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Tuesday, May 03, 2005

American League East

Before the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles lost to the Blue Jays in extra innings last night they'd had a streak of eight straight wins during which time they outscored their opponents 62-28. They got all those runs in spite of having the carcass-like presences of Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro using most of their at bats to stink up the 4 and 5 slots in the batting order spending outs as easily and carelessly and with way less purpose in mind than the crazy old prospector who "tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and called for drinks for the house."

Those two venerable, but washed-up, "hitters" have been spending outs since the season began as if outs were not the most precious commodity in baseball; each out more precious than any one run can ever be, with the single exception of when the home team's batting in a tie game or down by one in the ninth or in extra innings — those are the only times that two outs should be traded for one run.

It's amazing to me that the O's not only continue to let these guys bat, especially Palmeiro, but let them punk out, hollow out, the heart of the order the way a tree sometimes rots from the heart of its trunk out. Palmeiro has nothing left. Sammy, well, if Sammy is going to play he should bat where he belongs, which is as the #7 or #8 hitter at this point in his career.

Of course, a change isn't going to happen; and what truly amazes me is that it probably isn't even going matter to the O's position in the AL East standings for the next month or so. They have a pretty soft schedule ahead of them over the next 30 days. They'll continue on their merry winning way with Roberts, Mora and Tejada getting on base and scoring, then the order farting and missing briefly like an engine with two bad plugs and revving up again when it gets to Lopez, Matos and Gibbons. And while that's going on management will continue thinking about trading their ace (this is how clueless they are, they don't even realize that Erik Bedard is for real and is the best pitcher on the staff) for a proven winner. And they'll continue win and continue to lead the division.

Why? Because the Red Sox have lost a Schilling and quite a few pounds (in the person of David Wells) to the disabled list for 3 weeks to a month each. And this while their bullpen is struggling. Luckily for the Sox, they don't have a weak spot in their lineup so their bats will keep them in hailing distance of the O's. In fact, if I were Theo Epstein, I'd take the opportunity, which has just presented itself, of just running Kevin Youkilis out there every day to play third base and getting Bill Mueller significant time at second base while Bellhorn and Vazquez are ailing. I'd do that in order to see if I could drum up a trade for some young pitching with a team in need of a second baseman. A team like the Twins, or the Cubs, or Oakland, or the Giants, the Pirates or the Royals. A lot of teams out there, including the Mets, the Yankees, the White Sox, the Indians could use Bill Mueller's bat at second. The team I'd target would be the Phillies, try to get Ryan Howard (great, young powerful 1B stuck behind Thome), Placido Polanco and the strong young struggling arm of Gavin Floyd in a deal involving Kevin Millar and Mueller along with a prospect or two and some cash.

That probably won't happen, and the BoSox don't need it to for this season because in a month and a half, when they have Schilling, Miller Wells all back in the rotation ahead of Clement and Arroyo with Wakefield bolstering the pen, they'll be ready to make the run for the division title. And they'll get it.

They Yankees will put on a surge at some point. But I don't think they're even gonna manage as much as the wild card this season. They got too old too fast over the winter. And the only thing that will fix it is more money than they'll be allowed to spend.

The Jays have started well but their lack of depth in all areas will see them fade over the next couple of months, though they may be able to fight it out with the Yankees for fourth place.

The Devil Rays? Never had a chance. They're the team that's starting Alex Sanchez and Alex Gonzalez over Joey Gathright, Jonny Gomes and BJ Upton. If they could finish lower than fifth this year, they would. But there being only 4 other teams in the division makes a sixth or seventh-place finish almost a complete impossibility for them.

I'll be back in a day or two to talk about the Al Central and the mirage that is the Chicago White Sox leading the majors in wins.


Brenda Schmidt said...

In a day or two??

MackJohnny said...

What is time, really?

Seriously, I apparently have less than usual to say at the moment. I'll be back eventually.

Brenda Schmidt said...

Good to hear.