It was the kind of thing where I'd go to my local Target every week, to get a case of water and kitchen stuff...and then, on a whim, I'd check the card aisle for Heritage High #...and there'd be nothing there. This was three or four weeks in a row. So today, I'm there, and I'm expecting nothing...and FINALLY there's a bunch of blasters of the stuff hanging around. Never there when ya need 'em.
This is a nice enough set for me, because I was never a fan of Allen & Ginter, so this is my bridge from Stadium Club/Archives to Update Series, and the past few years it's been a nice little pick-me-up, even if it is primarily static, posed shots.
8 packs, 9 cards per pack. Looking for Judges and Bellingers because I'm a chump.
666- Kyle Freeland. Nice start getting the Rockies' fireballer, though the card number is pretty eerie.
664- Edwin Encarnacion. Glad he knew when to jump ship and end up on a likable, and still awesome team.
662- Martin Maldonado. Imagine how his season would have gone if he's stayed in Milwaukee
547- Dan Straily, the only Miami starter that stayed healthy
718- Taijuan Walker. SHORT PRINT, and a solid third-starter in Arizona.
621- Tyson Ross. I feel like he's done being productive.
687- Adam Ottavino
683- Brad Peacock. Glad he finally made it out of the bullpen.
638- Jason Grilli. The first two words of Jason's writeup on the back is what I'd like to see happen to him this year: "Jason retired".
606- Ian Kennedy. Yeah, his stuff's worn off too.
651- Jeff Hoffman. Another impressive Rockies pitcher.
554- Brandon Kintzler. Now with the Nationals, no longer closing games.
560- Stephen Cardullo
541- Yangervis Solarte. 'HE made the High Number set?'
590- Travis D'Arnaud, the glass catcher. He and Devon Mesoraco should get drinks...just maybe get plastic pitchers...
591- Alex Meyer
546- James Paxton, who FINALLY had a great season this year.
588- Daniel Robertson
510- Yovani Gallardo. Another guy who should have stayed in Milwaukee.
515- Matt Adams. Always liked him. Glad he got out of St. Louis.
530- Junior Guerra. Hazier season, but still a great pitcher.
678- CODY BELLINGER. Okay, folks. I can die happy, I've got Bellinger's rookie. Good stuff.
714- Kelvin Herrera. This one's another SHORT PRINT. Also, why wasn't HE in the low number set?
563- Andrew Triggs. Man, if he would have stayed healthy..
583- Rafael Bautista.
633- David Peralta, who finally had a good year this year.
630- Mark Melancon, AKA what happens if you sign a closer to a multi-year deal.
616- Whit Merrifield, offensive savior of the Royals
504- Pierce Johnson
519- Gift Ngoepe. To be honest, the only rookie I actually wanted from this set.
648- Delino DeShields
Award Winners of Michael Fulmer
623- Edinson Volquez. I mean, at least he had that no-hitter...
536- Joe Ross
665- Trevor Plouffe, now in Tampa
513- Amir Garrett
568- Koda Glover. When healthy, a great closer. When unhealthy, making Sean Doolittle look really good.
655- Craig Breslow
584- Bruce Maxwell, who, despite an okay season, has already become a legend in Oakland, and rightfully so.
641- Ivan Nova. Will always root for him.
Now and Then of AARON JUDGE. THE GREATEST.
657- Nathan Eovaldi. Sir Not Appearing in this Season
695- Christian Vazquez, looking pretty awesome
537- Rob Zastryzny.
603- Dovydas Neverauskas
654- Teoscar Hernandez
694- RONALD TORREYES! Best Yankee Bench Player since Luis Sojo.
652- Derek Holland. Well, that didn't work too well, did it?
587- Domingo Santana, Milwaukee powerhouse
707- Steven Matz. SHORT PRINT. Hope he can come back for good.
553- Steve Pearce
601- Blake Snell
602- Alex Wood. Amazing season out of this guy.
517- Jesse Winker. Guy's got a future. Unfortunately, glancing at the Reds' outfield, not sure if it'll be in Cincinnati.
574- Colby Rasmus. Any idea as to why he left so quickly?
653- Jon Jay, who's having a great season in Chicago
647- Matt Wieters
605- Shelby Miller. Still injured.
Topps Game insert of Joe Musgrove
535- Eric Thames. The other 'GIMME GIMME' card in the set, as of April.
660- Ian Happ.
502- Mike Zunino
518- Lance Lynn, finally back to his old tricks
609- Matt Carasiti
525- Nick Hundley
558- Jesus Aguilar
507- Brandon McCarthy, who had a great season and stayed healthy for a great deal of it.
Rookie Performers of Orlando Arcia
538- Rob Segedin
559- Jorge Bonifacio
580- Hector Rondon
585- Joe Biagini
So, that's High Number. I got some good cards out of it, but I feel like this set would fulfill its purpose a bit more if it went out a bit later, and actually included later trades, instead of delivering April and May's news in September. Still, nice enough pick-up.
Saturday, September 30, 2017
Over 100 wins. A rotation with 100+ strikeouts and 10+ wins. 3 losses since August 24th. One of the best pitchers in baseball, and one of the best hitters in baseball.
I don't think ANYBODY wants to go up against the Cleveland Indians this postseason. Not only are they the team to beat, but they are the team people will have to beat in order to make for a less-obvious World Series.
It's looking like the ALDS might have to be the Indians vs. the Yankees. I know there is a chance the Twins could win, and I really don't want to jinx anything, but looking at this matchup now, I see a team that's playoff ready, and I see a team that's been fun but won't last a second in with the big guns. So I'm guessing it'll be Indians-Yankees, unless the Yanks manage to nab the AL East, which would be AMAZING, but...kinda unlikely.
If the Indians win that, which, let's face it, no matter who wins the Wild Card game, there's not a great chance they'll be able to take the Indians, they'll have to play either the Astros or Red Sox, which...can be done, but carefully.
So, if the momentum is what it is right now, the Indians are going back to the World Series. The picture IS GOING to shift, and teams are gonna get hot and cold, but right now the Indians are hotter than they've ever been, and it's going to be incredibly difficult to take them out. Which means the Astros, Red Sox, Yankees and Twins need to TRY.
Coming Tonight: One last casualty of an NL Wild Card race that was sealed since May.
Friday, September 29, 2017
Never would have thought THIS GUY would be a lights out closer again, and since we're having a shortage of bearded closers, I'm glad that it's happening.
I'm also glad that Doolittle gets a less 'ragtag' and more polished team to be closer for. I don't wanna knock the 2012/2013 A's, because I love those teams, but...this Nats team has a lineup to die for, a rotation that's legendary, and some pieces all around that could infuriate competitors down the stretch. Not a ton of people are talking about the Nats as playoff favorites, because the NL is stacked with a ton of 'will it happen' kind of things, like the Dodgers and Cubs.
But...if the Dodgers' luck runs out, and the Cubs aren't as lucky as they've been....who does that leave? The Nats...and a team they might be able to beat.
I'm putting some good money on the fact that this is the year the Nationals will win their first NLDS. It's time. They have the team, they have the numbers, they have the momentum, and they're right in the middle, right where they need to be. They could make it all the way, if the cards fall their way. They definitely have it this year, even if they don't have Adam Eaton.
