Baseball in 2009… an 80-game review
The American League


Only four teams in the American League are below .500 as I put the finishing touches on this column. Baltimore and Kansas City were predictable. You won’t find anyone surprised by those two. Oakland is a bit of a head-scratcher, but I can’t say that their performance to date is stunning when you think about it. Instead, they were the team that everyone mentioned as potentially being good where everyone should have looked at the club and wondered where the performance was coming from because it was alot of questions and potential and not much on history. Cleveland though… yuck.

The big fight though is the AL East… where Toronto has been hanging with the big boys in a contest that promises to come down to the very end for the top three. Are you ready for this one? Ok… you asked for it… New York will be playing in October. (Easy now… easy… it’s part of the regular season schedule. They travel to Tampa for the final three games of the year. And I think there’s a decent shot that those games will determine if I’m right (and the Yankees go home when those games are done… with the Rays making the playoffs) or wrong (and New York plays on).)

Simply said… only two of the best three American League teams are making the playoffs.

American League East
Boston… currently 49 – 33… I thought mid 90… projects to 97 – 65
New York… 48 – 34… high 80, possibly low 90… projects to 95 – 67
Tampa Bay… 44 – 39… low 90… 86 – 76
Toronto… 43 – 41… low 80… 83 – 79
Baltimore… 36 – 47… low 70… 70 – 92

Boston ~ Maybe this is just a tad bit of self-protection for my pick, but let’s understand how this season began. They started by playing Tampa Bay (potentially a great team), California (a likely division winner), and Oakland (people thought at the time they might approach 90 wins). Six of nine games from that batch on the road. And then… with May wrapping up… they’d already finished their trips to the west coast.

It should be stunning that they finished the first months doing better than ok.

And yet here they sit, in front of the division, bordering on a pace for 100 wins, and… hold on, because this is true… they’ve finished the worst part of their schedule AND they’re getting healthy. I mean seriously… thanks to the David Ortiz sightings in June and the approaching return of Jed Lowrie (which gives them even more options in case Mike Lowell is out for a bit)… this Boston team is actually looking at the trade deadline with eyes fixed on how to improve for the future, because this season they are just about locked in place.

But let’s not go too crazy and hand out championship rings just yet.

While I still believe it is the most impressive collection a bullpen has assembled in quite some time, there have been some leaks in recent weeks when it comes to relief work. And if the team decides to make some trades, it is a lock that one of the relievers from the big club will be involved… someone like Delcarmen the likely name.

They have demonstrated amazing flexibility such as Mark Kotsay able to play the outfield and first base. Along with Baldelli the outfield has some good depth, but he’s also proven able to play first pretty well. That allows Youkalis to move to third, and just shows how deep a club they are by being able to play all of these guys with the entire roster getting time and without a logjam at DH.

Unfortunately… this is also a club that runs really hot or really cold. They have scored two or fewer runs in about 20% of their games this season. And it’s happened to them more than it has to New York or Tampa. So sure it looks like they’re scoring runs… they’re not.

I wish I had more… but the big thing to understand with Boston is how much is involved in movable parts and how loaded… how flexible… and how settled this team and organization is. For example… let’s say Lowell is hurt more than anyone seems to think right now. The Red Sox don’t automatically need a replacement for Lowell. They have Youkalis… meaning they could look for a first baseman instead of someone for third. They have Lowrie coming up, and could place him at third with Youkalis remaining at first and then leave Nick Green at shortstop… meaning they trade for nothing at all.

Varitek has played well… so they don’t need to find a catcher for this year.

They have a ton of starting pitching, but now none of it is on assignment or out of options… so they don’t need to trade Buchholz or Bowden, part with Masterson, or force any of them into the rotation.

They’ve cut down on their salary… so they could take advantage of a bargain if it presented itself.

And with a starting punch of Lester and Beckett, the club already has a solid… and tested… rotation for playoff baseball.

Think about this (and if you don’t like Boston, sit down). On top of everything else, Boston has Bard as an option for Papelbon (who, funny enough, is actually the oldest of Boston’s big pitching names)… they just drafted a player that could become Ellsbury’s replacement and signed a 19-year old shortstop… and all in all, just have an amazing wealth of talent and flexibility right now.

