By Professor Fred Whitted NORTH CAROLINA (BASN) — The title above...
BASN’S MIDTERM MLB REPORT WITH TEE MACK!
BASN’S MIDTERM REPORT – MLB 2015
By Anthony McClean, Editor – in – Chief, Emeritus
NEW HAVEN, CT (BASN) Welcome to the unofficial midpoint of the 2015 baseball season.
While most teams have already surpassed the halfway point of their 162-game campaign, the numerically challenged folks at MLB have traditionally dubbed the All-Star break as the “middle of the season”.
To keep with that tradition, we here at BASN will use this break to hand out some grades for your favorite teams. In doing that, we’ll also try and give you a peek on what the second half holds for these squads as well.
Today, we take a look at the American League. Teams are listed in the order of their place in the standings at the All-Star break.
New York Yankees (48-40)
We didn’t think much of the Bronx Bombers lineup and starting rotation going into the season. But needless to say, they’ve more than held their own despite injuries and inconsistencies at the plate and on the mound. What’s really kept them in the hunt has been a surprisingly strong relief corps. Even with the injury to Andrew Miller, All-Star Dellin Betances and Justin Wilson have given the Pinstripes as good a combo since guys like Nelson, Stanton, and others. The question of what A-Rod had left coming off his suspension gets answered every night he’s been in the lineup and then some. I wouldn’t be surprised if they seek another quality starter when the trade deadline approaches.
Tampa Bay Rays (46-45)
To be totally honest with you, other than Chris Archer and Evan Longoria, I really don’t recognize the everyday players on this team. It’s a testament to Tampa’s minor league system and the managerial skills of Kevin Cash that they were in first place – albeit briefly – earlier this season. Do they have enough for the long haul? I really don’t think so. But given the fact that no one has taken full control of the division, they may work they’re way into the conversation. An opening series vs. Toronto to open the second half could be a gauge.
Baltimore Orioles (44-44)
Like many teams in both leagues, the O’s have more than enough pitching to contend. What’s been the bigger surprise is that a lineup that includes All-Stars Manny Machado and Eric Jones — as well as DH Chris Jones — has been very inconsistent. However, the defending division champs caught fire near the end of the break. It sends the message that this team may be ready to turn the corner as the games resume. They may be in third right now, but I think they’ll be in the mix for another East crown.
Toronto Blue Jays (45-46)
Everyone knows that this team can rake with anyone in the game. The question heading into the year was whether they would get consistent pitching. That hasn’t been the case. 13 blown saves by the bullpen and an ERA nearing 5.00 for their starters is the main reason why they’ve been the ultimate tease in MLB. If they really feel like they wan’t to take it to the next level, they’re gonna have to be a major player when the trade deadline approaches. Until then, they’ll be just good enough to miss the postseason.
Boston Red Sox (42-47)
Somewhere in Chicago, Theo Epstein and Kermit look at the AL East standings while sipping their tea saying “that ain’t none of my business”. What has been Boston’s business is that this mismatched squad has been exactly what folks thought they’d be — decent offensively, mediocre on the mound. In fact, until their most recent stretch the offense has been consistently stagnant. As the second half begins, the question in Beantown is whether management will begin a fire sale or make some moves to save face. It may not matter in the long run because this appears to be a lost season.
Kansas City Royals (52-34)
For those who thought last year’s World Series run was a fluke, you either haven’t been playing attention or root for the other teams in the Central. Here’s the real scary part of KC’s start, they’ve only gotten seven wins from their top two starters and still have the AL’s best record. How they’ll handle the Alex Gordon injury will have an immediate impact early in the second half. Their depth has been a huge strength all season and it will be tested even more in the next few months. All that being said, they clearly are the team to beat in the division.
Minnesota Twins (49-40)
Very early in the season when Minnesota got off to a woeful start, a buddy of mine called the Twins “24 guys named Joe and Torii Hunter.” Somewhere after that slow start, they gradually began to turn things around. Using a strong rotation and an Cy Young type season for reliever Glen Perkins, the Twinkies are far ahead of schedule in regards to being contenders. I’m not ready to say if they’re in it for the long haul, but I give them their due for being in the mix so far.
