Early Season MLB Thoughts

This has been one of the zaniest first months of a baseball season that I have ever seen.  Over the next few days, I will be giving my early season thoughts on MLB by division.  We’ll start where everyone starts when discussing baseball thanks to the east coast bias of ESPN and making everyone think that the world revolves around the Yankees and the Red Sox.  It’s not a great world to be in right now since they are the cellar dwellers of their division!

AL East

The biggest surprise in MLB in the first month of the season has been the Baltimore Orioles.  Who had them being 18-9 and 1 game behind the Tampa Bay Rays for 1st place in the division?  The Blue Jays are in 3rd place with a record of 16-11 and then the Yankees and Red Sox take up the cellar.  NYY at 14-12 while the BoSox are under .500 at 11-15.

The New York Yankees

The Yankees have gotten horrid starting pitching except from CC Sabathia.  Then in a freak accident this week, Mariano Rivera was lost for the rest of the season while shagging fly balls during batting practice.  How does the greatest closer in the history of baseball tear his ACL and MCL catching a flyball in batting practice?  There’s no need to sound the alarm for the Yankees however because Derek Jeter is playing better than he has in years.  He’s hitting .404 with 46 hits, 5 home runs and an OPS of 1.044.  He’s not going to keep up at that pace but when he cools down, Robinson Cano will be due to heat up and pick up the slack.  The starting pitcher can’t continue to suck this badly because the Yankees will go out and add players if it doesn’t improve in house.  While I hate the Yankees, I don’t think they’ll finish the season in 4th place in the AL East but if they do, their season will be defined by this image:


The Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox are a team in disarray.  They still haven’t recovered from the epic collapse at the end of the 2011 season.  Theo Epstein left to become the President of the Cubs.  Terry Francona was replaced by Bobby Valentine.  Valentine hasn’t managed in MLB in over a decade but the new GM was strong armed by ownership to hire Valentine.  Johnathon Papelbon left and was replaced by Andrew Bailey whom was promptly lost for the season with an injury.  Carl Crawford, a big money FA bust from last year, hasn’t played a game yet because of being on the DL.  Valentine insulted fan favorite Kevin Youkillis by saying that he wasn’t trying anymore.  Youkillis has missed several games now with a bad back.  The Red Sox haven’t done anything right since the end of August.  Hell, even the compensation they got from the Cubs for Theo Epstein, the other Chris Carpenter, is out with an elbow injury!  I don’t see the Red Sox making the playoffs this year because their manager is a joke.


The Toronto Blue Jays

With a second wildcard spot added to the playoffs, the Blue Jays were a dark horse candidate to make the playoffs.  Ricky Romero and Brandon Morrow have pitching mostly lights out on the young season.  Edwin Encarnacion has been unbelievable as a DH.  Brett Lawrie has mostly lived up to expectations of being the next big thing at third base.  The Jays have had their share of trouble as well.  They acquired Sergio Santos from the White Sox to be their closer for the season and that has not worked out at all.  Santos blew a couple of chances and has been on the disabled list most of the month.  Jose Bautista has struggled as well as Adam Lind.  If Encarnacion slows down, expect Bautista to pick up the slack.  The Blue Jays will be interesting to watch for the rest of the season.  I think they can still make a push for one of those wildcards.  It will all come down to whether Bautista returns to his form from the last couple of years and Romero, Morrow and Drabek continue pitching well.  Who can hate the Blue Jays when the following is one of the best logos in baseball?


The Tampa Bay Rays

The Rays have definitely proven that their run for the last few seasons has not been a fluke.  A low budget team has found a way to not only survive the free spending Yankees and Red Sox but to become better than them.  Tampa Bay has an MLB best 18-9 record so far.  James Shields hasn’t even been the best pitcher on the team.  David Price and Jeremy Hellickson have outpitched him so far.  Highly touted rookie Matt Moore has actually been the worst of the starting pitchers but even his stats aren’t bad.  The Rays have been hit by the curse of the closer as well.  Kyle Farnsworth is still at least a month away from pitching this season but Fernando Rodney has been lights out as a closer in his place.  BJ Upton started the season on the DL and now Evan Longoria is on the DL but the Rays have the pitching to overcome those setbacks.  Matt Joyce, Desmond Jennings and others have stepped up nicely as well to help the Rays.  This is definitely the Rays division to lose now that they have given themselves some distance between themselves and the Yankees and Red Sox.  I would be very surprised if the Rays weren’t celebrating like this again about getting into the playoffs at the end of the year.


The Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles are one of the most storied franchises in baseball history.  Brooks Robinson.  Frank Robinson.  Cal Ripken Junior.  Eddie Murray.  Jim Palmer.  Earl Weaver.  They have one of the most beautiful stadiums in Camden Yards.  Then one of the worst owners in baseball history, Peter Angelos, ruined the franchise.  Years of losing have made the crowds become almost nonexistent.  No big name free agents want to go to Baltimore but yet it is a beautiful city…as long as you stay out of the area that inspired The Wire.  As bad as Angelos is and despite the fact that they can’t get big time free agents, they have somehow found a way to be 18-9 and only 1 game behind the Rays.  Is Buck Showalter a miracle worker?  Is this just an illusion?  Will the O’s come crashing back to earth?  I don’t know the answer to that question but I am loving the ride while it lasts.  Jason Hammel is 4-1 with an ERA of 2.09 and he just shut down the Yankees.  When the O’s sent Guthrie to the Rockies for Hammel this off season, no one expected that it would be Baltimore getting the better of the deal but that is what has happened.  Jake Arrieta has shown some potential as has Wei-Yin Chen.  Waiting in the wings is prospect extraordinare Dylan Bundy that probably won’t join the team this season but look out in a year or two if his arm stays healthy.  Pedro Strop and Jim Johnson have been phenomenal in the bullpen.  The offense is being carried by Adam Jones and Matt Wieters while Chris Davis and Robert Andino have been great surprises.  If Nolan Reimold can stay healthy, he could be a factor.  I don’t believe that the Orioles will make the playoffs this year but they are definitely on the right track.  If they continue to play good baseball this season, they could finally get a talented free agent to choose to play there.  They might just be a couple of players away from making this a Rays/Orioles division if things go right for them.  Let’s just start the Countdown to Bundy!  I credit them going back to the best logo in all of baseball for their resurgence this year…the cartoon bird!



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