Although Josh Willingham only donned the green and gold for a season, he was one of my favorite A’s players in recent memory, and it appears he’s heading to the Twins. Even if he doesn’t end up going there it doesn’t look like he’s going to be with the A’s either way. Whoever ends up with him, they got one of the most underrated guys in the league. Sure, Josh might miss a game here and there, he doesn’t play the best defense in the world, but he does give you consistency whether you have someone good hitting in front/behind of him or not at all he puts up production. He might be the first guys that came to Oakland, and didn’t bitch once about the hitting in the spacious coliseum. He didn’t bitch about switching to the AL for the first time in his career after being in the NL for five years (looking at you Holliday). He even wanted to stay in Oakland for one of those “hometown discounts” us A’s fans hear other players willing to take to stay with other franchises. While 29 homers and 98 RBI’s isn’t a monster season, in this Oakland offense, it was. I honestly can’t understand why more teams weren’t interested in him or making a push for him when he’s putting up solid numbers in the worst hitting park in baseball. I mean, didn’t Jayson Werth get a kings ransom last year for doing less than what Willingham did this past season? Why aren’t teams trying to offer him what he’s worth? There’s tons of defensive deficient outfielders out there that produce far less (see the entire overpaid Anaheim outfield). At least the A’s will get a couple compensation picks out of it or some money to bid on Yu Darvish with, since that’s all we really seem to value these days…
Tag Archives: minnesota twins
Chappy brought up a good point the other day. The Minnesota Twins are the new Atlanta Braves. The Braves gained notoriety for not just winning 14 division titles in 15 years, but only winning ONE World Series during their run of domination. The Twins aren’t quite on that level, but they are starting to put together quite a streak of postseason futility. Being an A’s fan, I can’t say I don’t know what it feels like, but with today’s ALDS series loss to the Yankees, that makes 5 LDS losses in the last 8 years. What’s worse is they only have TWO wins to their name during that stretch. This is their third consecutive time being swept in the LDS, including one at the hands of the Oakland Athletics in 2006. They seem to have their nucleus locked up for a few years to come, but will they ever taste postseason success? Much like the A’s, their defeats seem to come often at the hands of the Yankees. You can’t help but feel like they’re destined to reach the playoffs year after year, only to be tossed aside by whichever team draws them in the opening round. But hey, most can only hope for a taste of the postseason. I can appreciate the Twins’ low-budget success. But really, I can’t help but think they’re the Braves of this era.
As a die hard A’s fan, I can empathize with any fan of a losing team. But I definitely don’t envy Astros fans. While the A’s don’t have the financial means to load up their roster with proven talent, there’s always a boatload of talent in the farm system. Remember, they’re only 4 years removed from an LCS appearance, and guys like Andrew Bailey, Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Ryan Sweeney, Daric Barton, Chris Carter, and Michael Taylor give plenty of reason to believe they’ll be back sooner or later. And while I’m waiting for the front office to trade away a guy like Coco Crisp or Michael Wuertz (hopefully Wuertz), the Astros have already gotten started. Frankly, it’s about time. They’re clearly headed nowhere, so it really made no sense for them to hang on to Roy Oswalt. While it’s still to be seen whether or not they move Carlos Lee – I doubt there’s any takers – or Lance Berkman, they’ve at least brought in some young guys who may play a significant role if and when they decide to rebuild, because they need to. In other trade news….
The Padres picked up Miguel Tejada, but I’m not sure what role he’s going to fill. I can’t see them replacing Chase Headley, so Everth Cabrera is going to be the loser in this move, but he’s hitting .199, so Tejada should be an upgrade at the plate. But are they expecting Miggy to play shortstop? Not sure what they’re envisioning there, but maybe it puts pressure on the Giants and Dodgers to make a move as well.
The Rangers acquired Jorge Cantu, which makes more sense in the short term, since Ian Kinsler is headed to the DL. They already swung a deal for Cliff Lee, so making it clear they plan to hold on to the top spot in the AL West.
