Friday, August 22, 2008

Midseason Baseball Report: AL East

We're stretching this "Midseason" theme to comical proportions. The current working definitions at the House of Georges World Headquarters:

1. A point equidistant between the beginning of a season and its end.
2. Give or take a month from Definition No. 1
3. Sometime before rosters expand Sept. 1
4. Give or take a month from Definition No. 3
5. On the eve of a Carl Pavano start.

That's right, sports fans, tomorrow marks the season debut of one Carl Anthony Pavano, the Yankees' big free agent catch in 2004. Pavano inked a four-year, $40 million pact and then promptly took the next four years off. For that $40 million in Steinbrenner loot, Carl has contributed 111 innings, 60 strikeouts and five wins. C.C. Sabathia was traded to Milwaukee six weeks ago and has accumulated 73 innings, 69 strikeouts and eight wins in that span.

Pavano is making his third start since June 27--that's June 27, 2005. I'll be throwing a party, if anyone wants to come over. If ever there was an official white flag on a baseball season, the Yankees' decision to hand the ball to Pavano is it. The streak of not missing the playoffs since 1994 is finally, mercifully, magically, over.

So let's talk about the AL East, shall we? Joining us today is old friend Rustoleum, a lifelong Yankees fan and sophisticated baseball connoisseur. You could say he's slightly less excited about Pavano's start than I am. He also employs a literary technique known as sarcasm quite liberally--brace yourself. You can find the AL Central report here, and the AL West version here.

Old No. 7: Let's talk about our favorite division, the one typically dominated by your Yankees and my Red Sox. It's being led by that historically ass-kicking franchise that plays down in...Tampa? What's going on here? Why are the Bay-Rays still getting it done, months and months after we thought they'd fade?

Rustoleum: Tampa has become the A’s and Twins of the Al East. Right now they are just loaded with young studs in all facets of the game. Their pitching has just been superior. I’m sure their tremendous fan support at home plays a huge role as well. I know I always got fired up pitching softball in front of crowds that large… at Lee Martinez park in Fort Collins. Though I thought they would certainly fade due to lack of maturity, but pitching has just been so huge from starters to the pen. It’s certainly not the only case of pitching carrying offense (see D-Backs, Dodgers). Injuries to Longoria, Crawford, and Percy will certainly play a huge roll in where they finish and I’m thinking they still might fall short. But with two number ones in Kazmir and Shields, you’ve always got a chance.

Old No. 7: Meanwhile, the defending champs are just hanging around. They're not winning much (15-13 since the break), but they're still not bad (+117 run differential, 1st in the AL in batting, 6th in ERA). I have my theories, but why do you think the Red Sox have taken a step back?

Rustoleum: Have they really taken a step backwards? Third best record in the AL seems pretty good to me. But if you’re asking why they aren’t the best team in the league, there are two big reasons: Bullpen and Beckett. The bullpen has been an absolute dumpster fire, outside of Paps, and it certainly doesn’t help when starting pitching has been going only 3 innings. I heard Alex Cora was warming up the other night, I’m sure he has electric stuff. It seems like teams have gotten used to Oki-doki, who was huge last year, and Timlin is lights out regularly.

Beckett just hasn’t been as sharp as he was last year, I’m sure in part to a little hangover from last year. But there is only one October, and when the lights are bright the Sox will be the toughest out of the playoffs. At least it’s not 2006, remember the five game sweep?

Old No. 7: I have no idea what you're talking about, I'm still hung over from celebrating two titles this decade. Now let's get to your boys in the Bronx. Hank Steinbrenner conceded the season last week, and you're double-digit games behind the young Bay-Rays. Sidney Ponson is an effective part of your rotation, Richie Sexson was on the roster until just a few days ago, and best of all your scheduled starter for Saturday is Carl Pavano. Let's hear your thoughts.

Rustoleum: I’d like to use this time to talk about my fantasy baseball team. I have very few Yankees, which is a big plus. I do have Mariano, who’s a Hall of Famer, and Johnny Damon is having his best offensive year since coming over from the Evil Empire. I love that he’s moving back to center, his gun is one of the most feared in baseball. Did I mention my fantasy team was in first place and I’m gunning for my fourth title in five years? The Bronx did host the All-Star Game this year and I hear we’re the favorites to Get C.C. Sabathia next year. Remember when the Yankees were unwilling to part with Melky, Phil Hughes, and Ian Kennedy to get Johan? Those three play a lot right now and last I heard the Mets were in first. The Yankees are old and might be in a lot of trouble for years to come.

Old No. 7: I hate Canada, but the Blue Jays are quietly turning in another quietly decent season. Who are we kidding? They suck. They have a big payroll, because their owner is heavily involved in both whiskey distilling and the trafficking of sex slaves from Laos. Why can't the Jays get over these days?

Rustoleum: Remember when we used to do shots of whiskey when I would strike someone out in softball and talk about Brenda’s obsession with ladyboys from Laos? Those were the days. I heard Toronto was considering moving to Montreal and having the team learn French. I just don’t like the Jays, their problems mainly revolve around a lack of pitching and a lack of offense. The Jays need to take a page from the Rays, build from within and stop overpaying for douchebags like B.J. Ryan, David Eckstein, and Lyle Overbay.

Old No. 7: More importantly, are Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells traitors to their native United States for signing contract extensions in Toronto?

Rustoleum: They really aren’t traitors, they just like the health care benefits. Wells knows first hand, he’s spent more time on the DL recently than he’s spent active. The Jays were wise to lock up Halladay, Wells maybe not so much. The Jays have solid prospects coming along, such as Adam Lind and David Purcey. They can get there, but like the Yankees, you have to do it from within.

Old No. 7: Finally, we get to Baltimore. Both you and I have mined the Orioles all season for fantasy players on hot streaks--we're currently profiting from Melvin Mora and Jeremy Guthrie. Other than stat-whore goodies, what's the point of the Orioles these days? When will they turn it around?

Rustoleum: I really like the direction the Orioles are heading. I think the Bedard and Tejada trades stole awesome prospect that have already contributed like Adam Jones and Luke Scott. They have decent pitching coming up, like Garrett Olson and Radhames Liz, to complement Guthrie. This is a team that could really benefit by overpaying for a pitcher like C.C. and dumping awful Daniel Cabrera. That guy is among the worst pitchers on earth. They’ll get Chris Ray back to solidify the bullpen. If they hold on to Brian Roberts, the rest of the division should watch out.

Old No. 7: I know you've been watching a little bit of the Olympics. Are you as impressed as I am with the men's trampoline event and Chinese champion Dong Dong? Beyond Dong's prodigious feats of bounce, what are your impressions of Canadian female trampoliner Karen Cockburn? She can be a little rough on the ascent but she's smooth coming back down.

Rustoleum: I think the best part about the Olympics are the obscure sports. Fuck basketball and track, give me team handball, badminton, archery, and especially trampoline. There’s nothing like watching a bunch of washed up gymnasts make one more run at Olympic glory. Who hasn’t thought about their Dong-Dong bouncing up and down until the Cockburns? I know Banky had that problem last year. What I want to know is why the announcers for NBC have changed the name of shuttlecock to just shuttle for badminton? Are the scared to say cock? Would they just say Karen Burn or Karen Privatepartsburn? Adam Jones will always be Pacman, I’ll always call Isiaih Rider J.R., and it will always be the shuttlecock.


Golf'sRaddistGolfer said...

While you rant about shuttlecocks or lack there of, remember this classic: