Sunday, July 6, 2008

Angels and Rays (yes, the Rays) look like teams to beat in 2nd half

They have been the press darlings the entire year and deservingly so. The Tampa Bay Rays, after a thorough drubbing of the Red Sox at home, have a four game lead in the AL East and will take something close to it into the All-Star break. Winners of nine of their last 10, playing .700 ball at home and .500 on the road, they are now not only a bonifide contender but the team to beat in the East. The question is, can the kids hold up under the pressure if they drop a couple of games they should win, or go on the a tough roadie and find teams like the Yanks and Sox in their rear view mirror a couple of games back? Will they fold? I say their time has come and it’s the Yankees who will not have enough to finish as their pitching will not hold up.



On the other side of the coin, you have the most consistent team in baseball the LA Angels who seem to play about as well on the road as they do at home, even better. But the Angel bats will need to come out of hibernation in the second half of the season as the league will not be as forgiving and neither will the schedule. Last I checked they will not have any more games scheduled with the NL west.

Hey our bad for doubting the Twins and we’re eating a lot of crow right now, but we still don’t think they can hold their mud and be around with the wheel goes round’. We’ll be the first to apologize if they’re still standing in October but based on the last 20 years, I think we’re ok. Honestly, we hope they prove us wrong because it would be great to see a new face in mix this year. Meanwhile “Crazy Ozzie” and his band of Mercenaries are leading the way with an impressive .575 winning percentage. The ‘tough love’ seems to be working.



In the NL on the other hand there are six teams that have a great shot to represent, all within 4.5 of the lead as in the Central the Cubs an Cards just completed a pre-break blood bath with the Cubs left standing and leading by 2 games. We can’t even comment on the ‘goat thing’, the ‘century drought’, or any of the other trite headlines that follow the loveable losers but if Kerry Woods doesn’t improve on his blown save pct. (25%) there will be mass suicide watches in the windy city come Fall. Meanwhile the mastermind that is Tony LaRussa has the Cards back in the thick of things just waiting for the Cubs to take their typical late season stumble. We have the Brewers in this mix as well just because they have enough stick to win games on offense alone.

In the NL East we like the Phills to pull away in the end and end the Sunshine State’s dream of an “Orange Juice Series” but it’s good to NOT be able to see the color of the seats this late in the season as in prior years they drew more for the high school baseball finals then the Marlin’s games but that’s what happens when you hock your future to win in one year, it could take a decade to get back. The case doesn’t hold true for Philly as they were never given the proposition to trade one shot for 10 years of futility they haven’t been in the mix this late since Bake McBride played center field, but will represent the division this year and then Arlen Spector will have something else to do with his time. This just in, the Lancaster Jethawks now lead the NL west by 5 games and will probably win the division going away. If the Giants are 10 game under .500 and only 4.5 games out, we can’t even take this division seriously. There are no contenders here, enjoy your vacation in LA Joe.

26 comments:

cagin said...

Smaccthat you're all insane. There are no guidelines on what are required to make the All Star team. It's vote. The fans pay the bills, so they get first say. You can debate about who got snubbed til the cows come home, but it doesnt matter. It's an exhibition and the players the fans want to play, should play, even if it's weighted towards the big cities.
My personal qualm comes from Keith Law's assertions about Ryan Ludwick. Ludwick and Burrell are pretty even on offensive stats, so I couldn't complain either way. But in a national forum Law attests that, tho Burrell is below average in the field, so is Ludwick. Not close to true. Ludwick can play all three outfield spots. You probably dont want him as you're everyday centerfielder, but he's above average in right with a plus arm. In left, Burrell's sole option, he would be a Gold Glover if the voted outfield by postition rather than the best centerfielders. But, hey, it's easy for me to not have sour grapes, my guy(s) got in.

twinsfansince84 said...

I would be curious to know on some of these player selections...how much was it name recogniton, popularity and how much was it the player's true belief that somebody deserved to go to the All-Star game. The question being how serious do the players themselves take the voting? For example, how many of the starters if they were not voted in the fans would have been voted in by the players.

squigs007 said...