The Twins picked up Matt Capps, which doesn’t excite me, but may have been the smartest move by any of these teams thus far – except of course the Phillies getting Oswalt. But Capps will move into the closer role, demoting Jon Rauch to setup duties. Your move, White Sox.
We had some very nice weather for Memorial Day weekend in California, which is probably why we didn’t get anything posted on the blog. As the ever so powerful NBA marketing campaign has taught me, we need to get back to the top of our game. So I’m back at the computer to dish out some MLB power rankings. San Diego, Cincy, and Oakland are by far the biggest surprises in the MLB as they all hold their respective divisional leads, and nobody saw that coming. If you did, you’re a liar! It was quite an eventful weekend, and maybe if you were camping you might not have known that Roy Halladay threw a perfect game or that the Lakers and Celtics are squaring off in the NBA Finals for another classic, yippee… Anyways, here’s who I see as the top 16 teams in the league.
#1 Tampa Bay Rays (34-17)
They may have struggled a little lately. Being swept by Boston and going 4-6 over their last ten isn’t encouraging, but they have to be tested sooner or later to see if they are indeed for real. It’s a long season, and that three game lead they have in the division could disappear quickly with everyone in the AL East playing well. I think they need Pena to hit a little better than .177, and the rest of their lineup has been in a little bit of a lull. I’m sure they will start hitting again. I don’t see any Phillies like slumps coming on.
#2 New York Yankees (31-20)
The Yankees are starting to put up some runs and wins in bunches. They’ve only lost one series this whole season, and whenever you see them on your teams schedule, you are worried. I almost put them atop my rankings, but just couldn’t talk myself into it since they are three games back. The Yankees have a cakewalk in June, so don’t be surprised to see them atop the AL East by the end of the month.
#3 Minnesota Twins (31-20)
I dismissed the Twins in our predictions for the season, but when fantasy drafts came around I was all in on guys like Morneau, Mauer, and Span for all my leagues. Seems like they love their new digs. They are 19-9 in their brand new Target Field. Nick Blackburn just finished off an amazing month going 5-0 with a 2.49 era. Twins are finally liking that extension they gave him. I still can’t figure out why I didn’t see them as this good when the year started.
#4 San Diego Padres (31-20)
How do the Padres have the best record in the NL going into June? It’s a loaded question. Are they a $38 million team, built for now!?! I’ll go out on a limb and say no, but the future is as bright as the sunshine in SD. What’s amazing is they could conceivable take on some big names around the trade deadline instead of shopping AGon and Heath Bell around like we all thought they would be doing. Matt Latos went 4-1 in May with a ridiculous 1.49 ERA. Looks like they got a pretty good pitcher from Chicago in the Peavy deal. Continue reading
It’s been a few weeks since we had our last power rankings up, and the landscape has changed a little now that we are about 1/5th of the way through the season. There were a few teams that fell out of the rankings, and some that moved up from the first power rankings we did. I’m really pumped that I haven’t had to put the Angels on the list. I think as long as Fuentes stays their closer that will help keep them off the list. Anyways, here’s how the top 16 shaking out.
#1 Tampa Bay Rays (22-10) – Getting zero hits and zero runs in one game doesn’t lose you the top spot, especially when it was the first time they lost two straight on the road all season, and it took perfection to do it. The Rays worst starter ERA is Wade Price’s 3.18, and is the reason they are doing so well. We will see if they can hold up when they start playing in their division more. If the Yankees hadn’t mirrored their losses, I may have moved the Rays down a spot.
#2 New York Yankees (21-10) – They’ve only lost one out of ten series they’ve played in this season. Maybe if Brett Gardner played a little better they might be number one, haha, just kidding. I’m pretty shocked how good Gardner is doing, and if he keeps it up I’ll be mad I didn’t pick him up for the fantasy team. Swisher has been great lately too, which makes me somewhat root for them, because I love my former A’s players. They’ve lost a couple in a row, but there are no concerns in NY now that Texiera seems to finally be seeing the ball.
