see… could this season start out any better?
new home field of the New York Mets is a shrine worthy of the
Los Angeles Dodgers.
understand something first, before the commentary and opinion
(and wiseass remarks) kick in at top speed. It’s definitely not
wrong of the Mets to build a ballpark echoing Ebbets Field and
celebrating Jackie Robinson. Ebbets Field is a part of the history
and mythology of baseball and New York. That’s a wonderful combination
for any organization. And Jackie Robinson is… well… geez, he’s
Jackie Robinson. Any baseball team would be a credit to the game
for involving his legacy in the design of new construction. So
I’m not blaming the Mets for including either concept at a significant
level in the design of Citi Field.
would it have been wrong for the New York Mets to include… you
know I was just thinking, maybe… a couple of items about
the Mets? Because apparently, they thought it was.
claim from management so far has been that the missing team history
is coming in the future. After all, silly us thinking a team would
try to open a brand-spanking-new ballpark with stuff already
in place about that team. Silly us thinking that should be
a day one target. They claim it’s a refinement. And I think we
all know that means they messed up… they know they messed up…
they’re going to spend more money trying to fix what they messed
up… but one thing they don’t think is that we know they messed
up. They think all of us are crazy enough to believe that the
right thing to do was honor the Dodgers, open it without honoring
the Mets, and that this was their plan all along.
yeah… and in the current, modern day, build ballparks with great
views because engineering is so advanced… Citi Field also has
obstructed and limited view seats.
ok… full disclosure. I’m not that disappointed with the Mets and
the obstructed view thing. I fully understand… some if not all
parks… with higher outfield walls… with quirky angles in foul
territory… with any number of circumstances and special designs…
are going to create problems for fans when it comes to seeing
every inch of playing surface. I’ve heard Citi Field has some
other obstructed views, but the one I have read enough about to
feel comfortable commenting on is at the warning track, where
the outfielders disappear from view for the people seated in the
outfield sections. And honestly, that isn’t too hideous of a mistake.
High walls… tough immediate sight lines along the warning track.
It happens. Even in the best of plans.
my true problem with the Mets remains building a tribute to the
Dodgers without mentioning their own history.
we have to mention sight lines, because the news from the big
city and the troubles with new dives has been even better than
just Citi Field. That obstructed view idea brings us to the other
new dump in New York… the New Yankee Stadium.
Dump? How dare I? Oh… I dare…)
first… I won’t be making lots of jokes based on the idea that
the Yankees decided to play on a little league field. (Go ahead,
do a search with words like “new Yankee Stadium home run problem”
and see what you get. Evidently, they’ll be putting in a bid to
bring up the games from Williamsport starting next year. I doubt
they’ll get the Little League World Series though. While the increased
seating would be nice (and would likely draw more attendees than
a Yankees game), Williamsport offers a field where the ball stays
in the yard more often than not.) I promise, I won’t be staying
with this topic for any more cheap shots right now. Let’s see
what happens over a season or two before hammering the place as
a haven for wanna-be, light-weight power hitters. You’d think
with all of their players taking steroids they would make it harder
to hit home runs. (Excuse me, sorry, all of their players allegedly
taking steroids. Actually, no, Rodriguez admitted it. I think
I’m good the original way. Whatever…)
how about how they apparently built a bar… and it blocks the view
for people… in fact, they even reduced prices because of the complaints.
overall that’s the thought that I want to bring you. When a casino
is apologizing to people because they didn’t know about the obstructed
view problems that their name adorns… well… that hardly sounds
to me like the model franchise… the organization that claims everyone
else wants to be like them.
buy that critique? Ok… check
out this link. Apparently the Yankees organization
admits they never told the casino about the creation of obstructed
seats, and the casino is looking to run away from being associated
with the problem. Does that sound all legendary and pinstripey
to you? (And heck… evidently with all the empty seats involved,
they’re just having a ball. New park and no one wants to sit next
to the field. Epic.)
I love it. Can’t have enough controversy for the Spankees. And
unlike some of the Mets troubles… this one sounds like it could
have been avoided, should have been avoided, and the organization
blew it. If for nothing else than for selling the seats before
revealing the obstructed view. (I mean it… classy, classy group.