Then again...I could say that last year, and I could say that next year. I just hope it's finally this year.
Coming Tonight: His team just hit 100 wins, and he's actually having a pretty great season on the mound.
Thursday, September 28, 2017
The Rays were knocked out of contention a little while ago. They didn't have the team, or the pitching, or the drive for the postseason. And yet they still have a chance to affect the outcome of the postseason. And they're affecting it by kicking the shit out of the Yankees for a night.
The whole thing is the race between Boston and the Yanks for 1st place in the division. Boston has it, Yanks want it, and if the Red Sox win one more game, or if the Yankees lose one more game, the Sox have it. The Rays just made the Sox' win even more possible by beating them tonight. So even if Kevin Kiermaier has no shot at the playoffs, he can still be one of the best defensive players in the game and screw over the other teams.
Yes, I feel bad that it's at the expense of my team, but the Rays were meant for something, and with the roster power that's been slowly building, as well as people like Alex Colome and Corey Dickerson, who the Rays may need to fight to keep, toying with contending teams may be all they can do right now. And yes, the Rays may have a chance next year if they get lucky and if they keep the core of the lineup, but...they're able to use the fact that they're not terrible to get the better of the Yankees, which is interesting.
Proves the picture's always changing, even when you think it's done.
Coming Tomorrow- A guy I'd counted out, struggling to stay healthy after a huge 2013 season...and now he's closing for one of the hottest teams in the NL.
I know that the losing streak snapped a lot of people out of the 'Dodgers have this thing in the bag' mindset, but...looking at exactly what the Dodgers are working with, even if they are gonna be likely heading into a series with the D-Backs or Rockies...they're still pretty fantastic.
They have a pretty solid lineup, with only the outfield spot cohabited by Curtis Granderson and Joc Pederson being slightly suspect. Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor are still heating up the league, Andre Ethier even came back in full form, and Austin Barnes is even a trustworthy backup catcher. There's not a lot of mass tragedy in that lineup.
Nor is there in the rotation. Yes, Darvish, Kershaw and Wood are obvious hits, but Rich Hill is having yet another unbelievable year, fixing what had ailed him for the better part of the decade. The guy is at his career apex, and the Dodgers are glad it's with them. The trio of Brandon McCarthy, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu close things out, and I'm guessing the latter is going to be phased out? Either way, it's nice to have options for starters, especially in playoff formation.
The problem is that even with this really nice roster...what if they get as unlucky as they did last month, and lose at the wrong times? It can happen to anyone at anytime, and it could happen to the Dodgers again. They're going in as the favorite in the NL, winning over 100 games and getting top seed in the league. They're going to have to figure out how to circumvent catastrophe, because they could very well make it to a World Series.
Coming Tonight: His team's not heading to the playoffs, but he had yet another great season.
Wednesday, September 27, 2017
I kinda saw this coming, but I needed to report on it anyway.
The Astros' 1st place finish had been a foregone conclusion since April, but the remaining four teams needed to stay relevant, especially with the wild card on the line. So despite the fact that none of them had a real chance of making the playoffs, three teams made significant pushes in the last month of the season to take the last wild card spot. The Mariners' failed by having the core of the roster they were trying to supplant completely deflate. The Rangers had nothing to work with, nothing to expand upon, and gained nothing.
The Angels, who added Justin Upton and Brandon Phillips via waiver deals, got the furthest, but they were never a playoff team to begin with, and...it didn't go especially well for them. They lost a ton of games, especially to Houston, and fell out of the race, leading the Astros to unopposed victory.
Not that the Angels didn't try. Justin Upton gave some nice numbers, though not as nice as his Tigers ones, Brandon Phillips added to his great 2017 season, and Garrett Richards even returned in peak form, trying to give the Angels some depth. But, even with Andrelton Simmons and Mike Trout playing really well, they couldn't stop the Angels.
It'll be interesting to see if Upton stays in LA next year, as he's been pretty mobile since leaving the Diamondbacks. But he's still a really nice player, and could help any roster he joins.
Coming Tomorrow- Came back from the dead to help the Dodgers survive and make it into October.
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Not much tonight. Cubs are probably playoff bound, I don't know how easy it's gonna come to them.
Just look at that. That's brilliant.
Coming Tomorrow- Angels outfielder. Tried to help them make the playoffs. Didn't exactly work out.
First of all:
I referred to this last time I talked about Bartolo Colon, and I figured I should give some proof. Even in the World Baseball Classic, everybody was talking about Bartolo Colon. And now that his Minnesota Twins are approaching the postseason, everybody is talking about him yet again.
Weird part is, by Bartolo Colon standards, this hasn't been the greatest year. He was dropped by the Braves halfway through for being too pathetic even for the 2017 Braves, and he was only picked up by the Twins after most of their pitching options turned sour. After a shaky start, Colon got back to his old tricks, though he's still kind of down.
Bottom line is that after Kyle Gibson, Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios, the Twins don't have many other pitching options this year, so having Colon as a 4th or 5th man is a smart little addition.
The lineup's doing well, and they're definitely building well. The only problem is that they're going to have to play the New York Yankees, a team that has swatted them in the past, and has been building momentum for the last few weeks. Plus, unlike the NL, the AL Wild Card spot isn't as much a battle between two contenders as it is a contender vs....someone who was okay enough to beat everyone else. The Twins are good, but still structurally flawed, and I can't really see them going on a tear this postseason.
Having Bartolo Colon may help, but maybe not against the Yankees next week.
Coming Tonight: Cubs outfielder, who's helping to spring them into the postseason by clobbering the team he won a ring with.
Monday, September 25, 2017
Yeah, that wasn't...remotely good.
I understand that the momentum built over time, with a ton of rookies getting hot and Aaron Nola having a huge year, but...wow. That was pretty pathetic. The pitching was problematic, the lineup was a mishmash of underperforming young farm system products and cheap free agent signing that didn't pan out (Howie Kendrick notwithstanding).
In May, they won six games. That should be the indicator that maybe the Phillies weren't all that great this year.
I don't even know if the youth is gonna be enough to fix things next season. They have four potential outfielders, and one of them is gonna have to be traded. I don't know if the GM is gonna have a conscience about trading Odubel Herrera, Aaron Altherr or Nick Williams (cuz Rhys Hoskins is definitely sticking around). The pitching is limping along, with a ton of people that would be alright in the rotation next year, but...will they waffle like they did this year?
It's an enigma, this team, and it's very hard to be a fan of theirs without descending into madness. At least the Eagles are doing well...
Coming Tomorrow- The one they affectionately refer to as Big Sexy.
In 2009, one of the best pitchers in baseball landed in the Bronx. With CC Sabathia onhand, the Yankees were determined to win as many games as possible, and to boost their pitching for the foreseeable future. With CC, the Yankees won 1 World Series, three division wins, and had one season in which he ABSOLUTELY SHOULD HAVE WON THE CY YOUNG AWARD (thanks again for that, King Felix).
And then, after 2012, CC fell off. With a few seasons of injuries, ineptitude, and just plain off-ness, we feared we had lost him, the great pitcher who had won a Cy Young in Cleveland and threw fire like nobody else. Then, after a stint in rehab in 2015, we got him back. He had figured out how to win despite his decreased velocity, and got back to winning games like a pro. He's had a fantastic 2017 season, being as dominant and powerful as he was back in the day, and matching up with Severino, Tanaka and Gray to form a pretty powerful postseason rotation.