The club doesn’t have to do anything. If they get healthy and are hitting, they are very scary in all areas.

New York ~ Did anyone else notice the Yankees switched around their starting rotation early on? Yup, they flipped Sabathia and Chamberlain over a weekend against the Royals. And to me, that said something that no one else has mentioned. A quick recap of it…

Sabathia pitched Saturday in Kansas City. His second start. Joba pitched Sunday. His first.

A quick initial glance should earn a shrug of the shoulders on that one. Several teams tinker with their rotation early on. Fifth starters often get less starts over the course of the year. So Sabathia going again and Chamberlain being held back? Not much to talk about.

Or is there?

First off… Joba. Now entering the third season of his career, he has yet to deliver many innings. Last year… 100.1. Career high. And he had arm troubles. So, in part, this switch was probably, at least slightly, an effort to ease back on the gas here and get him into fewer games… meaning less pitches/innings.

Not too bad an idea, except if that one is true…

Second associated item… Sabathia. This guy dies in the playoffs. Plays on fumes. Doesn’t show it in August or September. Does well then. So flipping him to get an extra start? I see the value in it on the surface. But if we’re reducing Joba’s innings, and looking more deeply at the details, put me in the so-far-silent group that says if you think you’re going to cruise into the playoffs, then having Sabathia pick those extra innings up isn’t a wise move.

And that leads to our third point… they were playing the Royals! Boston started out with Tampa, California and Oakland. They didn’t switch their rotation around. But the Yankees make the flip in Kansas City… which just makes no sense to me.

Now… I meant to say this stuff all along. And that was kind of going to be the end of it, while I hoped for something to happen in August so I could chuckle. But in may, my rant about stuff was summed up by that one passage.

Then something crazy happened in June. Here’s what I said in the June diary…

Dad and I traveled up to Fenway to see game one of the Yankees – Red Sox series. It was a good game… I called Ortiz’s home run before the first pitch had even been thrown… but there was something else that happened and I’d like to comment on it.

Basically… the Yankees might be dead by mid-August.

At the game we went to, Dad was running an informal count. According to his math... and admittedly, between rain and mist and some other conversation, we weren't paying specific attention to it all the time... in the eighth inning as the Red Sox finished batting, the Yankees had finally retired the side in less than 20 pitches. Robertson accomplished that with his wonderful total of 19 thrown. We can’t be 100% sure of it, and the math doesn’t completely work when you realize how many pitches Burnett threw in less than three innings. Still… New York pitching… 179 pitches in 8 innings of work. 22+ an inning. (And, Burnett threw 84 pitches. Hardly a quick exit… that’s just barely less than a full game and it was a lousy, stress-filled effort. Essentially, he pitched a full game.)

The next night, Wang couldn’t record nine outs either, though his night was over after just 69 pitches. The New York staff came out of the second game averaging just under 20 pitches an inning for that contest (and if you round off… it was 20… since they threw 158 in another 8 innings of work).

An initial glance at the third game seems to indicate better things. After all, Sabathia went deep into the game. But hold on… Sabathia threw 123 pitches overall and is credited with finishing seven innings… he went back to the mound to start the eighth because… well… the Yankees have no reliable arms in the bullpen.

So… starters not going three innings… no reliable relievers, at all… and LOTS of pitches being thrown.

And then before I can develop another comment beyond the diary entry… I mean the very next thing you know… Sabathia is coming out quickly against Florida.

I know… I know… it looks like the Yankees are playing better now. Sabathia made his next start and the gap has actually closed to two-and-a-half as I write this. But New York hasn’t traveled to the west coast yet, the bullpen is still sketchy (although Phil Hughes, I will grant you, looks like an answer to help solidify things), and their starting rotation… to me at least… is still the equivalent of four tires plus the spare with two blow-outs a-comin’.

Don’t believe me? Ok… then that’s probably because of how rested the Yankee starters are. See… as I mentioned in the NL review, Yankee starters can’t go as deep into games as Rockie starters. (And… no joke… Colorado starters have managed to pitch more innings, and yet none of them are really close to the number of innings Sabathia has thrown.)

