We haven’t discussed much baseball yet this year here at VFLOAB, and seeing that it’s a rainy Monday in the second week of May… we figure today might be just the day to get our thoughts down on paper. Or the Internet. Or whatever you want to call it…
I don’t think I’m going to shock anyone when I make these two claims:
1) The Chicago White Sox are the best team in baseball
2) Albert Pujols is the best player in baseball
The White Sox are really, really good. If they played in the National League they’d win 110 games. That’s how good they are and how bad the NL is. But since they’re in the AL they’ll find it hard to win 100 games (though they ‘only’ have to play .595 baseball from here on out to win 100). The Sox offense has been greatly improved and part of the reason why they’re off to such a great start (yes Thome’s off to a hot start, but don’t forget about Crede and Konerko). But no other team in baseball has the depth and quality that the Sox starting rotation has. Only the Yankees, Reds, and Indians have scored more runs this year; and only the Yankees, Tigers, and Cardinals have allowed less runs. The Sox are already plus 51 in the runs scored/runs allowed category, again only the Yankees are better there (+65). The Sox need one more arm in the pen, but other than that, this team is just flat out awesome.
But all that ‘number’ crunching leads us to the most interesting ‘stat’ so far… the Yankees and Tigers are getting pitching which has been much better than anyone would have thought. The Tigers actually lead the majors in team ERA and the Yankees have allowed the least amount of runs in the majors. Don’t expect either team to keep this up though. The Yankees bullpen has been fantastic thus far. Their top five guys in the pen have only allowed 15 runs so far. The chances of that continuing are slim. And while Mussina is off to a great start, Randy Johnson has struggled a bit, Wang is about where you’d expect, and Chancon has had a nice start… but we still don’t know who the fifth start is. We find it hard to believe they’ll stick with Jaret Wright much longer. Expect the Yankees pitching to fade as the season goes along. And if Randy Johnson continues to struggle they’re in big trouble. Meanwhile the Tigers some how lead the majors in ERA and while their bullpen has been good, it hasn’t been as good as the Yanks. Their starters are off to a great start. Mike Maroth’s numbers jump out at you, but just looking at his WHIP and K rate, the guy’s been lucky. The guy that really jumps out is Bonderman who continues to improve. Tigers look good and are going to be in this race. I can’t see their pitching leading the league in anything come September, but with the bats they have and the good start they got off too, I expect them to be around all year this year.
Taking a quick look at the National League… every team pretty much in is in this race (well the Nats, Marlins, and Pirates are all finished and it looks like the Cubs will be joining them soon). Some thoughts…
New York Mets – I’m sure they’d do just about anything to get Kris Benson back right now. But just watch, people are going to get a little too excited about this team as the year goes along because the NL is not good.
Philadelphia Phillies – They’ve won 8 in a row to get back in the NL East race. They can hit and their D isn’t that bad. They just don’t have enough depth in their rotation, let alone a #1 starter. But they should be around all year.
Atlanta Braves – This team is better than they’re playing right now. But they have to start winning soon or else they’ll be in too big of a hole.
Washington Nationals – They’re a bit more like the Knicks that you’d think. They’ve got a few names on this team. But they stink.
Florida Marlins – Speaking of sucking…
Cincinnati Reds – In a bad NL they put up a lot of runs… they’ll get Junior back at some point, and it’s not like they’re pitching is going to be any worse than the Phillies.
St. Louis Cardinals – Not as good as we all thought though.
Houston Astros – I’m torn on this team. I didn’t think they were very good last year and I don’t think they’re that good this year. But they do have pitching, and in the NL that might be enough. If they get Clemens back, do they become the favorites? They need another bat.
Milwaukee Brewers – The Reds hot start has hurt them… this team will be around, just not sure if they’ll be around the Wild Card race in September.
Chicago Cubs – If Derrek Lee didn’t get hurt… thought who doesn’t love a good Kerry Wood dominates the minors story? And why do we read two every year?
Pittsburgh Pirates – Apparently their pitching isn’t as good as everyone thought and only Jason Bay is sort of ‘scary’ in that line up. Bad team.
Colorado Rockies – They were the best team in the NL West the last two months of the year remember. I’m rooting for them.
Arizona Diamonbacks – Apparently their pitching is better than everyone thought… I haven’t seen them play a game this year.
California teams – Padres are aiight, Dodgers have turned into the Mets from 2001-2005, and half the Giant team is on social security. And this Bonds stuff doesn’t help them either.
Random Footie notes, since we’ll do the leg work in getting you ready for the 2006 World Cup next month (nice guide here):
With Wayne Rooney out for the English and Michael Owen not fully fit, they English are in deep shit. Both Rooney and Owen are the first choice for Ericksson and without Ronney things will be tough enough. Adding Owen to that list will make the slim English chances slimmer. Thought, rumor is that Ericksson is thinking about adding Theo Wolcott (the Greg Odom to Ronney’s LeBron) WHO HASN’T EVEN PLAYED FOR ARSENEL, let alone been capped. Theo looks lovely to the right doesn't he? For more on England, check this out.
Only in soccer… the police were called to investigate a food poisoning incident that left ten players on Tottenham Hotspur were left with food poisoning. Why does this matter? Spurs lost 2-1 and it ended up costing them a spot in the Champions League to arch rivals Arsenal who passed them in the standings. Let the conspiracy rumors hit these fair American shores. And why hasn’t this happened in the NFL yet? Anyway, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, and Arsenal qualified for the Champions League, Tottenham and Blackburn will be left to play in the UEFA Cup.
Good news for Catholics, Celtic destroyed field in the Scottish Premier League and Rangers didn’t even qualify for the Champions League… Hearts did though, so not all was lost for the Protestants.
Juventus hasn’t quite rapped up Serie A in Italy, but all they need is a win or tie next week to win it all (or a Milan loss or tie). Roma and Fiorentina will fight for the final Champions League spot… we fantasy Fiorentina chances.
Finally our favorite team, Watford, took a huge stop in moving up to the Premiership next year by winning 3-0 at Crystal Palace. They look likely to move on to the playoff final against either Preston or Leeds. Go Watford!