The problem with All-Star selections is the fan vote. Someone mentioned earlier that fan vote should only be 25%. I agree with that - fans get a say, but small say. Too many homers out there. There are certain people in this years game that don't belong - even with other players votes.

How does someone from a small market team make the game versus someone from a big market team? The answer - they don't under the current format. This will happen every year, and no matter what the format there will be arguments on who is left off.

I guess they voted Varitek in because they needed someone to swing and miss - that seems to be all he is doing this year. What he did in the past has nothing to do with being an All-Star this year. And catching no-hitters, last I know a pitcher has to throw the ball and normally there is one or two outstanding defensive gems in the game.

Why are they allowing the fans so much input on something that decides home field advantage for the title?

SwfanACS said...

I know Varitek is a GOOD defensive catcher but hes not great, people just make generalized statements about him being the best based off what they hear annoucers say...if he is that good how come he didn't catch Wakefield today? Because he can't catch the knuckleball. If he is the best defensive catcher don't you think he would learn how to catch it by now? Instead you have Kevin Cash, Mirabelli, or Josh Paul (hello Cla Meredith) playing every 5th day. If he were truely the best defensive catcher surely he could figure out the knuckle ball by now.

And no amount of defense makes up for a roughly .200 average...might as well put Jose Molina back there in the ASG,you get around the same defense and hitting (he throws out runners better too).

AlFromBrooklyn said...

Posada has four WS with the Yankees, and he's hitting better than Varitek THIS year. I mean, if past performance is the point of the all star game, then Jeter, Mariano, and Posada should always make the team. The hell with that. The game is an honor for the players playing the best right now! Varitek SHOULD NOT BE THERE!

dbask25 said...

Soria is the TOKEN Royal? The dude has been unreal. Other than one bad day, he has been lights out this year. If the Royals are ahead after 8 innings, one can almost guarantee a win. George Sherill and Wilson should be the targets of this whining, not the far superior Soria (who has probably been one of the best relievers this year...maybe other than Rivera). If anything, more than one Royal would not have been a sin this year. 3/4 of the team is more deserving than Varitek. Hell, 3/4 of the American League is more deserving than Varitek.

1scott said...

I really wish that MLB would clearly define what it means to be an all star, then we wouldn't have so much to argue about.....does it mean who has the best first half of each year? then what about guys who always have huge 2nd halves each season? they get forgotten about...some guys tear it for the first half, get a bunch of votes, then go silent in the second half, but they were an All Star

I'm not an Angels fan, but John Lackey is a great example...the guy is their ace, and has been a stud for a while now, but this season, has made only 10 starts....but in true, ace like fashion, has been dominant...Joe Saunders might be an emerging star, or might win 2 games the rest of the season, and we'll look back and wonder, how was Joe Saunders an All Star over John Lackey??? I'm not saying Saunders isn't deserving, just trying to make a point

RyanandTheCity said...

i really dont understand why tejada is there and not reyes, and even being a giants fan, i dont think wilson should be there either. we got timmy in already, and if you were going to put another giant pitcher on, maybe sanchez or cain(who isnt having that great of a season but still one of the best young pitchers in the game)

Anonymous said...

Just because Varitek can't hit, people assume he's a great defensive catcher. If that were the case, he would be catching Wakefield, but he's refused to do this over the years, turning the job over to guys like Mirabelli and Cash. His throwing percentage this year is a horrendous 18%, although it's not that far away his career average of 25%, and he's never had a single year at 30%. If "calling a great game" is his only strength, it would have to be fantastic, and that's not reflected in the team ERA when he catches over the years either.

Anonymous said...

Just because Varitek can't hit, people assume he's a great defensive catcher. If that were the case, he would be catching Wakefield, but he's refused to do this over the years, turning the job over to guys like Mirabelli and Cash. His throwing percentage this year is a horrendous 18%, although it's not that far away his career average of 25%, and he's never had a single year at 30%. If "calling a great game" is his only strength, it would have to be fantastic, and that's not reflected in the team ERA when he catches over the years either.

Anonymous said...