This team is very likely heading to a collapse. You heard it here. They don’t have the pitching.

Tampa Bay ~ There’s an old saying about water. Goes something like this… water always finds its own level.

I mention this because… for the most part… you could use that expression for baseball teams too. 162 games has a tendency to balance out hot streaks… cold streaks… hiccups… and general oddities. And out of the 30 teams, at the end of the year if we looked at the standings I don’t think we’ll see too many results that would be considered surprises. Oh there’ll be Texas and Seattle possibly finishing strong… but Detroit, Minnesota and Chicago fighting for the AL Central won’t raise too many eyebrows. Cleveland in the bottom of the division wasn’t expected by the majority… but Baltimore pulling up the rear in the AL East certainly was.

162 games… ball clubs always find their own level. It’s a perverse, marathon example of the Parcells idea that a team is what their record says.

The key words in the description I just offered are “most” and “tendency” though… because it isn’t a perfect concept. Injuries… trades… and good old fashioned overachieving and underachieving can all chip in and screw up the seemingly wisest of predictions.

For the most part, many teams are exactly what you sort of expect them to be. Ahh… but what are those expectations? Because the Twins at 85 wins and the Twins at 90 wins doesn’t seem like much of a difference… you might have accepted either total from me back in March (even if one was the thought that I had them a bit high, but you could at least see it as possible)… but those five games could be the difference between first and third when that division is settled.

Every year, people in Boston tend to wonder why the Red Sox aren’t winning enough… and yet somehow, without any point in the season satisfying the craving for a 45-game winning streak or three, the Sox hit 94… 95… 96.

See? Water finds its level… but what was that darn level?

I mention all of this… or maybe, better said, babble about all of this… because here we are looking at Tampa and I’m not certain what to say.

See… they want to be water. They want to be a consistent winner and have that be our expectation of them. And they have youth, talent and to a degree now, even playoff experience. But at the beginning of the season I didn’t think they were ready to actually be water. I felt they were good, but had overachieved last season, and that as a result, we were heading for some finding of the proper level in 2009… some reality checks… some “that’s a bit more like it” moments.

And a pace for 86 wins sounds just about right for that looking at things today. But I thought they’d do better than that. And you know what? I still do. I think this is the wild card team.

I picked a day at random… May 29th… and looked up the Rays. They were 23-27 at the time… 6 games behind Boston. Since then… 21 – 12 to reach 44 – 39 on the year. And everyone is in roughly the same position except Toronto.

Injuries, a bad start, and all sorts of other things… and yet the Rays are playing decent ball for about five weeks now. They didn’t curl up and disappear. (Hello Mr. Met! I’m waving at you! And while you keep claiming injuries… injuries… injuries with some justification as the Phillies prepare to pull away… the fact remains that you didn’t make the playoffs with those guys the past couple of years. Suck it up, put on a jock and play some real ball.)

Yeah… I think the Rays are going to stay in this thing and be a factor when September rolls around.

Toronto ~ Want to know why Roy Halladay isn’t likely to get traded? Because neither Boston or New York want him. I know… I know… crazy talk. Stay with me.

Halladay is one of the best pitchers in baseball, and many people would argue the best. (I’m not one of those. One of the best… yes. The best… no. I’d probably go after Tim Lincecum first… I think he may be the best, has downright nasty stuff, and of the candidates we could discuss he’s also the youngest and least expensive. Of course, he’ll be wearing a San Francisco uniform for quite some time. And debating who is the best might not really be the most important point. See… back to Halladay specifically… and the age and expense topics…) He’s also 32-years old and will be seeking a monster contract in about two years since this is the tail end of those prime years of a career and the last make-it-rich trip to the market. So… to start… you’d have to give up a ton to get him, and then pay him a ton to keep him long term. Plus, suppose he doesn’t want to stay. He could force your hand when this season is done. (Though I wouldn’t expect that to happen.) He’s a very unusual and unexpected player on the market this year… expensive on all sides. No giving up only a little because you’ll pay his contract, and no giving up alot and getting him cheap. But that’s not all…

See… Boston isn’t scared by him. Don’t believe me? Ok… then you go find another team that has gone 12-12 against him and left Halladay with a 4.46 ERA. (Amazingly… the California Angels aren’t afraid of him either and might qualify as an “other” team… they’ve got a losing record at 5-8 against him but that’s with a 4.33 ERA, so they do score on him. The point is, since the Angels seem to love bashing New York around, it is kind of funny that Halladay doesn’t pitch brilliantly against either of New York’s main AL poisons.)

