Okay, we are about 20 games into the ball season and I have a few observations. The number one thing is that it is too early to win a division-but it can also be too late if you get off to a bad start.
The Yankees are looking sharp at 12-6 despite CC only having one win so far, and less then stellar starts by Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter. The teams power is carrying the club right now and it is just a matter of time before they take off. I believer A.J Burnett is going to win 15-18 games this year. Everybody settle down on Mo being past it..He will have 40 saves by the end of the year-having Soriano in the bullpen will mean some late season rest for #42. Good power numbers to start with in A-Rod, Tex and Posada. Best move in the offseason was picking up catcher Russell Martin. Having a catcher that can hit might just be the difference between winning and losing the divison title.
Tampa Bay has really solid pitching and have gone 9-3 since starting 2-8. They have not hit other than Superman "Sam" Fuld and Mr. Clutch`` Johnny Damon. They have recovered after the ManRam fiasco and losing Longoria. The staff is solid and have started an incredible 355 straight games with pitchers under the age of 30
Boston has recovered from a 2-8 start with a 8-3 spell, Back to back one hitters by Dice-K, and solid starts by Josh Beckett have led the charge. Lester and Lackey have also started to turn around since slow starts. Jed Lowrie has ripped the starting SS job and has provided some pop in the line-up hitting .400 so far. Carl Crawford is grinding right now but he will be fine. Adrian Gonzales is as steady as they come. Mike Cameron and JD Drew both look finished and the Beantowners also can't count on Saltalamacchia to provide any offense either. Lets see the BoSox play good within the division some more before we crown them best in the East!
Toronto Blue Jays are 8-12 but have some good positives. Bautista has clubbed 7 HR's and it looks like his swing is legit enough to be a perennial threat for the homer chase. The core of young players, Lind, Snider and Hill have struggled while missing Rajai Davis has slowed the speedsters down. The pitching has been aided by young phenom Kyle Drabek. It is still a developmental year for the Jays so watch for them near the end of the year to improve a lot and that will be the judge of their season.
Baltimore Orioles shot out 6-1 but have struggled against the stiff AL competition since. Vladimir Guerrero is going to swing at everything and get his 20-90 so the rest of the team needs to rake to help him. The pitchers need time to develop. 75 wins should be the realistic goal to reach. Guthrie looks solid but it will not be enough for the team of windmills who may have 8 guys with 90 plus Strikeouts and Mark Reynolds may have 200 by years end.
Cleveland Indians have recovered from a 93 loss season in 2010 to start out this year 14-8. Justin Masterton is 5-0 already and is the only piece proving his worth out of trades that included Lee-Sabathia and Martinez so far. Grady Sizemore is raking since his return and is key to their season if he can get back to one of the premier lead off hitters in the Majors. Even if the Indians fall off they have trade bait for contenders with Sizemore, Hafner and Fausto Carmona. The team needs to deal these players if they can-as their value is better then in recent years for the often injured players. The fans need to support this team better then the 10000 or so that coming out to Progressive Field right now.
Kansas City started out clubbing offensively like they did in 2009. Perennial fast starter Jeff Francoeur has provided protection for Billy Butler. Their recent 4 game losing streak is unsettling though. Most of the talent is still in the minors and KC should just hope to develop this year. If Alex Gordon can finally arrive as a legit player the Royals could keep in the race into the summer.
Detroit Tigers pitching is either really good or bad. Verlander and Scherzer have been outstanding and Cabrera has put aside his early season drinking bender to help keep the Tigers afloat. At 12-11 the team has underachieved but provided Austin Jackson does not have a season long sophomore jinx like his first 3 weeks, and Magglio Ordonez cant hit 80% of his baseball card career stats, the Tigers should be in till the end of the year. They might have the steadiest closer in the divsion with Valverde and his nasty cutter.
Minnesota has had a brutal start at 9-12. A lot of their team has been injured or ineffective. Joe Nathan has not responded in his return and has given the reigns back to Matt Capps as closer. Joe Mauer's condition is of grave concern and one of these years Jim Thome will slow down on his homer count. The key players are still the starting staff and Justin Morneau. The Twins will find a way to get back in the race and you can bet they will add a player or two in July. It is just a great thing that Target Field has given the team more profits to add payroll.
