This week, the panel discusses projections around MLB, and also the dissapointment of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Being projected to finish at the bottom of the AL East standings, Do you think the AL East champion will be either Boston or New York?
Steve: As crazy as this may sound with as well as both teams have been playing. I still like Tampa Bay to come out of the East. They have been on a surge as of late, and with Matt Moore pitching lights out, Evan Longoria hitting like an MVP candidate, the Rays are solid at virtually every position, have a strong starting rotation, and a bullpen to back it up. Eventually, the Yankees are going to slide as age and fatigue will catch up with them. I don’t think Boston is THIS good, so they are going to fall a little bit. Tampa is my pick.
Bill: It’s kind of difficult to see any other team displacing either of those two powerhouses when it comes time to crown a division champion, but to just automatically pencil them in as the champ would be a significant injustice to the other teams gunning for that spot. However, if any team has a real shot at pulling it off, I look to either Cleveland or Texas as having the best shot.
Archie: At this point it is almost like flipping a coin. Both are playing well on the road and at home. Neither team is lighting up the scoreboard offensively but the Yankees have an advantage in pitching. And since pitching can and does win pennants, I will give the nod to New York.
The Cleveland Indians are in similar position from last year before sliding to the bottom of the Central. They are in first place now. How do you see Cleveland finishing?
Steve: Third Place at best. The Indians are off to a hot start, and seem to be doing much better. They are actually a tad bit better than last year, as at this point they were -35 runs scored vs runs against, and now are at +2. The Tigers are going to be there in the end, and I see the Royals making a push for the Wild Card. The Indians will falter a bit, but may stay in contention for a while.
Bill: There’s a lot of baseball left to be played, but I don’t see them completely falling off as they did last season. Seeing as how they’ve managed to stay within the top 10 in their league with regards to runs, batting average, slug percentage, and on-base percentage, I don’t expect them to slip beyond second. Additionally, they haven’t been bitten too severely by the injury bug to this point and if they can keep that pesky bother away, I don’t think that sustaining their position will be as much of a problem as some feel it to be.
Archie: Until the Indians, Pirates and Bob Stoops’ Sooners show me they can finish a season I don’t put a lot of faith in early season success. To that point, Cleveland does not hold onto a playoff berth.
Who is the Most Valuable Player so far in both the National League and the American League?
Steve: Miguel Cabrera is on pace once again to win the Triple Crown. He is an absolutely amazing player, and without him, I don’t think the Tigers win this division. That is what an MVP is for baseball. A close second would be Evan Longoria of Tampa Bay. He is hitting well over .300 and is constantly hitting in clutch situations. Cabrera wins big, but Longoria is second.
For the National League, there really is no clear cut winner in here. If I have to choose someone, give me Justin Upton of Atlanta. Okay maybe this is a tad bit of a homer here, but his numbers have been very impressive, and has even contributed with some good defensive plays. Leading the league in Home Runs, and up there in batting average. He needs to get his RBI totals up a bit for this to be more of a comfortable pick.
Bill: That’s a tough one at this point. For the AL, it’s hard to argue with Miguel Cabrera. He simply puts up numbers and last season was just another year for him. As for the NL, I’m going to play the role of homer and say Paul Goldschmidt. The guy is getting is done for the D-Backs and ranks within the top 8 in all major categories for the NL, including first in slug %, second in HR, and third in RBIs. Pretty stellar for a guy who’s only been in the league for three years.
Archie: This is a no brainer to me. Miquel Cabrera has to be the leading candidate for the AL and even though Segura is lighting things up in Milwaukee, Joey Votto and his consistent bat has his team in good position to content for the Central crown. Given the history of his capabilities and knowing what he means to the team, I choose Votto for the NL.
Who will finish with the worst record in baseball, The Houston Astros, or Miami Marlins?
Steve: Oh gosh, they are both god awful, but I will say the Marlins, and only because of the division they are in. The Nationals, Braves, and Phillies are solid teams, and the Marlins cannot compete with their minor league farm system that they call a professional baseball team.
Bill: Marlins. They’ve been terrible for a couple seasons now and I don’t see that changing seeing the talent on the teams above them in their division. The Astros, while equally terrible, have an easier division in which to eke out their existence. The only real threats in the AL West are the Rangers and A’s. The Mariners are somewhere in the middle.
Archie: I have seen surges from the Astros. I have not seen jack from the Marlins. I say the Marlins finish with over 100 losses this season.
Who is to blame for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ struggles?
Steve: As much as I hate to say this because I have mad respect for the guy. It is Don Mattingly. Mattingly is a sound baseball mind, but he is not able to get these core of players on the same page, and playing well together. Lets be honest, most everyone picked this team to win the NL West, and some even had them playing in the World Series. Mattingly has not lit a fire in this team to start competing. It is still early, and there is enough time to turn things around, but Mattingly needs to manage this team more effectively, and that goes with the entire coaching staff. Mattingly is just at the top of that list.
Bill: In my eyes, it’s ultimately the players’ responsibility as they are the ones that swing the bats and make the pitches. Questionable calls by management are somewhat negated since they aren’t directly responsible for what’s happening on the field. The front office is another story entirely and they are still going through some growing pains, obviously. Will the Dodgers turn it around? The Padres fan in me screams “I HOPE NOT!”, but I fully expect them to right the ship. They’ve got too much talent and too much money invested to have the franchise flounder and the fan base get aggravated. Will it happen this season? Only time will tell.
Archie: To me the Dodgers are an enigma. They are middle of the pack for team average however they are at the bottom for scoring runs. They are middle of the pack in team ERA. Kershaw has five wins with a 1.35 ERA. Now that Greinke is back, he is 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA but they continue to struggle in late innings. The three game sweep by the Braves all came in the late innings. So, IF I had to look for blame I would look at the bull pen.
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