scares all 10 Braves fans and could be a problem for the rest of the season.
Fun Fact: The city of Atlanta’s symbol is the Phoenix due to it being burned down during the Civil War. The city of Phoenix is totally pissed about that.
New York Mets (24-26): See Yankee fans, maybe Johan wasn’t the answer after all. The answer really should be to fire Willie Randolph. The Mets had the perfect opportunity last weekend and flinched. After last year’s epic collapse, not one fan would have blamed them for pulling the trigger. This team needs a shakeup in the worst way and won’t be much better until that happens.
Fun Fact: Johan Santana’s career record after July 1st is 420-2. Look it up!
Washington Nationals (22-31): Considering this team has been put together from the spare parts of every other team (did you know Aaron Boone is here?), they aren’t looking so bad. Their roster is a who’s who of players notable for their achievements on other teams. There’s Wily Mo who nearly killed a fan in the Monster Seats last season. There’s Austin Kearns who used to hit 500 foot home runs in Cincinnati but can’t even get above .200 now. There’s Elijah Dukes best known to the Tampa Police Department. Sadly, none of these players are making much of an impact. It’s still early, but it’s looking bleak.
Fun Fact: The Nationals new ballpark has a center field fence that measures 550 feet from home plate.
Chicago Cubs (31-21): The difference between this year and last is notable in one specific area: Starting pitching. Zambrano is still here and while Lilly has had his ups and downs, he leads the team in strikeouts. Dempster is solid and even Kerry Wood seems to be healthy. For now. One thing is for sure with this team – when they are playing their best, they are nearly impossible to beat.
Fun Fact: Chicago produced the first Cracker Jacks which somehow prompted a 100 year championship drought for the Cubs.
St Louis Cardinals (30-23): Albert Pujols currently has this line: .360/12 HR/34 RBI/44 BB/19 SO and nobody is talking about him. Have we completely taken him for granted at this stage of his career? Combined with Ludwick, Ankiel, Molina, and Glaus you can see why Branden Looper’s 5.05 ERA still has earned him 6 wins. Look for them to trade for pitching very soon.
Fun Fact: Tony LaRussa has no DUI charges in almost a year. That’s a record for him.
Houston Astros (30-23): If you told me Roy Oswalt would have an ERA over 5 and the Astros would still have 30 wins I would have called you a liar. LIAR!!!! Instead we have Berkman imitating Babe Ruth, Tejada looking younger than his fake age, young gun Hunter Pence and Carlos Lee tearing up the league. This is actually a fun team to watch and I’m still waiting to see when opposing teams will begin walking Berkman. It has to happen sometime, right?
Fun Fact: There has been talk of a Roger Clemens appreciation day, but he refuses to lie down on the left field train tracks.
Milwaukee Brewers (25-27): This team shouldn’t be very upset at where they stand right now. Despite having the all steroid bullpen without benefit of steroids, they are only 6 games back with plenty of time to go. Prince Fielder is having a tough year, so far, but expect him to pick it up. In the meantime Corey Hart, Ryan Braun and Gabe Kapler (yeah him!) have picked up some of the slack. If Ben Sheets and Suppan can stay healthy, they should be in this until the end.
Fun Fact: Julian Tavarez has yet to give up a run in the National League. He’s only pitched one inning, but that’s still impressive.
Pittsburgh Pirates (24-27): With Jason Bay, Xavier Nady and Nate McLouth hitting the ball all over the park, this team is much better than anyone could have thought. If Freddy Sanchez comes around this could be a legitimately scary lineup. The problem (as with most teams) is pitching. Duke, Maholm, Snell and Marte are serviceable and nothing more. If one or two of them can figure things out, the Pirates might be surprising and frustrating a lot of teams in the coming months.
Fun Fact: The city of Pittsburgh was ranked in the top five Most Livable Cities back in 1983. This was also the last time the Pirates were any good.
