Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Midseason Report: AL East

This is the House of Georges, and this is the HoG’s Midseason Baseball Report. In it we’ll examine each of baseball’s six divisions with a fan of a team in that division.

Today’s selection is the American League East, and our divisional expert is Rustoleum. He's originally from upstate New York, just like me. We both
love Syracuse basketball because of it. But when it comes to baseball, we've gone to opposite sides of The Force. Rusto chooses the Evil Empire, while I cheer for the swarthy Jedis of the Rebel Alliance.

Old No. 7: Let's not beat around the bush...what the fuck is wrong with the Yankees? Does Joe Torre still have what it takes to run this team?

Rustoleum: The Yankees have finally had their past greed of selling the future for the present bite them in the ass. All of the past midseason moves to make a playoff run made have caught up with them and their farm is now depleted. There always has to be a nice mix of some young players and vets. The Yankees, other than Robinson Cano and maybe Philip Hughes, don’t look very solid as far as young players go right now. Also a rash of injuries hasn’t exactly helped. Who knows what might have been if they had been healthy from the start?

That said, the Yanks have been at best inconsistent. They have good hitting, shitty pitching or vice versa. One thing for sure, they can’t have another streak like they just came off. Over .650 the rest of the way is really the only shot they have to get in it…and forget catching the Sox.

As far as Torre goes, he absolutely still has it. This is his team and these are his players. I do think that this will be his last year, and then destiny strikes…Don Mattingly. The best Yankee first baseman of my generation takes the reins…too bad he’s been part of zero championships in the big leagues. That could be a bad omen…Joe Giradi is still around and not a very good commentator.

Old No. 7: Moving on to the Red Sox: I'm biased, but they look like they're ready for a run. The rotation is good enough to keep them in games (especially if Curt Schilling comes back healthy at some point) and the lineup is deep even with Julio Lugo, Coco Crisp and J.D. Drew having below-average years. What are the weaknesses of this team? What AL teams could give them the most problems in a potential playoff series?

Rustoleum: Julio Lugo…not good. J.D. Drew…who? At least Coco started turning things around before getting hurt. But that’s really about the only thing you can give the Red Sox any kind of shit about. They have an all around solid team. A good mix of young guys and vets. Any team with Manny (Ramirez) can’t go wrong, he should be due any time to request a trade…and then hit about 40 home runs. And Big Papi is probably my second favorite player in the bigs, as clutch as they come and he will spit in his hands before shaking yours. Youk (Kevin Youkilis) was the biggest snub for the all-star game. The only thing I see stopping this team would be very key injuries or just totally dying at the plate.

Any of the AL playoff teams can play with them, but the Tigers have the best shot, in my opinion, having both solid pitching and hitting. The Angels offense can be inconsistent and the same can be said for the Indians pitching…and they suck on the road. The NL would seemingly be overmatched by any AL team, most of the teams in the running have glaring weaknesses. However, I thought that last year when the Cards made the series and they won it. It is baseball and anything can happen.

Old No. 7: Is baseball better off with or without teams in Florida? Before expansion, I always liked the fact that Florida had Spring Training but no big-league teams. Even though the Marlins have inexplicably won the World Series twice, it always seems like the D'Rays and Marlins are on the verge of falling apart. Their stadiums suck, no one goes to games and they're always threatening to move. Will Tampa ever be a viable baseball market?

Rustoleum: Tampa could be a viable market if the Yankees or the Red Sox played there for all of the D-Rays home games, otherwise their home attendance is a joke. I disagree that the Marlins are on the verge of always falling apart, I think the way that organization is run is vastly underrated. Twice they’ve blown up teams that have won the World Series, yet they always seem to reload and make a run every couple years. I do agree, though, that baseball in Florida should probably go. Tampa has good talent, but they will never be able to hold on to those players without an NFL-like salary cap.

I’ve been in favor of retraction for years. I think MLB should retract six teams and go with six four-team divisions. That would improve teams by subtracting out awful Kansas City pitching and spreading around the good players to other teams. Florida and Tampa are certainly good choices. The Washington Expos are terrible and baseball in the summer in Phoenix is laughable. Toronto doesn’t deserve a team, this is America’s pastime. Canadians have hockey and should keep it to themselves. The final retraction should be Kansas City, frankly the city doesn’t deserve any sports franchise.