After 2017...it's pretty likely that CC's either going to pitch somewhere else or retire. I don't believe we have room for him on the payroll, and as he'll be 38 next year, I'm not sure if he'll be putting up his best numbers (Beltran notwithstanding). I'm very thankful he got to pitch for my team, and i'm glad he gave us SEVERAL seasons of unstoppable baseball. Not sure if he's a Hall of Famer, but I'll never stop collecting the guy.
Here's hoping the Yankees can do some serious damage this postseason, with CC in tow.
Coming Tonight- One last Philadelphia Phillie.
Sunday, September 24, 2017
When your team's pitching rotation has 5 guys with WAR higher than 2.5, you know you're doing something really right, especially heading towards the postseason.
That's actually pretty incredible. No matter who they start in the Wild Card game, and even in the postseason, their fifth guy will still be miles ahead of most other fifth guys. Plus, as of...tonight, they have home field advantage in the Wild Card game, so they have chase field, and...I'm guessing they'll probably have Zack Greinke or Robbie Ray go against the opposing offense.
The lineup has rebounded from some injuries- obviously J.D. Martinez and his 43-homer-season is filling in nicely for Yasmany Tomas, and Ketel Marte is a great fill-in for Chris Owings at short. The bench has been nice, with Daniel Descalso and Adam Rosales supplying great defense, and Jeremy Hazelbaker...doing the thing he does where he spontaneously starts hitting like hell when nobody expects him to.
This is a team that could do some dangerous things in the postseason. Looks like if they make it by the Rockies, they'll be facing the Dodgers, and while they've gained momentum over the past few weeks, it's looking more and more like LA-Arizona would be a pretty evenly-matched playoff matchup. I'm not sure if the D-Backs will be able to combat them, but...damn, it'd be pretty awesome if they did.
Coming Tomorrow- In his last month of Yankees baseball (unless he re-signs), he's still making his case as one of the last great win-centric pitchers clear.
The closest competitor to the Minnesota Twins for the 2nd Wild Card spot is the Texas Rangers, 4.5 games behind them.
...it's not gonna happen, but...while we're here...they're not terribly good this year, aren't they?
The main crux of the team relies on home runs and strikeouts, rather than hits. Elvis Andrus and Adrian Beltre are trying to keep this at the forefront, and Delino DeShields is finally proving himself, but...people like Mike Napoli, Rougned Odor and rookie Willie Calhoun are striking out too many times for their own good.
The pitching...isn't great. Aside from ace Cole Hamels and good-enough Andrew Cashner, there's some middling performances and questionable promotions that are making the Rangers end the season on a less than favorable note. Hell, even when Darvish was there the picture was kind of muddied, with a less-than-favorable Tyson Ross performance trying to flesh out. It's just...not been pretty, and it's even worse that they seem to have more of a shot than the Angels, who actually made an effort to win games down the stretch.
I don't see the Rangers making the postseason, but...that's probably the best scenario.
Coming Tonight: Pitcher for a team inches from the postseason, but uncertain for success.
Saturday, September 23, 2017
The story so far: earlier this year, Starling Marte was exposed as a user of human growth hormones. This had made people very angry and has widely been regarded as a bad move.
Before this season, Starling Marte was creeping up my list of likable players, as he was lifting Pittsburgh single-handedly last year, and he'd been slowly growing in power. However, this season his HGH usage was made public, and...as I do with most HGH users, I didn't think too kindly of him.
I honestly think that only two players have ever rebounded from HGH usage in my mind- Andy Pettitte and Carlos Ruiz. Pettitte because he legitimately used them to rebound from an injury, and Chooch because...he's Chooch. I can't stay mad at Chooch.
But Marte was different, because I had seen him at PNC Park, but...I didn't really have too much attachment to him, good as he was. I do think that his admission that it was wrong, and his desire to never be painted in that light again proves that his heart is definitely in the game, and...I'm gonna give him a small chance. Like Dee Gordon.
Sadly, other than that, there wasn't a ton to talk about in Pittsburgh as far as baseball is concerned this year. Pens won another cup, hooray for that, Steelers are great again, that's awesome. But it looks like the Pirates are back to being effete and ineffective, which is kinda sad. Hopefully their 2018 can be a little better.
Coming Tomorrow- Rookie outfielder for a team that somehow still thinks they have a chance.
Look at that face.
LOOK AT IT.
Does that look like someone who wishes he wasn't traded for Chris Sale, and thereby still on the Red Sox, right now?
The Sox...were atrocious this year. They had a very small core, a ton of young, untested players who couldn't hit, a TON of pitchers that weren't ready, and a few players that were so good they got to leave in July. This team is a mess, as the youth isn't working as well as they would have liked, and there's not a ton in place to start next season. I'm not even sure that Rick Renteria's gonna stay around, as he managed to be even worse than Robin V, and that's saying something.
Yoan Moncada...did alright. He got injured too much, he struck out too much...he's beginning to get there. I'm a bit worried that he's never gonna reach the level that all the prospectors were talking about, but...he's okay.
If the Sox stick with the Abreu-Garcia combo, and hopefully have substantial talent to build around them, they'll be fine, but that might not be for a while, and they may lose both players before then. So it's very tricky, which is, sadly, the life of a White Sox fan.
Coming Tonight: He juiced. He sat. He came back smarter. And that's all that I really care about.
Friday, September 22, 2017
Topps NOW has been going on for two years now, and I'd lacked a substantial reason to actually get any, mainly due to the price tag per-card, and the fact that it was trying to make the flagship set relatively pointless.
But...recently I saw an offer I couldn't pass up.
I forget if I've been vocal about it on the blog, but Players Weekend was, in my opinion, a great idea this year, as it encouraged self-expression, deviation from the norm, and creativity. Everybody wore different uniforms and wore nicknames on their backs. As a Yankees fan, I feel like I'm supposed to hate this for some reason, as this is a team based on tradition and sameness, but...there was something really cool about it to me.
There was a set of Players Weekend cards for each team, and seeing as this Yankees team is one of the more fun teams I've had the privilege of rooting for, I kind of had to...
So this is what I got. A five-card Players Weekend set. Topped off with a Judge card. For a passable enough amount of money. Let's examine these, shall we?
This was during Judge's well-reported slump, and he still managed to do alright here, wearing his 'ALL RISE' nickname on his back. As obligatory cards go, this one's nice enough. Also, design wise, you could do a ton worse than what Topps NOW is doing this year.
Second of all, this card does the players weekend unis a bit more justice while still allowing for nickname recognition. Also, it's nice that Gary Sanchez actually had a relatively nice week going when this was taken. Sanchez is juuuuust getting back to his old tricks from 2016, and we're all for it.
I should probably point out that I had no idea that 'Pickles' was Gray's nickname, and that's actually kind of hilarious. He's intimidating as hell on the mound, but...heheh, pickles...
I don't know if I'm ever gonna get another NOW card, but...these are pretty cool,. and I'm glad I took a risk and got 'em.
...Yeah. Those poor Marlins.
