Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Is it too early in the season to contemplate where the major leagues stand? Well, there are two answers to that, and neither is true.
a) Fuck no! It's mid-May, and the Nationals and Orioles (alas, mid-Atlantic), and the Padres and Pirates (in spite of early hot starts; this is why we daren't review in April) all look pretty dead. Oakland seems it was a paper tiger, insomuch as, you know, paper tigers don't have claws, or blood running through their veins.
b) Fuck yes! Especially since the MLB schedule-makers were smoking more salvia than usual this year. (Eastern examples: Toronto will have played every other American League team by the time they finally play the Red Sox [and haven't played the Rays yet, and are just playing the Yankees for the first time now], while Boston is finishing up their West Coast travel...right now.) You can't solidly judge a baseball team when it has yet to run through its own division, let alone the league.
So aside from the teams that are as fucked as the '88 Orioles, and no team is that fucked, there's still time for change. All the same, the Sox are 20% through the 2009 campaign, so the land is starting to get...laid?
By division, along with the chances my predictions will be the least bit right, here are your major leagues.
Predicted winner: Mets
Current leader: Mets
Thoughts: Something about this Mets team seems real fucking shaky already, but it isn't Johan Santana. The Phillies can't keep up their 8-10 home record. The Marlins will hover around .500. I can't understand the Braves, but no one can misunderstand the Nationals. If Boras keeps Stephen Strasburg from D.C., you can just move the team to Portland now.
Predicted winner: Cubs
Current leader: Cards
Thoughts: Four teams either lead or are within 1.5 games of the lead, including the somewhat surprising St. Louisians and the all-pitch, not-much-hit (???) Red Stockings. And Milton Bradley is injured. Which is not surprising. Stay tuned.
Predicted winner: Diamondbacks
Current leader: Dodgers
Thoughts: Boy, I fucked this one up; some promising young teams come to fruition, others become too overvalued to trade away, and between the Diamondbacks and the Rockies, this division is full of promising 2007 teams in for long 2009 seasons, and a stumbling path downward from there. Only the Manny motherfuck can make this division interesting. Look out for the Giants.
Predicted winner: Angels
Current leader: Rangers
Thoughts: This. Division. Sucks.
Predicted winner: Indians
Current leader: Royals?
Thoughts: And I thought I was being audacious to pick the Royals to finish not-last. Greinke (and to a lesser extent, Meche) could carry this team to the playoffs in a division where no one is bad, but no one is that good. (Note: author still believes the Indians aren't that bad for some reason, although Fausto Carmona's looking like a one-year wonder with a one pitch people have finally learned not to swing at.) When Coco Crisp is happy, I'm happy. (And when Coco Crisp is traded for a reliever with a sub-1 ERA, I'm even happier.)
Predicted winner: Boston
Current leader: Toronto
Thoughts: Bet you thought this was where I was going to call Toronto a mirage, right? Well, maybe: I don't believe Overbay is going to continue a career year, that Millar is going to keep seeing inside fastballs, that Marco Scutaro is at all capable of doing what he's doing, or that a team with Doc Halladay and four guys that weren't supposed to start this year (including a replacement FOR a replacement) can keep it up.
But you know what? The mirage scheduling goes both ways. They've beaten the schedule they've received thus far: now they have to face real teams. I'm intrigued to see what happens.
I don't get the Rays, but I'm still scared of them.
I don't get how Johnny Damon has become a half-Japanese Brady Anderson, but he seems to be all the Yankees have right now. Even if everything else--Sabathia, Texiera, even Wang--settles itself, they've still got to use their bullpen sometimes, and that bullpen, including Mariano Rivera, sucks. (Right now.)
The Orioles aren't very good, but they aren't good for the right reasons.
The Sox started horribly, tore through everyone for two weeks, and has been pretty good since, and unlike the Jays, they've been doing it in spite of freakishly bad performances, rather than on the weight of good ones. Beckett and Lester will settle themselves, and Matsuzaka will probably be his brilliant and infuritating self soon. Wakefield won't have to carry the weight by then. Ortiz might not have to carry the weight no matter what.
This team is second best in the real major league, and not everything is going right. That's actually a very, very good sign.