Chicago White Sox are slow starters and typically have to wait for Ozzie Guillen to have a few temper tantrums or threaten to quit before they play good baseball. Konerko is being himself but there should be an 'APB' sent out to the rest of the offence. Other than that 1st series where they crushed the ball, Dunn, Pierzynski, Rios and Ramirez have been nowhere. The Sox are too good not to be in this mix.
Texas Rangers have continued to lead the division despite the worst decision ever in Josh Hamilton's 'attempted' home steal setting them back the reigning AL MVP`s spot in the lineup. Beltre 's addition has solidified the defense and offense, while the club has got to be thanking their lucky stars they never dealt Micheal Young. Naftali Feliz's injury is a concern but the Rangers can outrake anybody in the weak AL WEST. Hamilton coming back in the middle of June should mean he is in mid-season form for the stretch drive which could mean big trouble for LAA and Oak.
LA Angels were just blitzed by the Boston Redsox in a 4 game set and are riding the awesome pitching of Haren and Weaver`s fantastic starts to be 14-10. The team will need Hunter and Wells to contribute to the offence and have a triumphant return of 1B Morales-in order ton keep pace with the Rangers. Howie Kendrick is finally showing some signs of power and Mike Scioscia is still one of the best diamond masters in the bigs.
Oakland A`s are all pitching and a pop-gun offence. Their hitters 1-9 are cast-offs from other teams and they lost Cust and Davis (who provided speed and power from last season.) Unless Cahill, Anderson and Braden turn out to be the 2001 versions of Zito, Hudson and Mulder, then the team will fall out of the race. The team still needs a new stadium to increase payroll. Think of how lucky the team is to be in a just a 4 team division that also has Seattle`s offence.
Seattle Mariners are still in big trouble with their 9-15 start. King Felix will only carry them so far, and Ichiro Suzuki has got to be feeling the burn of this team becoming worse each year since he led them to a record 116 wins in his rookie year. The bad signing of Figgins continues to plague the Mariners. The cupboard is not enitrely bare with Justin Smoak as a nice prospect power hitter. The best course of action is to play the season out and deal the King for a package of players that are offensive. Face it that no free agents will want to make Safeco their home and trade for power prospects.
Philadelphia has started out 15-8, and have not had Chase Utley for the start of the season. The starting pitching has been great but there are still holes in the bullpen. Cliff Lee has had another pedestrian beginning to the year and one questions whether or not he is a good regular season pitcher? There is no question he will be there when playoffs come. The Phils should search for a Right Handed Batter to help the Left handed laden offense. They will be fine.
Florida Marlins have continued to be competitive year in and year out. Josh Johnson is looking spectacular so far this year and the 'Fish' have played good enough baseball to be in the lead of the division at 15-7. Morrison, Stanton and Sanchez are providing the power and the team looks primed for opening the new ballpark next year with a formidable young team. You add the fact that Hanley Ramirez has started slowly and lookout when he gets right!
Atlanta Braves are underachieving at 12-13 and it is due largely to the slow starts of Heyward, Freeman and Uggla. Good old Chipper has 18 RBI`s and is keeping the team`s offense running with Brian McCann. Hanson, Hudson and Jurrjens will turn it around with the pitching and their new closers KImbrel and Venters are filthy dominant. The Braves should be in the battle all year long.
Washington Nationals are 10-12 despite a slow start from Jayson Werth and not having Strasburg pitching. The greatest news of all is that Ramos is looking like he can take over the majority of the catching with his offense. The future still looks bright with Strasburg, Zimmerman(s), Bryce Harper, Ramos, Desmond, Espinoza and so many more coming up the ranks. It is just a tough division.
New York Mets have strung together a 4 game winning streak to reach 10-13. Ike Davis is looking like a bonafide big leaguer and David Wright is starting to crush the ball. Jose Reyes is coming around but the keys to the club are:Jason Bay and the healthy return of Johan Santana returning to his former CY Young like self.