#3 Philadelphia Phillies (20-12) –After taking three of four from the Cards, and playing ten days in a row going 8-2 makes me think they must be the best team in the NL right now. Jason Werth wants that huge contract this winter hitting .329 with 26 RBI’s already! Their starting pitching is doing well as of late too only giving up 8 earned runs over their last six games.
#4 Minnesota Twins (21-11) – No Mauer, no problem. Wilson Ramos seems like he belongs as someone’s backstop in the league. He might be able to take up a few extra games behind the plate sliding Mauer to the DH more often, so he can stay a little fresher. I don’t see why not with the way Ramos burst onto the scene last week (10 hits in his first three games). The Twins pitching has been better than I expected. They are +48 in run differential, and have allowed the sixth fewest runs, a good recipe for success.
#5 San Diego Padres (19-12) – I along with everyone are wondering when will they fade? Not anytime soon, if their pitching keeps going the way it has. They are tied with the Giants for the fewest runs allowed (97). They don’t hit for average or power, but they do lead the league in stolen bases, and seem to push the right buttons in their small ball approach. When Adrian Gonzalez starts heating up, watch out NL West! Continue reading
We now we have three solid weeks of baseball action in the books, and it looks like it’s time to look at how the top 16 teams stack up. MCeezy did a premature power rankings four games into the year, and it looks like that will likely be the last time the Giants and A’s lead the way. I’d love to see Battle of the Bay Part II, but unsurprisingly I don’t see anyway that would happen.
#1 Tampa Bay Rays – Nobody should be surprised to see the Rays playing so well or at the top of the rankings. We knew they could score runs, but we didn’t know that they’d have Garza and Price dominating the way they have! The Rays are 9-1 on the road including a sweep of the ailing Red Sox. They are trying to make a push in what could be the final year they are all together. I hope they do, and that’s why I picked them to win it all!
#2 Minnesota Twins – Who needs Joe Nathan!?!
Losing him hasn’t hurt them on their way to one of their best starts in recent memory at 13-6. Rauch has been a huge pickup for fantasy teams, and has been great for the Twins closing out games. Justin Morneau looks like he’s finally healthy and back to his old MVP form. Mauer wants to continue off his stellar 2009 campaign, and has kept that MVP form thus far. Maybe Nike should look into getting these two guys some MVPuppet commercials.
#3 New York Yankees – They just lost their first series of the year, but this biggest concern should be Vasquez, who has been terrible donning the pinstripes compared to his solid 2009 season in Atlanta. It’s just reminding us that moving from the NL to the AL East isn’t a good move (see Brad Penny). Tex still isn’t hitting, but he will eventually…
#4 St. Louis Cardinals – Speaking of Penny, going from the Sox to the Cards seems to have helped him regain his form (3-0, 0.95 ERA). They’ve have great offensive players that don’t need to be mentioned, and now a trio of solid pitchers. Even Piniero is pitching well. Dave Duncan know how to mold pitchers to their strengths!
#5a Oakland Athletics – 12-8 doesn’t seem like that noteworthy of a start, but there is noway before the season started you could convince me that they would be atop the west for this much of April or any of it for that matter. Since 1992, they have only started 12-8 once, so there’s some reason for renewed but reserved optimism in Oakland. Their new style of play has them winning sooner than expected. Lots of injuries already though, and hopefully it’s not a sign that 2007-09 injury plagued seasons are going to continue. Gio has the highest ERA of 3.68 out of all their starters, which is amazing! This stat sums up the main reason they lead the league in starters ERA, and are close enough to win any given game.
