By Joe Hines
PSDC Staff & Chicago Guru
Major league baseball is at the 2/3 mark of the 2015 season and begs for a review. These are the dog days, heading into mid-August with sellers selling and buyers hoping to rent their way to top of the heap. Re: Toronto Blue Jays.
The St. Louis Cardinals are the best team in baseball, yet have somehow flown under the radar recently with the flurry of activity around the trade deadline. They lead the NL Central by about nine miles over Pittsburgh and the Cubs, the next best teams in the league. (Personal opinion)
The Mets traded weepy shortstop Wilmer Flores, then they didn’t. The Milwaukee Brewers now resemble a Triple A team after dealing Carlos Gomez and other pieces. The Texas Rangers got trade deadline centerpiece Cole Hamels, the week after he no-hit the Cubs, a game I had the mixed feeling of attending. As a Cub fan, I came to grips by telling myself if I’m going to a game the Cubs are going to lose, I may as well be witness to history. Texas won’t be a contender this year, but the future is so bright, they have to wear shades in Arlington starting next season. With a rotation featuring Hamels and injured Yu Darvish, along with a resurgent Josh Hamilton, they figure to be a force in the west next season.
Meanwhile, the Mets have ridden Flores and newly acquired Yoenis Cespedes to the top of the NL East, besting Washington and probable NL MVP Bryce Harper in a three-game series last week. Washington has to be considered the biggest disappointment in the National League considering the lofty preseason forecasts and now hovering around .500. They just got enigmatic Stephen Strasburg back from the disabled list and he dominated in his start last night, so don’t give up on them just yet.
The aforementioned Blue Jays snagged soon-to-be free agent pitcher David Price as well as Colorado’s face of the franchise, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.
The White Sox fooled themselves into thinking they were good by embarking on a seven-game winning streak prior to the deadline, and foolishly hung on to the one asset that could have brought in some prospects, pitcher Jeff Samardzija. Thank God for spell check. Now the Sox have reverted to form post-deadline, and will regret not having made the move. They remain my biggest disappointment this season.
The Houston Astros picked up pieces to solidify the rotation and lineup. They have convinced themselves and their fans they are not pretenders but contenders as they battle the LA Orange County California Disneyland Anaheim Angels for AL West supremacy.
The evil empire NY Yankees lead the AL East, fending off the Blue Jays as the Red Sox crash and burn. ARod continues his redemption from drug induced offensive numbers, and one can’t help but wonder if he is once again ahead of the PED curve. If so, he will undoubtedly do something stupid and get caught again. Tampa Bay and Baltimore continue on the fringes of the AL Wild Card race.
Detroit became sellers at the last minute, and deposed GM Dave Dombrowski is unemployed. Not for long though, as high-profile jobs are available in Boston, Anaheim and maybe Toronto. I also have a funny feeling the White Sox might make a play for the man who started his career on Chicago’s south side as an assistant GM.
The Cubs are riding their rookie talent of Bryant, Schwarber and company, along with solid starting pitching to surge, having won nine of the last 10 games, including four-game sweeps of the Brewers last weekend, and the first three games of the current series with chief playoff rival San Francisco.
The Giants have battled the cash-rich Dodgers all season, but have fallen off the pace as Los Angeles collects players like property in a Monopoly game. San Diego’s apoplectic front office has foolishly held on to assets like Tyson Ross and Justin Upton as they continue to flounder in the NL West.
Mike Trout continues to amaze with his talent at the ripe old age of 24. He leads the AL in home runs and will lead in MVP votes.
I notice that I haven’t written much about the AL Central. With Detroit’s demise, the Twins look like they will be the best of a bad lot. I don’t see them making much noise come playoff time. So now that I have doomed them, watch them come out of the American League.
So that’s how I see baseball up till now. With about 50 games to go, there are story lines left to play out which will surprise and amaze, and that is the beauty of baseball.
For fans of contending teams, enjoy the rest of the season. If your team has waved the white flag; well, NFL football starts tonight with the Hall of Fame game. As a Bear fan I say, thank God for the Cubs.