Cincinnati Reds (24-28): While I haven’t been a big Dusty Baker fan, I must admit he’s doing a good job considering what he’s got to work with. Jeff Keppinger (remember that name), Ryan Freel and Adam Dunn make this a dangerous lineup even though Ken Griffey Jr is still prominently involved. The big story is Edinson Volquez and his 7-2 record, 1.31 ERA, though. Most of us have never heard of this dude but he’s been the best starter in either league. Go figure.
Fun Fact: Rumor has it that the Reds would trade Ken Griffey Jr back to Seattle for a $25 Starbucks card and a first print edition of Pearl Jam's '10'.
Arizona Diamondbacks (30-22): The impression of this team was their starting pitching would carry them to the playoffs (and Webb, Owings and Haren have done their part), but their lineup is much more effective than anyone thought. Orlando Hudson, Conor Jackson, Stephen Drew, Justin Upton are all having solid years. Strangely, last year’s dynamo, Eric Byrnes, is only hitting .219. If he ever gets going, this team will be scary good.
Fun Fact: Even though nobody accidentally drowned, the Diamondbacks removed the swimming pool in center field. They should have left it there and had smoking hot models lounging in teeny tiny bikinis whenever the opposing team was on the field. Idiots!
Los Angeles Dodgers (26-25): So much for the Joe Torre effect. True, they did win a bunch of games in a row (was it more than 10?), but they’ve fallen on tough times lately. I know you’ll be shocked to learn Nomar’s been hurt much of the season and Derek Lowe has an ERA over 5….again, but it’s true. Brad Penny has been subpar, Jason Schmidt has yet to be seen and Rafael Furcal went down for a bit. If this team can get healthy and obtain another solid starter, expect them to make a run.
Fun Fact: Unconfirmed rumors abound that Nomar injured himself filming that Gatorade commercial with his wife, Mia Hamm. Not bowling, however, but just sitting on that couch while talking to the camera.
San Francisco Giants (21-31): What are they doing in third place, you ask? Well, take a look at the two teams below them first. Then take into account Tim Linecum came back better than ever, Matt Cain holding his own (temporarily, at least), Aaron Rowand, Bengie Molina, and Randy Winn having solid seasons and you can see why they snuck in here. If either of the teams below can get their shit together, don’t expect the Giants to be here very long.
Fun Fact: The tides in San Francisco Bay have been strangely mild since Barry Bonds’ huge head left the city.
Colorado Rockies (20-32): The World Series hangover is kicking this team’s ass. Caught lightning in a bottle last year, but doesn’t seem to be carrying over. Holliday, Atkins and Helton are all having good years but under them there isn’t much to talk about. On the pitching side, the Mark Redman experiment is not going well and except for Aaron Cook and their bullpen there isn’t much help to be seen. If they can trade for or find another good starter in their farm system they might hang in, but it’s not looking good.
Fun Fact: Just because it’s called Coors Field doesn’t mean you get free beer at the ballpark. Bummer.
San Diego Padres (20-33): Last season’s pathetic offense somehow got downgraded to awful. It was so bad, they took a chance on Jim Edmonds who wound up hitting a whopping .186 before being released back into the wild. Jake Peavy currently has a better average than Giles, Gonzalez, Greene and Iguchi. That’s bad. What’s worse is the pitching that kept them afloat last year hasn’t been nearly as good. Peavy is still in top form, but Maddux, Young (on the DL now) and Wolf aren’t nearly as effective as they have been in the past. Oh, and Mark Prior is hurt again. Completely unexpected, I know.
Fun Fact: San Diego’s Zoo claims it could totally kick the Cincinnati Zoo’s ass with one hand tied behind it’s back.
Today’s distraction: Ten things once thought to be impossible. I would like to point out the bottom one as my dream. Imagine being able to go anywhere in the world by stepping through a door. Sure you’d have to be taken apart at a molecular level and carefully pieced back together, but think of the possibilities.