There is one team I have been down on all year that I need to give some recognition to.
The San Francisco Giants
At the beginning of the year, I called them a little bit of a fluke. Around the All-Star Break, I ignored them as a contender in the super-competitive NL West. It is about time I gave the Giants their due. Are they a little light on the offensive side? Yes, but with pitching that good and a lineup that is better than advertised, the Giants can give the Padres a run for their money out West. We all know about Lincecum and Cain, but Madison Bumgartner, Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito have all been excellent too. Bumgartner was much touted coming into last year but there were concerns about an unknown drop in his velocity. Those issues have been put to rest as Bumgartner has done nothing but kill it this year for the Giants.
At a Giants spring training game, I saw Aubrey Huff almost jump out of the way of the ball. Oh how things have changed. With the way Huff is hitting the ball, the ball would be wise to try to jump out of the way of him. Huff has been the power surge the Giants were hoping for when they signed him, a signing I was skeptical of but has clearly worked. The other big bat in the lineup has been rookie catcher Buster Posey (great name). He entered the lineup on a regular basis with the Bengie Molina trade and he has not stopped hitting since. He strung together 21 straight games with a hit and has been killing it ever since. He was not our pick for ROY (Jaime Garcia was), but he is certainly one of the more deserving candidates.
I am not ready to say that the Giants will beat the Padres and win the NL West crown, but if San Diego continues to struggle at the plate and the Giants stay hot it is very possible.
The Rangers Sale
Chicago Cubs vs. Cleveland Indians in World Series. Al Davis does good for his team. Mark Cuban loses bidding war. I am not sure if they are the least likely things to happen in sports, but it is probably close. And yet, the third on that list happened this week. Nolan Ryan and his group successfully outbid Cuban for the 1st place Rangers, and I feel like it is a good thing for baseball. There is no doubt that Cuban would throw the money around and perhaps get MLB closer to a salary cap, but he would also be faced with the dilemma of owning 2 teams in the same market. Seeing Selig vs. Cuban would be hilarious, but I think Nolan Ryan will be better for the club. The fans are 100% behind him, he has already proven to be an effective President, and if Robin Ventura comes charging at the owner’s box, we all know who is going to take care of him. Either owner would do the job well, but I am glad to see Nolan Ryan trying to bring winning baseball to a market that will support it.
This would be easier with video, but as the video is not available, we will have to do with what we have. Remember back in May when Hanley Ramirez let a groundball get away and then jogged after it without seeming to understand the fact that there was someone running the bases as he jogged. Fast forward to last night, against the same team it happened against (the Phillies). High fly ball off Florida’s mini-monster in left and Logan Morrison handles it poorly, but look who it is! Hanley Ramirez so deep in left that he was about where Ross probably started the play. He picked up the ball and gunned down the runner trying to go to third.
Talk about a dichotomy.
Whether or not Hanley really learned his lesson remains to be seen, but you have got to love the change. He has always been incredibly talented but has had issues with hustle. If he has fixed those problems, he is ready to take his place as a superstar instead of just a very good player.
Buck Showalter and the Orioles
Buck seems like a great guy. Maybe too great of a guy, because if I had his resume I would avoid the Orioles like the plague. There is no doubting they have some talent and that Buck is known for building up struggling teams, but he really reached to the bottom of the barrel for a new coaching job. I think it is an amazing hire for the Orioles, and after sweeping the Angels, I think it is clear to the fans that there are not many men better for the job. Having him leave Baseball Tonight will be a bit of a loss for us fans, but if he can rebuild the Orioles, in that division no less, then it will be more than worth it. Great hire for the O’s and a challenge for Buck. It will be hard to make a difference in that murderous division, but it is still a very good hire.