#5b. San Diego Padres – Bud Black seems to have his guys playing some great baseball. This is the second team in a row that everyone, including myself, had very low expectations for. You may want to call their owner Uncle Scrooge with their $38M payroll, but the guys in there are playing smart, and have been opportunistic on the base paths, and helped them score some runs! It’s surprising how good their offense has been, and just like the A’s they are stealing bases, and have guys hitting for good averages. We will see if that starting pitching can hold up… Continue reading
Well, Mceezy did his tribute to the excitement of the upcoming baseball season, and I felt it was only fitting that I should write about sine if the storylines that will intrigue me during the 2010 season. Now that the teams have rounded third base in spring training, they are heading back home to the “real parks” for the last few preseason games. There’s a lot to look forward to that isn’t dealing with the Yankees and Red Sox (If you’re a hater like me), so here are ten things I want to watch develop.
Tim Lincecum – Can he win back to back to back Cy Young awards? If he stays healthy, I don’t see why not. He’d probably also solidify himself as one of the most dominating pitchers of all time (or at least this era) joining Gregg Maddux and Randy Johnson as the only other two pitchers to accomplish that feat. Thankfully Cy Young voters have gone away from counting wins as one of the biggest factors in handing the award out. It makes it much more likely, since he doesn’t get much help from the unfriendly Giants offense. The problem this time around is he will have to contend with Doc Halladay! Continue reading
Yesterday the Twins decided to avoid having the elephant in the locker room all season long, and locked up their free agent to be and Minnesoootan God, Joe Mauer. He signed there with a no trade clause for the next 8 years for the generous hometown discount of $184 million. Locking up far and away the best catcher in the game doesn’t seem like a bad idea. It’s been highly debated if it’s worth using that much of the franchises total salary on one player. At first I thought it was pretty bold maneuver tying up all that money in one player, but after looking at it further there were some other factors that left me feeling like this was a good move for the Twins.
Getting this deal done well before he was a free agent most likely did get them a discount, believe it or not. If they had held off on the contract talks until the off season, they may have had to pony up an A-Rod type salary ($275 million) to keep him in a Twins uniform, and it would’ve been a distraction all year long. The Twins shifted from their normal MO of letting star players go via free agency, and signing one of their home grown talent must coincide with the grand opening of their new stadium, which looks pretty cool I must admit. It’s been reported that Minnesota’s payroll could hit the $100 million mark as soon as next season pushing them out of the small market team division. If they get five solid seasons out of Mauer behind the plate, and throw him on first base for those last few. He could be winning multiple batting titles. If it pans out that way, the Twins would sign the contract twice over. He could also be the next Eric Chavez, but I hope not for his sake. Will he stay healthy? Who knows, I’m not Nostradamus. My question to the league is, when are the A’s going to get their new stadium built? We were so close, and it fell off the table. We really want to sign some players to ridiculous contracts too!
A couple weeks back I introduced the first installment of a new feature here on Doin Work. Being a Northern California sports fan, I’ve seen more than my share of lousy games. Between the A’s, Raiders, Kings, and Warriors, I’ve endured my share of losing seasons. But there are a few games that stand out in my memory. Today, I’m bringing out the big gun. Quite possibly the greatest game I’ve ever witnessed, given the importance of it. I can probably count the number of professional sports playoff games I’ve been to on one hand. Most of them are A’s games. Although they’ve made it to the postseason more than most teams, it often has ended in disappointment. But not on this day in 2006…..
It was an overcast Thursday morning. I remember it clearly. We purchased tickets long in advance for this game, but no one in their right mind could’ve predicted the Athletics would come back from Minneapolis with a 2-0 lead on the Twins in the ALDS. After the two improbable victories, the team returned to Oakland with a chance to clinch. Now, any baseball fan knows that a potential series clinching game is no walk in the park for the A’s. They earned a reputation of not being able to close out series. Still, nothing could contain my excitement, for my A’s fandom may have been at an all-time high that season. After attending more than 25 home games that year, I felt like a part of the team. I still remember when I requested the day off from work. My boss said he’d get back to me, and I actually told him straight up, “Honestly, if you don’t give me the day off, I’m gonna quit. It’s that serious.” Ultimately he obliged, but out of good will I went and put in an hour or two of work just to knock a few things out. Around 8am, my friend Andy met up with me and we ventured across the Bay Bridge to Oakland for the big game.
