Travel Day

The breaking out of the brooms was the story that dominated MLB this week  as the 2012 MLB season passes the 60% threshold.

Sweeps

Tigers-White Sox

There was no bigger favorite in MLB to win their division in 2012 than the Detroit Tigers.  Playing in a division regarded as weak, the Tigers added Prince Fielder to the roster in the offseason and looked as sure as death and taxes to win the AL Central.

The Tigers had been sluggish all year,  but it never felt anything but inevitable to me that eventually they’d pass the Indians and White Sox.  The Tigers sweep of the White Sox finally puts them where virtually every writer and fan thought they’d be when the season began. Miguel Cabrera hit his 300th career home run to lead the way on Sunday.

Though the Tigers’ lead in the AL Central is only 1 1/2 games, the bottom line is that the Tigers are much more likely to pass the Yankees and Rangers for the first or second playoff seed than they are to lose the Central and that’s where their focus is.

Reds-Brewers

Despite losing star first baseman Joey Votto, the Reds swept their division rival to maintain a slim lead on the Pirates while all but ending the Brewers playoff hopes.

Pirates-Marlins

No matter which team you are a fan of, its pretty hard not to like the story of the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates.  It was exactly 20 years ago that the Pirates last made the playoffs.  After concluding their sweep of the Marlins, the Pirates now have the third best record in the National League with only 68 games left to play.  A.J. Burnett ran his record to 11-3 with another fantastic start.  Burnett looms as a legitimate Cy Young contender, his 2012 performance mocking those foolish enough to have called his trade by the Yankees for two inconsequential minor league prospects  a good one.  Andrew McCutcheon is on fire, now leading MLB with a .372 batting average along with 22 home runs and a 1.070 OPS.  The Pirates are a legitimate team and the time to stop doubting them has arrived.  Sometimes something is as good as it seems, regardless of how unlikely that something is.

As far as the Marlins go, it is very hard to believe that they are now 44-51 when you look at who is on their roster.  Their offseason additions looked to have made them a serious contender, but Marlins fans must feel like a guy at a train station whose looking down the tracks for a train that never left its station.  If it wasn’t already assumed that the Marlins won’t make the playoffs, it is now.

Dodgers-Mets

The Mets were a feel good surprise for most of this season, outperforming their odds and the talent on their roster. The Mets are now below .500 and while their playoff chances look very remote, they have nothing to be ashamed of while still leading the much higher payroll division rivals Marlins and Phillies.

Blue Jays-Red Sox

Just when everyone had buried the Blue Jays’ 2012 season, they sweep the Red Sox to remain in wild card contention in the AL.  Crushed in 2012 by injury after injury, the Blue Jays sweep put them back over .500 and only 3 games behind the last wildcard spot in the AL.

The Red Sox season of mediocrity and inconsistency continues, with Jon Lester getting hammered on Sunday representing the low point of their season. Adrian Gonzalez has heated up, but injured David Ortiz has been the only reliable player on the roster in 2012.  The Red Sox are now at 48-48 and are last in the AL East.

Cardinals-Cubs

The good news for the Cardinals is that they swept their weekend series. The bad news for the Cardinals is that the two teams that they are chasing in the NL Central did also.  The Cardinals remain 5 and 4 1/2 games behind the Reds and Pirates respectively in their division.  For the Cubs, it’s another hapless season devoid of any hope.

Diamondbacks-Astros

The Diamondbacks were a very popular pick to repeat in the NL West in 2012.  Unable to get into high gear and rip off a big winning streak, the Diamondbacks are still clinging to life in the NL playoff race after a sweep of the Astros.  The Diamondbacks now trail the division leading Giants by 6 games and the last wildcard slot by 5 games.  The Astros now have the worst record in MLB at 34-62.

Orioles-Indians

For quite a while now the Orioles have been hanging around or in second place in the AL East. While pundit after pundit declares the Rays or Red Sox ready to make a run, the Orioles just keep on winning and clinging to the lead in the race for the last wild card slot in the AL.

Despite their rivals outscoring them by 44 runs so far in the 2012 season, the Orioles are 51-44 on the strength of their amazing record in one-run games and extra inning games.  To those of us who consider a team’s record in those “coin flip” games to be a product of a good manager much more so than luck, there is no question who the manager of the year in the AL has been in 2012. Orioles skipper Buck Showalter is now 19-6 in games decided by one run this year and 10-2 in extra inning games. Showalter is making all the right moves.

The Indians have been in contention since the 2012 season started but are fading fast, now one game below .500 after going 3-7 in their last ten games.

A’s-Yankees

The A’s have made a huge run into playoff contention and this weekend’s four-game sweep of the Yankees cemented that.

A sluggish Yankee offense was on the losing end of four straight one run losses. Manager Joe Girardi continues to feed his critics plenty of ammunition while frustrating his supporters.