Now… New York? The guy owns the Yankees… Halladay is 16-5 against New York with a 2.91 ERA. But let’s start adding this up…

If you’re Boston, you aren’t afraid of him opposing you… and you don’t have to overpay for anyone to fix holes… and why would you want to pay a ton for him when he’s older than the heart of your current or blossoming staff? (Beckett, Lester, Matsuzaka, Masterson, Buchholz and Bowden are all significantly younger than Halladay.) Read: Without even needing to go deeply into this, he’s not coming Boston. The Sox are in this only to drive up the price. Unless something unfathomably ridiculous happens, he will never be wearing their uniform.

If you’re New York, sure it would be great to have him. But, unless Sabathia opts out… which doesn’t happen this year… he’ll cost you a fortune and doesn’t have the track record against Boston or California that makes him a must to trade for. No, for the Yankees it makes more sense when he approaches free agency to pursue him. When… naturally… he’ll be about 34-years old and a perfect fit on the geriatric roster of misfits, especially if Sabathia decides New York isn’t where he wants to stay. (And seriously… after the 2010 season… if New York hasn’t been to the playoffs or keep struggling to win a round if they do make it… Sabathia might just be looking at the opt out clause and counting the seconds until he can use it.)

Anyway… I really like Halladay and would enjoy having him on my team. But I wouldn’t be doing anything crazy to trade for him. For most teams, he won’t be worth the price they’ll have to pay.

Other than that, life in Toronto is a mixed bag. And to that end… I give you Vernon Wells.

When the Blue Jays were finishing third in the American League East races virtually every year, they could talk all about how they had some really good players, but needed the stars to align if a window was going to open to truly compete with the Red Sox and the Yankees. But they’d point at Halladay and at Wells, and talk about how they had some talent. Then they made moves for players like A.J. Burnett and B.J. Ryan… because that would help… and in the end failed.

In 2008, the good ship Disaster struck the Blue Jays, as the stars aligned not north of the border, but in the desolate baseball locale of Tampa. Good lord… the Rays are solid, young, money-safe (so to speak), and arguably one of the three best teams in the American League. (Read: League, not just division. Hecl, they could be the best three teams in baseball.)

So go ahead and claim you don’t want to trade in the division. Sounds smart when stated simply. But as a practice? That’s just stupid. Stupid on top of stupid. You trade for the best offer or you don’t trade. Is it really worth sacrificing the best deal so that Boston or New York doesn’t get Halladay for… what… like 5 starts against Toronto this year and next? Either club could get him through free agency eventually, and, maybe even after this very season if he gets traded and opts out of the deal or demands a trade (as I believe is his right if he gets traded in the middle of his multi-year deal). Having Halladay or not having Halladay will not be the reason for either club to finish ahead of the Jays in 2009 or 2010. But… if they should be the team offering the best deal… the idea is simple… turning it down just to get him out of the division is dumb.

Sorry… starting to vent a bit at the absutrdity…

Rumors are that Toronto is beginning to wonder about the contract that is Vernon Wells, and even wondering if maybe it would be worth getting less for Halladay if someone would just take Wells along with him… when the cold reality that they have to face is that they aren’t third in this division any more.

(And oh yeah… speaking of the future and adjusting in this division… we now get to…)

Baltimore ~ …where things aren’t great, but it appears that there are barnacles and lots of rust finally getting scraped off. Youth is being developed and talent has been sighted. Maybe it’s about as big a difference in the grand scheme of wastelands as the small plant being a sign of overall life in Wall-E… the fact remains that if you like the Orioles, a tiny plant is a very big deal, and the comparison to the film may apply on a deeper level.

