Monday, May 10, 2010

Rays lead the pack of suprise clubs to start the season

AL Central
With Mauer back in the lineup the Twins look to extend their lead as they are consistent both on the road and at home. If the pitching can hold up they can extend the lead, but a they’ve got a touch stretch coming up including series with the Yankees, Jays, and Red Sox so they’ll be tested.

The sad part is that Blue Jays and Red Sox are not playing poorly, yet still find themselves 4 and 6 ½ back respectively. This will not be a division for the faint of heart again this year. In case you were one of the doubters the Rays are for real and ready to challenge the evil empire right now. The Yanks have gotten out of the blocks much faster than last year and they’ll need to keep the pace if they are going to going in as the division winners and not the Wild Cards. Meanwhile everyone is getting nervous in Beantown about now, as the Sox had to work to avoid getting swept by the Empire, and everyone’s wondering where all that pitching from last year went?

AL West
These teams will continue to shuffle the deck as they each go though the tough parts of their schedule. The division where .500 might be good enough to keep you in contention, suddenly has an unfamiliar leader. The Rangers sit in first place for the first time since I can remember, as “Big Daddy Valdi” has rejuvenated his swing hitting .339 with six jacks providing the added pop the Rangers needed. If the A’s want to stay in the hunt they’ll need to learn how to win on the road as .300 won’t get it done.

NL Central
The Cards look good again to start the season as the surprising Reds are a trying to keep them in striking distance which may be tough to do as the Cards are soon to begin a long home stand but an upcoming 3 game set with the Reds will be the litmus test to see if Cincy has any staying power. It could be all smoke and mirrors right now as the Reds actually have a negative run differential (-21) but still manage to keep the ship afloat with duct tape. Right now the rest of the division doesn’t look as if it’s ready to challenge the establishment but the good thing is it’s early and plenty of moves can be made.

NL East
We stated at the beginning of the season that this division race is going to be great to follow all year, and the defending NL champs are going to have their hands full. So far so good for the Phils but the Mets despite injuries and the Nats despite themselves are only two games back. Even though their fans may not have noticed, the Nats can contend this year, and if they can stay afloat long enough to get “the Sensational Stasburg” into the starting rotation, they could be the sleeper team in the NL. I know, we’re getting way ahead of ourselves just 31 games into the season but it’s nice to talk about.

NL West
How about the Priest?? Picked to finish dead last they’ve lived off a strong offense (+43 run differential) and timely pitching to hold a slight lead in the division. The third team to take the reigns already this year, this will be a war a attrition and staying healthy. The two-time division champions LA had a terrible off season in regards to moves as the team got caught up in the divorce of the owners, and how much of a difference will Manny coming back actually make? Probably quite a bit as the Dodger bats are quiet with a -16 RD for the first time since Joe came to town. The aces of the Giant staff have been getting an unexpected lift from Barry Zito, who if can remain consistent, will create the best 3 man pitching stretch in baseball.

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