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As it stands, the American League doesn't even look very interesting in 2007.

The three division leaders, plus Detroit, have done a nice job in separating themselves from the rest of the league. The only other teams in the AL above .500 are the White Sox, who seem to have achieved this feat with mirrors, and the Mariners. The Mariners?

Jays fans aren't the only ones feeling shortchanged. Yankees fans have come to expect better. An absolute disaster is unfolding in Texas, where the RAngers now sport the worst record in the league - worse then Tampa, worse then Kansas City. (So much for the Showalter Effect!). The fans in New York, Oakland and Minnesota can take some comfort in the fact that their teams have played better than their records indicate. But Pythagoras is a Cruel Mistress, and likes to pick out a couple of units each year to be its personal whipping boy.

Surprises? Well, how about the Detroit offense. They're on pace to score 893 runs, which would be about a 70 run improvement on last season. Anyone see that coming? Their offense last season wasn't really that impressive. Is Gary Sheffield having that big an impact?

No. It's a five man offense. Sheffield and Polanco have been good, Guillen and Granderson have been great, and Magglio Ordonez has decided that all this talk of handing A-Rod the MVP was just a little premature...
28 May 2007: The Last Days of May | 9 comments | Create New Account
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Maldoff - Monday, May 28 2007 @ 09:09 AM EDT (#168642) #

Heard Gibbons on the Fan 590 this morning. Here are the key points (as far as what I think):

  • No update on Chacin - he's arm has been sore (still), so they have no timetable to his return
  • Jamie Vermilyea has some tendonitis in his pitching arm, so he wasn't available all weekend
  • Gregg Zaun will start a minor league rehab assignment this week (primarily DH'ing) - Gibby hopes to have him back for the next road trip
  • Reed Johnson has begun swinging - Gibby thinks he'll be back around late-June early-July
  • Vernon Wells hit some balls hard this weekend - Gibby thinks he's starting to come around
  • The offense really misses it's "sparkplug" at the top of the lineup - Rios has done a good job, but would be better lower down in the lineup.
Chuck - Monday, May 28 2007 @ 09:10 AM EDT (#168643) #

Just doing the rounds...

As per Magpie's observation, Magglio Ordonez is quietly having an MVP-caliber season: 356/430/689. He has 36 extra-base hits and, to get the MVP voters all hot and bothered, 47 RBI. Now imagine if the Tigers had a first baseman who didn't hit like John McDonald. Or if they had a catcher who was on pace for more than 7 walks.

The Mariners do indeed have a +500 record. This, to me, is unfathomable first from a raw talent level and secondly, from an actual performance level. Aside from the Japanese duo of Johjima and Suzuki, their hitters have ranged from uninspiring to awful. On the pitching side, Putz has been Ryanesque, Jarrod "Jack Bauer"  Washburn has been surprisingly competent and King Feliz has been lights out, pre-injury, and fair to middlin', post-injury. Other than that, bleh (okay, okay, two guys nobody has ever heard of, Sherrill and Morrow, the M's version of Accardo and Janssen, have 33 innings of sub-2 ERA). How is this team winning games?

In Texas, does this sound familiar? Nobody can get anyone out. This is more than just a park illusion: none of their starters, two of whom are very expensive, have an ERA under 5.00. In the bullpen, Gagne and the very underappreciated Otsuka (why do we only hear about certain Japanese players?) are just salivating at the opportunity to hold a late lead, something they're pretty good at. Those leads just ain't a' comin', however. And who would have imagined that the phrase "imagine how they'd be doing without Sosa?" could be uttered anywhere outside a room with padded walls?

To me, the story for the middle third of the season will be, as predictable, Gotham. What drama awaits? Is there a resurgence to be had? And of course, the prodigal non-son will shortly return. Much ink yet to be spilled over that. Three players having insanely good seasons -- Rodriguez, Jeter and Posada -- having been buoying an offense replete with underachievers: Abreu, Cano, Damon, and Cabrera. First base has worked out about as well as could be expected. The starting pitchers, whoever is healthy enough to pitch on a given day, can't strike anybody out putting all the more pressure on a defense that can't catch the ball.

And what of Mariano Rivera, the very model of predictibility (to say nothing of a modern major-general)? In his ten post-rookie seasons (one as a setup man, nine as a closer), he has posted six ERAs in the 1's and four in the 2's. His ERA currently is just shy of 6, he is on pace for about 10 saves (the team as a whole has only 3 in 48 games!) and has given up as many homeruns in 16 innings as he usually gives up in a season. Sure sounds like arm troubles to me. Is anyone in New York admitting anything on this front?

Other interesting things to watch for: the Jack Cust slide has, sadly, commenced (visions of, sigh, Phil Plantier). My question is this: can he reach the point where he has K'd in half his AB? He's at 29/65 at the moment. If I'm doing my math right, he has 15 hits in his 36 non-K AB for a pretty dandy, and unsustainable I would think, BABIP.

Elsewhere, on the we-almost-had-'em front, Ted the Tease and Gil Ga Meche, have seen their ERA's rise into the 3's. As the mercury rises, so too do will their ERA's, one imagines. But how high? High enough for our inevitable told-you-sos?Our old friend Dave Bush has seen his rise into the 6's. Echhh. The other direction, David, the other direction!

Brady Anderson is back! Okay, he's now calling himself JJ Hardy. After toying with a .400 SLG the past two seasons, the Brewers' shortstop is now doing the ARod thing, with 15 homeruns. Surely the steroid rumours can't be far behind. Teammate Prince Fielder, who has divorced himself from his father in a sad familial tale, is also at 15. Those longballs seem more likely fueled by cheeseburgers than creatine, however.

