July 11, 2007

AT LEAST A 5 TEAM RACE:

AL Teams' Playoff Odds Show It's Anyone's Year (CHRISTINA KAHRL, July 11, 2007, NY Sun)

The All-Star break might be seen as a time to rest and celebrate stardom at the Midsummer Classic, but what it really represents is a pause that gives teams the opportunity to take stock of what kind of season they're having. In particular, they can gauge whether they have a shot at contending, and, perhaps most important with regard to longterm planning, whether they should be buyers or sellers at the end of this month. This can mean dealing talent for prospects to help retool for a club's next serious bid, or patching up that gaping hole or two on the roster that might keep a team from making the serious money that comes with playing deep into October.

In the American League, a changing dynamic as far as who makes it can already be seen. Gone are the days when you could assume that the Yankees and Red Sox had the AL East title and Wild Card locked up between them. The AL Central has had four teams, with the exception of the hapless Royals, make playoff runs in the last three years, while the AL West has seen the A's and Angels trade off division titles since the Mariners' record-setting 116-win title in 2001. As a result of having produced five different pennant winners in as many years, the American League is in the midst of the liveliest competitive environment it has seen since the 1980s. Then, eight different pennant winners emerged between 1981 and 1988. This year there are even pretty good odds of a sixth in six, with the Indians and Mariners boasting the best chances of making it so, if also representing a nightmare for network programmers.


There's little to choose between the Tigers, Angels, Red Sox and Indians and even the Twins and Mariners might be better than any NL team, while the A's tend to get hot in the second half.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 11, 2007 9:44 AM
Comments

The Tigers -- as they showed vs the woeful Sawx (who're playing under 500 for the past 5-6 weeks)-- are by far the class of the lot, with only the Indians, maybe, nipping at their heels.

I think'll we'll find that at the end of the day neither the Angels nor the Sawx will have the hitting to compete, though the Angels might sneak by the A's, who don't hit much either. The Angels starting pitching, however, is not in the same class as the A's. The Angels looked terrible for ex at Yankee Stadium this past weekend, virtually no hitting, and 2 of their 3 top pitchers looked well below average.

As for the Sawx, I expect they'll finish this season as they did last (and as they played in June/July this season). At best they're a .500 team over the next 2 1/2 months. The Yanks won't even have to play outstanding ball to catch them, just very good. 50-27 should do it. Hughes 'll be back in 2 weeks, and if he pitched the way he did vs the Rangers, the Yanks might even have a chance to do some damage in the playoffs.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at July 11, 2007 5:39 PM

Weak bullpen and an offense ill-conceived for playoff baseball. They could lead baseball in wins and be swept by the A's.

Posted by: oj at July 11, 2007 8:30 PM
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