They need pitching. Tons of pitching. Any kind of pitching at all… starters… relievers… righties… lefties… hit 85+ on a gun and get an invite next spring. Heck, I think out in the fun and games sections of Eutaw Street you can meet a scout, run some drills, and have a report filed about you with the club. Big incentive for all of you Maryland-resident parents out there to teach the kids to throw lefty and start attending games more often when they can break 60 on a radar gun reading.


Adam Jones is making last year’s trade look like a no-brainer in their favor. And Nick Markakis is in town for the foreseeable future. And Matt Wieters has arrived.

We don’t need to spend a ton of time talking about the Orioles. The only thing 2009 has in store for them is trade possibilities for players like reliever George Sherrill. That said… this is a different kind of feel for a Baltimore club in the bottom of the division. There might be… you know… an actual plan at work that could show up in two or three years as realized progress.

American League Central
Detroit… 44 – 38… mid 80… 87 – 75
Minnesota… 43 – 40… high 80… 84 – 78
Chicago… 42 – 40… low 80… 83 – 79
Kansas City… 36 – 46… mid 70… 71 – 91
Cleveland… 33 – 50… low 90… 64 – 98

Detroit ~ While the AL Central is a bit different than the NL Central, the story line is sort of similar.

Over there, no teams are running easily above a .500 record… and with so many clubs looking positively average, everyone wants to believe they have a shot at the first round of the 2009 playoffs.

And over here in the American League Central, we also have a grouping of teams all believing October might not be 28 days of raking leaves or heading out on vacation. Several of them believe they have a shot at the postseason.

Detroit has done well, but when you map out where they are and where they seem to be headed, not so well as to actually be dominant (or even very good). It’s an 87-win pace. A casual jog you might say. Let us compare… a look at the AL East third place team finds Tampa with the same number of wins. See what I mean?

But, for the Tigers, the Royals and the Indians have been bad enough that playing marginally above average so far has already whittled the competition for the division down to two teams. And, realistically, the Tigers should have the firepower to hold both of those other clubs off.

Justin Verlander will not be winning the Cy Young award… but he’s the best starter on the three clubs in contention here right now.

How good can Minnesota be? That should interest the Tigers. Is there a trade or two to get some players into Detroit without raising the salary? That should be investigated as well. Because the questions about Joe Mauer and his start-of-the-season injury have been answered. The Twins didn’t falter without him, and are right there in the rear view mirror.

I think the Tigers have the upper hand… and I think Mauer’s production will drop as the season drags on… and yet I don’t think the Tigers are much better than the 87-win pace they are already on.

Minnesota ~ Here’s a prediction… and this is why I can’t take the Twins seriously. As I put the final touches on this column, Minnesota is preparing for the arrival of the mighty New York Spankees. (Not the classy or legendary New York Yankees. They’re tearing that building down.) And the local paper… the mythical Star Tribune… is eagerly covering the arrival and saying the team is ready for this huge test.

Want to bet the Twins get swept? I say yes, they do.


Because that’s what Minnesota does when New York shows up in the same stadium… whether in New York or Minnesota… they roll over and play dead.

And that folks is why I can’t put the Twins into serious playoff contention.

Morneau and Nathan and Mauer… dangerous club.

But when the chips are on the table, it always seems like their being congratulated on a good effort.

Chicago ~ I have to admit… I never give the White Sox much credit. They probably deserve… actually, they definitely deserve… more attention from me.

But this organization… from the front office to the manager… reminds me of the family member you rarely call because anything could happen if you do. He (fine… or she) might ask you for money. He might offer you a pair of tickets for a great show that he can’t use. He might trick you into helping him move. He might offer to treat you to an expensive dinner. There usually is no middle ground… if you pick up the phone you’re going to be shaking your head by the time you hang up.

The general idea I am trying to make is… the White Sox could be in the playoffs… the White Sox could finish fourth… Chicago could run off ten straight wins and take off from the pack in this division… Chicago could lose seven straight and fall double-digits behind… there is just really nothing that should shock you, even though every story out of the Windy City seems like a surprise.