Milwaukee leads the division at 12-11 behind Braun and Fielder-who may just drive in 125 runs each. The Brew Crew realized this may be the last year of the tandem, and that is why they picked up Marcum and Greinke while sacrificing some of their future. When Greinke comes back this team should take off. The Brewers should take full advantage of a season without the Cards having Wainwright, and a year before Fielder goes out on the open market and might go 100 miles south to the Cubbies.
Cincinnati Reds are finding it tough to be the hunted. After starting out 9-3 they have come back to the pack at 12-12. Chapman is struggling with staying healthy and then lineup 1-9 is finding trouble with consistent efforts. Votto has picked up where he left off, and Johhny Gomes is solid-but they need Jay Bruce to take the next leap in progression. Mike Leake will need to keep up his steady ptiching to keep his mind of shopping, and Brandon Phillips will need to keep up his start in order for the Reds to keep up with the Cards and Brewers.
St. Louis Cardinals are geniuses for signing a slimmer Lance Berkman this year. At 6 HRS and 16 RBI`s-Berkman looks like the early Astros days fielder rather than the 'pudgy' platoon player he finished like last season with the Yanks. Pujols has rebounded from a horrific start to revive the Cards to a 12-11 start. With Holliday clipping the ball at over .400 so far-that makes the 3-4-5 portion of the lineup the best in baseball. Larussa finds a way to compete every year. Now they just have to find a closer to replace Franklin.
Pittsburgh Pirates have had their usual 10-13 start but they have a great core of young talent with McCutchen, Walker, Tabata, Jones, Alvarez and Doumit. Just leave these guys to gel together and the club will be fine. They are in tough to have their first winning season since the early 90`s.
Houston Astros have rebounded from a horrendous start of 1-8 to now be 9-14. Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn have turned into great players and the pitching is solid with Rodriguez, Happ and bad boy Brett``boom-outta here``Myers.
The team should try and deal Carlos Lee at the deadline if they can get any takers.
Colorado Rockies have a great 1-2 punch in Tulowitzki and Gonzalez. Tulowitzki single-handedly destroyed the Mets in a 4 game series and Gonzalez has been solid all year. Helton is showing signs he will be contributing all year and Seth Smith is just in need of a starting position in the lineup to show his metal. Chacin and De Le Rosa have been dealing this year to make up for Jimenez`s slow start. Huston Street has returned to 2007 like form. The Rox are already 16-7 and might not need one of their crazy second half`s this year to make the playoffs for a change.
San Francisco is suffering from World Series Hangover. Brian Wilson has struggled so far this year but I think he will smooth it out. Bamgaurtner has not held up his part of the rotation but Lincecum and Cain have been solid. The Giants at 11-11, are in tough as the hunted this year in the NL and I think they are going to need to win the division title to qualify for the playoffs. They may need to acquire a slugging outfielder by July, someone with some proven pedigree preferably as they will not luckout with another Cody Ross maneuver again I believe.
LA Dodgers have started 12-13 with the added distraction of having their team be ripped by 'MLB'. Mattingly does not deserve all of this chaos. The bullpen has blown way too many leads which has killed the awesome early efforts of Kemp (hitting .402)-and Ethier who enters today with a Major League Record 23 game hit streak in April.
Arizona Diamondbacks are 10-12 which is not that bad when you consider they lost Adam Laroche, Mark Reynolds, Brandon Webb and Dan Haren from the start of the 2010 season. Good starts by journeyman Willie Bloomquist and Justin Upton have led the offense to better then predicted numbers. The team has slashed payroll in efforts to rebuild.
San Diego is truly missing Adrian Gonzalez in the worst way. A team made up of 6-8 hitters have the dubious task of trying to score enough runs for the pitchers. The Padres at 9-15 are going to struggle all year long as a lot of their best pitchers hit the sophomore slumps. The best method to the season is to trade Heath Bell at the deadline to highest bidder.
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