The Boston Red Sox and SS Marco Scutaro agreed to a two year deal this morning, making Scutaro the team’s new shortstop – a position that’s been somewhat of a hole for the club in recent years. It’s unfortunate to see one of my favorite players go to my least favorite team, but I’m happy for him to get the opportunity to be an everyday player on a contending team.
In honor of Scutaro’s deal, we’re going to revisit his greatest career moment, and probably the greatest moment I ever witnessed, in person, in my career as a professional sports fan. Back in 2006, the Oakland A’s won the American League West division title, and earned a first round matchup with the Twins. The Twins had home field advantage, and many predicted the A’s would leave Minneapolis down 0-2 in the series. Scutaro had a key RBI in each of the first two games. Game 3 was out here in Oakland. After an RBI double in the 2nd inning, Scutaro came to the plate with the bases loaded and 2 out in the bottom of the 7th. With a capacity crowd chanting his name in unison, Scutaro fell behind 1-2, and then cleared the bases with a drive down the right field line, sending the Coliseum faithful into a frenzy – and me almost over the railing down into the first deck. That hit put the game out of reach, as the A’s now had an 8-2 lead, and ultimately sealed the Division Series sweep for the A’s.
I’m sitting here at my desk at work going nuts listening the Tigers-Twins game… what could be better?! Oh yeah, watching the game at home on TV with a beer. Why does the one game tiebreaker always have to be a day game? I get it… the winning team needs time to travel. But seriously, they know they’re going to New York, and the NL playoffs are both scheduled for tomorrow already. SO, why not let this be a night game? I mean, think about it, even the East Coast had to miss the beginning of the game. There’s no reason this game should be played where only a fraction of fans can watch. Now that this one-game playoff tiebreaker is an every year thing, perhaps it’s time MLB took a look at how to best capitalize on this. Now, back to AM radio I go!
Somehow the Tigers have found themselves in a tie atop the AL Central after a mild implosion coupled with a red hot Twins team. This marks the third straight year that we will have a pre-playoff playoff game. This will be the Twins second consecutive year that they are playing in a tiebreaker game as they lost last season to the White Sox. The game will be held Tuesday in the Metrodome in it’s second farewell to the regular season. As today was supposed to be the last game played there, and 51,000 showed up to show their support of a great longtime stadium. Now they have one more game with the winner advancing to the ALDS ti face the Yankees. The Twins own the regular season head to head tie breaker between the two clubs, and have the right to home field advantage. The starters for the game will be rookie Rick Porcello (14-9, 4.04) for the Tigers, and Scott Baker (15-9 4.36) will be tossing for the Twins. I think this is the first time I’ve been even mildly excited about the MLB playoffs so far, mainly because whoever comes out of this game as the winner, I’ll likely be forced into rooting for them take the AL Championship.
It’s been quite an amazing run for the Twins since former MVP, Justin Morneau, went down for the season. They’ve picked up their game and have gone 16-4 in their last twenty games to give themselves one final chance to get in.
They’ve been getting contributions from everyone including decent pitching (not the middle relief) but overall effective, and some very timely hitting. Delmon Young hasn’t been a stranger to receiving standing ovations at the Metrodome lately. He has been coming up with clutch RBI’s in a lot of games, which is very reminiscent of the way BJ Upton heated up for Tampa Bay in their playoff run last season. Joe Mauer has been quiet for his standards, but it’s mainly due to getting pitched around and walked more often. With this type of playoff push I hope this convinces MVP voters that Mauer is the obvious choice over Derek (I get way too much media hype) Jeter. When you look at the playoff matchups on paper, I think the Tigers would have a better chance of taking down the Yankees lineup wise, but the Twins are white label hot right now so it seems like you can never count a team on a roll out. As Billy Beane once said “It’s a crapshoot once you get in the playoffs, you just have to get there first!”
I’m predicting the Twins to win 5-4, and advance to play the Yankees.
Mauer has been my fantasy teams MVP this season, but does he have a case for the AL MVP this year? Currently ranked 3rd in Yahoo fantasy games, Mauer figures to be a top contender in the running for AL MVP. You can’t say that he’s been a huge surprise, because he’s always been an elite hitter consistently in the batting title race, but it’s his home run totals that have made his case much stronger for being the MVP this year. It’s pretty tough to argue with the man’s stats so far, .383 average (1st in majors), slugging .643 (1st in majors), 1.088 OPS (1st in majors), 25 homers (10th in AL), and 77 RBI’s on the season even after missing nearly the whole first month. It’s too bad the Twins are starting to fade back in the race for the central, but I feel he should win the AL MVP if he keeps his current pace. Who knows, a .400 batting average may not be out of reach either!
I don’t blame people for picking Mark Teixeira as he is having a great season with 30 homers and 86 RBI’s, but he hasn’t had the better overall season that Mauer has. They are both top notch gold glovers on the defensive side at their positions, so that’s a wash. Besides, nobody picks the MVP based on their defense, because that’s what gold gloves are for. If I did for argument’s sake, I’d have to say playing catcher would have to be a little more difficult than first base. In evaluating an MVP, you have to include other factors like the ballparks they play in. The new Yankee stadium is obviously a hitter’s park, while the Metrodome is much more of a pitcher’s park. Maybe that doesn’t even out the home run totals, but when you look at the fact that only 11 of Teixeira’s homers are on the road, it has to be weighed in. The Yankees have scored sixty more runs than the Twins this year. I’d assume that that is why Teixeira has more RBI’s as he has more chances. Stats would support that as well as Mauer is hitting .403 with RISP, and Tex is hitting .258 with RISP. Who is more clutch for their team? Numbers say Mauer.
Many argue that the MVP should come from a team that is going to the playoffs. This definitely hurts my Mauer argument, but it’s unlike basketball where it’s basically a requirement to be on the best team. Baseball’s voters don’t limit their view to the best teams as there have been 47 MVP’s that didn’t make the playoffs. It is one of the criteria, but it isn’t weighed nearly as heavily as football and baseball. If Kobe wants to try to take the MVP he can chuck up 50 shots a game, and surely he’ll average 35 per. Drew Brees can throw the ball 50 times in a game to put up crazy numbers (Wait, he already does that. Bad example.), but in baseball a hitter only comes to the plate once every nine players. He can’t control how many times he bats or if his teammates don’t do anything at the plate. So penalizing Mauer because his teammates are worse is unfair.
As for the NL MVP race, it’s pretty clear cut that Pujols is leading the way. He doesn’t look like he’ll win the triple crown, but it’s still not out of reach for him. He should be going for his fourth or fifth MVP by now, but for some reason the voters decided to pick someone that is more valuable to a team than him a few times. Most recently, I don’t see how Ryan Howard won the MVP over him last season. Not that Howards numbers weren’t incredible, but how can anyone really say that Pujols isn’t more valuable to his team than Howard? The Phillies have three guys that can potentially win the MVP every year. The easiest way to prove this theory is seeing how well Ibanez has benefitted from moving to a hitter friendly park and hitter friendly lineup. He is even in the race for the NL MVP if he can shake off the post injury rust. It’s like the Teixeira argument; he just has better players around him to help him put those stats up. Now that Pujols is matched with Holliday, his numbers should be indisputable by seasons end.
The Tigers, White Sox, and Twins all earned wins Friday night to keep the AL Central race tight. Detroit battled out a 3 hit shutout by Zack Greinke to earn the win behind a 3 hit shutout of their own by Jarrod Washburn. Brandon Inge’s 9th inning walkoff home run sealed the victory for the Tigers.
