Friday, May 27, 2016

Raise the Apple

Isn't it great that even without Lucas Duda in the lineup, the Mets are still one of the best home-run hitting teams in baseball?

You have, on the same roster, Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson (BA aside), Michael Conforto, Lucas Duda and Neil Walker. Cespedes, Conforto and Walker are some of the best bats in baseball right now, and the three of them are keeping the Mets alive right now.

Well...them and the pitching, but I want to focus on the hitting, because that's pretty great too.

Cespedes is picking up exactly where he left off in 2015, hitting homers left and right and taking full advantage of his NL stay. Conforto's broke big this year, on a home run spree that spanned the end of April and beginning of May. Walker, who was primarily a defensive standout in Pittsburgh, already has 11 home runs, and is one of the offensive go-tos. Grandy's there, but his average is way down. Duda's hitting, but he's on the DL. Asdrubal Cabrera and David Wright are hitting, but less so.

Right now the Mets are neck-and-neck with the Phillies (!?!?!?!?) for second place. It's a pretty tight battle, and while it seemed a ton more obvious in April, the completeness and conciseness of the roster is making it kind of obvious as we are now.

If the Mets keep it up, they can still squeeze through to October. But that's a big IF.

Coming Tonight- Yet another White Sox custom. This one's their top-hitting outfielder.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Down, but Not Necessarily Out

Well, it happened...the Orioles are no longer in first place. However, and this is gonna be a stretch, this may be healthier for them than falling out of first later on in the season.

Look, I have no doubts that the Orioles are a full-formed, solid team, capable of finishing over .500 this season. However, the AL East has become a two horse race, between them and the Red Sox. Right now, with the Bradley streak, the Sox have more momentum, and more things going their way. This is the kind of season where the Orioles have all the capabilities to get back on top further down the stretch.

Kevin Gausman and Chris Tillman are two bright spots in the rotation that I didn't think would be so bright this year. Yes, the rest of the rotation could be improved, but Gausman's been pretty hot this month, and he's finally hit the stuff he's been promising for the past few seasons.

The lineup's been there, and, with the exception of Adam Jones, they're not disappointing so far. Machado, Crush, Wieters and Trumbo are all offensively killing it this year, and they're not the only sources of power in the lineup.

This is a pretty complete team, that just needs some retooling in the pitching staff, and one or two changes in tactics. They'll probably stay in it, barring any comebacks from any pesky teams currently in last.

Coming Tomorrow- You know how hard it is to replace someone like Daniel Murphy? Not very if you plan on hitting homers right off the bat.

Custom Card of the Day: Arenado Edition

One of those "the custom speaks for itself, and I'm kind of tired and would rather not talk about how bad the pitching is in Colorado right now" kind of posts.

Coming Tonight: The return of words that mean things! Also, speaking of pitchers, one of the ones in Baltimore.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Adrian Beltre Will Not Slow Down

This man is 37.


And he's still one of the best offensive providers in Arlington. I love that.

Adrian Beltre is one of those guys that didn't become an absolutely elite player until he was well into his thirties. Yes, the 2004 season happened, but it was a blip on the radar in between a mess of 'good enough' seasons. Cut to 2010, where the guy's drilling holes in the Green Monster like it's his job, like it's a completely different guy. He gets on a plane to Texas, joins a World Series caliber squad that sadly loses to a ragtag team of horrible people (aka the St. Louis Cardinals).

Some would move on. Not Beltre. He's been the third baseman in Texas since 2011, nabbing MVP votes every single year of his tenure, hitting home runs and playing some impressive defensive ball, and being one of the supreme faces of the team in the departures of Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and Yu Darvish.

I have no idea how it's humanly possible for him to still be really good at 37, because he's established how non-steroid-friendly he is, and he's also one of the longest tenured major leaguers not named Alex Rodriguez or Bartolo Colon. He's also a guy who's been around long enough, and good long enough, to be a potential Hall of Famer once he retires, which has to be one or two years away at this point.

I love the fact he's still a great player, and that he's still a centerpiece for this Rangers team, because they need one if they're gonna head up the division like they've been doing.

Coming Tomorrow- One of the many power-hitting position players in Denver.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Back to Earth calm down.

Just because the rock-solid Chicago Cubs haven't had the greatest week in the world, doesn't mean that they're through being relevant. They had a tough week, mainly because they were up against some teams that are also as good as they are, like the Giants and Cardinals. Just because they lost some games to good teams doesn't mean that they are not, themselves, a good team. It means they're HUMAN!