Even with Giancarlo Stanton and his array of home runs, the number of amazing players like Marcell Ozuna, Christian Yelich, J.T. Realmuto, Dee Gordon and Justin Bour, and a nice performance by Jose Urena when he should have, honestly, still been in the bullpen...they still couldn't pull it together.
The rotation was very spotty, with a lot of people getting injured and not being reliable, and even the rookies not giving their all in the spotlight. There was a lot of inconsistency in that area, as well as in the bullpen. Even a few positions in the lineup let the team down, and they went through a few possible shortstops and third baseman with Martin Prado and Adeiny Hechavarra gone.
The season's basically over for them, but I think that they COULD finally be able to compete with some serious modifications to the pitching staff. If they keep the sources of power in the lineup around, and just buttress them with even more...they'll be fine.
Coming Tonight: A rookie for one of the most unlucky teams in baseball.
Thursday, September 21, 2017
Once again, the situation in the AL East has boiled down to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. Everyone else has sort of stepped back, saying 'you guys can have this one.'
Right now the Sox are ahead, and it's assumed they're gonna stay ahead for the next week or so. They have enough momentum to have the division all-but locked up, and to already start gearing for the series against the Astros. This has been a great year for them, overcoming shenanigans and all 50 injuries Dustin Pedroia's had to stay on top. The pitching has been stellar, with Drew Pomeranz and Eduardo Rodriguez stepping in to make sure Chris Sale doesn't have to be amazing alone this year. Breakout stars like Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi have been lifting the vets even further, towards the postseason.
Still, you have the Yankees creeping up from below, fighting for the Wild Card spot, but also fighting to be relevant this postseason. And it's got to be tough for the Sox, as they spent the whole year trying to establish superiority, and have to combat this crap again. The Yankees might have an equally awesome team, too, with similar strengths/weaknesses. So it might have to be only one of the two that gets the glory this postseason.
I'd obviously like the Yankees to end up advancing a bit more, but the Sox have a not-so-hateable team this year, and I'd be fine with them making a leap forward. Still...we've got a week or so left. Interesting to see how the rivalry strengthens.
Coming Tomorrow- A pitcher for a doomed-but-impressive NL East team.
Remember a few weeks ago when those Wild Card races looked impenetrable. Well, the Brewers are one away from catching the Rockies.
And it's a shame, because as amazing as the lineup has been the whole year, and as booming as the homers have been...again, it's the shortcomings of the rotation that are bringing this down. And even if we have some truly talented pitchers, like Kyle Freeland, German Marquez and Antonio Senzatela, throwing smoke for the Rockies, it doesn't mean anything if the air's thinner in Denver and all the balls end up flying out. It's very hard to overpower that inevitability.
The only pitcher who, for the second year in a row, has fought successfully against the wind change, is Jon Gray. The guy is a strikeout artist of the highest caliber, and even after missing a few months with an injury, he zoomed back, racking up wins, a low ERA, strikeouts, and a few other great things pitchers don't usually get at Coors Field. He's, once again, the ace, though there have been a ton more great pitchers here than usual, to this squad's credit.
Still, with the momentum the Brewers have had recently, and the non-Coors-Field consistency of THEIR rotation, it's right to be a bit scared if you're a Rockies fan, as the Brewers team could rack up enough wins to unseat the Rox and play the D-Backs in the wild card game. Plus, now that THEIR momentum has lessened, it's no longer a guarantee that the D-Backs will advance, so the Rockies will now be playing for a relatively even playoff game against the division rival Diamondbacks.
I'm kinda hoping the Rockies can pull this one off, though either outcome would be really cool.
Coming Tonight: One of the pitchers in a sharp-enough looking AL East squad.
Wednesday, September 20, 2017
I didn't think it was possible, but all you needed to do was pluck Justin Verlander out of Detroit, and he'd quickly become the most dominating pitcher in the AL.
Weird thing is the Astros' rotation was already fantastic, with Keuchel, McCullers, McHugh, Peacock and Morton. Throwing Verlander in makes the Astros even more of a playoff threat, as they'll be going in seeded second, set to play whoever ends up winning the AL East, be it Boston or Bronx.
Even worse, the whole team is picking up a scary amount of momentum, with not only the pitching staff, but the lineup, led by 'just-give-him-the-MVP-trophy-already' Jose Altuve, and George Springer. The whole lineup is hitting, the bench is hitting. Everybody, except maybe for Cameron Maybin, is doing a great job, as they've one their last few games and are heading into the last weeks of the season.
I want the Astros to do well, and they've done so well with the insane amount of talent this season, but...even if they are streaking, I can't bank on a team that's doing this well still surging in three or four weeks' time. It doesn't guarantee anything. I want them to do well, but I'm not sure if they will.
Still...at this point, all we can hope for is Verlander's Houston ERA to stay below 1.
Coming Tomorrow- Rockies pitcher. Long hair. Not Thor.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Okay, so the Brewers technically aren't out of it yet, as they're 2.5 games away from the Rockies, so it would take momentum by them, and some losses from Colorado, to ensure that the Brewers make the playoffs for the first time since 2011. But...either way, they still came further than they had any right to go.
I mean, I started this season thinking they'd just be the 'Eric Thames' team, like they'd win some games and such but they'd just be known for Eric Thames and his homers. Far from it. The Brewers grew some depth, in establishing Travis Wood as a leader, bringing up Orlando Arcia and Jesus Aguilar as younger pieces, while still maintaining the 'ragtag' sensibility. Eric Sogard came in and started playing beautifully. The two catchers were guys that had never really started games before, and both did really well, with the emphasis on Manny Pina, even if Stephen Vogt is phasing into his job. Heck, they were even buyers at the deadline, adding Neil Walker and Stephen Vogt and improving the quality of the bench.
The biggest surprise, though, was the rotation. Who would have thought that Zach Davies, Chase Anderson, Jimmy Nelson, Brent Suter and Brandon Woodruff, four guys that nobody had really heard of before the season, would be able to band together to make one of the most surprising young rotations of the year. Even with assists from Junior Guerra and Matt Garza, this rotation powered this team as much as the lineup did. Chase Anderson may, in fact, be an ace in the making.
Will the 2017 postseason happen for them? Not sure, but they need to work for it, and hope the Rockies can drop some games. It'd be great if they could sneak in for the Wild Card game. It'd be a great end to a Cinderella season.
Coming Tonight: One of the best active pitchers...returning to his former glory in a new stadium, a new uniform...and the same supermodel girlfriend.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Cleveland Indians: Best Team in Baseball. I love it.
The streak was amazing enough, but the fact that even after the streak the team seems absolutely colossal...that should be scary. The Indians have a whip-tight lineup with a fantastic bench, a phenomenal lineup and a strong bullpen. I'm not seeing flaws. Not one. If we can bottle this momentum and let it loose on October, we may have a title in Cleveland.
What makes it more satisfying is the fact that it took a little while to get going, and the momentum took place mostly during the second half. Guys like Carlos Santana, Trevor Bauer and Austin Jackson didn't start their amazing tears until after the ASG break. Plus, the additions of Joe Smith and Jay Bruce at the deadline have worked well, bringing depth to both portions of the roster.
I want to see this team do what they did in 2016, but actually win that 4th game. I think they can do it this year. If they can trailblaze through everybody, including, sadly, the Yankees, then they'll be able to take whoever the NL has this year, even if it is a rematch.
