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Sports Then and Now



MLB Mid Season Report Card: Part 4 – AL East 2

Posted on July 16, 2010 by Don Spieles

New York Yankees (56-32): A+

What can you say about the Yankees? They have the best record in all of baseball and look pretty much unstoppable. They are, as usual, chock full of stars – Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeeter, Robinson Cano, and Curtis Granderson have combined for 62 home runs and 255 RBI. The teams on-base percentage is an AL best .353.

New York Yankees players Alex Rodriguez (2nd L), Nick Swisher (33), Andy Pettitte and C.C. Sabathia (R) wear black armbands in honor of Yankees principal owner George Steinbrenner during a tribute before Major League Baseball's All-Star Game in Anaheim, California July 13, 2010. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo  (UNITED STATES - Tags: SPORT BASEBALL)

The Yankee Machine has been further galvanized with the passing of its owner, George Steinbrenner.

If anything in the Yankee roster can be considered a weak spot, it would have to be pitching, but keep in mind that most teams would kill right now for pitching as “weak” as that of the Yankees. All five starters currently post .500 records or better. They are second in the AL in ERA (3.81). CC Sabathia and Phillip Hughes are other-worldly and their strength more than makes up for an over paid and unpredictable AJ Burnett. Mariano Rivera, although showing sings of age and spending some time sidelined with minor injuries, is doing his usual with 20 saves and a 1.05 ERA. Joba Chamberlain is a serious weak spot in the bull pen, but with all the Yankees have going for them, the fact that they have essentially screwed up what could have been a premier set-up man by insisting on having him start the last couple of season, it is not enough of a drag on things to really matter.

Simply stated, if the Yankees are not in the World Series this year, then divine intervention will have to be blamed. And with George Steinbrenner now in the ethereal plane, acts of God against the Bronx Bombers seem unlikely. Read the rest of this entry →

MLB Mid Season Report Card: Part 3 – NL West 2

Posted on July 15, 2010 by Don Spieles

San Diego Padres (51-37): A+

San Diego Padres' Adrian Gonzales watches his pop fly to Seattle Mariners' third baseman Mat Tuiasosopo in the third inning at SAFECO Field in Seattle May 23, 2010. The Padres beat the Mariners 8-1. UPI/Jim Bryant Photo via Newscom

Once predicted to be the major trade piece for later in July, Adrian Gonzales is going to stay put with the first place Padres.

There are lots of surprises in the standings right now, but none as astounding as the first place Padres. Leading in to the season, the Pads were on a lot of radar screens, but only because the general consensus was that by this point in the season there would be an on going circus of teams trying to get Adrian Gonzalez. Low and behold, here we sit, about sixteen days from the trade deadline and one this is pretty certain: Gonzalez is going nowhere.

Gonzalez is having a productive year (18 home runs, .301 average, 56 RBI) as most everyone thought he would. The thing is that, even though no one else on the team has more than 8 homers, and even though the Padres are 12th in the NL in runs scored, they are at the top of the West (closely followed by the Rockies.)

The Padres pitching is the reason. San Diego has given up the fewest runs in the NL (304), they are 3rd best in strikeouts (603) and 3rd best in bases-on-balls (279). Their bullpen has 18 wins and 25 saves to their credit, which bolsters the starting five, all but one of which (Kevin Correia) have a sub-four ERA.

The Padre’s are not too shabby on defense. Their top nine position players (by innings played) have a total of 25 errors over 88 games. (For a little perspective, compaired to the other NL division leaders, the Pads are tops. Using the same formula, the Braves have 47errors, the Reds have 27.)

Don’t be fooled into thinking that the Padres are a post season surety. If the Padres cannot stay ahead of the Rockies, the Dodgers, Met’s and Phillies would all be within 1.5 games of the wild-card – if it were decided today, that is. Read the rest of this entry →

MLB Mid Season Report Card: Part 2 – NL Central 1

Posted on July 15, 2010 by Don Spieles

Cincinnati Reds (49-41): A+

Cincinnati Reds Scott Rolen watches his three run home run clear the wall aghainst the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on June 1, 2010. Rolen hit two home runs in the game defeating St. Louis 9-8. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

Scott Rolen had been born again in Cincinnati.

Very few people foresaw the possibility of the Reds sitting atop the NL Central at the All-Star Break. Though, as of today, their lead is a single, tenuous game, they have exceeded all realistic expectations.

Bronson Arroyo, Johnny Cueto, and Mike Leak have all posted winning records thus far, though in 53 combined starts the Reds top three have a combined 30 no-decisions, a testament to a mediocre bullpen. While has 24 saves, he also has 10 blown saves and a 4.40 ERA. The lone releif star is 40 year old Arthur Rhodes who is posting an awesome 1.54 ERA in his 41 appearances. He’s averaging about 6 strike outs per nine innings with a WHIP of .943. His appearance on the All-Star roster was the stuff of Hollywood, even though he did not make it onto the field.

Cincinnati’s offense is leading the NL in runs (437), hits (843), batting average (.272), slugging (.441), and OPS (.779). With the resugence of veteran Scott Rolen and outstanding first half work from Joey Votto (22 home runs, .314 average) a Reds squad in the post season is a real possibility. Read the rest of this entry →

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