Friday, August 18, 2017

End it Like Beckham

...So maaaayyyybe I was wrong not to include Tim Beckham on my list of trade deadline deals. Because while this seemed inconsequential at first, giving another infielder to a fourth place team with next-to-no pitching, Tim Beckham has become the sole reason why the Orioles are still in the conversation. In his first few weeks as an Oriole, he's been batting .485 with 5 home runs and 12 RBI. Most players who've been on the team since April would kill for those numbers, and a suddenly-hot Manny Machado is beginning to get there himself.

Don't get me wrong, this is still a middle of the road team. The Yankees and Red Sox are still strong-holding the division. The Rays even have a shot, now bobbing back and forth between fourth and third. The O's, sad to say, don't have the pitching, or the sufficient roster depth, for the postseason, and are going to have to settle for the middle of the decision. But Beckham's exploits have extended the team's shelf life by another month. With out him, people would have counted the Orioles out by now.

It's definitely good for the team, seeing as their other high-profile acquisition, Jeremy Hellickson, is essentially just doing what he was doing for the Phillies (strikeouts with little-to-no run support and bloated ERA), just in an orange uniform. There's been injuries, and a ton of inadequacy from the guys putting the team on top in 2016 (looking at you, Trumbo). But with Jonathan Schoop, Trey Mancini and Adam Jones absolutely killing it alongside Beckham, there's a smidge of hope baked into the worry.

Again, not thinking much of this O's team, but it'd be nice to see a late push for the wild card.

Coming Tomorrow- Pitcher for a second place team that may seriously need to work in order to make the Wild Card themselves.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Blue Yu

Hideo Nomo. Kazuhisa Ishii. Hiroki Kuroda. and now Yu Darvish. Where those three Japanese pitchers failed, Darvish is gonna succeed...he might be the first Japanese pitcher to get the Dodgers a World Series ring.

As much as I love Nomo, and as much as I dug Kuroda's efforts as a Yankee, Yu Darvish has been lights out this season, in Arlington AND in LA, and he's been mowing down batters in an effort to, essentially, cover for an injured Clayton Kershaw, while simultaneously joining Alex Wood, Rich Hill, Brandon McCarthy and Kenta Maeda as part of the most furious pitching rotation in baseball. Even Hyun-Jin Ryu, who's been less than perfect recently, has been posting good enough numbers covering for McCarthy.

Literally everything is working for the Dodgers right now. The bullpen. The rotation. The rookies they're bringing in off the bench. The lineup. Weird part is that there have been a ton of injuries, and the team they're working with now isn't the team they thought they'd be competing with, especially without Adrian Gonzalez and Andrew Toles (yeah, and Kershaw), and they're still absolutely amazing.

The only sad part is that I'm not sure whether this all-out mastery of the game is going to amount to a World Series win. Last year we had the absolute best team win the whole thing, but that almost never happens, and even last year it was a stroke of luck that the Cubs managed to win that Series after the Indians had that 3-1 lead.

I hope for the best, because this team would make an amazing World Series champion...but I could also say that about 3 or 4 other teams. It's gonna get tough, and I'm hoping this momentum can keep going.

Coming Tomorrow- With the Rays, he was...solid. Not amazing, but pretty good. He lands in Baltimore, and he immediately becomes the very person that Tampa drafted 1st overall.

Adrian Beltre Deserves Better

Adrian Beltre's been speaking out recently, because he's been getting sick of the Rangers' antics and wants to play for a competitive team again, like...well, the 2016 Rangers. Beltre has every right to complain- he's one of the best hitters in the game, he just notched his 3000th hit, and he's relatively close to getting to his 500th home run (only 42 dingers to go, and for Beltre that's sort of within reach). He's also never won a World Series ring.

There's a ton of similarities to Carlos Beltran last season, the desire to ditch momentum and atmosphere in order to compete. Beltran was doing fantastic in the Bronx, but wanted a postseason run more than he wanted to stick with his newfound friends. Said postseason run was ultimately unsuccessful, but he's currently on a team that could be several times more successful than the 2016 Rangers ever were.

The fact that Beltran got out and might be getting a shot at a ring, and Beltre, who's arguably been the more consistent player, doesn't get that chance, is kind of sad. He's still wrapped up for another year in Arlington, and unless the youth movement decides to behave and not strikeout 100 times each next year, he might be in for more of the same.

The Rangers aren't a bad team, but the momentum they were trying to build last year is gone. Joey Gallo and Rougned Odor are strikeout-heavy home run machines, which are good for runs but aren't exactly making them well-rounded players. Delino DeShields and Nomar Mazara are promising, and Elvis Andrus has become the undisputed face of the team, but...for a team that had come close several times in the last few years, the future seems pretty bleak.

Honestly, a ring will basically be a cherry on top of a fantastic career, but I kinda want it for Adrian, because he's been frustrated as hell recently.

Coming Tonight: One of Beltre's former teammates, now playing for the best team in baseball.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

What Now?: Cubs Edition

The Chicago Cubs have spent the entire season 'not being good enough'. It hurts them that they won the World Series last year, but it hurts even more that their current team, especially compared to the 2016 squad is...okay. Not earthshattering, just...pretty good, and in first.