As great as they were in 2016...the Indians are better right now than they've arguably ever been.
Coming Tomorrow- His team may not be making the postseason, but he lead the pitching staff, and the roster, far further than it had any right to go.
(Okay, not a 'with fire' pun, but close enough.)
The Nats are officially going to the playoffs. I mean, it was official back in, like, May, but still.
The Nats have overcome injuries to the entire outfield, and at shortstop, and are still fighting to get somewhere they've not been in years (the NLCS). It helps that even when Trea Turner is injured, Wilmer Difo can slip in instead and start doing some truly great work. Now that Turner's back, there's not a TON for him to do except hit off the bench, but seeing as the bench is also featuring Adam Lind, Howie Kendrick and Victor Robles, it's not the worst place to be.
In the place of Bryce Harper, the Nats have Howie Kendrick making the main offensive, and Victor Robles slowly making his way in, and both are doing INSANELY well, mainly because Kendrick has been on fire this whole year. Harper is gonna be back for the postseason (hopefully), but I imagine they're still gonna use the hell out of both guys.
The injuries haven't especially rocked the rotation, save for the 5th-spot, but Joe Ross is expendable. The Scherzer-Strasburg-Gio-Roark combo is working wonders, and Edwin Jackson and A.J. Cole are perfectly fine cleaning up after them. Also, how about SEAN DOOLITTLE working the ninth like an absolute pro? How about that?
This is a team that's ready for the playoffs, and is only gonna get stronger as the road grows thinner. I will say that they should be happy they don't have to play the Dodgers anymore this season.
Coming Tonight: Not sure if you heard, but they had a record-breaking win streak going. They're not top seeded in the AL, and looking pretty damn unstoppable. Here's there hard-hitting first baseman.
Sunday, September 17, 2017
(Oh yeah, I'm gonna keep that going.)
So yeah...the Baltimore Orioles are not going to be making the playoffs this year. And sadly, you can kind of blame the Yankees for that one.
Many AL East teams haven't been kind to Baltimore's pitching...but the Yankees damn near obliterated everybody. They've scored more runs against the O's than any team has scored against any other team in 50 years. Like, it didn't seem fair after a while. I think the Yankees singlehandedly ejected the Orioles from the Wild Card race.
And sadly, even before the Yankee-ing, the cracks were beginning to show. The pitching was becoming even more lackluster, the lineup was too bloated with strikeouts and not enough production, and only Trey Mancini and Manny Machado could save the team from being completely unsalvageable.
This isn't an all-is-lost situation, because there's a chance that everybody who slumped this year will be back next year in full form, and that the pitching will be improved with some minor adjustments (like finally telling Ubaldo Jimenez when to f--king leave). This isn't a 'truly bad' team yet, and their 2018 season could be the rebound they're waiting for.
Coming Tomorrow- Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Maryland/Virginia metropolitan area, the inevitable becomes even more palpable for a rookie shortstop and his monster team.
They lost 11 in a row, and then they won 4 in a row, so all the fans can calm down, and all the news media can shut up.
The Dodgers may have needed the 11-game wake up call to shock them into really working towards a playoffs that seemed carved in stone for them. They'd been coasting thus far, and this skid needed to prove to them that the World Series that seemed inevitable for them wouldn't be as such if they kept the same lax attitude. Even Clayton Kershaw had a bad start in that stretch...and now that he's back to his old tricks, I imagine they won't expect that sort of thing from him again.
The Dodgers don't have a ton of structural problems. The rotation is pristine. The bullpen is pretty great. The only problems are one or two guys like Joc Pederson and Enrique Hernandez, who aren't hitting, but have alternative options that CAN hit. This is a team that can rock the game if they all keep the momentum they've had throughout the season.
The best part was that they didn't have Clayton Kershaw for the entire season, but they still had guys like Alex Wood and Yu Darvish who were willing to step into the ace position while he was gone, and guys like Rich Hill and Kenta Maeda who could keep the back half of the rotation sharp. This wasn't the Trout scenario where the Great One gets injured and everyone spirals into panic.
No, the Dodgers, losing streak behind them, seem to be heading towards great things.
Coming Tonight- He spent his rookie year trying to legitimize a team that may have been dead on arrival without him.
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Okay, I haven't been proud of a ton of the puns I've been making lately for titles for posts...but that one could go on my wall.
The Mariners have had sparks of greatness this season, in the lineup, pitching, and in the field. This has been a generally nice team that's had some truly awful luck, especially in terms of pitching. The whole starting rotation went down, and the team had to deal with backups that weren't all up to snuff, which explains why they're probably not going to make the playoffs. Even with a resuscitated King Felix and recently traded Mike Leake on the staff, it's not looking very good for the rotation, or the team.
Still, if anything can be taken from the Mariners' 2017 season, it should be the strength of the lineup, and the fact that veterans, like Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano, new additions, like Jean Segura and Yonder Alonso, and rookies, like Ben Gamel and Mitch Haniger, could all work together to form a pretty fearsome lineup. Hell, even Mike Zunino decided to hit, and that almost NEVER happens.
I'm not sure if this means a postseason run is in the Mariners' future from 2018 on, but...if they can fix their pitching, it'd be a nice thought.
Coming Tomorrow- Best Pitcher in Baseball.
The difference, by the way, between the Minnesota Twins and the St. Louis Cardinals...and why one's probably making a Wild Card and the other is falling out of their Wild Card race, is that the Twins were able to weave their youth movement in with the veterans. The Cardinals' plan seems to be to just call up everybody and just hope that everybody fits in.
Paul DeJong's doing great this year, and he's a fantastic rookie shortstop, but...what makes this problematic is that they just had a rookie shortstop last year, in Aledmys Diaz, and DeJong is up in spite of Diaz' injury. The question will be 'what will the Cardinals do once DeJong AND Diaz are both healthy. Who'll get to start games?' The same problem's been happening with Tommy Pham, as he's been having a phenomenal year...and it's fine if he gets to start in spite of the three proposed starters, like Dexter Fowler, Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty. But...now the Cardinals have brought up Magneuris Sierra and Harrison Bader as fellow outfielders. They're ALSO doing really well.
The problem isn't that they're bringing in rookies as replacements. The problem is that they're all playing well, and the people they were replacing aren't really established stars as much as guys that have only been playing for a few years. So when, say, all three outfielders are healthy next year, as well as the three younger ones that have been playing well...what's gonna happen? Who's gonna sit.
And what makes this even more frustrating is that the guy they might NEED to replace, Yadier Molina, has no successor like everybody else. They had Eric Fryer, but he's gone, and now they have Carson Kelly, and he's...not having a great year as backup. So they have 2018 replacements for everybody except for the guy who's probably going to NEED a replacement in 2018. It's maddening.
I don't know if 2017 is going to work out for them, but I feel like 2018 might be a mess, because they'll be trying to work everybody in the lineup.
Coming Tonight: Earlier this year he was an All-Star in Oakland. Now he's still not going to the playoffs, just on a different AL West team.
Friday, September 15, 2017
First of all, I wanna weigh in on all of these Players' Weekend uniforms, because a ton of them have been landing on the blog in customs lately, and you're probably wondering what I think of them.
