Friday, September 29, 2006

The Playoff Possibilities

So much for a Yankee-free October. Haven't seen that since Buck Showalter was wearing pinstripes and the Yanks only had two or three all-stars on the whole team. But which team can be the 2005 Angels of this season? Let's find out:

TIGERS - The big surprise team, making the playoffs for the first time since the juiced-ball year of 1987.
PROS: Good offensive players in Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez. Excellent pitching staff; their top four starters (Rogers, Verlander, Robertson and Bonderman) all have ERAs under 4.00. And that bullpen: Zumaya and Rodney are huge, and Todd Jones reeled off 37 saves this year. Leyland's been a big x-factor.
CONS: Kenny Rogers. Also, Verlander has been shaky of late; is the workload catching up to him? Finally, none of the hitters really scare you. Does seeing Curtis Granderson up in a big spot rank up there in the "oh shoot" factor? Not at all. And the Moneyball-heads hate the fact that the Tigers don't walk a lot.
OVERALL: Yanks can easily beat these guys. Rogers will get his butt kicked, Verlander will get worn out from throwing all those pitches at a patient Yankee lineup, and the Detriot bats can easily get cooled off by Wang and Mussina. If Detroit can keep the games low-scoring and close, like 3-2 or something, they'll have a shot.

A's - Moneyball rules again.
PROS: Zito and Haren are solid starters, though not anything close to the 2001 version of this team. Harden and Loaiza have been hot lately. Frank Thomas (38 HR) and Nick Swisher (34 HR) give this team their best home run threats since Giambi and Tejada of that year. The Yanks would not want to see the Big Hurt in a big spot. Bullpen is pretty good, with Calero, Duscherer, and Huston Street at the end.
CONS: Since the Beane era began, the A's have never won a playoff series. Like a true Moneyball team, the A's don't run; their catcher, Jason Kendall, leads the team with 11 steals. Don't hold your breath waiting for any Dave Roberts moments.
OVERALL: I think the A's can turn an ALDS series into a 5-gamer, but will they finally have what it takes to put them over the top?

TWINS -So many of us counted them out early on, but what a run they've mounted.
PROS: Minny had the best team average in the AL (.288), with some help from Mauer (.349) and Morneau (.322). With Morneau's 34 HR and Hunter's 30, there's more power here than in years past. Santana is probably the best pitcher in the AL, and is huge for a short series. Neshek, Juan Rincon, and Joe Nathan provide for a very good pen. And historically, the Twinkies have always had a big home-field advantage.
CONS: Rotation is questionable after Santana; Radke is pitching with heart now, and not much else. Losing Liriano was a big, big hit. Offense can be spotty. Haven't been able to beat Yanks in past ALDS.
OVERALL: It wouldn't surprise me if they beat the Yankees. It wouldn't either surprise me if they win one Santana game and don't stand a chance the rest of the series.

Friday, September 08, 2006

More and More

What a bad year to be a Red Sox fan. On top of everything else, ex-farmhand Anibal Sanchez throws a no-hitter. I'd imagine it would be ten times worse for a Met fan if Scott Kazmir threw a no-no, but considering Josh Beckett has pitched like Victor Zambrano this year, it was painful to watch.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

No Manny, No Ortiz, No Playoffs, No Interest

Someone asked, why no updates. What's there to say already? What an August it was for Boston. My good friend Floyd (yes, the one who coined the nickname "Junkees) has been a Mets fan for years. For a while, he stopped following baseball in August. Floyd would move on to football (he's a huge Giants fan) and pursue his other interests. Why? Because the Mets literally made him sick, the way they would collapse every summer. He couldn't watch them, and that was that.

The saving grace of the '06 baseball season for me has been the success of my fantasy teams. And seeing the Tigers and Mets do so well. But as a Red Sox fan, this is just another year you file away and forget about. And for the past month, my interest in the team has waned considerably. What's there to say already? The injuries and a bunch of mistakes by Theo have killed the team. And the turning point for the Yankees was them getting Abreu and Lidle for nothing. Abreu is no Raul Mondesi. They've been red-hot since then, and they're gonna be in the playoffs once again.

And on top of everything else, hearing the news about Lester (and coming after Papi's health woes) was simply depressing. And something like that really takes your mind away from the game. Get well soon.

-- Everyone making a big deal about A-Rod's recent success ought to shut up. The Yankees have unofficially clinched the division. For the millionth time, when there's no pressure, A-Schmuck is an MVP caliber player. When the Yanks were struggling in the wild card race a few months ago, A-Rod was nowhere to be found. Now that they're 8 and 1/2 up, he's Reggie Jackson.

Let's wait and see how A-Rod does in the ALDS. That'll show us whether A-Rod has gotten used to New York, or whether he's still another Mr. May.