Thursday, September 18, 2008

Midseason Report Card: NL East

At long last, the cycle is complete as we bring you our final installment of MLB Midseason Report Cards. We've spared no expense or chunk of time in doing so, as the fact that it's mid-September clearly illustrates. Today, we'll have a look at the National League East, and our guest expert is none other than Mr. Geoff Bousum, who graced us with his presence in this same fashion last year. Our other features from this year can be found here, here, here, here, and here. All your NL East goodies for 2008, however, are just after the jump.

Bankmeister: Let's start with the bottom of the division and work our way up; that seems to be a pleasant way of scouring clubs. The Washington Nationals are a very bad baseball team. I mean they're scrapping for title of worst with the Mariners right now. I've got a soft spot for them because I used to dig on the Expos as a kid. The move from Canadia to our nation's capital was supposed to do them some good. What's the deal with this team? A glance at their roster resembles a glance in the toilet after swilling Hamm 's for three days straight. There's some liquid in there. There's some crap in there. There's some shit you don't recognize, and there's the overwhelming sense of "Christ. I shouldn't have done that." What's in store for this franchise in the next three years? Any progress?

Geoff Bousum: Your question pretty much answers itself. I really doubt the Nats are going to be much better in the next 3 years. As long as there are teams like Pittsburgh and Kansas City (no offense, brah) in the league, they at least have the chance to no be the worst team in the league. Things are pretty ugly when Lastings Milledge is your clean-up hitter and has the most HRs on your team with 14, although that may be one of the greatest names ever. If I ever have a butler, his name is going to be Lastings Milledge. I think Howard and Utley combined have more homers than the Nats. Injuries have been a big part, but that aside, the obvious truth is that there is really no talent on any part of this team. Who was their all star? Cristian Guzman? He probably saw five innings of that shit all-star game. No talent=no wins. I say last place for the Nats in the NL East the next three years.

B: You might be right there. The poor bastard. Then there's Atlanta . The proverbial NL East stronghold for many years is nearly 20 games under .500 right now. As Durango 's once-famed band SuperBee once titled an album, "What the Crap?" has happened to Club Schuerholz? They were loaded with talent for some time, and perhaps hung onto a few of those meaty cuts beyond their reccommended expiration dates. Are the Braves as respected in the talent-scouting department as they were, say 15 years ago?

GB: I don’t think that the Braves recent lack of success is due to poor talent scouting. I have to say, I saw this coming for Atlanta. They had such a great core of players for so long; it’s hard to keep that going for a few years, let alone for 14 division titles. Again, an injury plagued season……but, nobody there to pick up the slack. McCann had a nice season, as did Chip (white trash) but the bullpen sucks, the starting rotation is not much better, and they cannot win on the road. That's a bad combination. Personally, I love it. For almost 15 years of my life I watched this team own my Phillies, and it is nice to see the tables turned. I gotta say though, it is will be a sad day when Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz are all retired. Those are a select few that the game will miss. Does that sound gay?

B: Good points, and yes -- it sounds very gay. Not as gay as when we talk Florida Marlins baseball, but pretty gay. In talking Marlins though, we seldom mention phrases like exceeding expectations. Sure. They won a series, and opened 2008 as tough as their AL counterparts in Tampa . They've managed to stay competitive, but have dropped in the standings to third, likely because the Mets and Phils are just plain better. Is this club on the verge of becoming an annual contender, or has this season been semi-flukish?

GB: I think that the Fish could be the pests of the NL East for years to come. They were putting together a nice season until the Phillies, then the Mets got hot and the Marlins went in the opposite direction. They can score runs, hit the long ball, but they also strike out a lot and make some errors. Their pitching is pretty shaky, and that punk Scott Olsen...I would like to grab the brim of his big stupid hat and put my knee into his little beak nose. Seriously though, I admire what this team has done with the pathetic fan base and lack of support they get from that city (that goes for you too, TAMPA !) That said, I wouldn’t care if they moved the team to Vegas and called them the Dice. They could join the AL West. They are trying to get a new stadium approved which may help, but I doubt it. It will just look less empty than a Joe Robbie’s Pro Dolphin Player Stadium or whatever it’s called.

B: I think it's called Miami Stadium Where Seldom Plays a Pro, but I could be wrong. Finally, though, there's Philly and New York. I'm pretty certain no two division rivals have flopped first and second place more times this year than these two. LA and Arizona have been close, as have Chicago and Minnesota , but this could be a last-day dual for Eastern Division bragging rights. Since your Phils are in second today with a mere half-game separating them from the Mets, how have you felt about their play this season? They've got a pretty stacked roster, as do the Shea Stadium kids. Would you say it's typical that these two clubs have been as competitive as they have been with one another?

And the Mets. They've got some girth to their giddy-up, but can they muster a push strong enough to hold off Philly? If they can, what will the post-season look like for them? Choke city?

GB: Mets v Phillies has always been a great rivalry, but it has been magnified over the last few years of course, as these two teams have been the contenders for the division. As I write this the Phillies have a half-game lead on the division, in first place, where they have been most of the year. Contrary to what the idiots in the media are portraying, the Mets are not on track for the epic melt down of last year. Last year was a Chernobyl-scale melt down, where as this year’s meltdown (if it indeed happens) would be more like a cheese fondue. I think the biggest lead the Mets have had in the division was like three and-a-half games and it was for only a few days. It’s not like they had a commanding lead all season and have all of the sudden shit the bed, but that’s what the writers want us to think, because it makes a better story. Failure is a far better story than success. These are the two best teams in the NL East, and maybe the two best in the NL. The Phillies probably have a more complete team than the Mets and the Phillies have a much better chance to go deep in the playoffs. The Mets have too many weak spots (particularly the bullpen) to win a playoff series. If they make the playoffs (which I think they will as the wild-card), they will lose in the first round. If the Phillies win the Division, or even make a wild card, Ryan Howard has got to be the MVP. Forget the .245 average and the 200 strikeouts. The guy is the most feared hitter in baseball and he is even starting to make some Web gems! I am watching the game right now; I still don’t know who this J.A. Happ guy is, but he is pitching well. Kyle Kendrick anyone?

B: Hard to argue with. Well, we'll call it a wrap there, and look to see your Phillies go deep into October. Thanks for joining us.


Johnny Utah said...

If a .245 average gets you the MVP,I'll give up my subscription to Big Black Booties Quarterly. Howard isn't close to being the most stable bat on the Phills. Utley has been producing all year, I fear him more in a clutch situation. Howard is 4th or 5th on my ballot....if I had a vote