Saturday, May 26, 2007

Baseball's Train Wreck AKA The AL East

Long seen as the toughest division in MLB with the two biggest franchises in the sport, you'd be forgiven for thinking that its this years worst and least competitive with Boston already amassing a ten game lead on the second place Yankees. However, if we look at whats going on behind the scenes we will see how a lot of factors have gone into making this division such a debacle.

Of course the main issue has been injuries.

We all know about the problems the Yankees have had in the rotation which has resulted in eleven different guys starting games for the side. In fact only Andy Pettitte has been ever present in the rotation since opening day and even with the resources the Yankees have, no team can expect to be consistent with that kind of turnover. Even guys like Wang and Mussina haven't been able to get settled into the season yet and they were seen as the stable elements of the staff going into the year.

Then we have the obvious dark horse in the division in Toronto who are missing three of their top starters including one of the best in baseball (Roy Halladay), their leadoff man (Reed Johnson), the principal catcher (Greg Zaun) and their ace closer BJ Ryan. So that's their most important starter, their most important bullpen guy, their leader in the field and the sparkplug of the order. Who'd have thought that would dampen a teams season?

Even the Orioles, who got off to such a hot start, have suddenly tappered off. They shot out of the gates on the back of a very good rotation and then they lost Jaret Wright (not necessarily a big loss) and Adam Loewen (now he is a big loss) and what was a very good rotation has become a rotation with a couple of good guys and a bunch of who?

Much was made of Tampa's new influx of young talent and even with Elijah Dukes subbing for Baldelli, that's still one of the best outfields in baseball. But the DRays are still the DRays and a contender for the worst record in the AL. Its also fun to look at the depth charts on and see that the primary first baseman, second baseman and shortstop are all BJ 'E6' Upton since Iwamura went on the DL.

Thus far the BoSox have only recently picked up their first injury to an impact guy with the inevitable spell on the DL by Josh Beckett (is he their new Pedro?) and we're all still waiting for the injuries to Drew and Papelbon and Dice-K's inevitable fatigue down the stretch.

In these days of the ridiculous unbalanced schedule (how they can justify that in the days of the Wild Card is beyond me) should we be surprised that Boston are winning so many games now? They already had a very talented roster and then you handicap all the half decent teams they have to play the majority of their games against and it's going to happen. Imagine how happy Detroit would be if Santana, Ortiz, Sabathia, Carmona, Westbrook, Pierzynski, Podsednik, Buerhle and Jenks all went down?

I still say it's early and I still think the Yankees will make a race of it come September but all you people who look at Boston with those league leading 31 wins and are saying they'll win the World Series, get ready for some disappointment. To say they have a lot of things going their way is an understatement.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Waiver Wire Podcast

I've had a minor hiatus away from the blog of late (I know its not like I'm posting that regularly anyway but still) but that is because I've been dallying with a new project.

Myself and Neil M from 3.079 Miles.... have just put together a semi-regular podcast called The Waiver Wire which will be an informal baseball show that can be found at

The first few shows are up and running but it was all done in a very kamikaze fashion without much forethought which is why a 30 minute show turned into six 20 minute shows but we're confident of good things for the future so dip in and tell us what you think at our MySpace page (

Hopefully I can now get back to posting on here again and hopefully things can start to get back to normal on here...relatively speaking of course.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Where There's Money...

Surprise, surprise. Roger Clemens has come out of 'retirement' again and has signed a monster deal (prorated of course) to play for the Yankees.

I know he said he would only play for his home town team so he could spend time with his family but thats The Rocket for you. Must be hard to say no to a $28m contract (again prorated).

He has still managed to secure the ability to not go on road trips from time to time (such a team guy) and I'm sure he'll usual thing of going six and then getting out of dodge so he can keep his ERA intact (does anyone know when he last pitched a complete game?).

Does this make the Yankees any more a World Series winning team? Not likely. He's not going to spare the bullpen any more than any of the guys they've already got. He might allow them to keep Phil Hughes on the farm one more year but this team needs a horse who can churn out innings, not another primadonna looking for glory.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The Atlanta Where'd Our Pennant Go?

Last year Atlanta scored a lot of runs (more than you might think) but their pen just couldn't hold a lead. This season they have built themselves one of the best bullpens in baseball with the additions of lefty Mike Gonzalez and right Rafael Soriano who could both close out games when Bob Wickman is unavailable (and with his figure added to his age that is inevitable).

The offence took a bit of a hit when the dealt LaRoche to Pittsburgh in the Gonzalez deal but still have the likes of Francoeur (he still seems offended by walks), Brian McCann (the best power hitting catcher in baseball I'll have you know) Andruw and Chipper Jones and with Edgar Renteria continuing to look more at ease in the NL than he was in the AL, it all comes down to how well Kelly Johnson does in the leadoff spot over the year.

Of course the problem for Atlanta is that they're in the NL East with the monster Mets club and while the Braves will score some runs, NY will score many more than anyone and the Mets aren't that far behind with the pen so the only way Atlanta can hang with them is if their starters come up big and that means Tim Hudson and thus far he has been fantastic. Hudson is looking a lot like the guy who used to be the best pitcher in the AL rather than the one who has been taking to the hill for the Braves the last couple of years and bring in the ever reliable John Smoltz and oft overlooked Chuck James and you have a strong rotation that will make this a very consistent team.

It would be a very brave (honestly thats not an intended pun) person who would say that anyone could better the Mets in the East this year but a wildcard isn't out of the question. There may be deeper teams in that race in the West and Philadelphia could get on a roll (better start soon) but Atlanta should linger all year round.