I have nothing at all interesting to add to this, so let’s get right to it. My crankiness due to my exhaustion my creep in here, so I’ll just apologize in advance. Actually, fuck that. No apologies. You get what you get.
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES (30-20)
Bright Spots: Ibanez, Utley, Victorino; the shiny new rings glinting in the Philly sun; Ryan Howard hitting above .250; 17-6 road record.
Causes for Concern: Hamels, Moyer and nearly every other pitcher on the roster; Jimmy Rollins slow start becoming a full fledged red flag; a losing record at home. What’s that about?
Bottom Line: Despite the early season struggles from their most important players, this team is in very good shape heading into summer. Hamels and Rollins should turn it around if they aren’t secretly injured. Which, by the way, is a distinct possibility.
NEW YORK METS (28-23)
Bright Spots: Carlos Beltran playing like he cares for a change; David Wright; Sheffield apparently on ‘roids again; Santana doing his thing; K-Rod showing he’s no fluke; much better bullpen this season.
Causes for Concern: Honestly there isn’t much. Delgado’s hip injury is the only thing I can think of. Is it me or have there been a rash of hip injuries the last few years? Lowell, A-Rod, now Delgado. Is that where everyone has been injecting?
Bottom Line: As long as Santana and K-Rod aren’t pitched into the ground, the Mets should be fine. Even without Delgado this is an explosive lineup and should provide enough run support.
ATLANTA BRAVES (26-25)
Bright Spots: Chipper Jones; Yunel Escobar; the continuing emergence of Brian McCann; Jair Jarriens; Derek Lowe; Javier Vazquez (yes, that one!).
Causes for Concern: The decline of Kelly Johnson; Jeff Francoeur still trying to figure it all out; Garrett Anderson’s single home run in over 100 at bats.
Bottom Line: As always, their pitching is in great shape. They just need to find some power to plug into their lineup.
FLORIDA MARLINS (25-28)
Bright Spots: Hanley (who deserves to go by a single name now); Jorge Cantu; Josh Johnston; and….that about covers it.
Causes for Concern: Uggla’s woeful batting average; Anibal Sanchez; their closer sporting a nearly 6 ERA and nearly every other pitcher not name Johnston.
Bottom Line: The lineup isn’t close to being as potent as it was last year. If the pitching doesn’t pick up they’ll be in for a long season.
WASHINGTON NATIONALS (14-36)
Bright Spots: A fairly potent lineup with Zimmerman, Dunn, Johnson, Guzman and Dukes; um….a nice, new ballpark?
Causes for Concern: Every single pitcher on the roster. When your ERA leader is over 4 and owns a nifty 2-5 record it’s going to be a long, life learning season.
Bottom Line: Insert sad face here.
MILWAUKEE BREWERS (30-22)
Bright Spots: Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, even Mike Cameron (who I totally forgot was still playing) are having terrific years; 1995 Trevor Hoffman showing up to play in 2009; Yovani Gallardo off to a good start.
Causes for Concern: Every other starter – Looper, Bush, Suppan, Parra – hovering in the mediocre realm; Jason Kendell, JJ Hardy and Bill Hall struggling to get above .250.
Bottom Line: With this lineup, they can thrive with mediocre starting pitching. Still, if they want to contend and not just compete they’ll need to get some help. Kudos for this management team keeping the Brewers interesting with scraps from other teams.
ST LOUIS CARDINALS (30-22)
Bright Spots: Pujols; Yadier Molina attempting to run; Chris Carpenter healthy and dominant again; Wainright, Pineiro (!!!!) and Lohse forming a very good 2-4.
Causes for Concern: Other than a grand total of 2 hitters above .300 at the moment? And their MVP nearly breaking his ankle Monday? No worries here at all.
Bottom Line: Unlike a lot of other teams, the pitching seems to be in place to make a run. Ankiel obviously isn’t on HGH any longer and Khalil Greene is an automatic out at this point, so their lineup needs some major upgrades if they want to stay in the race.
CINCINNATI REDS (27-24)
Bright Spots: Ramon Hernandez; Brandon Phillips; Johnny Cueto and Harang holding down the fort; Codero becoming one of the most reliable closers in the game.
Causes for Concern: Where to play Jonny Gomes (if at all); Jay Bruce’s 14 homers combining with his .225 average (good news/bad news type of stat).
Bottom Line: Other than Phillips and Bruce there isn’t much power in this lineup. Gomes could help that, but he seems to be in limbo with this team. Having Arroyo as your number 3 starter is never a good sign for a team. How they’re 4 games above .500 is this year’s big question mark.
CHICAGO CUBS (25-25)
Bright Spots: Fukudome; Ramirez (see below); Randy Wells (despite being 0-2); Ted Lilly.
Causes for Concern: Ramirez’ shoulder injury; Dempster, Zambrano, and Harden not matching last year’s production; Soriano and Lee both hitting below .250.
Bottom Line: For all the press about this ‘killer’ lineup, they haven’t done much to show why we should be paying attention. Soriano seems to be turning it on as the weather warms, but let’s see how this plays out. The starters need to be more consistent, as well, if they want to end this ‘curse’.
