What to Expect In the Second Half (Part One)
Boy oh boy there have been some surprises thus far in the 2012 season. Boy oh boy there should be a few more by the time the 2012 season is over. With the new collective bargaining rules in place (cost the Pittsburgh Pirates their number one pick (so much for helping the little guy), and players such as Cole Hamels demanding money and length of contracts that would make even Babe Ruth blush and almost every team in contention for the playoffs (NHL anyone?), there should be lots of crazy things going on over the next couple of months.
I really don’t know how the New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers are doing it. I’m not comparing those teams to each other but all the saber metrics and funny statistical symbols in the world would be hard put to explain those teams. Obviously the biggest surprise of all three would have to be Pittsburgh who did something similar last season and then the pitching staff remembered that they really weren’t major league caliber.
Of course the Pirates are still the Pirates. Management decided not to go over the ceiling limit on spending for their number one pick in this seasons draft as they might lose the number one next year. Considering that pitcher Mark Appel was a sure thing for major league stardom and the draft pick next season might not be as promising, the logic fully escapes me. Sure this gives them two round one picks in 2013. Scouts are already saying that next year’s class will be one of the worst they have seen in many a year. Perhaps GM Neal Huntington knows better than I. Unfortunately, Justin Upton will be gone by then. You know, the right handed power bat the Pirates so desperately need now.
The Los Angeles Dodgers were without Matt Kemp for weeks upon end and don’t have a major league player at second, short third, left field or catcher. Clayton Kershaw and Ted Lilly (on the DL) are their only reliable pitchers unless you count Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano (I don’t). They are looking to make some deals but no one wants James Looney and everyone wants Matt Kemp or Kershaw. Yet this team is only 1.5 games back of the first place San Francisco Giants and two games back of the wild card leader. For goodness sakes, the Pirates look better than this team. Donnie Baseball must have mirrors in his back pocket and equestrian shoes up his posterior. Even Vin Scully has finally started talking about these current day dodgers. What next?
The New York Yankees don’t have Mariano Rivera, didn’t have C.C. Sabathia for awhile and Andy Petite is out for a few more weeks. Yet no one seems to be able to beat them. They currently sit 20 games over .500 with an eight game lead in the American League east. Robert Cano didn’t hit for a month and a half and A Rod isn’t worth watching anymore. Yet here they are, playoff bound once again. As perplexing as the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles dodgers have been all season, the Yankees confuse me even more. They’re using Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez more than is advisable. A Rod is much better as a DH and mark Teixeira is only hitting .261. These guys though, as with great Yankee teams of the past, live and die with the home run. Who needs pitching when you have hit 142 home runs thus far? I guess the Yankees are proving that you really don’t need pitching. Just keep the opposition to fewer than ten runs per game and everything will turn out just fine.
I mentioned Justin Upton earlier in this article. I’d like to also talk about his brother, B.J. Both of these guys could be superstars, should be superstars. Justin was last season but this year has seen the return of those brothers that fans and writers know don’t really hustle or play to anywhere near their potential season after season (again 2011 was a fluke for Justin) and yet season after season, rival GMs continue to try and pry them loose from their current teams. Why? Well one day, they might actually make an effort out there on the field and realize that star potential. I realize neither did much in the minors even with the benching and suspensions which frustrated managers handed out season after season but believe me all that will change sometime. Why then are their current teams always looking to move them? These guys will be great players and leaders someday won’t they. It has to happen as sure as God made little green baseballs. Rhetorical questions are fun aren’t they?
Wednesday I’ll discuss a few more happenings awaiting baseball fans as the second half gets further along.
By: Doug Bird