We’ve got a pitching rotation fronted by the ultimate so underrated he’s overrated even though everyone forgets about him poster boy, Mark Beurhle. All the guy does is look like he’s going to approach 20 wins, while actually hitting 16 with an ERA around 3.70 when all is wrapped up. Bobby Jenks is in the bullpen… he’s going to save 35 – 40 games while not being one of the more impressive closers in the American League again.

So… nothing flashy there.

How about the hitting?

Well, they’re led by Paul Konerko, Jim Thome and Jermaine Dye. Now that was awesome when Konerko, Thome and Dye were in their primes, just falling short while leading the White Sox against Baltimore in the 1983 playoffs. (Ok… that’s simply not fair of me. Actually those three… along with Scott Podsednik and others… are doing a great job with the offense. While Thome has missed a couple more games than the rest, they are all turning in solid years… with the big three a threat to all cross over 35 home runs and 100 RBIs by the time we finish things off.)

So it’s offense that’s winning in Chicago folks. With the exception pretty much of the player that for some amazing reason cannot be replaced… Brian Anderson (luckiest regular position player in baseball, consistently getting on the field for a team that has made the playoffs)… just about everyone in the order has on-base percentages solidly over .325 and batting averages over .260. (The Red Sox must hate them.)

Kansas City ~ You could make the case… and I would let you… that while Washington struggles, the Kansas City Royals and the Pittsburgh Pirates are the two worst run franchises in major league baseball.

What did they expect with players like Bruce Chen… Sidney Ponson… Kyle Farnsworth? Hell… it’s Kyle Farnsworth!

Zack Greinke and Joakim Soria would be welcomed with oopen arms by any club in the major leagues. And Gil Meche? I owe the man (and the club) and apology for that one, because I can’t say he’s been awful. Hell… even Brian Bannister is a decent player.

But I don’t know if there is a single position player on this roster that I would want starting for a team I managed. I like some of the guys as role players… say like Mark Teahen. And maybe he could start. But there isn’t much here.

It’s kind of funny too… because if you study their stats, you could go blind. I mean it. They actually start to look acceptable.

A second baseman with roughly a .300 average and .350 on-base percentage? Why… with that… I could build around Alberto Callaspo.

But like I said… you miss things… you go blind. You stare long enough and if the numbers start swimming in your head, you miss that they don’t have a shortstop… some of their pitchers would be better playing short because they get on-base during interleague play. Or you miss that despite a number of guys getting on-base a third of the time, they can’t score any runs. And it’s not that a third of the time is anything extraordinary or even good… it’s just that the club seems so… well… blah.

Isn’t this the same place that didn’t have enough room for all of its young outfield talent?

Never mind…

Cleveland ~ I feel sorry for the Indians. Not only do they come out of the gate like a turtle strapped to a concrete block, but before his suspension Manny was talking about how lovely a place it would be to end his career. Lucky them.

Of course… we’re now in July… and that turtle pulled over to the side of the road and came to a complete stop. 31 – 49? 31 – 49? Do you want to know how hard it is to go 31 – 49? The Orioles have zero pitching… a worse road record than Cleveland… and they play in the American League East, where every other team has a winning record. They’re 35 – 43. That’s 5 games better than the Indians in the standings. (While cruising in at 11-18 against the AL East to start, Baltimore is… 1-11… on the road against divisional foes. Still… better than Cleveland.)

Only the Washington Nationals are worse this season… and despite my ramblings about the Pirates and the Royals, I’m pretty sure the Nationals aren’t a real team. Judging by what I saw during interleague play, the villagers in Washington think their club is the Boston double-a affiliate.

What will be interesting to see is how much of this club they keep together. Because it will likely be very tempting to trade off some pieces.

American League West
California… 46 – 35… low 90… 92 – 70
Texas… 45 – 36… high 70, possibly a winning record… 90 – 72
Seattle… 43 – 39… high 60… 85 – 77
Oakland… 35 – 46… mid 80, possibly as high as 88… 70 – 92

California ~ As opposed to past years, the Angels aren’t running away with the division this year. And Texas is doing a great impression of a 90-win team so far. In other words, no walk in the park to the playoffs.


