MLB Second Half has begun

With a full slate of games tonight, the second half of the MLB season has truly begun.

The first certainly produced a few surprises.  The slump of David Ortiz, the scuffles of the Tampa Bay Rays, the never ending soap opera that is the NY Mets, the surprising start of the SF Giants, the mess that are the Central divisions in both leagues, A-Roid, and Manny-gate.  You just never know what’s going to happen in Baseball.

I’d like to give my condolences to Manny Acta, the recently let go manager of the Washington Nationals.  I really feel bad for him.  He was handed a bad situation, exacerbated by injuries, and was expected to perfrom a miracle.  So, when Washington performed to expectations, ok, maybe a little below expectations, he got the axe.  Maybe if the brain trust in DC would have given him more pitching, particularly in the bull pen, the Nat’s wouldn’t be so awful.  they’d still be bad, but not awful.  And the nagging injuried to guys like Ryan Zimmerman don’t help either.

Now for some 1st half “awards:”

Al Cy Young- Roy Halladay (TOR).  Josh Beckett (BOS) is a close second, but Roy takes it.  He should win it at the end of the year, as long as he stays in the AL.

NL Cy Young- Tim Lincecum (SF).  Matt Cain (SF) his teammate can give Tim a run for it, but I think that Lincecum is the odds on favorite to win his second consecutive award.

AL MVP- This is a tough one, with so many good candidates.  Jason Bay and Kevin Youkilis (BOS) are solid contenders, as is A-Roid (NYY), Nelson Cruz (TEX), and even Torii Hunter (LAA).  For myself, it would come down between Bay and A-Roid.  I’d give the edge to Bay mainly for his complete lack of controversy, and how he carried the Red Sox while Ortiz struggled.

NL MVP- Albert Pujols (STL).  Is there any doubt?  I can’t think of anyone else in the NL who even comes close to meaning what Puljols does to the Cardinals.

AL Manager of the Year- Mike Sciosia (LAA).  Jim Leyland (DET), Ron Gardenhire (MIN), and Terry Francona (BOS) deserve some notice, but none of them have faced the adversities that Scioscia and the Angels have this year.  Don Wakamatsu of Seattle should finish a close second.

NL Manager of the Year: Bruce Bochy (SFG).  Joe Torre (LAD) will get some votes, being Joe Torre and managing in LA, but Bochy should win this.

Looking forward, I expect to see a few things happen.  Texas will fade in the AL West.  They just do not have the pitching, in the rotation or the pen, to compete with the Angels and Mariners.  If the Mariners get a big bat to help their offense, they can give the Angels a serious challenge for the division, and the Yankees for the Wild Card.

The AL Central will come down to the Twins and Tigers.  The White Sox are just too inconsistent to pose a real threat.  The Twins have a terrific 1-2 punch with Mauer and Morneau, a top notch closer in Joe Nathan, and enough pitching to compete in the division.  The Tigers have an issue in the bullpen with no clear closer, but their rotation is by far the strongest in the division.  Expect the Indians to sell of a few players before the trade dead line, like Jamey Carroll and Rafael Betancourt.  Don;t believe the rumors surrounding Victor Martinez.

The AL East is going to continue to be a slugfest.  The Red Sox should win the division by 4-5 games.  The Yankees are something of an enigma, and what actions they take may be dictated not by baseball reasoning, but by the sports writers and vocal fans.  Brian Cashman may be forced to amek a deal he doesn’t want to, with Toronto’s Roy Halladay the main target.  The problem with the Yankees is that they are one injury away from being dead in the water.  The loss of an OF, A-Roid, or another SP will kill their season, trade or no trade.  Toronto is in a tough position, especially with Halladay.  He’s owed a lot of money for next year, and Toronto is 2-3 years away from being truly competetive.  They could get a lot for him, if they deal him.  He’s the prize of this years trade sweepstakes.  Tampa Bay could be surprising in the 2nd half, potentially passing the Yankees in the standings.  Despite the loss of Aki Iwamura, they have a solid offense, defense, and pitching staff.  You cna just write Baltimore off now.

Over in the senior circuit, the NL East is one ugly division.  It seems like half the time no one wants to win it.  The NY Mets are wracked with injuries (Reyes, Delgado, Beltran), and guys like David Wright are under performing.  The Phillies are so streaky, just like the Marlins, that one week they’re hot, the next they’re cold.  I’m not sure adding Pedro Martinez will do much for the Phils, given that Pedro likely won’t go more than 5 innings in any given start.

The Central division is far more competetive, probably the most competetive in Baseball.  The Cards, the Cubs, the Brewers, and Astros are all in it.  Only Pittsburgh is out.  The top teams are so evenly matched, which surprising given that an ace like the Astro’s Roy Oswalt is having an off year.  These will be the teams most active in acquiring a player before the dead line.  Look for the Brewers to get a pitcher, the Cubs a hitter, and the Cards for the best player they can get(a pitcher most likely).  I would offer that who ever makes the best deal by the trade dead line will win this division.