Well...I like them. I think they're a really cool change of pace, similar to the 'Turn Forward the Clock' week back in the late 90s, and I think it's a nice way of paving the way for players' creativity and looseness on the ballfield. This can be a serious game, but those uniforms remind me that, above all else, the starting nines are there to have a good time.
Right. Onto the Wild-Card-contending Minnesota Twins.
The Twins are far enough ahead of the pack that you can guess that they'll be ending up in the postseason. Their closest competitors are the Angels, and as much as they're heating up, they haven't had the full, competitive season the Twins had. The Twins had some come-ups, some breakouts, some really nice performances, but we also saw the return of the 2015 ideology that simply good managing and good units can get a ton done. I'll give Molly some credit there, even if I thought he'd be out of a job by this year.
Byron Buxton's having a fantastic, full season, being a menace on the base paths and in the outfield, leading the team by example. Yes, old heroes like Max Kepler, Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer are also doing pretty well, but Buxton was one of those guys who we all worried would never live up to his status as a (sigh) TOP PROSPECT. And now he's leading the team into the Wild Card game.
The pitching worries me slightly, but Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios, and (GASP) even Bartolo Colon are doing pretty damned well, even if they probably won't have the pitching numbers to combat probable wild card rivals the New York Yankees.
This team has come so far in a year, and I'm excited that they have a chance to make it far this year, no matter how unlikely it may have seemed.
Coming Tomorrow- Hopefully the last one of those stinking Cardinals I need to make this year, this one a powerful rookie infielder.
So, the Braves didn't get a ton of results from their BIG ROOKIE CALL-UP from last year, Dansby Swanson, in a full year in the bigs. So what do they do? They...call up another big rookie around the same time of year?
And look, I'm not saying anything about the quality of either Swanson or Ozzie Albies in a bad light. I'm just saying if something led to a mistake one year, regardless of talent...maybe don't do it again. Maybe Swanson wasn't ready. Does that mean Albies will or won't do the same thing next year? I literally have no idea. Does that also mean that Swanson won't rebound next year? I still have absolutely no idea.
Right now, Ozzie Albies is playing pretty well, covering at 2nd base for the dearly departed Brandon Phillips. The team...isn't, but this is NL East baseball for you if you don't live in Washington. This is some pretty boilerplate, scraping-to-get-out kinda stuff. But the Braves at least are doing it with a smile on their face, and at least the Braves are trying to build a steady core around Freddie Freeman.
Again, I'd love to get to a point where both Albies and Dansby Swanson are playing well. They're both 'TOP PROSPECTS', and they both showed promise, and...I don't know what they can both do next year. But still...at least it looks promising now.
Coming Tonight: Two years after a disappointing rookie come-up as a 'TOP PROSPECT', he's FINALLY doing what he promised.
Thursday, September 14, 2017
So yeah. Despite Josh Donaldson's best efforts, this was the year where the Blue Jays decided it'd be easier to just not make the playoffs.
The core of this Blue Jays team, which was already problematic during the come-up, has aged to a point where competing probably won't be a thing for a while. Jose Bautista, the guy they bridged this whole rise around, has gotten too old, and too counterproductive, to even be a thing anymore. And plugging in people like Steve Pearce, Miguel Montero, Kendrys Morales and Darwin Barney into the lineup hasn't made the core any more youthful, as the youth movement they were trying to set up with Dalton Pompey and Devon Travis...didn't really work.
The top three in the pitching staff are safe bets, great arms, but...beyond that, you've got a mess. Chris Rowley has cooled down dramatically, Joe Biagini and Brett Anderson are mixed bags, and Aaron Sanchez is injured. There's no 'misfits that could' quality, especially when Marco Estrada is losing so many games.
So...the Jays are...cooling down. Maybe not 'done', but they lack the punch that got them into the ALCS two years in a row. So maybe some teams I like will make it there this year.
Coming Tomorrow- The snappy little rookie that's doing his best to save a failing NL East team.
...So J.D. Martinez is hitting 38 home runs this season, and we're gonna ignore that because it's split between two leagues? And don't give me that Cespedes bias. J.D. Martinez showed an insane amount of power in both Detroit AND Arizona, and his home runs are gonna propel the D-Backs further into the postseason than they had any right to. Plus, unlike Cespedes, it wasn't a one-man-effort. Like in Detroit, Martinez worked with a unit and mutually made this team watchable.
As the Dodgers are crumbling in first, the Diamondbacks are playing some amazing baseball, and growing so much as a roster. The star, of course, is Paul Goldschmidt, and maybe this will be the season where he FINALLY gets the respect he deserves. Additionally, performances by Jake Lamb, David Peralta and Ketel Marte are lifting the roster into the conversation, and lifting the lineup into relevance.
After a season of stuttering...Zack Greinke is finally the ace they signed him to be, and he's had another HOF-worthy season of 200 strikeouts and 15+ wins. The fact that they got him in this condition 10+ years into his career is fantastic. Also, Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, Zack Godley and Patrick Corbin have been equally impressive, making the Diamondbacks incredibly formidable going into a postseason they'll probably have to enter via the wild card game.
The D-Backs could do some amazing things in the postseason, but they've lost the last few games, and may be catching the same virus the Dodgers caught. If they want into this insane 2017 postseason, they're gonna need to decide how they want their season to end.
Coming Tonight: Won an MVP 2 years ago. He's still an absolute beast, and it's a shame his team isn't.
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
The best news that the A's got this month is that there are plans for the to get a new stadium in the near future. Yeah, it's got nothing to do with the team, it's just where they're gonna be.
This was not a great year to be an A's far. They traded away the established talent, and tried to reinvent the squad by piping in rookies and unknowns. It...sort of worked? Matts Chapman and Olsen made it to the forefront rather quickly, while Khris Davis, Jed Lowrie and Sean Manaea kept performing throughout the year. Also, the last half of the season was a chance for Marcus Semien to come back from an injury and get back to business.
The pitching staff...tried. But it was hard to keep everyone healthy and hot, when basically everyone was under-experienced and over-worked. So Jharel Cotton and Andrew Triggs sort of fell apart once the momentum was sort of placed onto their shoulders. Plus, Triggs and Paul Blackburn were doing pretty well until injuries happened, and now they're bringing up anybody they have, and not everybody's truly ready.
So...we're left with a mediocre A's team that doesn't have a lot to work with for 2018. Oh well. Go Raiders.
Coming Tomorrow- He's been hitting like hell, and his team's playing like they're in first. Maybe if they keep it up, they will be.
Now is NOT THE TIME for the Cubs to start losing games. But, sadly...they're not having a great week, and the Cardinals and Brewers are catching up. This is the exact thing they didn't want to happen.
It doesn't help that this team isn't as outwardly powerful as the 2016 team, but the Cubs have had some structural flaws, a few guys slumping, and a pitching staff that isn't as consistent as last year, leading to some losses, and sliding further and further down, closer to competitors. And, no, this would NOT be a great year for the Cardinals to take 1st place. They don't even deserve it.
Plus, Javier Baez has arguably been having a more masterful season than the one where he won the Series. He's been taking 2nd base more consistently, hitting really well, and making a case for permanence when Zobrist inevitably leaves. He's been a part of a nice infield, even with Addison Russell injured and Zobrist and Tommy La Stella filling in.
This isn't a bad team, it's only one that needs to build back its momentum for the playoffs. The Cardinals and Brewers are far enough away that it's not a huge problem, but enough that it must be discussed.