But then again, this is the same group charging some incredible
rates for seats they can’t fill.)
I’m sure it will all work out. And that’s not why I’m here.
Today I’m here for a different story. I’m here to take a look
over the first half of the season. And in order to let me babble
on about a ton of thoughts that have been swimming around for
quite some time, I’m breaking it up into two parts.
know how I feel about the 40 and 80 game marks for teams. If you
expect to be in the playoffs, I like your argument that you deserve
such consideration if you can hit these markers with at least
an even record. I know... I know… 40 is still kind of early. But
I think a few teams had figured out how long their season was
going to be by mid-May. And I admit that 80 and 100 are kind of
similar points. But I like 80 because that one triggers early
enough that you still can make solid plans before the no-limits
trading deadline of July. If you’re hitting 100 games and trying
to figure out whether or not you still have a shot… chances are,
you don’t… and good luck making that last second trade.
things have been so crazy this year, I’m approaching this a bit
differently. First, in each column you’ll see the divisions separated,
with where they stand right now, what I thought back in March
they’d be looking at for wins, and what the current pace projects
out to for the season.
I’m going to try and deliver a few points on each of the teams.
In some cases that means going back to the start of the season
and what I thought in March and April, in other cases it means
digging into stats and observation, and in a few cases it means
fighting off nausea. (I’m looking at you San Diego.)
third… umm… I don’t really have a third. Let’s just go right to
Philadelphia, where the Phillies are doing the best they can to
play poorly and inconsistently so the rest of the division doesn’t
feel too badly about themselves…
Philadelphia… currently 43 – 37… I thought high 80… projects to
87 – 75
Florida… 43 – 41… low 80… 83 – 79
New York… 39 – 42… low 90… 78 – 84
Atlanta… 39 – 43… low 90… 77 – 85
Washington… 24 – 56… low 60… 49 – 113
~ I couldn’t tell you why, but the Phillies continue to bore me
to tears. It’s kind of strange really… because they have talent
all over the place and are the defending champions. In reality
they should be a really interesting and fun club to watch.
Howard… Chase Utley… Cole Hamels… the on-going Mets choking storyline…
it’s got all the elements of good stuff.
try as I might to watch some of their games and really pay attention
to them… yawn.
I blame Cole Hamels as the poster boy for this. After endearing
everyone last year with his postseason effort, he still isn’t
a threat every time he takes the mound… very reminiscent of Josh
Beckett circa 2003 by the way. Playoffs? Light goes on. Regular
season? Not so much. (Please keep this in mind if the Phillies
waltz into the postseason. Do NOT judge Hamels by his regular
season effort. Ok? We good on that? You have been warned. Anyway…)
through the year, the Phillies lead this division even with no
one really creating much in the way of excitement. Unless something
unexpected happens in the East, the Phillies have a clear shot
to the playoffs. The Mets are dead, and I honestly don’t see the
Marlins or the Braves putting together a run not only to pass
the Phillies in the standings any time soon, but a two-month long
run to pass them and stay ahead of them. And let’s face it, this
division may be more of a threat for the wild card than the Central,
but I don’t know if that fact says much for their chances of sending
two clubs to the playoffs.
the Phillies repeat? I don’t think so. Sure… if they win the Roy
Halladay sweepstakes… that would change things. But otherwise
I just think clubs like Los Angeles and St. Louis will enter the
playoffs with stronger teams. And San Francisco… well… we’ll get
to the Giants…
~ Nice story to see them here. It won’t last though. Saw alot
of them during interleague play, and there is no depth.
are you still haven’t figured out who Cody Ross is… and I asked
you to look him up back
in April. (Seriously, you should look him
up.) And Kiko Calero? Remember I mentioned what a hidden gem of
a signing he was? Ok… actually what I said was that I liked the
Florida bullpen because it was improved and contained interesting
signings that anyone could have had. Like Calero. And so far my
man Kiko has 40 strikeouts in just over 32 innings to go along
with his sub-2 ERA. (Of course, you knew that… just like you knew
Marlins have fooled me before when given the opportunity. They
could be here for the whole haul. I just think they are more likely
to fade away and be satisfied with 82 to 84 wins.