Jason Heyward had a slight injury incident he's coming back from, and Jorge Soler certainly covered for him. Kyle Hendricks had a bad start- he's young, and he's learning, and he's working on it. There aren't a ton of internal problems that are going to stop the Cubs from achieving success. They just had a crap week. It happens.

I mean, it happens to people who aren't Ben Zobrist. The Cubs may be slowing down a tad, but he's still hot as hell. Picking up exactly where he left off last year in Kansas City, Zobrist has a high average, is hitting like crazy, and is still a pretty nice defensive second baseman, certainly a step up from Starlin Castro. The infield, as per usual, is impressing in Chicago, and Zobrist just makes it all even more impressive.

Look, if Rizzo, Bryant AND Zobrist are all playing well...this whole drought thing might not be a huge problem.

Coming Tonight- He's been around since 1998, and he's still one of the best position players in baseball. That's pretty impressive.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Why Can't the Tigers Succeed?

This is the second year in a row that the Detroit Tigers, with a powerful lineup and impressive rotation, can't manage to drum up enough wins to stay afloat. And this upsets me greatly.

the Tigers currently have ALL OF THE FOLLOWING hitters, who are all playing pretty damned well: Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Victor Martinez, Nick Castellanos, J.D. Martinez, the return of Cameron Maybin. All of those guys have positive batting averages, and are doing their best work for the Tigers. Only Jose Iglesias, Anthony Gose and Justin Upton are underwhelming.

The pitching seems to be spoiling it for them. Other than Jordan Zimmermann, who, DTD-status notwithstanding, is doing pretty well for himself, the pitchers in Detroit was doing pretty subpar work. Lots of +5 ERAs and -.500 wins percentages around, including respectable pitchers like Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez. Even a still-really-good K-Rod can't save a subpar starting rotation.

And it's very sad, because this is a strong team who made it to the World Series 4 years ago on a team that was through-and-through terrifying. The Tigers are capable of a great deal, and Brad Ausmus has the right idea in terms of management (even after succeeding Jim Leyland). I just wish they could get this team off the ground, even in a division as tough as the AL Central, where literally everyone except the Twins are doing pretty damned well.

Nick Castellanos is leading the AL in Batting Average. And he should probably work toward being known for a lot more than that in 2016.

Coming Tomorrow- The Cubs are slowly returning to normal, and here's one of the few infielders that is still doing pretty awesome.

To Be Like Maik (or Not To Be Like Maik)

Let me tell you, it's pretty interesting living in Philly this year, with all that's going on with the big ol' sports team right now. You have a ton of people going in with the whole 'we're gonna lost 100 games' mentality this season, because of how things went in 2015. And somehow...we're 2nd in the NL East, ahead of the Mets, and the youth movement that wasn't supposed to kick in for another 5 years is propelling us back to the top.

So, people have this sort of weird optimism. It's very hard to explain. Yeah, they're not going to games, as you can plainly see, but they have this faith that they'll find a way to win. For the first time since the early part of the decade, I'm seeing Phillies jerseys out in town. The fan base is coming back in big numbers. I don't think any of them are wearing Herreras or Nolas or Francos yet, because we all thought they'd be gone by September, so stocking up on their merch felt a slight bit counterproductive. It's mostly Utleys, Howards and Halladays still, but the fans are still coming back, and the hope is returning.

In Philly, the hip new hashtag is #BeLikeMaik, which is, of course, referring to hip, fun new third baseman Maikel Franco, who debuted last season, and after some DL time, was playing some stellar baseball by September, and, while not at the Odubel Herrera levels of killing it, he's still doing pretty damn well, and capturing the spirit of the fan base, which is kind of a good thing in someplace like Philly where the fan base is dying (again).

Once again, I have no idea if the Phillies are going to STAY this amazing, or if this is all gonna die in a month or so, but whatever keeps giving the fans hope, I want it to keep happening. This is good news for a lot of people who thought we were dead in the water. It's also good news for me that I at least have my hometown team to root for while my college-town team is doing horribly right now (and it's NOT Girardi's fault!)

Keep on rocking, Phils. Keep being like Maik.

Coming Tonight- Third baseman for a middling AL Central team who's figured out how to keep an incredibly high batting average.