I don't know if the Cubs will be as good as they were last year in the postseason...but I'm just glad they're being discussed to make it.
Coming Tonight: A shortstop for the too inexperienced to compete Athletics.
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
(Yeah, that one's worthy of a Daily Show lower third)
And now, another moment with the Detroit Tigers. They're not the worst in the AL Central, but...everybody good on this team is either gone, injured or slumping. They honestly have NOTHING to work with. Even Jose Iglesias and Ian Kinsler are getting a wee bit tired of holding the whole team together.
It's been noted that teams like the Giants and Blue Jays are sinking due to aging cores, but...the Tigers have absolutely nothing to start with, and the guys that HAVE stuck around are aging themselves. The youth can only do so much, and Jeimer Candelario is being forced into the picture, but with an injured Michael Fulmer and...just a great deal of disarray, there's not much to do in Detroit but assess the damage and wait for the season to end.
The fact that there were so many holes left by departed players that Mikie Mahtook is a valued starter says everything I need to. When Mikie Mahtook, destined for 'Fringe Player Hall of Fame' next to Karl Rhodes and Steve Sparks, is getting a substantial amount of playing time, you know things are dire.
So yeah. The other side of the 'the Indians can win 20 straight games' fold is that teams like the Tigers and White Sox can COMPLETELY fall apart as the season goes on.
Coming Tomorrow- While his team isn't sinking as fast as the Dodgers, he does need to buckle up and keep his lovable underdogs in the picture.
Monday, September 11, 2017
It's gotten to the point of the season in Philadelphia when it's a ton easier being a Philly sports fan by just watching Eagles games and forgetting about the Phils for a bit.
Not to discredit the Phillies...too much. The way Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Altherr, Nick Williams and Aaron Nola have performed this year has impressed me, and makes me excited for the years to come. That doesn't change the fact that the team's a mess, the pitching's stocked with injuries and overinflated ERAs, and...they're still gonna end up as the worst team in baseball. It's happening. They're already preparing for the 2018 draft.
And it's nice that at this exact moment, where the Phillies' season is absolutely hopeless and they have no chance of doing anything else groundbreaking this year, that the Eagles' season has begun, they had a big win over Washington, and the eyes are becoming fixed on them. Yes, Rhys Hoskins is wonderful, but Carson Wentz is our lord and savior and he deserves our undivided attention.
So...we're just gonna assume the Phillies are gonna keep doing what they've been doing all year. Win a few games, lose several. Have one good performance, as well as several poor ones. And then, hopefully the exploits of those birds in green are gonna make us forget about the 2017 Phillies' season.
Coming Tomorrow- The Tigers have absolutely nothing left. This guy falls under 'absolutely nothing'.
This is the part of the season where the plot thickens for the New York Yankees.
They're playing well. True, they're not in 1st right now, but they're winning games, and playing really well. Plus, Todd Frazier is a pretty nice addition...even though the reason they traded for him is now playing amazingly again.
Now, the Yankees' season is going to go one of two ways. One of those ways involves going in as the Wild Card pick, winning that game, and playing the first seed, which...will probably be the Cleveland Indians. This could be extraordinarily difficult for them, but it will likely have to happen if they want to make it all the way.
The other option would involve the Red Sox continuing to slip down the standings, and for the Yankees to take the AL East. If that happens, they'll probably play the Astros. They've done this before, and it's been...fine. The momentum for the Astros seems to be slipping a bit, so if the Yankees are going to pick up some themselves, they need to do so this month.
They've got one more game against the Rangers, then a series against the Rays, which may be relatively simple for them (MAY be; they just beat the Sox). They definitely have a shot at making a move. They just need to be sharp over the next week or so. This is a truly great team...and it better not come short of a playoff gig.
Coming Tonight: A member of those building-but-ill-fated Philadelphia Phillies.
Sunday, September 10, 2017
2010: World Champions
2012: World Champions
2014: World Champions
2017: Last Place in the NL.
That escalated rather quickly, d'ya think?
I feel bad for the Giants, but at the same time...it's a plausible downslope. The core got old and beat up, and a lot of the pitching was either too burnt-out or too inexperienced. Hell, the late season "trade" for Pablo Sandoval was basically an excuse to land old-school fans back in seats...even if he did continue to hit below the Mendoza line.
I honestly don't know how they're gonna rebuild, because a lot of the youth that saw playing time this year wasn't especially good, and can't really inherit the team right now. Buster Posey's still the best catcher in baseball, but is keeping him around to be the Joe Mauer the best idea? There's a ton of instability, and there aren't a ton of easy answers to questions, unlike a fellow NL last place team.
Bottom line is I'm not sure if the Giants will be 'back' next year, or anywhere else in this decade. Yes, they won 3 World Series', but...if the core can't survive a few years after, then what's the point?
Coming Tomorrow- One of two people named Frazier currently playing for the Yankees.
Back on the endless quest to be the team that loses to the Yankees, the Angels are still trying to catch up to Minnesota, while the Rangers and Orioles are catching up to the Angels. It's this neverending chase that's probably only going to end when the proverbial music stops.
The Angels might be the strangest case, though. They're not working with a hell of a lot, and have accumulated a ragtag team of acquisitions, cheap bench guys, and people you wouldn't expect to be playing for a competing roster, to help them fight the Twins. So far, the acquisitions of Brandon Phillips and Justin Upton have been working out well for them, and even bit players like Eric Young and Tyler Skaggs are being pushed into high gear.
The pitching is still problematic, as despite Parker Bridwell doing a pretty nice job, the other options of Ricky Nolasco, Jesse Chavez and Andrew Heaney are far from exceptional. The good news is...Garrett Richards SEEMS TO BE coming back! He started a game a few days ago, it went...alright. Like, good for him, bad for the team. So the bottom line is that if the ace, if Garrett Richards, can get back to his full form in this last month of the season....maybe they'll be alright?
I don't know, it's hard to say. The momentum that the Twins have right now counteracts the Angels' momentum, as the Angels have been losing games and the Twins...haven't. The Twins get to play the Padres this week, while the Angels are probably gonna have 3 taken away from them by the Astros. So the way this schedule's working out...might not happen. But I'm impressed with how far they came this year, and I'm impressed by their desire to have a team with great performances that are not just limited to Mike Trout.
Coming Tonight: He may not be doing too spectacularly since the trade, but at least they can go back to selling Panda hats at AT&T Park.
Saturday, September 9, 2017
There's really nothing more to say about the 2017 Cincinnati Reds other than to eulogize them.
The lineup was great, the bench had some depth, Joey Votto had one of his best seasons since his won the MVP in 2010, and added to his Hall of Fame case in a big way. Adam Duvall had another 30 home run season, Scooter Gennett had a great year when he could have slid into obscurity, Scott Schebler, Eugenio Suarez and Jose Peraza had solid seasons, and Zack Cozart started an All Star Game. There's promise in the future, with Phil Ervin having some great games, and Jesse Winker giving a taste of his abilities before landing on the DL.
Of course...the Reds had...the absolute worst pitching staff in baseball this year. Even the Padres' was better than that, because at least they had someone competent that didn't get injured. It was a mess, and it prevented them from actually having a nice season. The injuries, not just to the staff but to people like Billy Hamilton, were insurmountable. This team could have been way better than a last place mess. Plus, I don't know how long it's going to take them to rework that pitching staff. It could take another few seasons, and they could lose the lineup.