The White Sox, meanwhile, edged out an 8-7 victory behind Alexei Ramirez’s 10th inning solo shot. Bobby Jenks gave up 2 out singles to Ryan Sweeney and Tommy Everidge before retiring Nomar Garciaparra to close out a Chicago win.
The Minnesota Twins shut out the Cleveland Indians by a score of 11-0 behind Scott Baker’s 2 hit shutout to remain 5 games back of the AL Central lead. Jason Kubel went 3-4 with 5 RBI to lead the charge for Minnesota.
#1 Los Angeles Dodgers – In the 2nd edition of the Doin Work Power Rankings, the Dodgers are still in the #1 spot. We’ll see if Schmidt can do anything for them. I almost dropped them to #2 after seeing the new look Cardinals win their second in a row against them, but you can’t argue with the best record in the league!
#2 New York Yankees – The Yankees have won 23 of their past 29, and have seemed like the unstoppable machine that we had expected when they signed all those $100 million contracts this off season. They seem to be rolling full steam ahead and good luck to anyone playing them now. They are closing in on the Dodgers for the #1 spot.
#3 Boston Red Sox – You can’t go against a team with good pitching and depth! They are in the toughest division, and are surviving the worst team wide hitting slump of the season. I’m guessing they will make a run at Cliff Lee to sure up those holes in their starting rotation that injuries left behind.
#4 Los Angeles Angels – Yes, 2 Los Angeles teams in the top 4! And yes, I assure you there are plenty of fair weather fans roaming the streets of Southern California, I see them every day. The Angels seem to be catching fire winning 3 out of 4 from the Twins, and winning 12 of their last 15. They need to get someone so they don’t have to rely on Santana, because he looks like a black hole in the rotation.
#5 Philadelphia Phillies – Looks like they keep getting denied on the Halladay offers. If that goes through they’ll be impossible to beat when he’s on the mound. They are averaging 5.49 runs per game second to only the Yankees. They look like they could wrap their division up by Labor Day if nobody gets hot.
#6 Texas Rangers – The Rangers look for real this year, keeping the Angels in check. They’ve won 7 of their last 8. Their offense struggled after the All-Star Break, but it looks like they found their swings again putting up 12 runs in their last two games.
#7 Tampa Bay Rays – It might be a good thing for them to be somewhat “under the radar”. Maybe not to the extent they were last year, but if they can figure out a way to get Kazmir and Price functioning properly they should make a push at the wild card spot.
#8 Chicago Cubs – They are on fire winning their last 5 games and 12 of their last 14. Although it’s been weak competition, they still have overtaken the Cardinals for the top spot in the division. We’ll see if this winning lasts when the competition gets better.
#9 Detroit Tigers – The Tigers have a plethora of pitching and a ballpark that caters to pitchers, which probably explains their 31-16 home record. Rick Porcello has been a nice surprise, but it’s been Fernando Rodney’s 21 saves in 21 opportunities that has stabilized the 9th inning all year.
#10 St. Louis Cardinals – With Holliday and Derosa in the lineup, they looked really good against the top ranked Dodgers. You could even say they have a lineup that’s scary! I think they look poised to battle with the Cubs in the NL Central.
#11 Colorado Rockies – The Rockies have gone 34-13 since June 4th which has them in the lead for the NL Wild Card at the moment. Surprisingly, their pitching has been the part of the team that has shined over that stretch. We’ll see if that keeps up in the thin air.
#12 San Francisco Giants – If the Giants make a trade for a hitter, they could make the jump into playoff contender. As it stands they may win the Wild Card, but I don’t see them making it very far if they do make it. Their pitching can only get them so far.
#13 Chicago White Sox – Their bright spot was Buehrle’s perfection. Their bad spot, is the middle of their order where they are getting no production in the home run department from Dye, Thome, or Konerko. If they are going to go anywhere, they need these guys to start hitting.
