As we come down the stretch to close the 2015 regular season, let’s begin to take a closer look at the probable playoff teams entering the crapshoot ( I say crapshoot because I’m still not convinced that the best team always wins in a shortened format……but it is what it is so let’s get started……..
There are a few teams that I would dismiss from the category of “interesting ” merely because they landed where they were predicted to land……. at the top. These would include teams like the Cardinals who seem to have a endless supply of young talent within their farm system coupled with a good mix of veterans, the Dodgers ( God help Don Mattingly if he couldn’t win a Division with $300 million, and even the Blue Jays who, with the acquisitions of Josh Donaldson and Russell Martin, were (remember) the pre season favorites.
Then, we move into that middle category of “they should but we see reasons why maybe they won’t”. This would include teams like the Pirates and the Royals. Both teams are going in but they haven’t been as explosive as they were predicted to be. And, both teams are sputtering to the end of the season and that alone makes them interesting. Remember, both teams came in “hot” last year.
In a kind of limbo, I put the New York Yankees. This is a team that was not projected to be here…..and yet they are. With a mix of veterans contributing and a splash of home grown talent like Greg Bird, plus the flexible and effective use of a excellent bullpen by Joe Girardi, they’ve survived. And that alone can be a forerunner of a team to watch.
Finally, we get to the teams who were categorized as ” not quite ready for prime time” but on the way up….. and yet here they are poised to make an impact on the Playoff Season. That would be the Mets, Cubs, and Astros (if they hang in there). The Mets had a awful first half but Sandy Alderson put together some key moves that solidified a Division title thanks to the hapless Nationals. They have the “right stuff” in the clubhouse and a manager who has the respect and attention of his players. It’s a recipe for….”Watch out for these guys”.
The Chicago Cubs have waited so long……and finally the day is here. Like the Astros, it could have been a “wait till next year” result with their stockpiled farm system. Instead, they are locked and loaded with power and decent pitching plus a fan base that is liable to explode if they can get beyond the one game playoff.
On paper, the Astros appear to have nothing except a brilliant starting pitcher in Keutchel and a true All Star in Jose Altuve. Yet, they led the AL West for most of the season with a zillion come from behind victories. Who would have thought in the beginning of this season……….but here they are as this year’s sort of “Wild Card” in the playoffs.
You pick ‘ em…….I’ll pick ‘ em……Vegas will pick ‘ em…..the so called experts will pick ’em……..but you know what……as Yogi Berra said….”It ain’t over till it’s over”. Only then will we know who’s got the right stuff in 2015 and who doesn’t.