This is their division to lose… and they won’t.

While still needing some time to be in reliable shape, John Lackey is back and pitching ok. Against Arizona recently he went 7 innings giving up 0 runs while striking out 9.

Brian Fuentes could cross 50 saves on the year. (Who says the closers role in California allows you to compile numbers easily? Not me… ha-ha.) And actually, Fuentes is turning in results equal to… if not better than… his best efforts while in Colorado.

So the team seems to be getting healthier… and seems to be winning… and seems to be quietly moving along.


Where is Vladimir Guerrero? He’s missed virtually half of the season so far, and it ain’t pretty. While still a threat when he does reach the batter’s box, the power is gone this year and there is a chance he won’t be around for 100 games this season… his lowest total since 1997 is definitely a possibility.

This club is aggressive and has lots of ways to beat you… but without Guerrero I wonder if they can make it out of the first round of the playoffs. And… perhaps… if they can hold off the Rangers.

Texas ~ Seriously… California should hold them off, but there is an every-so-slight chance they won’t.


I originally thought that if everything went perfectly in Texas, 85 wins would be the likely result. And that would be my current prediction for where they’ll land. But that’s a bit above what I expected to happen… a losing record and struggles.

Let’s take a look at… of all things in Texas… pitching.

The man… Scott Feldman… is making his starts, winning about half of them and getting no decisions in many of the others. The 26-year old has made a huge jump this season… which is strange because other than a lowered ERA, most of his numbers are consistent with the Scott Feldman that had an ERA over 5 last year as a starter… just about 6 innings per start, a strikeout every 2 innings… a walk every 3 innings… this is a recording.

And honestly, Feldman is a great example of what confuses me about the Rangers. There’s nothing unusual here.

David Murphy is doing well and Michael Young can still hit. They have a couple of guys that will threaten 40 home runs. But nothing stands out.

Are we really supposed to believe that by doing the same things they’ve done every year this club is going to just stop opponents from scoring as many runs and make it to the playoffs? I’m not ready to buy into that just yet.

Something is wrong here… and I think the concrete block in Cleveland will be looking to hop a ride with Texas by mid-August. There’s an old saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results. I did some research… and I see the same stuff happening.

Seattle ~ Franklin Gutierrez.

Who saw this coming?

Seriously… if things are staying the same in Texas, then the differences in Seattle explain the results.

Gutierrez is likely going to finish this season with a career high in batting average… beating it by 20-30 points! He’ll likely top highs in home runs as well. Solid year.

Ichiro Suzuki and Russell Branyan are delivering strong efforts for the club as well.

Felix Hernandez will be in the Cy Young discussions before all is said and done. David Aardsma… come on, seriously, David Aardsma is turning into one of the league’s top closers this season. Exactly why is Texas threatening in this division with nothing new or different while Seattle is getting alot from really unexpected places?

I like this Seattle club right now. I made a joke about the Angels holding off the Rangers. The reality is, they should be concerned about the Mariners. They pose a bigger threat to California than Texas does.

Oakland ~ Stupid… stupid… stupid… why the heck did I buy into the hype?

This should have been a no brainer.

Club brings in Cabrera and Giambi and Garciaparra… all of which I mentioned… and they expect to be big winners? No… we shouldn’t expect that.

Holiday leaves his comfort zone… and we expect big numbers? He;s had moments… but geez… it wasn’t a given that he’d play well. And honestly, moments or no, he really hasn’t earned a big contract for 2010.

Their pitching staff is made up of players you don’t know… and if you tell me you do know Dallas Braden and Trevor Cahill and Brett Anderson then you either live in northern California or you’re lying to me. And… more to the idea here… only those three have been regular starters for the club. If you want to know why this club faltered, in addition to the regular position players, just consider that only four pitchers have managed to reach 10 or more starts.

And yet… even with a pitching staff in chaos, which I really didn’t think of in March… I shouldn’t have bought the hype. I should have seen this one coming.

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