York ~ My comments in April…
Mets invested in Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz… They form
a pretty good end-of-the-game package… provide some depth in case
of injury… and allow for some flexibility in giving some rest
over the haul of 162 games. The thing is… neither one of these
guys is tinkering. For the Mets to be good, both of these guys
will need to be good. And for the Mets to be great? Well… let’s
list it off… to be great…
having a strong year is an obvious beginning, but they’ll need
John Maine, Oliver Perez, and Mike Pelfrey to be consistent all
Reyes, Carlos Beltran, David Wright and Carlos Delgado will need
to meet or exceed career averages, with at least one being solidly
in the MVP hunt. (And I mean solidly in the hunt for MVP. Not
“the team is playing better than .500 and since it’s from New
York it gets alot of press so one of their players must be mentioned
when discussing the MVP” in the hunt.)”
I ask you… do I need to change a word of that?
Mets are O… U… T… out of it and done. And in part, I’ll admit
that injuries… which will eliminate them on every count I had
for them to be good or great… have hit this team hard. But wow,
in mid to late June people have started allowing them to claim
injuries as an excuse, and once that became acceptable and started
making the rounds, tents at Citi Field were being folded up faster
than the balls clearing the right field fence at the New Yankee
~ When I was beginning this effort, Tom Glavine was preparing
to go see Dr. Andrews. As I was revising it from a 40-game piece
to a mid-season report, he had hopes of pitching again in the
slightly near future. And now, he’s been released but hasn’t retired.
Atlanta… going back to the Furcal fun and all sorts of other nightmares…
has had quite a year in player relations.
that said… let’s really get started with this. I love… love…
LOVE Tommy Hanson. Probably the kiss of death for the
guy, but I watched him in back-to-back starts perform well against
both New York and Boston. Kid doesn’t seem afraid of the stage.
He’s got some great movement on the ball and I watched a few awesome
pitches get tossed in both starts.
that though, I’m not sure what to say. They’ve been bad on the
road for several weeks now… which isn’t saying much since many
teams struggle away from home… but a few more wins there and they
would be fighting for the lead in this division instead of trying
to set up a second-half run. Tell you what…
me about Atlanta on August 3rd. Returning from the mid-summer
coin flip, they play four games at home that should put New York
out of its misery and then host the Giants for four. On the road
to Milwaukee and Florida for six games follows that. Then back
home for 3 with LA. That’s 17 games… 11 at home… against division
rivals and three playoff hopefuls. If they come out of that ok,
August features six games against San Diego and two against Washington
for them to win… and plenty of games against the Phillies to make
up ground head-to-head. But first, they can’t drown as they finish
July. Stumble there and it will be over.
the way… that means we could see alot of strange things from Atlanta
heading to the deadline. Think about it… if they struggle then
there is no reason to trade away prospects on a risk for this
season. But if they can go something like a 12-5 pace against
those clubs, they’ll have given every indication they’re legitimately
a playoff candidate. And that might make a trade or two more appealing.)
~ About the only thing I got wrong in predicting a brutally ugly
season here was that Nick Johnson has actually played his way
into trade talks. I wouldn’t trade for the guy. That’s asking
for trouble. But he has played well so far.
St. Louis… 45 – 39… mid 80 to high 80… 87 – 75
Milwaukee… 43 – 39… high 80… 85 – 77
Chicago… 41 – 39… mid 90… 83 – 79
Cincinnati… 40 – 41… high 70 to low 80… 80 – 82
Houston… 40 – 41… low 70… 80 – 82
Pittsburgh… 37 – 46… mid 60… 72 – 90
Louis ~ Here was my quote about the Cardinals: “…I’m thinking
that they could be in the neighborhood of 90 wins. The problem
is… the navigation system they are using to arrive at those 90
wins involves Carpenter… and his 21 innings over the past two
years. Not exactly the most reliable navigation system to install.”