Detroit Tigers (44-44)
Here’s the good news, even with all the various injuries that this team has had to deal with this season, the Tigers are at the .500 mark. Now here’s the bad news, the lingering injuries (especially in the pitching staff) are a sign of a team that’s approaching the end of its long run of being the division’s benchmark. The injury of All-World 1B/DH Miguel Cabrera is clearly the most significant in the long run for Detroit. Management will never admit publicly that letting Matt Scherzger walk has hurt more than they realized. That being said, they need to add more arms come trade deadline.
Cleveland Indians (42-46)
Like many baseball fans, I really can’t get a feel of how good or bad this Cleveland team is. Inconsistencies at the plate and on the mound have left many of us scratching our heads about them. Any team with Terry Francona at the helm has to be looked at seriously. However, they really seem to be their own worst enemy. Whether it’s the lack of run support for Corey Kluber or the lack of production at short and third base, there have been many nights where they’ve shot themselves in the foot.
Chicago White Sox (41-45)
Despite a season long show of dominance from All-Star Chris Sale, Chicago has been a huge disappointment. After Sale, the rest of the starting rotation has struggled most of the season. However, the Chisox did go 9-3 in their last 12 games heading into the break. But again, it’s more reflective of their streaky nature this season. Fans have been whispering about the effectiveness of manager Robin Ventura, but he has the clear backing of management. Will that be enough for him to right the ship? Stay tuned.
LA Angels of Anaheim (48-40)
The Halos first half has played out more like a daily soap opera than that of a first place team. Between Josh Hamilton’s “banishment” back to Texas or GM Jerry DiPoto’s “resignation”, the boys in Hollywood have been busy on and off the field. They’ve put themselves in position to repeat as division champs despite a spirited challenge from Houston (we’ll get to them in a sec) with strong pitching and the offensive combo Pujols and Trout. And with Jered Weaver set to return, the could get even stronger.
Houston Astros (49-42)
Despite struggling as they headed to the break, Houston has authored one of the best first half stories of the season. Strong pitching and timely hitting have been the byproducts of their resurgence. Not to mention the emergence of young stars like SS Carlos Correia and P Lance McCullers Jr. Are they in it for the long haul? Baseball logic says if you have consistent pitching, you’ll always be in contention. If management becomes a player when the trade deadline approaches, we could be looking at this year’s version of the Royals.
Texas Rangers (42-46)
You can literally see the sign “work in progress” outside the stadium in regards to this year’s Ranger roster. Yes getting a full season out of Prince Fielder and Mitch Moreland has been a huge plus. Not to mention some consistency from a rotation that’s without Yu Darvish for a second straight season. However, this team still needs some tweaking if they’re going to looked at as serious contenders. The good news for the fans in Arlington, they’re not that far away.
Seattle Mariners (41-48)
Somewhere between just missing the playoffs last year and the beginning of the 2015 season, the Mariners have seriously lost their way. All-Stars Felix Hernandez and Nelson Cruz have done their part, but they haven’t gotten much more support. The early season slump of Robinson Cano sticks out like a sore thumb for an offense that has struggled most of the year. One gets the feeling that he’ll bounce back, but realizing that the West has gotten a bit more difficult to win this year, they can’t fall too far back.
Oakland A’s (41-50)
Look – 82 errors, 12 blown saves, and an 8-22 mark in one-run games. It’s a recipe for the worst team in MLB. Yes, they’ve sustained injuries to OF Coco Crisp and closer Sean Doolittle, but to be fair this is quite simply a very bad team. Anyone who’s followed my writings know I haven’t been the biggest fan of Billy Beane. That being said, the remnants of “Moneyball” are coming back to haunt Beane and this franchise. And it could get worse.
Up next: NL report cards.