PITTSBURGH PIRATES (24-28)
Bright Spots: The return of Freddie Sanchez (was he hurt last year and didn’t say anything?); Nate McLouth; playing in a beautiful ball park; watching the Red Sox farm system play in the big leagues; the maturation of Zach Duke (finally!); Maholm, Ohlendorf, and Snell actually giving the Pirates a chance; the smell of hope in the Pittsburgh air.
Causes for Concern: Playing in the same division as the Mets, Phillies, Braves, and Marlins; the questions on whether the starters can keep this up; limited payroll to actually make any in season improvements (aka ‘cheap ass owner').
Bottom Line: While they’ve been much better than expected, they still don’t have any serious chance of contending. Not in the NL’s toughest division, that’s for sure. Still, there shouldn’t be much risk of a fan walk out this year. I guess that's an improvement.
HOUSON ASTROS (22-28)
Bright Spots: Carlos Lee, Hunter Pence, Miquel Tejada still providing some punch; Oswalt and Rodriquez.
Causes for Concern: Berkman sitting at .238; Matsui at .219; figuring out who the fifth starter will be while having Mike Hampton as your fourth; the bullpen except for LaTroy Hawkins.
Bottom Line: If Berkman and Matsui start hitting like they’re capable this should be a tough team. Rodriquez and Oswalt (despite some struggles) provide a nice 1-2 punch, but they’ll need help. Unless they can find some farm stud to bring up, there isn’t much hope for better than .500 this year.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS (36-18)
Bright Spots: Where do we begin? Pierre, Kemp, Hudson (why didn’t anyone want him?), Blake, Loney, Billingsley…you know what? Let’s just put the entire roster on here.
Causes for Concerns: Other than getting a fresh, female hormone free Manny back? I can’t think of one.
Bottom Line: Let’s run this down real quick and you can make up your own bottom line about this team.
They lead the National League in the following categories: Team Average (.285), Runs (295), OBP (.367), OPS (.689), Batting Average Against (.236), and are second in ERA (3.75), Saves (16), and Stolen Bases (44).
They have outscored their opponents by a whopping 87 runs and we’re only two months into the season.
For the most part they’ve done all this without one of the most dangerous hitters in either league in the lineup.
I don’t know about you, but my bottom line is ‘Holy Shit!!’
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (25-25)
Bright Spots: Matt Cain; Tim Lincecum; Barry Zito (yeah, that one); Rowand; Molina (Bengie, that is); Sandoval.
Causes for Concern: Randy Johnson’s up and down games; Edgar Renteria being on your team; everyone in the bullpen area.
Bottom Line: Despite his 1-6 record, Zito has pitched better than ever in a Giants uniform. If he keeps it up with Cain and Lincecum, this could be a formidable team in the coming months. Will need to pick up some more power for their lineup (Mr. Holliday is right across the bridge) to take it to the next level, though.
SAN DIEGO PADRES (25-27)
Bright Spots: Peavy, Chris Young (despite some struggles): closer Bell: Adrian Gonzalez; Scott Hairston; the bullpen; a totally unexpected winning streak last month.
Causes for Concern: Having Peavy veto every trade the Padres attempt to make; spots 1-3 and 5-9 in the order; starters 4 and 5 (whoever they may be).
Bottom Line: Pitching isn’t much of a problem with the Padres as long as they have Peavy and Young to throw out there. Gaudin may help out, but it’s too soon to tell. The real problem is lack of run production. Other than Gonzalez there is not one single intimidating hitter on this team. AG may not be getting much to hit the rest of this season unless they get him some help.
ARIZONA CARDINALS (23-30)
Bright Spots: Justin Upton becoming a superstar; Mark Reynolds; Dan Haren; Tony Pena; Doug Davis; their entire defensive infield
Causes for Concern: Jon Garland crapping the bed; Stephen Drew still struggling at the plate; Chris Young with 3 homers and a .175 average (what??); Eric Byrnes becoming a shell of himself.
Bottom Line: They need Drew to figure things out, Byrnes and Young to get back to their 2007 forms and even then I can’t see them having much of a chance getting to the top of the pack. Not with the Dodgers playing the way they are.
COLORADO ROCKIES (20-31)
Bright Spots: Brad Hawpe (the best hitter you never heard of); Todd Helton still chugging along; Jason Marquis and Umbaldo Jimenez providing some quality starts (14 out of their 21); Hudson Street still shutting down the ninth.
Causes for Concern: The Dodgers putting things out of reach early; starters 3-5; lack of firepower in their lineup; Troy Tulowitski barely hitting .220.
Bottom Line: Can’t see much happening with this team other than being major players during the trade deadline. Remember when the Red Sox almost had Todd Helton? We may see that play out again.
So there you go. The National League in a brief, irrelevant, 10 minutes of reading. I’ll bet you’ve forgotten it already, haven’t you?
Today’s distraction: The Top 100 funniest one liners from the internet. Some of these aren’t really so funny, if you must know but there are fantastic ones sprinkled in that make it worth it.