This Week Month Season to Date in Baseball
Once upon a time, a humble writer took it upon himself to summarize the goings-on in the rest of baseball (even in that bastardized “American” League) for the unwashed masses that stumble across the SnS front page. As the name would imply, this was to be a weekly recap, featuring hot teams and players, the biggest goings-on from the TZ, and a grab bag of other information that may or may not have been interesting. Unfortunately, as both of my regular readers know, the last edition of this “weekly” endeavor was at the beginning of the Beijing Olympics. It was a simpler time, when Shawn Johnson was doing gymnastics instead of dances, and Michael Phelps was doing laps instead of lap dances. A time when the stock market was at 11,782. A time when people even might have thought that Cecil Cooper was remotely competent at his job.
So I’m back, back again, tell a friend. We’ll start with some breaking news: The Friars have agreed to trade Jake Peavy to the White Sox. First of all, this is outstanding news if it keeps Peavy away from the (FT)Cubs. Second, this does remind me that the White Sox seem to be the AL version of the Astros; a team with a lot of old pieces that are continually predicted to fall on their face, and sometimes do, but more often surprise the “experts” with a successful season. A team led by a batshit crazy manager. A team that may cut some costs, but will always be willing to make the big move. The fact that these two teams met in the 05 WS was almost destiny, it seems.
Of course, Peavy could veto the deal and continue the drama.
Looking around the rest of the majors – what moves worked, what moves didn’t, and how do things look from here on out:
The Blue Jays are easily the suprise of the division, and likely the majors, with their 27-16 record. Apparently JP Ricciardi, when not insulting other teams’ players, managed to stockpile an amazing array of young arms that have helped to carry the team (along with Roy Halladay’s continued brilliance). It doesn’t hurt that Aaron Hill is absolutely murdering the ball, especially since there is nobody else in that lineup that strikes fear into you. Pitching and defense, folks. Remember that.
The Rays, on the other hand, are working their way back toward .500 after a rough start. Scott Kazmir hs fllen off the map, and their other starters aren’t doing much better; the fact that David Price remains at AAA is mind-boggling.
Oh, and some guy named Rodriguez came back with a crazy .189/.412/.595 line, making the “3 true outcomes” crowd absolutely orgasmic. The Yankees have also won 8 straight and are busy killing any media members who mention that their billion-dollar stadium is a joke.
The Tigers have kept Jim Leyland out of the firing pool with some – wait for it – pitching and … well, pitching at least. The fire sale my be postponed, especially as the Twins and White Sox are struggling, and the Indians are just an absolute disaster. No pitching, no defense, and a bunch of pieces that don’t fit at all. The Royals are in the “happy to be here” category, but I may have to get Extra Innings on DirecTV just to watch Zach Greinke. The guy has always had a world of talent, and it’s great to see him putting it all together. (Am I the only one that takes more pleasure in seeing young pitchers blossom than position players? Yes? Let’s move on.)
Up is down, water is dry, and the Texas Rangers are the season’s biggest “pitching and defense” success story. Moving Young to 3b improved their defense at 2 positions, they made out like bandits in the Mark Texeira trade, and they sit in an IMMENSELY winnable division. Of course, it’s may, and the Rangers always suffer an August swoon, so let’s not start sucking each other’s… um, pospicles… just yet.
Oakland is 15-22 and the rest of baseball waits to see what Billy Beane will ask for on guys like Matt Holiday. It might actually be an interesting time for Michael Lewis to go back to Oakland, as well as Toronto, and find that for all of the economically interesting viewpoints that Moneyball provided, the actual lesson of the A’s is that young pitchers are, and will always be, the most valuable commodity in baseball.
Let’s see… the Phillies are 8-12 at home and still lead the division? Brad Lidge has given up 35 baserunners in 18 innings, and the Phillies still lead the division? I see a group of teams failing miserably to take advantage of the situation. The Mets can’t pitch, the Braves can’t hit, and the Marlins have fallen apart after setting the world on fire in April.
Oh, and the fact that the Astros left Washington without a win is shameful. 11-28, folks. 11-28. They allow a full run per game more than the next-worse team in the league. Other than Ryan Zimmerman, there is NOTHING to see there.
I’ve got nothing. The Dodgers will win this division before Labor Day, and I can’t see a single team out there doing anything of note.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the best division in baseball. Any ESPiN mediot that breaks out the “Comedy Central” routine this year should be fired, unless they are on Sunday Night Baseball, in which case they should be waterboarded on general principle.
Only the Reds have a losing record outside the division. Overall, the Central is 55-36 (or a .604 clip) against the East and West. Compare:
NL Central 55-36 .604
AL East 63-48 .568
AL West 45-47 .489
NL West 38-43 .469
AL Central 49-62 .441
NL East 39-52 .429
The Astros currently sit at 2 games under .500, yet look up at the entire division. Folks, everyone who thought the Cubs would run away and hide were WRONG. These Brewers continue to pitch, and they are beating up on their division rivals – 16-8 within the division. That’s how you stay in contention. And I must say that it disturbs me that the Astros have given up more runs than anyone in the division, despite a performance from Wandy Rodriguez that would be Cy Young worthy if Johan Santana weren’t winning or losing every game 1-0.
And just so we don’t forget…
Chocolate starfish of the season to date:
Lots of candidates here, but I’ll go with Cecil Cooper. You can debate a manager’s decisions, you can debate the wisdom of his moves. But you cannot debate that by sitting in the dugout and not even explaining the situation in last night’s game to the players involved, “Coop” completely abdicated his job responsibilities.
I stand by my prediciton – Coop will not be managing the Astros come the All-Star Break.
Hopefully I’ll be back sooner next time.