This Week in Baseball: April 30th

Has it really been almost a month? An entire 4 weeks since the baseball season mercifully started? Yup, it has. So where are we at one month in? What did we get wrong? What did we get right? What do we still have no idea about? All in good time, devoted reader, all in good time.

What We Got Right

The Red Sox are the 3rd best team in the East this year. I might have bumped them a few wins in hindsight, but they are in no way better than the Rays or Yankees, both of whom look set to tear the division apart on a crash course with each other in the ALCS. Whether this keeps up remains to be seen, but at this point there is no doubt that these two are the two best in the AL right now.

Hard to root against that.

The Oakland A’s are legitimate. We had them at .500 in our rankings, which is much higher than a lot of people had, but the A’s are much further along than we thought. I thought there was no way all the young pitching and the timely hitting would gel this soon, but that is exactly what has happened. Dallas Braden (before he ran into the TB Bandsaw), Brett Anderson, Justin Duchscherer and Gio Gonzalez are all pitching well right now in a correctly predicted crazy close AL West race. Also under the A’s and something we got right was Ben Sheets not being any good. His velocity has stayed down, his ERA has stayed up and his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) shows no sign of natural relief on the horizon. Chalk one up in the “Correct” column for the Oakland A’s.

The Phillies and Yankees are really good. No surprises there. Roy Halladay as a Cy Young candidate is not a surprise. Mark Teixeira off to a slow start is no surprise. CC Sabathia off to a decent start is actually a big surprise. He usually starts really slowly (and, as this Indians fan will tell you, finishes slow) but he is off to a very good start so far with a 3.37 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 3.12 BB/9. Very typical later season Sabathia stats, but not at all his usual early season numbers. Still, not giving myself credit for picking these teams ar the top since they are so clearly good.

Maybe it is too early to call this “right”, but the Mariners are not the contenders many had them pegged as. They aren’t driving in runs (25th in MLB), arent hitting particularly well (.244 average). and have NINE (9) (IX) (10 minus 1) home runs. The Diamondbacks have 33. The Blue Jays have 32. The Mariners have NINE. The problems do not stop there either as Milton Bradley has already let the bird flap its wings and get him in trouble in Texas. Be concerned Seattle, even though you haven’t gotten Cliff Lee in full force yet, be concerned.

What We Got Wrong

Last week we proclaimed that the Mets needed to blow things up and start over. That may still be true, it may not be, but the Mets literally did not lose after I wrote that, so clearly they are listening (as if). Good for them, though, getting pitching performances out of guys not named Santana or Pelfrey as they really needed something. They might need to blow things up ultimately, but we appear to have gotten that wrong.

The Twins will win more than 85 games. I think I let my resentment toward the Twins get the better of me on that one, and coupled with my concerns about the ballpark it lead to some low projections. I can see 93 wins for them without breaking too much of a sweat. Ron “The Magical Walrus” Gardenhire rolls on.

The Indians pitching has actually been very solid (before the bullpen). However, their offense is on par with the Mariners (discussed earlier). No one is really hitting besides Shin-Soo Choo and Austin Kearns. You know it is bad when you, as an Indians fan, get really excited when Austin Kearns is at the plate. However, Mitch Talbot and Fausto Carmona have been outstanding and Jake Westbrook looks to be rounding into form a little bit. Still, Peralta, Cabrera (at this point), Hafner, Marson, Valbuena, LaPorta, and Sizemore couldn’t hit a beach ball with a tennis racket.

Wait, we are talking DC baseball, not DC choke-artists.

The Nationals. I do not know if their start will keep up, but they have exceeded expectations considerably. I nailed the Marquis pick (he is headed to the DL and will suck), but the other guys have been just good enough as the offense rakes. Credit to Mike Rizzo for building a decent team this year with more growth to come. I still think their pitching will be horrendous, but they are winning some games they wouldn’t have in the past.

The San Francisco Giants are better than I thought. I thought the offense would be an unmitigated disaster, but it has been decent while Barry Zito has started to look like the Zito of old and is pitching really well. Whether the hitting keeps up remains to be seen, but they are much better than I thought they would be.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are not going to make the playoffs. I realize this is another snap judgment and it is very early, but when I look at the Dodgers, I see a team unable to go get a piece (a pitcher for them) because of divorce issues, few starting pitchers who can go deeper than the 6th, and a team that is inferior in just about every way to the Rockies. The Dodgers can still hit, but their pitching will not get them to the postseason. It would appear we got that one wrong. If I had to pick the postseason in the NL again, I would go Phillies, Cardinals, Rockies, Marlins. Braves still in the running, but they are ice cold right now.

What to Watch

See if the Padres can stay in contention. It seems unlikely, but anything can happen out west, and if they do it could mean serious problems for Adrian Gonzalez’s suitors. That could definitely throw a monkey-wrench into someone’s plans and leave the San Diego Chicken flapping away in joy.

See if the Diamondbacks can keep hitting (as correctly predicted) and if the pitching can keep shooting the entire team in the foot. It has mostly been the bullpen, but I sensee blood in the water on Edwin Jackson. Stay tuned in the Valley of the Sun.

See if the Cubs can break off a few wins as they start to hit a little better and get some more pitching. Just throwing this out there, Cubs fans: Move Soriano to second base.

Does he look like a man who enjoys LF?

He started his career there, a change of scenery would do him good, and it isn’t like you are downgrading the defense out there, you would be upgrading playing Nady everyday. Think about it Cubs fans. No matter how much you hate him right now, that could be a way to squeeze some production out of his albatross of a contract.

Watch baseball. Should be obvious, but who wants to watch another Suns-Spurs series? We all know the Spurs have the Suns number. I know that made you angry, AZ. Stay tuned.

Follow us on Twitter @outtatownclowns. Anything we left out? Let us know!

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