Jake Peavy is back! And, he's going by his old name. After boorishly posting a 4+ ERA last season, despite some very nice peripherals, he's been better than his old self. All of his numbers are amazing, particularly the one HR allowed in 11 starts. Is he currently the best player in baseball that nobody has heard of?

Cincinnati has a shortstop (one that many presumed might be the Jays' default acquisition this past off-season) who has more homeruns than our DH. Slotting in another Alex Gonzalez at shortstop probably would have been too confusing for the average fan to process.

Griffey is back! Does that mean that he'll be moving to a playoff team? Griffey does Disney? Sure would be a good fit. Teammate Adam Dunn is doing his Adam Dunn thing, no doubt secretly dreading Sep 28, the date that he will presumably strike out for the 200th time, suffering an entirely disporportionate amount of derision.

Mick Doherty - Monday, May 28 2007 @ 09:15 AM EDT (#168645) #

An absolute disaster is unfolding in Texas, where the RAngers now sport the worst record in the league

As you know, I live right in the heart of Rangers country and work about a five-minute drive from Rangers Ballpark in Arlington (tm). The amazing thing to me is, nobody around here seems to care much about how the Rangers are(n't) doing.

Maybe it's a bit of a sports hangover with the Mavericks and Stars each going out in the first round of the NBA and NHL playoffs, (not so) respectively. Or the Cowboys, always #1 around here, are still riding high Romo-mania (even with still another first round exit) combined with the new stadium getting to host the 2011 Super Bowl and all, but nobody is noticing the underwhelming performance of Texas baseball.

Everyone's going to look up in August and the Rangers wil be 40-65 or something, Mark Teixeira will be in pinstripes, Sammy Sosa will be in a pennant race somewhere, having hit his 600th career homer in front of dozens of adoring fans before being traded for a minor-league reliever, and some wag will note "hey, weren't these guys supposed to be pretty good this year, Ron Washington magic and all that?"

I read Jamey Newberg's e-mail newsletter every day and he, the staunchest of all (of both?) Ranger fans, is already looking ahead to 2009. Ugh.


Chuck - Monday, May 28 2007 @ 09:19 AM EDT (#168646) #

The offense really misses it's "sparkplug" at the top of the lineup - Rios has done a good job, but would be better lower down in the lineup.

While better leveraging Rios' 303/358/544 would serve the team well, having those numbers at the top of the lineup are damn well sparkpluggish enough. If Gibbons meant that the team would sooner have Johnson's 2006 numbers than Lind's 2007 numbers out of left field, well that's understable and another matter altogether. But to suggest that Johnson will be more effective in the #1 hole than Rios has been, well that's a pile of crap.

Mike Green - Monday, May 28 2007 @ 09:24 AM EDT (#168647) #
Listening to Gibbons on the radio pre-game show yesterday was painful.  Forrest Gump should not be the target for a big-league manager.

Pythagoras a cruel mistress?  I always figured he was a cruel master, but then we all know who wears the trousers in the house.

FranklyScarlet - Monday, May 28 2007 @ 09:29 AM EDT (#168648) #


Gagne looked almost  unrecognizable to me last night vs. the Red Sox.  The two surgeries seemed to have taken a toll, or perhaps last night was just one of those nights....He had nothing.

AWeb - Monday, May 28 2007 @ 09:53 AM EDT (#168649) #
The offense in Cleveland is looking scary. Hafner hasn't really been hitting for power (a pathetic 141 OPS+), but no one else really looks to be performing over their heads, and most of them are young. This franchise, for the second time in 15 years, seems to have collected a great group of young stars all at the same time.  If Cliff Lee rounds into his usual acceptably mediocre form, I can't see the Indians falling back much. Two years in a row with the wildcard in the Central looks like a good bet.

Boston looks unstoppable right now, and that's with Ramirez just starting to come out of his year-long funk, Lugo having by far his worst season, Crisp continuing to struggle,  and JD Drew shockingly combining healthy with terrible so far (I don't recall anyone predicting Drew would just stink...could he actually be playing through an injury?). Varitek has returned to life this year, helping to offset those problems, but the Red Sox offense may not have peaked yet.

In the NL, what has interested me so far is the huge dropoff from MVP candidates last year. Howard (injured, OPS+ 170 to 131), Pujols (180 to 136), Berkman (161 to 101),  and farther down, old friend Delgado (134 to 81, showed signs of life on the weekend).  Who's the NL MVP so far this year? Bonds? No one wants him to win ever again.  Chipper Jones? Injured to much. Hardy? Check in in July. I'd go with Peavy, who's been Pedro-esque so far.
Mylegacy - Monday, May 28 2007 @ 11:47 AM EDT (#168655) #

2007 is setting up to be a "Tale of Two Seasons." I strongly suspect that the second half will be very different. Mighty will have fallen and presently meek shall have inherited the throne(s). The question(s) is/are which mighty fall and which meek rise to glory.

I still cling to a whimper of hope that the Jays find redemption. If not...well there is always 18 year old single malt, a man has to have a Plan B.

AWeb - Tuesday, May 29 2007 @ 06:43 PM EDT (#168785) #
Since this is the last daily baseball thread (busy here lately), I'll mention this here:

CBC is going to show baseball games again, starting this year apparently, with Hughson calling the games. Hopefully, this means there won't be many holes in the schedule this year like that Minnesota series.

28 May 2007: The Last Days of May | 9 comments | Create New Account
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