But yeah...the Reds season was not great, and hopefully they'll be able to learn from it...soon.
Coming Tomorrow- A catcher for a team that...MIGHT make the playoffs? Too soon to say.
Nothing is more efficient in signaling the end of your team's playoff run than a DWI from the injured ace.
The Royals had a nice comeback season, with star turns from Lorenzo Cain, Jason Vargas, and ESPECIALLY Mike Moustakas. The main point of this season was to prove that the main core of this team, the one that had been to two World Series' and dominated the league, was still intact and capable of winning games, and not worthy of dismantling. This team is nowhere near Philly 2013 levels of age...nor are they near Philly 2017 levels of age, so, it's a nice sweet spot to be in.
But the lack of consistent competent pitching is what did them in. Ian Kennedy, Jason Hammel and the barrage of rookies that were called on to fix the staff were...not great. They may have sunk the team. Plus, Danny Duffy was having a great season...then he got injured...AND THEN HE GOT CAUGHT WITH A DWI. Even if the Royals are still capable of maaaaybe catching up to someone...there are too many teams in the Wild Card race that HAVE momentum.
The Royals probably aren't going to make the playoffs, so the goal is to ensure that A.) the core of the lineup sticks around, and B.) There's enough of a competent pitching staff for 2018 that it doesn't get embarrassing with every division matchup.
Coming Tonight: He's quick, he's dangerous, and...he's injured, leaving his team even more hopeless than they were.
This is Amed Rosario. He's been doing pretty well for the Mets, being a solid rookie shortstop, getting a nice amount of hits, and teaming with the slightly-less consistent Dominic Smith to lead a youth movement in New York.
Now, if there was anybody competent left in New York to play with Amed, we wouldn't have so many problems.
Look, it's not without lack of trying from Mets ownership. Wright, Cespedes, Thor and Conforto are injured. Jose Reyes is slumping like hell. Asdrubal Cabrera doesn't wanna play. And everybody that was actually doing well for the Mets...is no longer playing for the Mets. So cheap shots and rookies like Rosario and Smith are literally the only ideas the Mets have left. Nothing is working, and they're sinking further.
...Not that it matters. The outcome in the NL East has been foregone since April. The Nats have been far and away the best team in the division, and everyone else has been scrounging for table scraps ever since. So the Mets losing ground isn't a terribly big deal, but it is considering how close they were to winning a World Series 2 years ago. I knew they'd need to rebuild, but not THIS SOON. Even the Royals are still competing with the base of that 2015 team.
So, til the end of the year, the Mets are gonna have to keep winning with absolutely nothing. Amed Rosario may be the future, but right now they're gonna need to working in order to get to that future.
Coming Tomorrow- They may still theoretically have a shot, especially thanks to this trusty starter, but right about now might be the time to pour one out.
Friday, September 8, 2017
Oooooooh, taking some cues from the Patriots, are we Red Sox?
I'm sorry, but as a Yankee fan, and as a human being, I can't NOT make fun of this. As good as the Red Sox are, and as certain as their playoff chances are...who am I kidding, they cheated. They stole signs from the Yankees...which, by the way, didn't work 3/4ths of that series, and they got caught. And now they're sort of being scrutinized by the entire league, which...of all teams...
Maybe it's the fact that I actually got to see this team live this year, but...there's a shred of sympathy. I saw how this team was building up. The unbelievable duo of Rafael Devers and Eduardo Nunez had shook up this team and made them even tougher to beat. Chris Sale kept perfecting his Cy Young caliber season. The inevitability of the playoff run was strengthening. If it wasn't for the last two weeks, I'd be firmer in saying how dangerous this team might be in the playoffs, but right now they seem to be taking a passive approach. The Yankees are regaining ground, and the real story in the AL is how many more games the Indians are going to win.
Right now the Indians are at the bottom of the 'protected' teams, so they'll likely be going in seeded third, which means they'll have to defeat whoever is seeded 2nd. I'm not gonna pin down who that's gonna be, because one's rising fast, so...assume you have to play either the Astros or the Indians...and you're the one that's losing momentum. So yeah. I'm thinking it MAY not end well for the Sox. Of course, if the Yankees break past the WC, they'll have to play the 1st seed, so...either way, it's gonna be tough for the AL East.
Still, the Sox' scrutiny is the cherry on top of their shit sundae that was this week.
Coming Tonight: Step One for the Mets was to trade away most of the established stars on the roster. Step 2 is looking like it's bringing up the big rookies and seeing if they can carry the team. And so far, one of them's been doing pretty well.
Thursday, September 7, 2017
(And now, the ceremonial 'Augh' at Jordan's realization that the Cardinals are, indeed, back in the playoff race)
I understand that pretty much anyone left in the Wild Race is essentially competing to be Arizona's bitch, but...the St. Louis Cardinals, after lapping the Brewers, despite ignoring EVERY SINGLE SIGN that they're not really supposed to be competing this season, are scooching up on the Rockies for that last spot. And...I...no. Just no. This shouldn't be a thing we have to talk about in September. The Cardinals aren't a playoff team, they were just selling pitchers. We don't need to go through another year of this.
Besides, the Rockies have had a better all-around season, always volleying for some piece of the NL West hierarchy, and having a consistently solid year, with great pitching and a solid lineup. Plus, the Rockies used the deadline to strengthen the team, picking up Jonathan Lucroy as a solid catching option, replacing the inefficient Tony Wolters. Plus, with the seasons that Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon and DJ LeMaiheu are having, they have every right to be there.
What the Brewers need to do in this last stretch of the season is cement their status as a playoff team, and defend their spot from anyone who's trying to take it away from them, even those pesky Cardinals.
Coming Tomorrow- Stealing? What stealing? Let's instead talk about their newly-acquired and streaking infielder.
(As a New Jersey resident, you have no idea how badly i had to cringe in order to make that the title.)
We cannot ignore how horrible the hurricane in Houston was last week. Even baseball noticed the destruction, as a few Astros games had to take place in Tampa, until everything boiled over. There was talk of the storm trying to kill the feel-good story of the unstoppable Astros. And yes, since their unstoppable start to the season, the Astros have cooled down a bit, losing a few too many matches, and coming down from the high horse, now at 85 wins, as the Indians try to catch up to them for the first seed.
The pitching in Houston may be what separates them from the pack. In addition from Cy-caliber Dallas Keuchel, a surprising breakout from Brad Peacock, and the astonishing returns of Lance McCullers and Collin McHugh...Justin Verlander is now pitching for the Astros, and last night he had a phenomenal debut performance. Even with mega-rotations like Cleveland and New York showing up on the horizon, the Astros look like they're gonna do their damnedest to hang onto that seed.
The lineup's not worrying me either. Springer and Correa are healthy, Altuve's still on his way to an MVP, Reddick and Bregman are still hot, and the bench is pretty nice. Plus, Ken Giles finally gets to close games for a competing team, which I couldn't be prouder of.
So yeah...the Astros have strapped in for the last bit of this season, and I couldn't be more excited.
Coming Tonight: Improving catcher, now playing for a potential Wild Card team.