Sunday, May 31, 2009

Are These Teams for Real?

As we draw a close to the second month of the baseball season, there are teams that are surprising the prognosticators who did not believe in them. I am going to look at these teams to see whether they have staying power or whether they will fade into the background.

Detroit Tigers
Record: 28-21 (1st in AL Central)
Expectations: Most had them finishing 3rd or 4th in the division and behind the Indians and Twins.
What Has Worked: Justin Verlander has been reminded that he has the stuff of a God. Edwin Jackson built off last year with the Rays and is putting up All-Star numbers. Rick Porcello has justified the Tigers who some thought were rushing the 20-year old stud. They also have a guy named Miguel Cabrera who is hitting like Miguel Cabrera going .355-10-37.
Future: The actually have room to improve. They are getting Jeremy Bonderman back soon and I would be willing to bet Magglio Ordonez is going to break out at some point and hit for power. This team was punished for last year's disappointment and not given enough credit for what they do have. It also helps that the AL Central is not really competitive at this point. Until a second team in the Central shows up they have to be the favorites to continue and win the division.

Texas Rangers
Record: 30-20 (1st in AL West)
Expectations: 2nd or 3rd in division and a distant one from the Angels.
What has Worked: The Angels have been struggling with injuries and tragedies and they have taken advantage. They have a ridiculous lineup with Ian Kinsler and Nelson Cruz leading the way. The biggest surprise is the pitching staff. They have never been able to get pitching in Texas. While it is not gangbusters the staff has allowed the 5th least runs in the AL.
Future: They do have some room for improvement with Josh Hamilton struggling to stay healthy but not much room as Nelson Cruz is a career .263 hitter hitting .299 and I still don't believe in a pitching rotation of Kevin Millwood, Brandon McCarthy, Matt Harrison and Scott Feldman. The Angels are getting healthy and are playing better. They may make it to the All-Star break but unless the Angels don't get it together they just don't have the pitching to keep it up.

Milwaukee Brewers
Record: 30-20 (1st in NL Central)
Expectations: 3rd in NL Central
What Has Worked: Yovanni Gallardo is an All-Star pitcher and has stayed healthy. The lineup has not missed a beat with Braun, Fielder, Cameron and Hardy. Most importantly though 41 year old Trevor Hoffman has yet to give up a run this season throwing 14 scoreless innings with 12 saves.
Future: This team was supposed to be left for dead with the departure of Ben Sheets and C.C. Sabathia. Problem no one told the Brewers. They finally have found a closer they haven't had since Coco Codero. The biggest thing is they look poised to again use their deep farm system to make an acquisition. Fans want them to make a run at Peavy but with Rickie Weeks out for the year they may address second base. At this point I still believe more in the talent of the Cubs and the Cardinals. It should be a three team race all summer long and if they make a move before the deadline they could easily win the division.

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