And then, Carpenter went down with an injury. But… amazingly…
he’s back and doing very well. (All he’s done wrong actually was
take the loss in a late June game against the Mets. Don’t know
how that happened.)
not playing way above their heads so far… on pace to finish just
below 90 wins. I don’t see any reason to think that the Cards
will fall from that kind of pace or, quite honestly, any reason
they can’t take this division.
are they dangerous?
Pujols in place… absolutely. And this club is going to be in position
to make a couple of moves in July. In fact, I could see them trying
to send Troy Glaus off to a place like Boston. (The Red Sox might…
stress the might… be interest if Lowell is down for the season
and not coming back. If that happens and Lowrie doesn’t return,
the phone should ring in St. Louis. Chances are though, both Lowell
and Lowrie will be playing in Boston soon. So look for other moves.)
A trade of Glaus could bring them back something for the bullpen…
or… maybe return something else from outside of their own system
to use in trying to get Roy Halladay.
the current rosters though… this is a playoff club for the National
League, but they won’t be playing for a championship when the
last two teams are facing each other. (Which is probably for the
best… because Buck and McCarver are horrible as it is. Give them
a stage to tell stories about Pujols and Carpenter for seven nights
and emergency rooms across the country had better prepare for
a rash of people with ice picks sticking out of their ears.)
~ For the most part, this club has been healthy, and that’s a
good reason to use in explaining how they have managed to stay
in the hunt. (Well… that and everyone else playing not much better
than .500 ball.)
Hardy has looked positively horrible, but beyond that I would
say this club is getting about what it would expect from its roster.
Umm… actually… scratch that… because they seem to be getting more
in a few spots.
Fielder is setting himself up for MVP consideration. And I say
consideration only because of some guy in St. Louis that is already
clearing shelf space for this year’s award. Hitting over .300,
cruising toward 45 home runs and 140+ RBIs, and playing virtually
every day… if it weren’t for Pujols they could engrave Fielder’s
name right now.
of “if it weren’t for” thoughts… if it weren’t for Yovani Gallardo
their starting pitching would be atrocious… which is going to
come back and be the rain on this parade when the Brewers fall
short of the playoffs by about 4 or 5 games. This is an organization
that should call Paul Byrd’s agent… now. (Do you need his phone
number? It’s probably in the book. Call… or make a trade for some
other pitching help immediately… or wish you had later.)
~ If it weren’t for Ted Lilly, there really wouldn’t be a respectable
starter on this staff. At least he’s got a winning record and
an ERA under 4. Ryan Dempster has been better than I expected…
but please… he’s been no gem.
fine… that opening statement might not be completely fair. Especially
since hitting has been the biggest concern. But seriously, this
club has never really had a legitimate leader, and did they ever
get old in a hurry.
this one… out of the list of position players that have been in
more than 50 games… and there are eight of them… only three have
batting averages above .245.
ahead… point to an injury or two. I wouldn’t blame you for that.
Dempster just broke a toe… Aramis Ramirez dislocated his shoulder…
and even Carlos Zambrano made a trip to the disabled list. Still…
Soriano is hitting about .230 with an on-base percentage under
Bradley is getting sent home for his bad attitude.
they pull it together… they should have the talent to pull it
together… but I look at this as a leaderless ship looking for
a place to sink. No one is sprinting away to 95 wins and hiding
in this division, but this is not where I’d place my money for
a second half surge.
~ This is amazing.
up their roster… stats… schedule… and there is just no reason
this club should be sitting at an even record. Come on…
Bruce is approaching 20 home runs… and Jay Bruce is hitting about
.210. He’s as likely to hit a home run or a double as he is a
Owings, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang and Johnny Cueto have been
making all of their starts… which is good. Arroyo has an even
record and has looked… honestly… lousy, though he is turning in
the innings and lasting deep enough into games to get decisions
in virtually every start. Harang has been good… and he’s 3-games
under even for the year.
makes no sense.
is no reason for this club to be competing for the division crown.
And as such… I don’t expect them to stay at these moderately lofty
than four games at home against the Padres, the Reds play nothing
but clubs with winning records from the break until mid-August.
Get ready for the collapse. It’s coming.