While the Yankees continue to lead the AL East, that lead is now down to six games.  The Yankees have the best record in the AL, but are only 13-13 in games decided by one run, which is only tied for 9th best(with the Twins)in the AL. Managers don’t decide every game, but earn their stripes in the close ones. Girardi isn’t earning his stripes in close games and that is a serious issue for the Yankees.

If The Playoffs Started Today….

In the AL:

The Orioles and A’s would have a one game playoff to determine who faced the Angels in Anaheim in another one game playoff to determine who faced the Yankees.  Got that?

The Rangers would have home field advantage over the Tigers in the other series.

In the NL:

The Pirates would host the Braves in a one game playoff to determine who played the Nationals.

The Reds would have home field advantage over the Giants in the other series.

Tweet Of The Week

“No, I love home runs :) I just find that when we play some close games, Girardi gets out managed & we fail to score when needed.”@melonsports after Girardi’s Yankees blew their 4th consecutive one run game with some help from Girardi’s bizarre decision-making.

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About Michael P.

I am a Saratoga Springs, Ny resident whose been sports obsessed since I was 5 years old.

Posted on July 23, 2012, in Travel Day. Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Yeah i didn’t see the Marlins being this bad. I thought they were going to make a run in the NL East.

  2. Fish just saw this tweet about your boy.

    • Matt we need another bat and Upton is exactly the kind of bat we need. I want him badly.
      Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

      • He has a decent contract and is signed to 2015. I think he has a limited no trade clause and the Yankees are on that list but i could be wrong on that.

        He does but up big numbers and can steal bases so I don’t see a negative with him on the team.

        What is everyone’s thoughts on Upton?

        • Still would not overpay for him. As I said before with the best record in baseball no need to overpay for anybody. Upton’s great contract makes him a lot more attractive though. There are questions that he may have chronic shoulder issues and the fact that he has underachieved so far has had people question his work ethic. I don’t know if either is true just throwing it out there. Saying he has underachieved is interesting because he is still so young but he probably has this year particularly. Probably would not do Williams and Sanchez in the same deal. Would rather not put Austin in a deal with one of those 2 eitherif I could avoid it. Would do something like Williams or Sanchez, Banuelos, Phelps, Nunez. Would Arizona though? Idk. I have heard lately that they want to trade him in the offseason, which makes more sense so I don’t even think he gets traded.

  3. Yanks make a good move picking up Ichiro, now they have some speed with veteran presence.

  4. Tigers get Anibal Sanchez and Infante with a trade with the Marlins. This makes the Tigers rotation top notch.

  5. This was a very good move by the Yankees. They gave up nothing and got somebody that hopefully can be like Gardner. Hopefully being in contention for a ring revives Ichiro’s bat and he still is great on D and the bases. With their position in the standings I am fine with them going this route rather than giving up the farm for Upton, who I think may still be available in the offseason where the Yankees tend to do their big moves.

  6. Ichiro is a big upgrade in defense vs jones, ibanez and swish…but Unfortunately the great Ichiro is 38 and has been washed up now for 2 seasons offensively : (unlike the great Jeter)

