2007 MLB Mid-Season AnalysisWith most of the teams in Major League Baseball having played about 70 games of their seasons, it seems like a good time to look back at the pre-season predictions of many an analyst and laugh, heartily, at their mistakes. Yes, myself included.
Best team in the AL: Proud to say that, right now, it's The Red Sox. The rotation has been outstanding, the offense has been good if not record-setting, and they have handled most opponents pretty easily. The 45-25 (.643) record has them atop the Majors, though only two ahead of the Angels in the loss column. And Curt Schilling's sudden trip to the MRI Machine notwithstanding, they still have the best team to stay atop the league through October. As long as the injury bug that demolished them next year stays away, they should be fine. Look for a Repeat of 1986 (in more ways than one...) with a Red Sox / Angels ALCS matchup.
Best team in the NL: The numbers say it's San Diego, followed closely by Milwaukee (once again, Damn you Vinny...) and then the Dodgers, D-Backs and Mets. How about the NL West actually turning competetive this season? Remember a couple years ago when we were legitimately stunned at the prospects of a team making the playoffs with a sub-.500 record? Now, the division has four teams above the break-even line, with only the free-spending Giants in bad shape (Maybe Barry's head is weighing them down...). But of those five teams, I still feel most confident about the Mets being the last one standing in October. The Padres/Mets NLCS should be outstanding - Peavy & Young against (presumably) Pedro & Glavine - but I cannot shake this feeling that the Mets need to add one more arm to push them over the top. Mark Buerhle, anyone?
What to watch for in the second half: Aside from the standard pennant races and record chases, I always look for the "Second Half Explosion" - some team that comes from relative obscurity to push for a wild card spot. A team that, if nothing else, inspires their fan base for next year and helps to sell a couple hundred more season ticket packages in '08. There are two teams I can see legitmately pulling this off in the second-half of 2007: Florida & Seattle. They come from completely opposite ends of the spectrum - Seattle overspent on mediocre bats and overvalued pitching for the past two offseasons and is just now seeing any type of return on their investments, while Florida has dedicated themselves to proving that a team can spend less than A-Rod & Manny make combined in a season and still compete for the playoffs. Seattle is currently 3 games over .500, but 7.5 back in the division and 4.5 in the Wild Card. Florida is 4-games under .500, but only 5.5 back in the division and 7 in the Wild Card (I know, none of this makes any sense). Both of these teams could make serious pushes to get into the playoffs, even if neither is a legitmate threat to the top teams in their league.
AL MVP: A-Rod if the Yankees win the Wild Card, otherwise it's a three man race between Magglio Ordonez, Travis Hafner and Kevin Youkilis. And you have no idea how big the smile on my face is that Youk even gets mentioned in that conversation.
NL MVP: Prince Fielder has done nothing to make me think that he shouldn't have this award all but sewn up by about Mid-August, but then again, he's got a couple teammates that have helped him out along the way. Albert Pujols can never be counted out, and if the Phillies come on strong as the season progresses, Ryan Howard will most likely have put up good enough numbers to be considered for a repeat win.
AL Cy Young: Before the season started, I was convinced that Roy Halladay, Johan Santana & Curt Schilling would be the top three names on this ballot, hands down. Well, Santana is still up there, but it's Josh Beckett representing the Red Sox, along with John Lackey and Dan Haren.
NL Cy Young: Jake Peavy. End of discussion.
I'd love to comment on possible rookies of the year in both leagues, but the ROY rules about games played are fairly confusing. I will say this - Boston has three names that could qualify for this award (Dice-K, Okajima and Pedroia), meaning that there's a chance none of them gets it as they split the New England writers' votes. In the NL, Hunter Pence & JJ Hardy (if they qualify) have to bear at or near the top of the list. I'm sure there's more I'm missing, but I'll stick with them for now.
And, since this is still technically a blog, I'm going to pass along a few links for you to enjoy. Most of them have already been published either at Deadspin or Danshanoff.com, but since not all of you read those sites, allow me to direct you their way:
- A FANTASTIC interview with Harold Reynolds, formerly of ESPN.
- Hmmm... maybe I won't become a full-blown Pirates fan just yet...
- Your professional wrestling update for 2007... with business-side coverage.
- This made me laugh for a solid 10 minutes - The 2007 Lead Glove Awards.
- Maybe Manny should use this more often - might get him off the previous list.
- Some talk about this video spoof on local Pittsburgh Radio - apparantely, it was pretty funny. (NOTE: If you haven't seen the final Soprano's yet, you may want to skip this. Not because it will spoil anything for you, but it just won't make any sort of sense)
- Speaking of Kevin Youkilis... (As always, the comments make this 30x funnier)
A new section of this blog that I'll be running when and if I remember it... it's Today's Trade Rumor that I'm starting just to see how far it gets!
There's a lot of talk in both the NBA & MLB, as both leagues approach their most intenst trading season. So here's the deal I'm proposing, just to see how far along it gets before someone shoots it down:
Boston Celtics get Shawn Marion from Phoenix
Phoenix Suns get Gerald Green, the #5 overall pick, and Theo Ratliff's contract.
Celtics end up with a stellar defensive player, 3/4 type who can play alongside Al Jefferson giving them one of the best foward tandems in the league, and they have another legitimate scoring threat. Phoenix gets much needed cap relief, bench depth in Green while he develops into what veryone thinks he can be (i.e. the next T-Mac) and with the #5 pick, someone along the lines of an Al Horford / Joakim Noah type to make into the #6 or 7 man on the depth charts. Both teams are competetive in '07-'08, with the Suns still having a great shot to win the West and the C's suddenly becoming a Top-5 team in the putrid East.
Since I don't have access to player salary information, and the firewall where I'm posting from blocks out ESPN's NBA Trade Machine, I can't be sure the numbers work here. But I am certain that something along these lines could get done, and maybe soon.
And before I go, one parting thought to ponder as you're wasting your Wednesday in a cubicle/office, reading random meaningless blogs instead of attending to actual "work" (much like I do)...
Has anyone ever seen Elijah Dukes and Pac-Man Jones in the same place at the same time?