~ Despite the fact that I don’t like seeing anyone get hurt, I
love watching the way the Houston Astros declare injuries. Day
one… player leaves game with strain. Day two… player goes on 15-day
disabled list. Everyone on their injury log is listed like three
or four times, and twice for the same injury. You could have four
obviously broken bones, leave the stadium in a wheelchair, and
the first written team report about it would involve the Astros
listing you as day-to-day while hoping a night of rest and trying
to walk it off improves things.
a while of looking over the NL Central, you almost have to chuckle.
I could say every team in this division… and I did say it about
Cincinnati and Milwaukee… has benefited by the fact that no club
is playing good baseball. Every team is average… about even… and
that means just a few games separating top from bottom.
is, for the most part, it’s misleading. The Reds have no business
believing they have a shot at the playoffs. They’re not as good
as Milwaukee, St. Louis or even Chicago.
and here we go in Houston… there comes a point when you have to
remember that, like St. Louis just a couple of years ago, teams
have won divisions in the National League basically by doing not
much more than reaching a winning record. The longer they can
hang around, the more an underdog has a chance of pulling the
I made fun of Chicago and the hitting of position players that
have been in 50 or more games? Here in Houston, they have five
guys with over 80 games played that are hitting over .275. And
Lance Berkman is having a solid year… with Carlos Lee embarrassing
my prediction that he is becoming less reliable (hitting over
.300, playing more games than anyone on the club).
problem is… after Wandy Rodriguez and Roy Oswalt… this club has
zero pitching. When they return from the coin flip break, they
will have one day off until the first week of August. In that
stretch they’ll travel to LA, play six against St. Louis, and
host San Francisco.
advice to Houston fans… don’t blink.
~ Is there a reason Pittsburgh likes sending their players to
other teams for less in return? (Ok… that isn’t completely true…
but they keep getting fleeced by the Yankees.)
yard sale signs have been posted. This club is going to be sending
players away long into August.
Los Angeles… 52 – 30… mid 80… 103 – 59
San Francisco… 45 – 37… low 80… 89 – 73
Colorado… 43 – 39… high 70… 85 – 77
San Diego… 35 – 47… mid 70… 69 – 93
Arizona… 34 – 49… high 80… 66 – 96
Angeles ~ Manny hadn’t been in Los Angeles for a week this season,
and he was already talking about how great it would be to head
back to Cleveland. Memo to Manny… Cleveland doesn’t want you back.
Trust me… I was there last summer… they’re actually kind of happy
you’re gone, and they certainly don’t have the light on waiting
for you to come home. And that was before the suspension. (And
to my knowledge, continues even after that joke called a during-suspension-preparation-to-return-assignment.)
though… things are going swimmingly out in LA. Not much pressure
in the division… everyone is contributing… the world is fine.
Juan Pierre… Juan… Pierre… is playing pretty
darn good baseball.
can’t help but wondering though… last year the Cubs essentially
cruised, and then in the playoffs it turned out they were actually
pretty soft and had just never been tested.
I don’t think that’s the case here. Joe Torre has too much experience
navigating playoff-bound teams in New York to think he’s heading
for a collapse with this team. And that thought is especially
valid for a regular season run with a big division lead. But…
I would like to know what’s going to happen to Kershaw and Billingsley
when October arrives. Billingsley threw 200 innings last year…
so maybe he’s ok as he heads toward the stretch run of this year
and extra playing time that comes with the postseason. But Kershaw
is about to cross his career high for the Dodgers this month.
And we’ve all seen young pitchers drained by the regular season
also don’t believe this is a 100+ win club. I predicted roughly
85… and I can see it crossing over 90 given the talent of their
staff… but 100? No way.
pitching. Could be great… might be awesome… but when the playoffs
arrive, right now I’m more willing to believe in the pair sent
to the mound by this next club…
Francisco ~ Yes, yes… we all know Tim Lincecum is really good.
Anyone noticed his teammate? Because Matt Cain has been great
as well so far.
have won more than half of their starts… both are staring at possible
20-win seasons… and both are near the top of the league in ERA.
