Saturday, May 30, 2009

Yankees in first for the first time since 06’, Dodgers and Cubs in a rematch of the NLDS

Great story lines in MLB this week as, behind the strength of five scoreless innings from the ‘roidless’ Andy Petitte, beat Cleveland 3-1 (adding to their depression this weekend) and took over first place in the AL wild wild East for the first time since 2006. Yes, for a team that was supposed to be the most dominant of the decade that is not a real impressive stat (please see Atlanta in the 90’s), but one can argue that after all they’ve been through it’s been an impressive way to start the season. In the toughest division in baseball, where there are not many days off, NY is playing almost .600 ball and winners of 7 of their last 10. Of course the season is only 25% over, do they have the staying power to outlast the possibly deeper clubs in the East? Meanwhile the former manager of the afore mentioned Yankees is still enjoying his “honeymoon in Mannywood” even as his leading man is on a honeymoon of his own. The Dodgers are so far in front they may start resting people in June but as we saw last year with NLDS too much rest may not be a good thing. Speaking of the Cubs, LA and Chi Town are locking up for a four game set, splitting the first two. The Dodgers sure could have used Manny’s stick in the first two low scoring games, as they been more manufacturing runs than powering them. Just the same they still lead by 8.5 games in the NL West, posing two questions: Can they hold the lead without Manny and are they as good as their record indicates or the beneficiary of playing in a perpetually weak division? Let us know here and in the MLB chat rooms and team rooms. We also have all information you need for the baseball week:
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Season hits ¼ mile post with best pennant races in over a decade

The closest division is the AL Central (7.5 games back top to bottom) as all the teams are still in the hunt, and if any club can put together a streak of better than .600 ball for more than 10 games, they’ll find themselves with a little breathing room. The Tigers continue to surprise as offensively they’re getting just enough timely hitting to increase their run differential (+43) to the second best in baseball. They Royals stopped the free fall and only find themselves down 3 games with a home stand upcoming and a chance to make up some ground. The Twins continue to be a great story in 09’ as they continue to win even though their payroll is probably less than this blog’s. A plethora of analyst and pundits are going to owe them an apology if they can manage to hold down the lead at the break.

The NL Central also has the three front-runners all within ‘one series’ of each other as the Brew Crew, Cards, and Reds are separated by only a game and a half, with the Reds doing ‘more with less’ as their run diff (+9) is the lowest among contending clubs at the top of their division. Losing the baggage of Jr.’s salary and cemented spot in the lineup, they’re getting production from unknown power sources and timely hitting.

With a quarter of the season in the books we can finally intelligently comment on the hierarchy in the League and thus the first Smacchat Power Rankings are out for the 09’ season. This is not just about best record, but who is playing well right now, who has the potential to continue moving up, players coming off the DL, or conversely, who might be headed south for the same reasons. Let the banter begin, here’s the totem poll:
Smacchat Power Rankings May 25 2009
Los Angeles Dodgers 1 Dodgers 30-15 First in the ML in team batting average(.291), and Broxton (5-0, 1.17 ERA, 11 saves) is sixth in wins and third in the National League in saves.
New York Yankees 2 Yankees 25-19 The Yankees have five walk-off wins in May, the most walk-off wins in one month since September 1988. 7-3 last 10, leading the league in jacks (73) right hits at the right time
Boston Red Sox 3 Red Sox 26-18 Boston has won 16 of its past 20 games at Fenway Park, fifth in the league in BA (.273)
St. Louis Cardinals 4 Cardinals 26-18 St. Louis' starters have allowed four runs in their past 46.2 innings (0.77 ERA).
Texas Rangers 5 Rangers 26-17 Surprisingly, Texas' pitching leads MLB with five complete games.
Milwaukee Brewers 6 Brewers 26-18 Milwaukee needs urgent help in the infield after injuries to Rickie Weeks and J.J. Hardy coupled with Bill Hall's slump.
Philadelphia Phillies 7 Phillies 24-18 The Phillies have baseball's best road record at 16-6.
Detroit Tigers 8 Tigers 24-18 Dontrelle Willis has a 3.57 ERA in three outings since returning from the disabled list.
Toronto Blue Jays 9 Blue Jays 27-20 The Blue Jays have lost nine games against teams with records better than .500.
Atlanta Braves 10 Braves 23-20 Jair Jurrjens has allowed two runs or fewer in nine of 10 outings.
New York Mets 11 Mets 23-20 The Mets have hit 29 home runs this season, tied with Pittsburgh for the second-fewest total among MLB clubs.
Los Angeles Angels 12 Angels 23-20 Vladimir Guerrero is scheduled to return to play after missing 35 games thanks to chest pain.
Tampa Bay Rays 13 Rays 23-23 Led by Carl Crawford (28-for-28), the Rays lead MLB with 77 stolen bases.
Cincinnati Reds 14 Reds 23-20 Closer Francisco Cordero (1.91 ERA) has converted 11 saves in a row.
Chicago Cubs 15 Cubs 21-21 The Cubs have lost seven games in a row and have scored only five runs in their past six games combined.
Kansas City Royals 16 Royals 22-22 Since Joakim Soria's injury, Royals relievers have failed in seven of nine save opportunities.
Minnesota Twins 17 Twins 22-23 Joe Mauer has 10 home runs in his first 22 games after belting only nine in 146 games in 2008.
San Diego Padres 18 Padres 22-22 The Padres have outscored their opponents 35-16 during their nine-game win streak.
San Francisco Giants 19 Giants 20-23 The Giants rank last in baseball in home runs with only 23.
Seattle Mariners 20 Mariners 21-24 Ichiro Suzuki raised his batting average from .291 to .319 during his 18-game hitting streak.
Florida Marlins 21 Marlins 20-25 After their 11-1 record to start the season, the Marlins have gone 9-24.
Chicago White Sox 22 White Sox 19-24 The White Sox got two straight shutouts after allowing 20 runs on Thursday. They're the first team in MLB history to achieve the feat.
Pittsburgh Pirates 23 Pirates 20-24 The Pirates have won eight of their past 13 after eight straight losses.
Arizona Diamondbacks 24 Diamondbacks 19-25 The Diamondbacks are 7-8 under new manager A.J. Hinch.
Houston Astros 25 Astros 18-24 Shortstop Miguel Tejada has hit .346 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in May.
Baltimore Orioles 26 Orioles 18-26 The Orioles are tied with the Nationals for the worst run differential in MLB at minus-51.
Cleveland Indians 27 Indians 17-28 VĂ­ctor Martinez is second in MLB in hitting (.371), but has gone hitless in his past 13 at-bats.
Colorado Rockies 28 Rockies 18-25 Todd Helton (.342 average, 6 HRs, 31 RBIs) could draw attention from clubs in need of a first baseman.
Oakland Athletics 29 Athletics 16-25 Of Jason Giambi's 401 career home runs, 192 have come with the A's.
Washington Nationals 30 Nationals 13-30 The Nats have lost 12 of 15, but Ryan Zimmerman has reached base in 42 straight games.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Yankees not ‘walking off’ into the abyss just yet

