MLB RT 17 SEP 2013
As always, trying to address the issues in MLB for the week. If you have any suggestions or topics you would like to see us address, just drop a comment below. IF you think we are out of our minds, please feel free to comment as well.
ARCHIE: IMO, Texas is choking on their tongues right now. Having won only 2 of their last ten and facing five straight road games (Wednesday 18, September) against competitive clubs, they stand a good chance at completing that choking process. I told you guys last week to keep your eye on Cleveland. They are now just ½ games out of the WC lead. The only saving grace is that Texas finishes at home against the Astros and Angels.
STEPHAN: While I really don’t think any team is “playing scared.” I do think that the Texas Rangers are feeling a little tense right now. They have lost their grip on the Wild Card race, and all but played themselves out of the American League West division race. They have lost 8 out of their last ten games, and have fallen 6 1/2 games back in the West, and currently just a half of a game up on the second wild card, tied with Tampa Bay. They are in a tough position right now, and have to play top notch baseball from now until the end of the year just to make the playoffs.
JOSEPH: The Yankees. This is as unclutch as I have seen the Yanks be in a very long time. I mean this isn’t just about one game here and there but a series of games that they are losing where I think in recent years gone by they would have won. The pitching which was a rock earlier in the year is now in shambles and without reliable pitching they can forget about making the playoffs. Besides even if by some circumstance, which would entail four or five other clubs all going into the toilet, that they did make the playoffs without reliable pitching they ain’t going past the wild card game play-in.
They are so pitiful lately; during their last two series versus the Red Sox it seemed no matter what they did the Red Sox had an answer and almost swept them in the two series. While it’s true “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” the Yanks are beginning to feel the fork sticking them that will ultimately say “They are done.”
2. Which team feels the largest sense of urgency that if it does not happen this year, then their chances of winning it all may have past them by for a few season?
ARCHIE: Under normal circumstances I would say the Yankees, but then, they are not the normal club. IF they can’t raise the talent they will buy it, and it is for those reasons they don’t make my list for this issue. And while choice is middle of the pack for payroll they have right at 30 players and their current Manager whose contract ends at the end of the season. All they will have left at the end of the season going into the offseason is some very lucrative but crappy obligations to B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla; yes folks, they would the Braves.
STEPHAN: Looking at all the contending teams. I don’t think there is one team that would have to say it is now or never. I would think that the Yankees would have the most “pressure” to win this year. Which is technically true, except they are the New York Yankees, and you cannot count out what the Steinbrenner’s will do. The rest of the contending teams still have many solid years ahead of them, so their time is not up after this season.
JOSEPH: I’m not sure. Normally I would insert Pittsburgh here but if they keep a lot of the guys they got in trades and shore up their pitching a tad I see them being competitive for a long time. So, it just might be Texas. If they fail to make it with this team then maybe they have more holes in their lineup then was previously thought and I am not sure how easy it will be to fix those holes or how much money their ownership would be willing to spend to do it. Either way I think they need to do some major rehab work in the offseason.
ARCHIE: All you have to do is look at my answer for #2, B.J. Upton. What a pathetic year. BA .188, OBP .271, SLG .295, OPS .566 OPS+ of 54. The MLB average player has a .254 BA, .398 SLG and.716 OPS. With the average MLB salary for an outfielder at $3.71 million a year, how does he even come close to earning his paycheck?
STEPHAN: The easy choice is Josh Hamilton, who signed a mammoth contract with the Angels, and has been all but mum all season long. He got off to slow starts before, but always seemed to come to life after the break. This season he was not able to do much of anything, and despite having an “okay” year, he was not worth the money that the Angels spent on him.
JOSEPH: Wow… Where do I start… Josh Hamilton, CC Sabathia, Paul Konerko, Rickie Weeks, J. P. Arencibia, Joe Blanton are some that had disappointing years and should mail back their paychecks. But, my overall choice for “worst” is B. J. Upton. Right now his numbers stand at 118 games played with just 30 runs scored, 14 doubles, 9 HRs, 12 stolen bases, 146 strike outs and a .188 batting average coupled with a .271 on base percentage. These numbers are so far removed from anything he put up in his other years in the bigs that, in a word, it is pitiful.
4. How critical is finishing strong the last week of the season towards making a run in the playoffs?
ARCHIE: I feel it is very hard to fine tune a team to playoff caliber performance once they have been shut down to minimal performance. Don’t misunderstand, I DO believe in giving guys days off to recover from late season aches and pains but I don’t think managers should take their foot off the pedal one damn bit. I can already see a couple of teams (cough, cough, cough,…Braves…Dodgers) easing up and I think it is going to cost them in the long run. While the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds and now the Nationals are all playing hard to jockey for position, the other two clubs have lost their edge.
STEPHAN: In 2003, the Florida Marlins finished strong and won the World Series. In 2008, the Colorado Rockies won the pennant after winning something like 20 straight games including the post season. So that would tell you that finishing strong would mean you can carry that over to the post season. However, what many do not realize is that the Yankees during their World Series runs in the late nineties were prone to rest their starters, and one year even lost six straight games to end the season, only to win the World Series. I don’t think you have to finish strong, if your team is built for the post season. I do think that momentum does help though carry the team at times.
JOSEPH: I am under the belief that it is always critical, and I don’t care what sport it is. While a team may need to (or just want to) rest some players, I think they still need to be playing in games and playing those games to win no matter where they are in the standings…first or wild card contenders. In some ways, I think this is why sometimes wild card teams have a slight advantage over teams that clinched weeks before the season’s end because they are playing with intensity due to the fact all the games count for something. Where the other teams start to sit back and relax and maybe get off their game a bit.
Now this is not to say early wins and losses don’t count as much as late wind and losses rather it is all about competitiveness and readiness.
5. Who are your AL/NL series contestants at this point?
ARCHIE: The World Series will feature the St. Louis Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers…….again! Both teams have the hungriest of animals gnawing at the plate.
STEPHAN: This is a tough one because we don’t even know who of the 7 teams in the American League is going to be in the Wild Card game, and the fact that the Washington Nationals are playing lights out baseball. So I will be conservative on this question and say that you NLCS game will be the Atlanta Braves vs the Los Angeles Dodgers. Both teams have a solid top to bottom lineup, as well as a solid pitching staff. The Cardinals are going to be tough to beat as well, and the Pirates are very hungry and could surprise some people, but the Braves and Dodgers are playing the best all around baseball, and can win a short series.
In the American League, I have no idea to be honest, so I am going to say the Oakland Athletics will face the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS. Oakland is the team that not many people outside of the city is paying much attention to. However they are winning by playing solid fundamental baseball, and that is what wins you championships. The Red Sox have consistently been at the top of the American League all season long, and that will carry over to the playoffs.
JOSEPH: In the NL I got division winners: Atlanta (1 seed), Pittsburgh (2 seed) and Los Angeles (3 seed); with wild cards: St. Louis and Cincinnati. I’ll take Cincinnati in the wild game, so I see the real first round of the NL playoffs being Cincinnati vs. Atlanta and Pittsburgh vs. Los Angeles.
In the AL I got division winners: Boston (1 seed), Oakland (2 seed) and Detroit (3 seed); with wild cards: Tampa and Cleveland. I’ll take Cleveland in the wild card game, so I see the real first round of the AL playoffs being Boston vs. Cleveland and Oakland vs. Detroit.
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