Just because Varitek can't hit, people assume he's a great defensive catcher. If that were the case, he would be catching Wakefield, but he's refused to do this over the years, turning the job over to guys like Mirabelli and Cash. His throwing percentage this year is a horrendous 18%, although it's not that far away his career average of 25%, and he's never had a single year at 30%. If "calling a great game" is his only strength, it would have to be fantastic, and that's not reflected in the team ERA when he catches over the years either.

ferguson said...

Fukudome has no business being an all star, i'm sick of players being voted in on the sole basis that they are foriegn. Yao gets more votes then any other player almost every year and he isnt even in the top ten in the nba. fukudome has a .287 batting average both holliday and Carlos lee who isnt going deserve to be there more then he does. yes i know he is an inspiration to the joke of a franchise in the cubs but no way does he deserve to start in the all star game. the only thing that he is even close to the top of nl outfielders stat wise is OBP and holliday is crushing him in that. This is the sole reason why these things need to be voted on by the players and the players only. what a joke.

flberr said...

1. smacchat, Varitek was voted in by the players.
2. The All Star game should not have an impact on the WS. Another bonehead move by BUDLIGHT.
3. The game should be played, with the games favorite players.
4. This game is supposed to be an exhibition. It was used to highlight your favorite players. There should be no reason to place a "must win", on this contest. It is supposed to be a "BREAK" in the season.
5. The managers only choose very few players on the roster, but, they have to make sure, that every team has at least one representative. It's like you need to build a sturdy building, but, someone forces you to use straw. Go Figure

jfk59 said...

Fans SHOULD vote for the BEST players....regardles s of your favorite teams or players. This popularity contest is ridiculous. The All-Star game decides home field advantage for the WS, or did you not know that.

They should give all you fly-by-night baseball fans a "pre-vote-test" before you're allowed to vote.

lynchiee said...

You do know that Jason Varitek got selected to the All Star team by the Players, Correct? Trust me being a die hard Red Sox Fan Im angry that he is on the team....but it is his reputation not his season that got him on the roster, selected by the players....I listened to Weei Talk Radio and numerous people called in complaining and wondering How Varitek got on the roster...I am not even disturbed by Lowell not making the team...The only player on the Sox who I thought got snubbed was JON LESTER....other then that..Ortiz and Varitek should both have not been selected

heff07 said...

i just cant believe the kyle lohse didn't make the all star game. honestly i understand why the cards don't have more all-star starters, since in the 1 & 1/2 or 2 months that the voting was open, the cards only had 11ish home games, which would have been a guaranteed 20,000+ votes a night if we had more home games. regardless, i would like to get a few of my picks and opinions off my chest. Rick Ankiel has one of the best arms in the game and an extreme clutch hitter. Albert Pujols is undeniably a great player, hitting great this season, shouldn't be just a DH. But the only thing that I am actually upset about, besides Lohse, is Yadier Molina is the best defensive catcher in the game right now and is batting over 300. Molina should be starting catcher. that is the only one that I am really upset about, because he deserves it.

sixersrule said...

how is pat burrell not even on the list for biggest nl hitters snubs? he has ben the most consisten hitter in that lineup for the phillies his stats are awesome and he is a pretty good outfielder how he is not on the all star team is mind blowing just check the stats

Thandronen said...

I'm sorry but it's time we took this voting out of the fans hands. I think it's become a joke and possibly fixed somehow. Let's give the votes to the writers and be done with it. There are so many more Rays and Angels players that deserve to be in the spots that Boston and New York take up with the exception of Manny and A-Rod.

I won't be watching the All-Star Game this year for the first time in my life. It's a disgrace to the game when two teams (neither of which are leading their division at the moment) have more players in the starting lineup than the entire rest of the league when it's crystal clear to any real fan of the game that some of these Sox and Yanks are not having anywhere near as good a season as some of these other guys out here. Popular vote is tainted now, time to take it out of irresponsible hands and make this process not so absurd anymore.

abatheguy said...

Definitely Ortiz and Jeter didn't really deserve to be on the starting rotation--or even on the All-Star team at all--just by looking by their stats.

Although I loathe the Yankees, I would definitely agree that A-Rod should be a starter as he is the one carrying his team's offense once again. Rivera with his ERA and save count is also credible. But no one else from the team should have been voted for.

It's also sad to see that the Red Sox and Yankees each have more players starting and overall than the feel-good-storied division leading Rays.

