Being it's Memorial Day and the season is not far out from being a third of the way over, let's have a look at the season so far with the good; the bad; and the absurd. Comments are welcome to add to that which you think I missed.
There's much to do.
- The Good:
It's not the no-hitter; it's not that he's carried the Rockies on his back while they're struggling with injuries; it's not that he's been almost literally unhittable; it's the totality of what Jimenez has done so far this season.
If anyone doubts that a pitcher should be a candidate for league MVP, they need only look at what Jimenez has done so far this year overall; on a game-by-game basis; the way the Rockies starting rotation has been ravaged by injuries and inconsistency and think about where they'd be without Jimenez.
Perfection from divergent personalities
Does anyone even know Roy Halladay's area code when he was growing up? Were the survival rates as hit-or-miss as implied by Dallas Braden's yammering about growing up in the dreaded 209?
You couldn't find two more different people achieving perfection at any time, let alone three weeks apart.
Dallas Braden of the Athletics became a public figure (and eventually a public spectacle) as he took on Alex Rodriguez for ARod's habitual mound stepping and gamesmanship and took an issue about which he was right and made himself look like a fool with his relentless rambling about "the 209". He made threats and endlessly jabbered to the point that A's boss Billy Beane told him to shut up. Braden was able to put all of that aside days later and achieve perfection against the Rays.
Roy Halladay of the Phillies is the epitome of lunch-pail greatness. He shows up to work and does his talking on the mound like the quiet gunslinger his nickname----Doc Halladay----implies. The perfect game on Saturday against the Marlins was a study in efficiency, calm and class.
And area codes were never mentioned in any context.
It's silly if people give new GM Jed Hoyer credit for the Padres 30-20 start and that the young players----especially the pitchers---are developing nicely. The credit for that should go to manager Bud Black (who I thought should've been replaced and has done a Manager of the Year-quality job); pitching coach Darren Balsley; and former GM Kevin Towers.
The Padres have parlayed a deep pitching staff and some luck (Jon Garland is 6-2 with across-the-board stats that are not going to continue); to a surprisingly hot start and rapid maturity into realistic contention. They're going to hang around all year too.
Hoyer did almost nothing this past off-season and he was clearly setting the stage to trade both Adrian Gonzalez and Heath Bell before the hot start; we'll see what he's got as an executive when he looks to add rather than subtract at mid-season. They desperately need a bat if they want to be taken seriously, but for right now? They're a terrific story.
Should anything done by the Pirates be surprising?
As cynical as I am, even I was shocked that the Pirates non-tendered Capps this past off-season. Even though he was eligible for arbitration, the move didn't make sense. Capps's struggles last season as the Pirates closer were no reason to toss him out the window for nothing.
Capps was a player they could've traded for something useful; instead, they dumped him...and compounded the mistake as they turned around to sign Octavio Dotel and Brendan Donnelly. Both have been predictably atrocious----as expected by any organization that has the ability to analyze players and judge them accordingly which automatically eliminates the Pirates from the discussion.
Apart from a hiccup here and there, Capps has been excellent and, most importantly, his biggest bugaboo----the home run ball----has been a non-factor with the Nats as he's only allowed 2.
Ah, the Pirates...
- The Bad:
I find it laughable that the same organization, saddled with similarly high expectations two years ago, but run by Bill Bavasi rather than Jack Zduriencik----and whose record after 49 games was only one game worse than this current group----has yet to be criticized with the same venom as that Mariners team was.
That team actually had an excuse as closer J.J. Putz and Erik Bedard both got hurt and things snowballed beyond repair.
What about this Mariners team?
Because Zduriencik is well-versed in stats and scouting, he's getting a pass that the likes of Omar Minaya and Dayton Moore don't----and it's not fair. It's cherry-picking criticism for a team that is poorly put together and had unrealistically high expectations based on the reputation of the GM rather than what he built.
Add in the Ken Griffey Jr. nap/performance disaster; Milton Bradley; and Chone Figgins (possibly the worst free agent signing so far this year); and baseball's worst overall lineup and you see a Mariners team floating off to sea.
The GM gets the credit? He gets the blame as well; and it can't be ignored due to agenda and/or convenience to an argument.
Who looked at this team and expected them to contend?
They're awful. And I don't want to hear the "rebuilding" excuse as GM Mark Shapiro is considered another brilliant tactician who reloads by trading his veterans in for top prospects. They horribly mishandled the Eric Wedge firing last year and things didn't get much better in the off-season when their "big" additions were Mike Redmond and Russell Branyan.
A complete team, the Indians can't pitch, hit or field and have a series of immovable contracts in Kerry Wood, Travis Hafter and Grady Sizemore.
He's been about as bad as a pitcher can possibly be over the past season-and-a-third. Never reliable to throw strikes, at the very least in his first 2 1/2 seasons with the Mets, he was durable and mostly competitive. Now, he's providing nothing at $12 million annually. He's refusing a minor league assignment and it doesn't appear as if the Mets are going to try anything outside the box as I suggested weeks ago by sending him to work with Tom Seaver.
Now it's turning into a clubhouse issue as the NY Post is reporting (have a bucket of salt handy) that the players want Perez to go and work out his problems in the minors or leave entirely----NY Post Story----and not come back.
Bottom line, he's been awful; it doesn't appear as if he's ever going to be of any use whatsoever, so cutting him and accepting the sunk cost may be the best bet at this point to get someone in to help the club. The National League is so bunched together that the one or two games that might be blown by using Perez could cost the Mets a playoff spot.
Like the Indians, they can't hit, field or pitch.
Built on the basis of two Cy Young Award contending starting pitchers in Brandon Webb and Dan Haren and a power-laden lineup, things have gone horribly awry.
Webb is still hurt and there's no timetable on his return; Haren is getting shelled; the lineup strikes out too much; the rest of the rotation is short; the bullpen is an arson consortium; the defense is heinous; the manager is intelligent and woefully inexperienced; and the GM is under scrutiny.
That just about covers it. I'd say it couldn't get much worse, but I think it might get much worse.
- The Absurd:
Just like anything else, you can look at this situation as a positive or a negative. The negative was the Ramirez kicked ball and light jog in retrieval; the positive is the "last straw" reaction from manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Because Ramirez's disinterest, diva-like behavior and lackadaisical play had been an unhidden secret for years, it was great that the infection was salved by the Ramirez-Gonzalez confrontation.
The players all stood squarely behind their manager and Ramirez's defiance and disrespect was handled by the intimidating Andre Dawson and placid Tony Perez. Because of the way this was dealt with, Ramirez will undoubtedly play like a maniac for the rest of the year.
Kendry Morales's broken leg
I've never been a fan of the roughhousing in celebration of a walk-off win and knew it was only a matter of time before someone got hurt. I hate sounding like a disapproving parent ruining the players' fun, but there are times to limit the amount of fun the children have and this is one of those cases. The Angels were offensively challenged before. Now? They've got a big problem where there shouldn't have been one.
Joe Buck and Tim McCarver
Does anyone take these two seriously?
McCarver's time as a top-flight analyst ended fifteen years ago and he's been declining rapidly and increasingly out of touch as he parachutes in with his familiar laments in an attempt to provide blanket coverage without in-depth team-to-team knowledge because he doesn't have the inside information to accurately analyze. It's lazy broadcasting based on a reputation.
Buck? I haven't found anyone who likes him; who thinks he's either a talented broadcaster or engaging personality. He's smarmy and obnoxious and it occasionally appears as if Fox is forcing him down viewers' throats simply because they believe any reaction is a positive reaction.
What goes around....really goes around.