And here’s what separates them from LA for me… both of these guys,
and obviously I am especially referring to the brilliant Lincecum,
have delivered solid, full seasons before.
just wish someone on this club could hit. Do you know who the
best hitter is on the San Francisco club?
that’s right… the soon to be 23-year old Pablo Sandoval… who is
looking at a season of .325+ / 25 / 100 right now. He’s never
played a full year in the majors.
that you have Aaron Rowand and… well… I’m guessing this locker
room hosts alot of prayer meetings, because there really isn’t
will carry them as far as they go.
~ Here’s what’s going on in Colorado… Jason Marquis is having
a “what the hell” season. You know the kind…
this hypothetical player with hypothetical talent that never really
fully delivers on his hypothetical potential. Oh he teases you…
and he has his moments… but he never puts it all together. And
then, all of a sudden, one year for some reason your attention
is drawn to his stats and your eyes open wide, your jaw drops,
and you think “what the hell” when you learn he has been turning
in steady and strong numbers that year.
season we’ve got Jason winning two-thirds of his starts so far,
heading for possibly 20 wins, and he’s reaching the seventh inning
just about all the time.
the… hell? This is not the Jason Marquis that
Lou had to remove from the mound in Chicago on average an inning
earlier than he leaves it in Colorado.
on though… his earned runs to unearned runs numbers look surprisingly
familiar… as does his weak strikeout to walk ratio. I know this
pitcher after all… and me-thinks the law of averages should be
about ready to turn against him.)
has been going right for Colorado is simple if you look though…
and Marquis is an example of it… their starting pitching has been
pretty healthy and very consistent. The five starters
have made all but two starts and kept their combined ERA around
4. And… they’ve even been completing at least six innings of work
per start. (I’m not kidding. Colorado starters are going deep
into games. Get this one… the Colorado starters have thrown roughly
30 more innings than the New York starters. And yet… Sabathia
has thrown more innings than any pitcher on the Colorado staff.
In fact, as I write this, Colorado starters have also thrown more
innings than the Boston starters.)
the more things change… well… there’s Todd Helton playing regularly,
comfortably over .300 and staring at over 20 homers and possibly
100 RBIs. Yup… the more they stay the same.
they have the team to catch the Dodgers? No… no they don’t.
they have the team to catch the Giants? Definitely possible… since
the Giants are using the game plan of pitching phenomenally well
and crossing their fingers. But that mid-80 pace has them fighting
with anyone and everyone in the Central and the Florida Marlins
as well as the Giants. Who knows what else could happen if Atlanta
or New York figures out how to win a couple of games in a row.
started slow… changed managers… and showed improvement. I wouldn’t
jump on board their train, but it’s at least worth paying attention
to as it rolls into August.
Diego ~ No one on this team with more than 8 at bats is hitting
realistically no one on this team that has appeared in more than
half of their games is hitting over .270. You read that correctly.
And if Adrian Gonzalez is removed from the picture, the highest
on-base percentage from a player that has more than 45 games to
their credit is .330.
Ok… Jake Peavy hasn’t pitched since June 8th, still leads the
club in strikeouts, and likely will lead them for a few more weeks.
On top of that, things in San Diego are so wonderful that he got
hurt and the last nail of the we-may-not-be-able-to-trade-this-guy
scenario was hammered into place.
just shake our heads and move on. Ok? Good…
~ It took one week for Brandon Webb to go from shoulder discomfort
during spring training to shoulder pain after his first start
to missing his second start to, ultimately, the disabled list.
They hope he’ll return in September. Took a few examinations to
decide against surgery. At one point, I seem to recall there was
even talk Arizona was tinkering around with declining his option
during this time off the field. (Oh yeah… the Webb situation is
it’s a killer not just because his injury is, depending on the
time of day and direction of the wind, carrying whispers of career
threatening stuff… but because Dan Haren is delivering the way
Arizona hoped… and that is depriving us of a division where two
teams could have possessed the top four starters in the National
League… and arguably in baseball. (Yes… yes… Mr. Halladay would
argue that point… heck, Mr. Santana would argue that point… but
Lincecum, Haren, Cain and Webb would be an awfully good argument.)
said, this team has been so bad that I don’t think pitching would
have been much of an answer. Webb is not the reason this boat
has taken on so much water.