#14 Atlanta Braves – They’ve been playing well, but they aren’t going to even get a whiff of the Phillies in the division race. Say what you want about Ryan Church for Jeff Francoeur, but it seems like there’s a change in the clubhouse attitude. Their starting pitchers have a combined 3 loses in the month of July.
#15 Seattle Mariners – King Felix finally looked human tonight giving up more than one earned run for the first time in his last 13 starts! Seattle seems to be fading behind the Rangers and Angels, but look much improved over the past few teams they put out there.
#16 Florida Marlins – Han Ram is hitting a eye-popping .427 with runners in scoring position. He is also the league leader in BA. They are so up and down, I’m not sure what to make of them. I think they’ll finish out the season around the .500 mark.
#17 Houston Astros – Nobody could figure out how they were doing as well as they were, but it looks like they are falling back to earth as the wins aren’t coming as easily as they were. A rough series against the Cubs pushed them backwards in their quest for a division title.
#18 Milwakee Brewers – The Brewers, just like the Astros have hit a rough patch going 3-7 in their last 10 games. If they don’t make a move at the trade deadline, Prince and company may have to slug their way into the playoffs. I don’t like the odds of that happening.
#19 Minnesota Twins – Minnesota looked bad on their westcoast swing losing games to the A’s and the Angels in every way possible. They should have a shot at the division if they can straighten out that rotation, and stop letting other teams put up those crooked numbers on a nightly basis. Their offense has been good, but that means nothing when you can’t stop the other team.
#20 New York Mets – They haven’t looked like a playoff team, and the injuries have piled up over the season. It may have been too much to overcome. Since no New York team is ever a seller, look for them to try to make a move that will give their fans at least a little hope.
#21 Toronto Blue Jays – We’ve all been wondering where Halladay will go or if he’ll even go. It’s starting to remind me of the Favre saga. The Blue Jays have had a nice run lately with all their players trying to showcase their skills in hopes of being traded out of the Canadian black hole to a contender.
#22 Cincinnati Reds – At least they stopped their losing streak against San Diego. They haven’t shown signs of anything good or consistent. The emergence of Brandon Phillips bat has helped fantasy teams out though. They seem to be stuck in the same situation year after year, and yup, it’s a bad one.
#23 Oakland Athletics – Possibly too high for a bottom dweller, but their pitching continues to mold towards next year as some of the rookie starters have shown promise. The question now is, when will they throw Brett Wallace into the mix!?!
#24 Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates have been shut out a league leading 11 times this season. I thought they may add to that total, but Lincecum settled for striking out 15 of them and going the distance. The Pirates should be sellers at the deadline, but they really don’t have much to sell…
#25 Cleveland Indians – Cliff Lee has regained his Cy Young form after a rocky start. It seems like everyone on their team is on the trading block. We’ll see if any deals get done, as they have some players that could be very valuable to a contender.
#26 Arizona Diamondbacks – Mark Reynolds and Dan Haren have been the only two bright spots to their season so far. Maybe they gave up too much a couple years ago to get Haren, so they have no options behind him. Maybe the fans have something to look forward to other than every Haren start, but I’m not sure what that is.
#27 Baltimore Orioles – The Orioles are letting the young guys take over, and the young guys aren’t winning. They need to move some guys like Mora to shake it up and get some pitching.
#28 Kansas City Royals – The Royals are good at one thing, and they keep doing it well. Being in last place is a staple for this team, and they are making a push to stay there losing 80% of the time over their last two weeks.
#29 San Diego Padres – They have Adrian Gonzalez, so at least it’s worth it to go to the park to watch him bat a few times. He has played in 308 consecutive games, which is a club record and the longest current streak in the MLB.
#30 Washington Nationals – Willingham got them in the news with his 2 grand slams. They might even be able to trade him for something now!