Alright, let’s figure out what these teams need to win it all (or make me look like a genius, whichever comes first). I’ll go down the order reflecting today’s standings.
Cleveland Indians: Play some make up games…
Really. The Indians have been very good this year, they’ve scored runs when needed and they’ve pitched effectively when the run support hasn’t been there. But it’s the offense that’s been the catalyst this early in the season – they’re second in the league in runs scored, second in runs batted in, and third in on-base percentage.
Their starting pitching has been there too. Though they’ve employed the services of six starters, three of those have been quality material. Staff Ace C.C. Sabathia has been a stud, going 6-1 with a 3.51 ERA, while Fausto Carmona (2.77 ERA) and Paul Byrd (3.81) have identical 5 and 1 records. Cliff Lee, 2-1, has had brushes with success, but he’s also been disastrous, posting a bloated 5.93 ERA. Their other two starters, Jeremy Sowers and Jake Westbrook might be the prototype fifth starter, destined only to chew-up innings, while keeping the team in the game, hoping the offense pick them up in the end. Their records, 1-4, 1-2, and their ERA, 6.29, 7.90 respectively, though, are not inspiring.
The only problem has been the bullpen; out of the seven relievers that have pitched more than 11 innings, only two have an era under 2.00, while the rest have a 3.10 or higher earned run average.
The Indians have to keep it consistent all season long and they’ll be right there when it’s all said and done. Considering the fact that they still have to play those make up games with Seattle, they might even have a better record than they do now.
Detroit Tigers: Have patience….
The Tigers are anticipating a return trip to the playoffs. The air in this weekend’s series with Cleveland has been filled with aromas of contention, and keep in mind that yesterday’s was the first of 18 meetings between these two teams. Again, it’s the offense that has this team half a game out in the division, and leading the way is a reinvigorated Magglio Ordóñez, he leads the team in average, home runs, runs batted in, runs scored, and on-base percentage.
Gary Sheffield has picked up the pace after a disastrous start, hitting a few points below .300 in May. But if we’re going to point out “what they need,” I’d say their corner infielders have to provide a better offensive presence. Third baseman Brandon Inge has a depressed .218 average, with 17 RBI, while Sean Casey has a meh .259 average, zero home runs and only 9 RBI in 147 AB.
Though the team had a scare due to Jeremy Boderman’s trip to the DL, he returned in top form, blanking out the Angels in 8 innings of work. He would’ve finished the complete game gem, but manager Jim Leyland decided to play it safe.
Chicago White Sox: Ozzie Guillen to shut. Up.
And let the team do it’s thing. I have to say, Ozzie’s been a distraction; first there was his rant on Mike North’s show, which then turns into A.J. Pierzynski getting into some weird thing with Mark Buehrle. Now Ozzie’s been issuing warnings for the past two weeks; the hitters, the bench, then the relievers. Good thing the starters have done their job, otherwise Guillen would be pointing the finger at everybody.
But really, what the Sox need is to stop relying on the long ball and start hitting for average. Yes, Thome was out (and Podsednik is still out), but the Sox are dead last in runs scored (and far behind KC); dead last in RBI (and far behind Baltimore); dead last in batting average (and far away behind Texas); dead last in on-base percentage –do we see a pattern?– and yes (way, far behind Baltimore). Scottie Pods is not going to be the difference in any of those categories.
The Sox had a recent offensive outburst, scoring 10 runs for the first time, following that with an 8 run performance. But that’s all we Sox fans have seen. If your offense doesn’t produce, your relievers are going to have to be perfect almost every time out. That’s just not going to happen.
Ozzie, shut up (at least some); Sox, score some runs.
Minnesota Twins: A new stadium, like, NOW (AKA, money, money, money)
Watching a Sox-Twins game recently, I was listening as their TV people discussed the opening of the new Twins stadium in 2010. They culled figures as to how many people were going to be there every day, packing the new ball park and providing the Twinkies with much needed cash flow, ensuring the team a chance to sign proven free agents, and to keep their talent at home. Wait… it’s not as if the Twins play before a field of cornstalks every day now; people do come out to the games – so what gives? I’m not sure, and I better leave all the stadium economics to Nick.
But really, had the Twins opened their new stadium this year, and thus lined their pockets with some more cash, they might not be facing the prospect of having their Ace Johan Santana opting to test the free agent market, or their veteran leader Torii Hunter for that matter.
In actual baseball terms, aside from their stars (well, Morneaou really), the Twins have no offensive weapons (I mean, c’mon, how long did you thing the whole piranha thing was really going to last? Nick Punto?!). Plus, Joe Mauer’s been hurt.
Combine that with the necessity to sign Sidney Ponson (Sidney Ponson!) and Ramon Ortiz to be the back of their rotation, and the prospects are bleak at best. The Twins have started to slide, but, of course, they’ll probably find a way to win as they always do. I’m just not sure how they’ll do it this year.
Oh and when one of their star bloggers, Bat Girl, calls it quits, then you know the shit’s hit the fan.
Kansas City Royals: Are you serious?
The Kansas City Royals need… well, they need to stop signing “super subs” to be their every day players; the need to stop signing overpriced, unproven veterans to front their rotation, and they need to keep their young talented stars.
You can start by moving to another city, or perhaps coaxing the locals to pay up for a new stadium, or, better yet, spend those revenue sharing dollars on things other tan Gil Meche. Then you guys will contend.