    RK PLAYER TEAM AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO AVG OBP SLG OPS OWAR
    1 Mike Trout LAA 305 71 109 19 5 15 47 31 3 30 67 .357 .412 .600 1.012 0.0
    2 Austin Jackson DET 292 59 92 18 5 10 44 9 3 39 77 .315 .396 .514 .910 0.0
    3 Josh Willingham MIN 332 55 90 22 1 23 68 2 1 51 86 .271 .384 .551 .935 0.0
    4 Ben Zobrist TB 325 56 82 23 5 11 39 12 8 65 57 .252 .379 .455 .834 0.0
    5 Shin-Soo Choo CLE 355 63 105 30 2 12 39 10 4 40 84 .296 .378 .493 .871 0.0
    6 Alex Gordon KC 382 54 112 31 3 5 36 3 3 49 76 .293 .375 .429 .804 0.0
    7 Josh Hamilton TEX 334 57 98 16 1 28 80 6 3 36 91 .293 .361 .599 .959 0.0
    8 Jose Bautista TOR 328 63 80 14 0 27 65 5 2 58 61 .244 .360 .534 .894 0.0
    9 Seth Smith OAK 249 36 62 13 2 11 33 2 2 37 60 .249 .355 .450 .805 0.0
    10 Mark Trumbo LAA 331 48 100 16 3 27 66 4 3 25 75 .302 .354 .613 .967 0.0
    RK PLAYER TEAM AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO AVG OBP SLG OPS OWAR
    11 Nick Markakis BAL 246 31 68 17 1 8 27 1 1 27 38 .276 .350 .451 .801 0.0
    12 Michael Brantley CLE 360 42 106 27 4 4 46 10 6 31 38 .294 .349 .425 .774 0.0
    13 Josh Reddick OAK 350 55 95 19 4 21 46 8 0 41 88 .271 .349 .529 .878 0.0
    14 Ben Revere MIN 257 31 80 8 3 0 15 21 5 14 21 .311 .349 .366 .715 0.0
    15 Alex Rios CHW 358 55 112 22 5 15 57 14 5 17 48 .313 .348 .528 .876 0.0
    16 Curtis Granderson NYY 366 67 90 10 3 26 53 6 3 54 114 .246 .347 .503 .849 0.0
    17 Alejandro De Aza CHW 377 63 106 20 5 6 37 16 8 33 78 .281 .346 .408 .755 0.0
    18 Denard Span MIN 354 43 99 24 2 3 30 9 6 35 47 .280 .344 .384 .728 0.0
    19 Nick Swisher NYY 302 40 78 22 0 14 54 1 2 39 80 .258 .342 .470 .812 0.0
    20 Adam Jones BAL 383 63 112 22 3 22 50 11 5 20 67 .292 .337 .538 .874 0.0
    RK PLAYER TEAM AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BB SO AVG OBP SLG OPS OWAR
    21 Torii Hunter LAA 283 43 76 10 1 10 41 3 0 22 76 .269 .327 .417 .744 0.0
    22 Nelson Cruz TEX 348 50 91 25 0 12 56 7 4 30 96 .261 .324 .437 .760 0.0
    23 Michael Saunders SEA 317 41 82 22 1 9 33 14 3 28 81 .259 .318 .420 .737 0.0
    24 Colby Rasmus TOR 357 52 88 19 4 17 60 4 2 33 79 .246 .314 .465 .779 0.0
    25 B.J. Upton TB 312 38 77 14 1 9 36 16 5 30 94 .247 .309 .385 .693 0.0
    26 Desmond Jennings TB 272 39 65 9 3 6 28 17 1 24 63 .239 .307 .360 .667 0.0
    27 Dayan Viciedo CHW 304 37 77 9 1 15 44 0 0 15 72 .253 .292 .438 .729 0.0
    28 Brennan Boesch DET 334 41 85 18 0 11 43 3 2 15 64 .254 .291 .407 .698 0.0
    29 Ichiro Suzuki NYY/SEA 406 49 106 15 5 4 28 16 2 17 40 .261 .288 .352 .640 0.0
    30 Jeff Francoeur KC 364 35 89 16 3 8 27 1 5 16 66 .245 .283 .371 .654 0.0
    Glossary

    • Still though it was a good trade and you have being on a team that can make the playoffs gives him some juice to pick it back up.

      Did you not like the trade Twasp?

  7. Yeah, Matt, I like it …..we didn’t give up anything…..and we upgraded our defense. Didn’t know Ichiro’s offense had trailed off so badly though. So I don’t expect much from him offensively. Risk/Reward wise it’s a nice pick up.

  8. Michael P. – I’d love to get AJ, Jackson, Montero, Kennedy and Melky back.

  9. Flat earth society……funny stuff…….

  10. Ken – are you the President of the Flat earth Society?

    • Yup, And you guys are way off base, Jackson and Milky are the only ones we could use…before the trade.
      1-AJ is not going to change from what he was in NY.
      2-Kennedy is not a pitcher for the AL East, never has been.
      3-Monty, the jury is still out on him…if he hits as he did the end of last year ok, otherwise no!

  11. TWASP SHOCKING STATISTIC

    the Tigers leadoff hitter has as many RBI’s (44) as the Yankees 3/4 hitter.

  12. twasp…
    Before you guys get yourselves all bent out of shape and think I am saying we should have kept Jackson and Melky you are wrong.
    Keeping Jackson would have hurt us in the bigs, therefore he would be in AAA yet. A wast from two years learning where it counts the most.
    Melky is harder to justify but, he had almost 3 wasted years after leaving the Yankees. Last year at the end and so far this year he is putting up respectable numbers and very good BA and OBP numbers. Do you think the 10 or so HRs and RBIs that Milky has had the last few years is better than the production we have had from Swisher. Granted, Swisher is not the fielder Melky is but, close enough to get by with it the way it had turned out.
    Taking the stats the two of them had put up after leaving the lights of the Show in NY…I say if we had kept them with what they put up as stats…they would have been on the AAA team and a five-year waste for the Yankees!
    That’s my take on it , I am sure you may have objections to some of my conclusions!
    So, guys, what say you?

  13. Ken -You have a keen analytical mind. Young analysts like Michael P. Are afraid to challenge your conclusions.

    What you are saying is that Kennedy and Burnett would not have been successful here like they have been elsewhere.

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