I can’t believe it’s already June 1st.
While this date might seem unimportant to some, it’s very important when it comes to those of us tracking Major League Baseball’s marathon known as the regular season.
Why? Well for a few reasons:
For starters teams now have to begin evaluating whether they are contenders or pretenders. They also need to start looking at whether they will be buyers or sellers for the July 31st trade deadline. Another reason for June’s importance is this is a month than can separate you or bring you back to the pack. On this date in 2014 the American League Division leaders were Toronto (by 3.5), Detroit (by 4.5) and Oakland (by 4.5). In June those leaders struggled while Baltimore, Kansas City, and Los Angeles began to make their moves.
So as we enter the Summer months I wanted to comment on five observations I’ve made on the season; starting with…
1. We really shouldn’t be surprised the Houston Astros are this good (31-20)
I’ve heard a lot of people calling the Astros start to the season a surprise. I would like to argue that it would have been a surprise had they not gotten off to a good start in 2015. Chris Carter, George Springer, and Evan Gattis should have told you they were going to hit for power (average… not so much), Jose Altuve is one of the best overall hitters/players in baseball ( I always love seeing fellow second baseman play at this level) and is setting the tone for those behind him, and Carlos Correa is on his way to make the lineup even better. Houston’s relievers have posted a 2.28 ERA with 19 saves to finally give their starters some help at the end of games. The only surprise, for me, is whether or not the team will make adjustments as the league is certainly going to do with them. Also…
2. No one should be surprised the Padres aren’t lighting up the NL West (24-27)
Remember in the offseason when everyone was wowed by the myriad moves new Padres general manager A.J. Preller was making? When he brought in Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Wil Myers? Or when he traded for Craig Kimbrel and B.J. Upton minutes before the regular season began? These moves were supposed to remake the roster and make them instant contenders.
Yeah I never bought into that.
I’ve said it before and will say it again: you don’t win in Major League Baseball by mortgaging your future for immediate satisfaction (that is probably a good life lesson too). Jace Peterson is a Brave and performing well. Matt Wisler is a Brave and also performing very well. Mallex Smith and Dustin Peterson are experiencing the same success. That doesn’t even speak to Max Fried’s recovery. All of them top prospects who used to be on their way to helping San Diego to controllable success. While Justin Upton leads the Padres in every offensive statistic, Matt Kemp is being out performed by Yangervis Solarte, B.J. Upton hasn’t played a game in 2015, Wil Myers is hampered by injuries, and Craig Kimbrel hasn’t resembled anything close to what the Padres thought they were getting.
Their next plan? Improved development?
3. Minnesota doing what Minnesota used to do: Develop and win (30-19)
The Minnesota Twins won 20 games in May. That isn’t a typo; also I give you full permission to be as shocked as I am by what they’re doing. Torii Hunter is putting together yet another solid year (.280/7 HR/32 RBI) at age 39 and helps the production from they have gotten already from Plouffe, Dozier, and Mauer. Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton are top prospects in the minors that will only aid in the Twins, possibly, hanging around in the Central race in 2015 and beyond.
4. Miami Marlins debacle is makes me wonder if someone from MLB should step in
Before the season I had the Marlins as a borderline contender for the National League East title and a noisemaker in the Wild Card chase.
At this point .500 baseball looks like a struggle.
Encouraging news came for the team and its Ace today, but the missteps and poor management to this point have been confusing. They fired Mike Redmond (probably warranted) but hired their general manager, Dan Jennings, to be their on-field manager.
A lineup this good with the pitching they have (even with the injuries) shouldn’t have the Marlins at -21 differential on the season. My advice: hire a real manager, move Jennings back to the front-office, and bring someone from MLB in to investigate how this became a circus in the first place.
5. A-Rod: The Sympathetic Figure?
I had to catch myself.
Through the first two months Alex Rodriguez has performed at a level that has kept the Yankees in the thick of the American League East race. He has performed at a level that deserves credit, but what about sympathy?
He served his suspension, he’s performed, and he’s kept his nose clean (for all we know). So why the non-payment of bonuses from the Yankees? Rodriguez is scheduled to receive “Milestone Bonuses” for home runs that pass current players on the all-time list. This isn’t a “woe is me” story for A-Rod; it’s principle. If the Yankees don’t pay him for reaching the marketing milestones they feel they can no longer market, then why stop the moral stance at A-Rod? Aren’t you, the organization the owner of a 2009 championship he helped to bring the franchise?
Will you forfeit that or continue to market yourselves as 27-time World Series Champions?
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