True enough, it’s only a one month sample, but we’re already beginning to see trends developing that warrant some attention and analysis as to whether they are permanent or fleeting .
But before we get that – just a quick comment on Dee Gordon (right) and the 80 game suspension doled out by MLB for using illegal substances. Following last year’s breakout season in which he came out of nowhere to win a batting title, Mr. Gordon was awarded a $55 million contract extension by the Marlins.
And therein lies the problem – it is still very profitable to cheat in baseball. He’ll tell us he’s very sorry and he didn’t know what he was ingesting, and yada, yada, yada…..
But the only way baseball is going is going to rid itself of this ongoing embarrassment is to make it hurt so the player sees it in his bank account. So, how about a one year automatic suspension for a first time violation and a lifetime ban if you are stupid or greedy enough to do it again? Think Mr. Gordon won’t notice $10 or $15 million or so missing from his bank account?……..
But let’s get back to the real fun of the game…….train wrecks and smooth takeoffs so far this year…………..
First off, did anyone see the Phillies coming? And where did this pitching come from……Vince Velasquez (right)
at 3-1 with a 1.78 ERA and Aaron Nola with a 0.88 WHIP and averaging a strikeout per inning. Who are these guys? Their hitting isn’t much but at 13-10 they’re still something to watch as a nice surprise this season. They’re in a tough division with the Nats and Mets so anything this year would be impossible – but they’re sure building on something for the near future.
On the flip side, what is going on in Houston? Last year’s playoff team is at 7-16 with no end in sight. And where oh where did all that pitching go? Collin McHugh (left) sporting a 6.65 ERA and a WHIP of 1.89. Last year’s Cy Young Dallas Keuchel at 2-3 with a ERA well over four……..and for a team with hitting problems to begin with, the pitching has to carry the team as it did this year. They’re in a weak division so they are bound to bounce back. But they’re sure digging themselves a rather large hole early in the season.
It’s always good to see a team live up to its expectations and that’s exactly what the Cubs are doing. They’re winning three out of every four games they play. Under the steady but firm guidance of Jor Maddon, we can expect the South Side of Chicago to be a place of merriment and joy throughout the summer. As a bonus, it appears Jon Lester has settled in and has found a home in the National League.
Over in the North Side, things have gotten off to good start too after it looked like the Adam LaRoche thing would fragment both the team and organization (see previous article). In a tough division with the World Champion Royals who are bound to fix their wayward ship, the White Sox appear to have the right combination of pitching and hitting that will carry them to at least a Wild Card spot. And Chris Sale (right) looks destined to have the kind of year Zach Greinke did last year.
The National League West gets the award for the most mediocre and boring division so far. With no team appearing to even play .500 ball, the Giants and Dodgers will no doubt continue to pack their ballparks and set attendance records, but it’ll be a miracle if any team can even rattle off five in a row. However, it will be interesting to watch and wait for Yasiel Puig’s first meltdown.
Over in the AL East, Baltimore continues to set the pace and although it’s hard to imagine their pitching carrying them to the wire, you can’t count out Buck Showalter (see previous article) or Peter Angelos who has been known to part with a dollar just around the trade deadline. The Red Sox have a ton of hitting and lead the league in runs scored, but again they pray for pitching. The Yankees?……..expect to see a lot of empty seats and gathering frustration as the season progresses. The Cashman-Girardi team may make it through the season, but not much beyond that.
A few odds and ends………both the Tigers and Cardinals will have respectable years and could win as many as 85 games in their powerful divisions. But all of the baseball world continues to wonder where Adam Wainright (1-3 with a 7.16 ERA) and Justin Verlander (2-2 5.46) have disappeared to – and they’re probably wondering the same thing themselves.
Duplicating last season, the Pirates seem destined to have one of the best records in baseball, but probably will once again get squeezed out of the Playoffs. But any team with Andrew McCutchen on it cannot be discounted.
On the individual player side, pencil in Bryce Harper as the NL MVP again and Noah Syndergaard as the Cy Young (we’ve only just begun to see his upside). In the AL, Cris Sale gets pencilled in as the Cy Young – but I can’t think of anyone marching to the MVP…..maybe Manny Machado if he can stay healthy…..
Ain’t this fun?…………