The NL West is a run away for the LA Dodgers so far.  San Francisco is off to a somewhat unexpected start, and could nail down the Wild Card for the NL by the end of August.  The Diamondbacks season was lost when Brandon Webb went down to inury.  Sand Diego, who had one of the more coveted SP in Baseball, lost out on a chance to make a big deal when Peavy went down to an ankle injury.

The Red Sox and Julio Lugo are about to part company.  This is far from unexpected.  The only question is if he will be traded or released, as I don’t expect he will accept assigment to the minors.  Likely suitors for Lugo will be Seattle, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, and Chicago Cubs.  If a deal is made, the Sox will have to pick up most, if not all of his salary, and will only get a medium level of value in return.

Expect eric Wedge to be fired in Cleveland.  He may last the season, depending on how the Tribe’s 2nd half goes, but he won’t be back next year.  Joe Girardi may be on the hot seat as well, more so if Cashman makes a deal and the Yankees don’t make the play offs.


NACBL Mets June Wrap Up

Well, it’s decision time for me in the NACBL.  My Mets are 2 games under .500, but are still close enough to make a push for the play offs.  Even so, I may be too far out, and should dump my veterans with remaining value before it’s too late.  *sigh*  I just don’t know…

Well, there are some good things happening this season.  The combination of Jered Weaver and Brandon Webb are a combined 18-7, with an ERA around 3.30.  Hideki Okajima (3-0 4SV 0.98 ERA), now has given up 2 ER, both coming on solo HR.  Kameron Loe, who got inserted into the rotation over Jorge de la Rosa, pitched decently enough for me.  Lenny Dinardo, a throw away lefty, is 6-5 with a 4.10 ERA, respectable given his card.  My achilles heel has been the Cuban reject, Livan Hernandez.  He is 0-10, with a 7.10 ERA.  If it wasn’t for him, I’d be doing fine.  Heck, if he just won 3 games, I’d be a game over .500 right now, and in good position.  (Note to self, no more Cubans!)

I really should have known better,  In another league I had El Duque.  In yet another, I had Dennys Baez. None of them panned out for me.  I have no luck with Cubans. 

On the offensive side of things, Garret Atkins got hot.  He raised his average to .290, and now has 20HR (He hit 25 all of last year).  Hunter Pence continues to hit around .330, with some power.  I have no real team speed, so the SB is just not in my arsenal, though I keep sending guys, usually into a caught stealing.  Since being inserted into the everyday lineup, both Jack Wilson and Akinori Iwamura have risen to the challenge.  Jack is hitting over .300 with 4HR, and Aki has 6 three baggers, and is hitting around .312.  Junior Griffey saved a series single handedly by hitting 2 walk off HR.  Dan Uggla though has slipped below .200, at .198 for the season.  Xavier Nady has slipped to .258, but he does have 16 HR (20 last year). 

So here I sit, with a .488 winning percentage, 11 games out of first place.  That leaves me about 4.5 games out of the play offs.  But I do have 5 teams ahead of me.  So I’m in a tough spot.  I’m close enough to mount a charge, but may have too much to over come, with 5 teams ahead of me.  I just don’t know.  Dump and play for next year, or make a move to get a starter and make a run at it.  I suppose I can hold off one more month…


NACBL NY Mets May Wrap Up

Ugh.  After a very promising April, we back slid just a bit.  The team went from 4 games over .500 to 2 games under.  We went from 2nd place in the NL East to 4th.  A record of 10-15 in the month of May might allow Willie Randolph to keep his job, but I need to make some shake ups.

Even so, there have been some good things happening.  Hunter Pence is 4th in the NL in average, Jered Weaver is tied for the league lead in wins with 7, Papelbon is 3rd in saves with 11, and Brandon Webb is 2nd in ERA with 2.45. 

The team’s big problem was not winning games we should on the road.  Of course this is a curse of PC strat, as the game has a definite bias towards the home team.  Still, I can’t complain too much, as I did have a nice road record in April.  Hopefuly this was just a fluke, and we’ll rebound along with the temperatures in June. 

Still, some guys just aren’t performing up to snuff.  Livan Hernandez has been dropped in the rotation form the 2nd slot to 5th.  Jorge de La Rosa, who had been in the 4 slot, has been sent to the bull pen with his 7+ ERA.  Kameron Loe, called up at the begining of May to soak some garbage innings, gets promoted to the 2nd slot in the rotation, after posting a 0.63 ERA and 1-1 record out of the pen.  I doubt he’ll be over powering (his card just isn;t good), but he can’t do any worse that de La Rosa’s 1-8 7.77 ERA.  Okajima did give up an earned run finally, raising his ERA to 0.84. 

The line up got a bit of tweak as well.  Due to AB/PA limitations, Darrin Erstadt has been relegated to the bench, except for PH and defense.  Garret Atkins will move to 1B full time, and Akinori Iwamura will play every day at 3B.  Tony Pena jr, and his .222 average, is on the bench, and Jack Wilson will be playing full time at SS. 

So we’ll see how well the next month goes.  May have to sell out to try and win this year.  I have a problem bringing myself to do that, but it may be a few years before I can make a good run again otherwise.