The Cubs teams of the last two years were phenomenal, destructive forces that took the league by storm and carried the season. This team is pretty good, and is a lot more flawed than the last two, even if they're still winning games. The pitching staff is less polished, there's less roster depth, and people are having good, not phenomenal seasons.

In the NL Central, that's enough right now. The Cardinals have crept up like crazy, and are doing their usual amount of threatening for the title (which, like usual, probably won't amount in a title or anything), and the Brewers and Pirates aren't out of the conversation yet either. The division's not locked in like it was last season, and the Cubs will need to defend themselves from oncoming enemies. With Willson Contreras injured and newcomers Justin Wilson and Alex Avila not impressing, they're gonna need to work extra hard to stay on top.

Even worse, their postseason rivals will include the Dodgers, who are insane this year, and the Nationals, who have an equally big lead over their division rivals. So the Cubs, if they win the division, will either have to play LA or Washington, and either one will be incredibly difficult if they don't catch fire like hell in the next few months. They're gonna have to rely on luck, rather than talent, if they want another ring.

Coming Tomorrow- Surefire Hall of Fame, and I don't think he's done quite yet, even if his team pretty much is.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Twins are Back!

The Royals-Twins thing has been pretty fierce over the last month. At one point the Royals were fiercely flinging themselves forward, hoping to take a stab at the Indians...and that's sort of backfired in the last week or so, as they're back in third, as the Twins have had an incredible week, and have managed to reclaim relevance again.

It's kind of odd, as they're basically the exact same team as before the incline, just without Brandon Kintzler and with without Jaime Garcia. In all theory, they should still be on the decline, but the bats have lit up, Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier have returned to dominance, and team that shouldn't have been a great one this year is slowly coming back.

Joe Mauer is a great story, because a lot of people counted him out after he stopped catching, and he's still been hanging on, becoming a great bat at first, and still retaining the leadership position he'd inherited once everybody left around the end of the 2000s. People trust Joe Mauer, because he's won an MVP, he's brought the team back from the depths, and he's still there, doing a pretty nice job. He's not a Hall of Famer, not anymore, but the Twins are probably gonna reserve some part of Target Field for him once he retires.

In terms of this Twins team, I'm not sure if they have it, not only in order to take down the Indians, but even to enter into the ever-shifting AL Wild Card race. Still, they're a sneaky little favorite, and I'd love to see them make a run at it.

Coming Tonight: A lot of people were asking where the Chicago Cubs, the ones that one the World Series, have been earlier this season. Well, they're showing up. This rookie's been helping.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Rendon Alone

The story so far: two days ago, Bryce Harper wound up on the 10 day DL.This had made people very angry and has widely been regarded as a bad move.

The Nationals have had the insane upswing of momentum since the top of the season, and have held onto the NL East with an iron fist, partially due to the return of Bryce Harper to the throne. Thanks to his injury...actually, I was gonna do a 'things have gone downhill', but this isn't a team that completely revolves around one player. Even with Harper gone, Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy, Max Scherzer, Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg are still playing some phenomenal baseball. This is the furthest thing from a one-horse team.

Last season, Max Scherzer won the Cy Young by winning 20 games, getting 285 strikeouts and finishing with a 3.00 ERA. Right now, he's on track to do even better, with a 2.25 ERA, 12 wins, and 220 strikeouts. With a month and a half left in the season, he could definitely top that, but even if he doesn't, there's still an insane Gio Gonzalez performance and a consistently-dominant Strasburg performance that will supplant it. I'm thinking this is another Cy Young year for Scherzer (the injury to Kershaw may have lessened his chances a bit), and he's showing no sign of slowing down.

Even more importantly, with the team's unofficial leader on the DL, Anthony Rendon is taking up the mantle and arguably playing better baseball than Harper did, with a higher WAR, and some better defensive abilities. If (god forbid) Harper doesn't get another MVP this year, Rendon could be a sleeper favorite.

The Nats are going into the last stretch of the season as the heavy favorites in terms of teams not named 'The Dodgers', and I'd love to see them get at least one playoff series win. They've been at this for years, and they deserve something to show for it, especially with the wide range of excellent performances this year.

Coming Tomorrow- That Twins player I thought I was supposed to post tonight.

Rays in the Middle (Once Again)

The Tampa Bay Rays, this decade, have been one of the sneakiest teams to be inconsequential in the playoffs.

Every year they'll just murk around, swapping between second and third and taking some games from the first place team (and/or the Yankees), and then when it actually comes time for someone to move onto the playoffs, they'll back away, as if their work has been done.

This year is no different. They've spent most of the year chasing the Yankees and pounding them whenever the Red Sox need to take a lead. They're also responsible for keeping the Orioles down for two months when they needed to be taken out of the conversation.

This year the Rays are actually pretty nice, with a solid core of hitters, a hot Lucas Duda, and Chris Archer still throwing smoke. This is still a really nice team, but once again the lack of pitching depth, and a few holes and slumps in major positions, is keeping them from making a serious jump on the race. But they can keep other teams from making the jump as well, which is essentially what they've been doing, getting some wins at third and jumping to second whenever the Yanks-Sox rivalry needs to heat up.

Mallex Smith, acquired from the way of Seattle, has been fantastic this year, stealing bases and hitting small stuff. He fits in well with the Kiermaiers of the team.

Hopefully this Rays team won't cause too much damage to the competitors...especially the Yankees..

Coming Tonight: Mr. Minnesota.