Old No. 7: Is Peter Angelos killing the Orioles the same way Dan Snyder is killing the Redskins? You've observed Steinbrenner for many do you feel about a rich, meddlesome owner who'll do anything to win but tends to get in his own way?

Rustoleum: Angelos is a weird owner. You love when your owner is willing to spend money. The Orioles problem is spending money on crappy or washed up players who may or may not be on the juice or speak English. A franchise is only as good as it’s GM and the Orioles have a good one in Andy MacPhail. He’s won championships in Minnesota and done the impossible…getting the Cubbies within five outs and a Bartman away from the world series. Owners would be wiser to sit back and let guys like this do their job, but it’s the owner’s team and he’s free to do what he likes. Their track record as scouts, despite claims to the contrary, are not that good.

Old No. 7: We've taken one franchise away from the Canadians, so why do we still have to deal with the Blue Jays? Should we go to war with Canada? The Jays have a decent collection of talent but have been hammered by injuries this year. What will it take for them to get back to the playoffs in the next five years?

Rustoleum: The Blue Jays best shot of getting to the playoffs would be switching to the National League…or becoming a hockey franchise.

Old No. 7: Which league will have home field in the World Series, and which team will win it?

Rustoleum: The AL clearly has the better roster, but it’s a baseball game that could easily end in a draw. (Editor's Note: That question was asked before last night's All-Star Game) The World Series winner…Yankees in 6.

Old No. 7: Is the American League East the worst division in baseball?

Rustoleum: I don’t know about the worst, but it may be the most overrated. There’s always a lot of hype surrounding the AL East and it certainly hasn’t lived up to its billing. I still think the worst division in baseball is the NL Central. The teams in that division just plain suck, other than the Brewers. The Brewers are a young, inexperienced squad but solid. I don’t know how they will fare come playoff time, but I do think they could be good for years to come. St. Louis is a mess right now, Houston is all over the place, and the Pirates and Reds are really just awful.

Old No. 7: Do you think steroids could have put Don Mattingly and Mark Grace in the Hall of Fame?

Rustoleum: I think with Mattingly, steroids may have helped him from those nagging back injuries. His career stats were pretty good considering he only played over 150 games six times in 14 years: .307 avg, 222 hr, 1099 rbi. Mark Grace also had decent career stats: .303 avg, 173 hr, 1146 rbi. It’s hard to say whether could have helped Gracie all that much. He really wasn’t a home run hitter. Mattingly had three seasons over 30 home runs in his prime, Gracie never hit more than 17. Maybe on the the juice Gracie could have hit 22 jacks, only the baseball writers of America and Victor Conte could tell us the exact number he would have hit.

Old No. 7: Without a salary cap but with revenue sharing, is baseball fair? I know teams like the Yankees and Red Sox have inherent financial advantages over most teams, but if you look at the smart GMs in small markets (like Terry Ryan in Minnesota and Billy Beane in Oakland) and the fact that we've had eight different WS champions in the last eight years, is it fair enough?

Rustoleum: Is it fair…no, but that is the state of baseball today. The big market teams certainly have the advantage of tremendous wealth, great fan bases, and lucrative television contacts. There are certainly the small market teams that have been able to compete and win World Series, but generally it seems to be the same teams and GMs that win. For the casual fan, I could see where that might be a bit boring. Unless baseball decides to go with a hard cap, it will probably never be fair…go Yankees!


blairjjohnson said...

I'm glad that exchange was full of fresh, astute observations and unpredictable opinions. Well done, Wristo.

Unknown said...

I agree Banky.

...pitching and defense

Unknown said...

Topic of thread:American East Baseball
Most interesting point of thousand word ramble: Kansas City doesn't deserve any(?) pro team.
Subject relavence factor: 0
Guest star assesment: Shaky.
Perhaps a stint at the NY post as official Yankee-fluffer@, is in order.