I really hope the same mistake does not happen in voting for unpunished steroids user Giambi without solid justification other than just wanting him to play in Yankee Stadium; otherwise, something has to be done with the voting system as it seems to become a popularity contest instead of a statistical observation. Do your research before you vote!

robmontenegro said...

Look up the stats and you'll see the underrated Chad Billingsley was a big snub. No Bills, no Kuo, no Hamels... but Brian Wilson and his Mount Everest of an ERA is on the team? Seriously?

Anonymous said...

The All Star Game seems more of a popularity contest rather than who is playing the best...It is a JOKE !!! Most fools also don't take into account how many GAMES PLAYED. Less games played could equal an inflated AVG. or on the flip side, someone may have only a few less HR or RBI and played way fewer games.

mallow(nats fan) said...

"Red Sox" fans are a joke. I swear that all these "real, true, diehard, lifelong" Sox fans sit around on the internet all day tryin to find news on the Sox so they can look like life long fans. You guys make me sick and if you truly believe that every Red Sox player named as a starter(except Youklis), you have far fewer knowledge of baseball than you have your "team". As a fan its times like these that I wish they'd take away the fan vote. Its turning into a popularity contest. It should be the best 9 against the best 9. And Francona is also a joke for adding Varitek to the team. AJ Piersinski deserved to go over Varitek.

Btw before you accuse me of being a Yankees fan, Im a Nationals fan. We suck. We're the worst team in baseball. There go ahead and say something bout the me and my team I havent already said.

jbillis74 said...

As a baseball fan 1st and a Mets fan 2nd I have to say that Dwright should be on the team and he shouldnt even be in that last fan poll to get him in. He is batting .286 with 16hrs and 66rbis and 9sbs and he is still only 25 and learning. He has better numbers than Ramirez at .283, 15hrs and 60rbis with 1sb who plays in a bandbox of a stadium in Wrigley.

Anonymous said...

Atkins? Coors is still inflated and the Rockies have sucked. I count two more 3B obviously better than he was who aren't on the team either. Where are Beltran, Reyes or Wright on this list. I'm not even a Mets fan and I can acknowledge at least one of them as deserving at least of a snub vote.
Dunn... now batting .228. Put Burrell on the list instead. Does the same things only better.
D. Lee.. Cubs already have 7 and he's behind Berkman, Pujols and Gonzalez.

AL speaking the fans are clearly only NY/Bos voters (Ichiro not withstanding).
Roberts isn't even on the snub list, instead 4 OFs (and a DH); what was wrong with the ones they picked? Iwamura too. BJ Upton anywhere? He and Damon seem to be the only two OFs that should be 'snub' worthy.
Varitek over AJ has to be one of the biggest disgraces of reserve selection I've ever seen. To be fair, AJ isn't half the defensive value..but he can at least hit the ball occasionally.
Papi's hurt to fix that one.
Aside from 11 Ws, Mussina isn't worth it..and I'm surprised he doesn't have more with that lineup. If they could sub Hernandez for Ichiro as Seattle's pick, at least Upton/Damon could get into this team.

Sherrill and Wilson don't make much sense either. I understand the relievers..but neither one of them has had an All-Star year.

Anonymous said...

I think the biggest joke here is Francona getting away with putting Varitek on the AL Squad. Sure he's been great in past seasons and he is the Sox Captain, but they guy is hitting around .217 for the season and his % of runners thrown out is in the bottom half of the league.

protigalchild said...

Here are the statistical rankings for some of the "left off" players compared to the person who made the team ahead of them.

SS: Most obvious one is right here. Jose Reyes .301 AVG, 115 hits, 22 2Bs, 10 3Bs, 67 Runs, 32 SBs, 40 BBs, 9 HRs, 40 RBIs. Essentially the best leadoff hitter in baseball with the exception of Hanley Ramirez who really will be a three hitter for most of his years. Miguel Tejada .277 AVG, 99 hits, 21 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 59 Runs, 7 SBs, 19 BBs(very poor stat), 10 HRs, 44 RBI. Basically a decent year for a decent player. Reyes is better defensively as well although he has made a lot of errors.

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