After three consecutive walk off hits in as many games, the Yankees find themselves back in the mix for the AL East, winners of 8 of their last 10, 5 games over .500 and only 3 ½ back. A combination of replacing an American iconic stadium, a superstar steroid scandal, and questionable starting pitching had pundits crossing out the pinstripes but the bomers are making believers of many outside of the Boston area. Now A-Rod has gone deep in 4 straight, CC was on the bump and got their 7th straight win and all is forgiven. However, north of the border Gaston and his gang continue to go about their business like it was 1995 all over again, 16-6 at home and 11-9 on the road, the Jays won’t be dismissed as an early season surprise as they continue to hang on to the American League’s best record, but their litmus test is coming early has they pay a visit to Fenway to battle the “Sox of Second Place” for a three-game stint. Then host the same Sox at the end of the month. Check back with us as Summer begins to see if the birds are still in the catbird seat. Who will be the first of the big 3 in the East to get some separation? Let us know here and in the team pages and chat rooms.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Manny suspended for 50 games just as MLB reaches 30 game mile post

Well……….we were in the midst of writing about the great stories of the year and were going to avoid the drama that was 2008, guess again as one of the biggest names in the league, playing in the second largest city in the country is riddled by scandal. Manny Ramirez of the LA Dodgers will be suspended for 50 games beginning immediately after testing positive for a women’s s fertility drug commonly used to restore the body after steroid use. More to come as the information is made available.

MLB is off to a great start as it comes to the 30-game milepost mainly because there are other intriguing storylines other than steroids, court cases, and the AL East. Well, the best team record wise in baseball still has an east cost feel as the LA Dodgers (coach Joe Torre is Yankees and Manny from the Red Sox) started the year by setting a Major League Record for consecutive home victories at 13 and lead by 6 games in the NL West.
Another great byline are the KC Royals who sit atop the AL Central, however early, by 2 games but this is the best they’ve looked since the days of Brett, Patek, and McCray. I know it’s too early to start chanting to the Yankees but it gives us another reason to watch the Royals other than their new light blue home digs. Also what about Jr. going back home, playing with Ichiro, and Seattle finally competing for a pennant long overdue for the afore mentioned players. All we need is A-Rod in that mix to complete the picture, well we already mentioned the Yankees once. We also have the defending champs going on a winning streak and shooting to the top of the AL Central and looking like they last a little longer at the top than Lenny Dykstra did. Lastly, how bout the team from the great white north!? No, the Expos don’t play ball any more but the Blue Jays do and very well, .667 to be exact, and lead that division that we’re not talking about by 2 games. Similar to their World Series Run over a decade ago, the Jays are doing it with no-name players, a familiar manager, and a lot of guts. Ok, reality check, when the dust settles in the end it will probably be the usual suspects standing but in the meantime it’s a nice breath of fresh air. Let us know your thoughts here and in the MLB chat rooms and team pages.
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