Monday, August 11, 2008

Are we done yet?

With less than 50 games left on the schedule, the contenders have somewhat started to separate themselves from the pack. The inception of the Wild Card in 1997 has given teams with no shot at a division title another chance to make the playoffs. Playoff battles are rarely decided until the last week or two (unless your the LA Angels), which leads to an amazing last few weeks. Granted, we have seen teams such as the 2007 Colorado Rockies go on some absurd streak by winning 15 of 16 or the 2002 Athletics winning 20 in a row in late 2002. So obviously, anything can still happen.

Even though "anything can happen", so teams are more screwed than others by either having bad luck, not playing well, or by being inconsistent. Jorge Says No! proudly presents (in the words of Christopher "Mad Dog" Russo):

THEY'RE DONE! D! O! N! E! (or are they?)

Absolutely DONE (no shot at playoffs):
Seattle Mariners, Oakland A's, Kansas City Royals, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres

Too Close to Call (close division races):
NY Mets, Florida Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, LA Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, Minnesota Twins, Tampa Rays, Boston Red Sox

In the Playoffs: LA Angels (14 Game Lead)

*Now we have the "toss up teams"*

New York Yankees:
This one is hard for me. I want to say they are done because they are 8.5 out of the division (behind two teams) and 4 games back of the wild card (behind two teams). I want to tell you that they are done because they have played some really bad baseball lately (losing 5 of 6) and losing their ace Joba Chamberlain. I want to tell you they are done because Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, and Bobby Abreu are all having down years, while Melky Cabrera has fallen off the face of the Earth. I want to tell you they are done because they have 6 games against the Rays, 6 against the Red Sox, and 3 more against the Angels). But people, these are they Yankees. They ALWAYS come back. They have been down before and always find a way (or at least they have for the past 12 seasons). So, until I see the Yanks farther out in the Wild Card, I can't call them dead just yet. As much as I want to.

Detroit Tigers:
I don't know what is more surprising: that Armando Galarraga has 10 wins or that the Tigers have struggled this season. Off season acquisitions Edgar Renteria and Dontrelle Willis have been miserable this season, especially Willis, who is currently in Class A Lakeland trying to fix his control. The main problem is simple: pitching. The Tigers have not had a reliable bullpen all year, have lost Jeremy Bonderman for the season, and have gotten bad years from Justin Verlander, Nate Robertson, and Kenny Rogers. You know your in trouble when Farnsworth-less is a main cog in your bullpen. Their schedule down the stretch isn't that bad (9 against KC, 6 against Cleveland), but even their dynamite offense cannot make up for their horrific pitching as they are already 8.5 out of the wild card and 7.5 out of the division. I have no faith in them
D! O! N! E! They're Done!

Texas Rangers

They have been one of my favorite teams to watch this season because of their electrifying offense (Chris Davis, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young). They also have 4 quality young catchers (Laird, Saltalamacchia, Ramirez, and Teagarden), which no other team can claim to have. However, like the Detroit Tigers, the Rangers have NO pitching. The lowest ERA in their starting rotation right now is Scott Feldman with a 4.82 ERA. Simply put, that's horrible. I cant even fault the coaches on this one, there is not much talent on the pitching side. With so much bad pitching, it is amazing that they are only 6.5 games out of the wild card. They have a brutal schedule down the stretch as the play Boston (6 times), LA Angels (10 times), so they have no shot.
D! O! N! E! They're Done!

Toronto Blue Jays

The Jays can certainly pitch, but they simply do not have enough offense to compete. They are only 8 games back in the Wild Card, but they have 4 teams ahead of them. Injuries to Vernon Wells, Scott Rolen and Aaron Hill combined with the poor performance of Alex Rios, David Eckstein, and Matt Stairs have caused the offense to struggle. Despite the brilliance of Roy Halladay, they simply have to many teams to jump and not enough offense to do it.
D! O! N! E! They're Done!

Colorado Rockies

They were last year's Cinderella, but they have come back down to Earth this season. Outside of Aaron Cook, Ubaldo Jimenez, Taylor Buccholz and Brian Fuentes, the pitching has been awful. The offense has been fine statistically, but the loss of Todd Helton will hurt the offense and defense. They made a remarkable run at the end of last season, but they have been a below .500 team for the past two seasons if you take away that lucky stretch. The rest of the NL West sucks so another quality run (win 6 or more) can have them in contention. I'm not ready to count them out yet.
NOT DONE (but their close)

St Louis Cardinals

They got off to a great start led by Kyle Lohse, Ryan Ludwick, Rick Ankiel and Albert Pujols; but they have tailed off recently. The Cardinals pitching has tailed off a little bit (4.18 team ERA before all star break, 4.48 after all star break) as the offense has remained consistent (.280 team batting average). I like the makeup of this team a lot, but I think they have no shot of the division. And even though they are only 3 games out of the Wild Card, the Brewers have much better pitching.
NOT DONE (but their in some trouble)

By my count, that leaves us with only 14 teams that have no shot at making the playoffs this season. Sixteen teams have some shot at making the playoffs, which tells us that the parity in baseball is strong and that the races will be tons of fun to watch down the stretch.

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