Sunday, September 23, 2007

Some baseball thoughts

As usual, the NL has some tight races, especially the Wild Card, so I thought I'd completely ignore that and talk about some other stuff.

If you're a San Francisco Giants fan, there's not much to look forward to now that the Barry Bonds watch is over and done with. The Giants rank 29th out of 30 major league teams in runs scored, and out of position players with 300 AB or more, none of them were born after 1975. However, ignoring all of the bad, and there is quite a lot of that, the Giants do have a bright, shining light. Fans should be very happy with their rotation. In the past month, the starters have looked like this -
Barry Zito - 30.0 IP, 22 K, 3.60 ERA, 1.17 WHIP
Matt Cain - 28.2 IP, 27 K, 3.77 ERA, 1.05 WHIP
Kevin Correia - 35.2 IP, 26 K, 2.02 ERA, 1.09 WHIP
Tim Lincecum - (shut down for rest of the season to preserve arm health, but in 146.1 IP on the year, had 150 K, 4.00 ERA, 1.28 WHIP)

That's a very good front four. And who will fill in the 5th slot? Well, they don't have to go back to Russ Ortiz; there are options. Noah Lowry? Jonathan Sanchez? At least one of them could be ready to go by April 2008.

Speaking of the Wild Card (we were, back at the beginning of this post), I've heard more rumbling about the divisions. After all this time, people are still uncomfortable that the AL West has two less teams than the NL Central. Arguably, it's easier for the Angels to grab a division title than the Cubs. I'm sort of wondering why MLB does not just go back to the duel divisions (East and West), and have two wild cards, either one out of each division or two out of each league. That would leave seven teams in the AL East, seven in the AL West, eight in the NL East, and, of course, eight in the NL West. Not only would that balance things, but it would allow more teams to face each other more often, instead of one team playing 75 games against four division rivals.

Finally, the Yankees have been routinely criticized for buying expensive free agents, stocking their team with high priced hired guns. So when the Yankees began passing on certain top free agents like Carlos Beltran and Barry Zito, and instead starting promoting young farm players like Robinson Cano, Chien-Ming Wang, Melky Cabrera, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, and Shelley Duncan (not to mention those that haven't found a home on the pro roster, such as Tyler Clippard), people had less to complain about, but no less hate. In fact, the anger probably grew. Here was a team that could sign Roger Clemens for $28 million for about 20 starts and yet still call up one of Baseball Prospectus' top prospects. If you thought Clay Buchholz's not hitter in only his second major league start was impressive (it was), Hughes did the same thing (granted, he only pitched 6.1 innings because he hurt himself for a few months, but it's all apples and carrots).

Anyway, my guess is that due to the fact the Yankees are relying on their farm system as much if not more than free agency these days, you're going to start hearing the drum beats grow louder that the Bombers use their corpulent financial resources in ways other teams can't. If the Yankees happen to win the World Series this year, it will happen ahead of schedule. Count on it.

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