Baseball Thoughts

Since we watched both the Sox/Tigers and Phillies/Cubs tilts on TV last night, I thought it might be a good day to run down some random baseball thoughts… so here… we… goooooooooooo… (I promise, tomorrow, final Big Ten preview if anyone even cares).

The Boston Red Sox – Hahahahahahaha! That was great. Don’t you love how America wants the Yankees to beat them again? Remember when the Yankees were public enemy #1? Isn’t it amazing how no one likes the BoSox any more? I love it… just so they can ‘whine’ about it all over again. How the Yankees ‘always beat them’ (which always gets me, the Yankees own the ENTIRE AMERICAN LEAGUE and have since 1920! You don’t win 26 World Series and 39 pennants in an 85 year period with out beating the crap out of everyone in your league. Seriously Red Sox fans, get over yourselves). I still firmly believe they should stop selling those prewash/wore Boston hats to white males under the age of 35… and just asking but as anyone ever seen a black male wear a Red Sox hat?

Chase UtleyThe Best Second Baseman in Baseball. There I said it. And it feels good. How can you not love Chase? Plays hard, good player, good fantasy player, girls think he’s cute… just an all around star. Here’s to you Chase, Mr. Best Second Baseman in baseball.

The Royals Chase of Giving Up 1,000 Runs – Our favorite subplot of the 2006 season has been the Royals quest of giving up 1,000 runs, as we predicted back in March. Right now they’ve given up 769 runs, so that means they need to give up 231 runs over the next 34 games… that’s only 6.79 runs a game! Considering they’re giving up an average of 6 runs a game thus far, what are a few more runs here or there? The 1996 Tigers were the last team to give up 1,000 runs in a season (they gave up a mind boggling 1,103 runs that year); though there were a few Texas teams that made a run in a few years back.

The NL Wild Card Race – What looked like what was going to be the cluster effs of cluster effs, appears to becoming a three team race. The Red currently lead the Padres and Phillies by a game and game and half respectively, and it doesn’t seem like anyone else is going to join this race. In all likelihood, this is going to be a two team race between the Reds and Phillies. The Padres are going to struggle to win the wild card out of the NL West which every team in the division able to say “We’re in the race” (the Dodgers and Rockies are separated by only 6.5 games). Since those five teams are going to beat up on each other, I wouldn’t count on the Wild Card coming out of that division.

So Phillies or Reds? The Phillies have been playing some really good baseball since they traded David Bell and Bobby Aberu. And it wasn’t because they dumped Aberu, au contre my friends, the reason behind the Phillies ‘comeback’ was Pat Burrell being benched. Burrell is your classic, nice numbers, horrible baseball player (Say Hello to Raul Mondesi!). But with him on the bench, the Phillies got guys who could actually play out on the field, and lo and behold, they’re back in the Wild Card race. And you couldn’t ask for an easier schedule. The Phillies 36 of the their final 39 games are against teams with losing records (and yeah, that doesn’t mean much in the NL, it does mean something).

The Reds meanwhile still have problems in their bullpen and their starting pitching has dried up a bit. But they still score a boatload of runs and have given the people of southern Ohio something to cheer about this year. But an upcoming west coast trip and combined with a some what difficult September schedule, this looks to be the Phillies year to FINALLY win the Wild Card.

The White Sox Starting PitchingAs we noted back a month ago, the Sox starting pitching has gone south after a nice first two months. It’s now at the point were pretty much every starter has an ERA that’s a full run higher than it was last year.


ERA since 6/1/06

ERA since 7/1/06

Aug. ERA (though 8/23)

Jose Contreras




Mark Buehrle




Freddy Garcia




Jon Garland




Javier Vazquez




Starters Totals




The Sox starters have been better in August, thanks mainly to constancy from Garland, Buehrle pitching a little better, and Vazquez not sucking as much. But the Sox starters are not getting the job done, as the above proves. I’m not sure where this team would be without Jermaine Dye.

American League MVP Race – Speaking of Dye, let’s take a quick look at the AL MVP race. Seems to me that the media is going to choose between Jeter and Ortiz. But that’s unfair, since the MVP in the American league is either Joe Mauer or Jermaine Dye at the moment… and Vlad Guerrero in the hole. (We’re excluding Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner from the discussion since they play on teams that won’t be making the playoffs, and yeah, we know Ortiz’s team won’t be playing in October either).

Let’s get this out of the way first, Ortiz should not be the MVP. It’s that simple. Yes, the guy gets huge hits at time. Yeah, he leads the AL in home runs and RBIs at the moment… but he’s a DH which means he brings NOTHING to the team as a defensive player, and considering that the rest of the competition in this MVP race are either average to above average hitters, I can’t see Ortiz winning. Plus he’s not even the best player on his team and should probably thank Manny Ramirez every day for hitting behind him.

That leaves us Jeter, Dye, Mauer, and we’ll throw Vlad in there just in case the Angels do pull out the AL West. Vlad’s carried the Angels this year, but he needs God’s Soldiers to make the playoffs to have a realistic chance at being named MVP. Another amazing year from probably the most jaw dropping baseball player we’ve seen in the last 25 years.

Mauer probably doesn’t have the power numbers that voters are going to be looking for. Sure he’s hitting .360 and in the top ten in OPS and player catcher, easily the most demanding position in baseball, but voters are going to see those low home run and RBI totals look else where.

So that leaves Jeter and Dye. Dye isn’t ‘on the radar’ at the moment, but we’re about a week away from the “Hey, Maybe Jermaine Dye Should be the AL MVP” thought from Buster, then Stark’s column, etc… he’s in the MVP race. Jeter’s having one of his best seasons in his career, Dye is having a career year. Surprisingly, the numbers where you would expect Jeter to dominate over Dye (batting average, runs, and hits) are much closer that you’d expect. Dye is wiping the floor when it comes to power numbers, and the only two areas were Jeter ‘owns’ Dye is on-base percentage and steals (and to a degree hits). Everything else is either close or in favor of Dye. Check it out here.

If I had to choose right now, between the two I’d go with Jeter. But Dye is right on Jeter’s heals. It will be interesting if Dye can keep up his play over the past two months for another six weeks. If he does, I bet he wins the AL MVP.

Finally Random White Sox Thoughts - Podsednik, aside from the Miracle In Game Two, has been worthless since June of 2005… Considering that the Sox will need at least a left fielder, maybe a second baseman, and probably a right fielder next year, Garcia is expendable this winter since McCarthy is waiting in the wings (and a lot cheaper too). Buerhle's value is at an all time low. Moving him now would be silly. I wouldn't move Contreras and moving Garland would be tough because of that no trade clause… It looks like the Tigers will have held off the Sox and Twins charge. After today they've got the Tribe and then go to New York. Then their schedule eases up on them - Twins have four left with the Tigers and the Sox only three after today. The Tigers are 11-11 so far in August and had been playing .670 baseball before this month, I'd say they've "come down" to Earth a bit. But what’s been amazing is they're still getting insane pitching from guys like Nate Robertson and to a degree Kenny Rogers (I exclude Verlander and Bonderman because I think they really might be just this good). Miner's pitched much worse after a nice start, but the fact that Nate Robertson has an ERA under 4.00 is mind boggling – and annoying… If the Sox make the playoffs, I think their pitching will be fine. But it's going to be a dog fight. It’s going to be the Sox and Twins for the Wild Card. The Red Sox are dead meat. Anyway, advantage Sox because they have a better line up and deeper pitching at the moment, but you... never... know...

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