Interleague play, buyers and sellers, A.J. Burnett dealing, and more this week from the world of MLB.
The main phase on interleague play got underway this weekend and the results were AL 22 wins and NL 20 wins.
The Diamondbacks, Yankees, Nationals and Rays swept the A’s, Mets, Red Sox, and Marlins respectively.
Jim Leyland’s comments about interleague play last year accurately summed up the feeling of many players, managers, and fans. Leyland said:
“It certainly was a brilliant idea to start with — it was a tremendous idea — but it has run its course.
“I’ll probably get a phone call (for saying this), but this is totally ridiculous, and I think a lot of people feel the same way,”
Leyland’s comments last year were on the mark. After the 1994 strike that crippled the public’s interest in MLB, iinterleague play was a useful gimmick to help restore interest in the game. As time has marched on, interleague play has developed the feel of being an interruption to the season, especially with an additional wildcard now up for grabs in each league.
Buyers And Sellers?
The arrival of interleague play and first questions about which teams will assume the roles of buyers and sellers before trade deadline seem to fit together like peanut butter and jelly.
Last year’s trade activity was very limited and largely confined to the very late stages before the deadline. This year’s activity could be far more spirited due to the incredible number of teams in contention for a playoff spot.
In the AL, only Seattle, Oakland, Kansas City, and Minnesota appear out of any contention for a playoff spot. In the NL, only Houston, Colorado, Chicago, and San Diego appear to be out of any contention for a playoff spot.
Teams like Detroit and Philadelphia, who were expected to breeze to playoff spots, are struggling to stay in contention. Teams like Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland are firmly in the battle for the playoff spots. This trade deadline season has the look of a seller’s paradise. In recent years the trade deadline deals have been dominated by salary dumps or looming free agent rentals. It has been quite a while since we saw old fashioned player swaps for need by GM’s. I think it is very possible that some of those old fashioned player swaps could take place this summer.
There are simply so many contending teams with needs this year as the deadline season begins that it is very possible that GM’s may make some moves in the manner that their predecessors did for years and years before free agency altered the way baseball business was conducted.
A.J. Burnett To The All Star Game?
Yesterday in an interleague game vs. the Royals, A.J. Burnett continued the fantastic 2012 season he’s been having.
Burnett has been stellar for the Pirates this season, compiling a 6-2 record with a 3.61 ERA. Burnett’s performance has been even better than it looks by those numbers. When you remove one awful outing against the Cardinals in which Burnett allowed 12 earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings pitched, Burnett’s ERA in his other 9 starts is 1.89.
Burnett has now won five games in a row, and the Pirates have now won seven consecutive games that Burnett has started as they’ve moved into a tie for first place in the NL West with the Reds.
Burnett was the subject of incredible scrutiny in NY, with much of the New York media making him a scapegoat for anything wrong with the Yankees during his time there.
While many are simply attributing Burnett’s success with the Pirates to a lack of pressure in a smaller market, it probably isn’t that simple. When Burnett was traded he wondered aloud if he had let too many people tinker with him and his former catcher Russell Martin backed up Burnett’s assertion.
The Yankees basically gave Burnett away to the Pirates, receiving two very ordinary single A prospects in return for Burnett while eating twenty million dollars of his remaining guranteed salary.
The Pirates may have made this trade hoping for Burnett to get off to his traditional good start while looking to trade him to another team before the trade deadline. Now, with the Pirates leading the NL Central, it is likely that the Pirates keep Burnett and look to deal him in the offseason instead.
If The Playoffs Started Now….
In the AL, the Yankees would host the Orioles in a one game playoff with the winner advancing to play the Rays.
The White Sox would play the Rangers in the other series.
In the NL, the Braves would host the Giants in a one game playoff with the winner advancing to play the Dodgers.
The Pirates and Reds would have a one game playoff to determine who went on to play the Nationals in the other series.
Tweet Of The Week
“Everything” @nyyeric in response to being asked what the last place Phillies needs were in a theoretical trade for OF Juan Pierre.