Thursday, July 10, 2008
MLB Power Poll All Star Edition
We're just 5 days away from the 2008 All-Star game and I've got some opinions on the big week at Yankee Stadium. From the looks of it, the NL is more stacked than the AL. Year after year, it always appears that the National League has the bigger name players going into the game, but every All-Star game since 1996 has ended the same way...a Big W for the American League (save for the tie game in 2002). Could this be the year that the NL finally breaks through? My guess is no. I'm going with 7-5 AL with my boy Justin Morneau hitting a 2 run double to break the tie in the 7th inning. Many people think that it would be most meaningful to have Mariano Rivera start the game, but I think he should finish off the contest in the 9th. He's been a closer pretty much his whole career and it only makes sense that he's in there at the end while the Yankee Stadium crowd gives him a standing ovation.
As for the actual rosters, I think that for the most part they are pretty legit. I'm glad Matt Holliday will be starting for the NL. Even though he's missed 3 weeks this year, he's still been arguably a top 5 player in the game and already deserved the spot over Kosuke Fukudome (highly overrated). Carlos Lee, Brandon Phillips, Garrett Atkins and a trio of Mets (David Wright, Carlos Beltran, and Jose Reyes) all got the shaft. On the AL side I think the roster is pretty much as it should be, although Ian Kinsler should be starting over Dustin Pedroia, but I'm sure he'll get a chance to shine. I also think Justin Morneau should have gotten the starting nod over Kevin Youkilis, but it's all good. Evan Longoria deservedly gets a slot on the team through the last chance fan vote. Alright, I'm off my soap box. Let's check out the poll.
1.) Chicago White Sox (53-37)- Are you kidding me, another new number 1 team? You better believe it! For the third week in a row we've got first timer holding down the top spot. The White Sox may not have the best record in baseball, but they are playing better than anyone in the game right now. It's the same formula they used when they won the world series in 2005 with a full team effort every game. They're currently on a 4 game winning streak including a huge come from behind 7-6 W over the Royals last night. With the division starting to get better, the Chi Sox have upped their play to counter the Twins and Tigers.
2.) Tampa Bay Rays (55-35)- The Rays fall off the top after getting swept by the Yankees. It looked like they couldn't be stopped after the sweep of the Red Sox, but since then they've looked mediocre at best. I'm still not worried about this team and in the end I think they are still gonna make the playoffs, but they can't afford to get complacent with the defending champs and the red hot Yanks in their rear view mirror.
3.) Chicago Cubs (55-37)- The Cubs continue to dominate the National League and it's not really even close between them and the next best teams (Brewers/Cardinals). It looked like they were going to have some major trouble in their quest to win the NL Central after Milwaukee picked up CC Sabathia. So what do the North Siders do? They go and pick up an equally dominant starter in Rich Harden. The fragile flame thrower will be a huge assett for the Cubs down the stretch if he can stay healthy. It looks like Carlos Zambrano has put his injury issues behind him as he's allowed just 1 run in each of last two starts after coming off the DL last week.
4.) LA Angels of Anaheim (54-37)- The Angels are still rolling along under the radar, but they could be in the public eye more if they could start putting a winning streak together. They're allowing the A's to stay right behind them because they can't put any kind of momentum together. They just dropped their past 2 to the Rangers both by 1 run. As good as the pitching has been, the offense has dissapointed big time. Poor Jered Weaver has gotten robbed of wins in his last 2 starts, pitching a 6 inning no hitter last week and giving up just 1 ER yesterday...both Angels losses. In the long run, I think they'll be alright considering the A's just gave up their best pitcher, but don't sleep on the high octane Rangers.
5.) Boston Red Sox (55-39)- It looked like the Red Sox were just about to go into tailspin mode after dropping 7 of 9 coming into this week, but they've bounced back in a big way with a sweep over the smokin' Twins. Tommorow they welcome back a fresh face in Clay Bucholtz. He'll be facing the team he no-hit last year, the Baltimore Orioles. This team is going to be scary once again when David Ortiz comes back.
6.) Milwaukee Brewers (50-41)- Milwaukee made the first big splash of trading period with their recent acquisition of CC "The Hamburglar" Sabathia. He looked very good in his first start with the cheese heads and should be a big piece of the puzzle for the Brewers if they end up going deep into the playoffs. He becomes a part of the 3 headed monster on the pitching staff with Ben Sheets and Manny Parra and in a playoff series, they are going to be quite a handful for their opponents.
7.) Minnesota Twins (51-41)- After getting swept by the Red Sox, the Twinkies just stuck a dagger in the heart of my Tigers with an 11th inning Homer off the bat of Justin Morneau. Big Poppa Canada went 5 for 5 in the game and has been on a tear lately with 11 hits in his last 4 games including 2 bombs. Like I said earlier, he should be starting in the All-star game and I hope he gets a slot in the Home Run Derby. Another plus for the Twins is the impending return of Francisco Liriano. He's been tearing up Triple A pitching and give a boost to a weak Twins pitching staff in need some fire for the second half.
8.) St. Louis Cardinals (51-42)- The Cards have yet to win a series this month after dropping two straight to the Phillies. They're still in the race in the NL Central, but for how long? If the red birds are serious about making the playoffs, they need to make a move. I suggest snagging AJ Burnett from the Blue Jays. As they say, birds of a feather flock together. I know it'd be kind of reactionary, but at this point, they are definitely trailing the Brewers and the Cubs in the talent department and with Mark Mulder and Chris Carpenter doubtfully making an impact this year, it's going to be a necessity to add another arm if they don't want to get left by the wayside.
9.) New York Yankees (49-42)- Just when it looked like the Yankees were dead, they go and sweep the team with the best record in baseball. They're on a 4 game win streak and will look to make it 5 in a row against the hapless Pirates in a make-up game tonight. It's the last interleague play game of the year and I'd love to make the 3 hour trip down to PNC park to see it, but alas I've got work tonight. Has anyone ever been to the ballpark in Pittsburgh? I heard it's absolutely beautiful. Back to the Yanks, it's kind of surprising to see them only get 3 players into the All-star game considering it's at their park, but the quality of the trio (A Rod, Jeter, and Rivera) is hard to surpass. They combine for 30 appearances all time in the All-star game...that's more than the total of the rest of the AL Pitching Roster (11 players).
10.) Philadelphia Phillies (50-43)- The Phillies sneak back into the poll after a 2 game win streak. Chase Utley is back on top of the baseball world with 25 HR. I think it's safe to say he's the front runner for the NL MVP. Amazingly, they're still barely hanging on in the NL East after the Mets recent surge to crawl to within a game and a half in the division. They've gotta pick up the pace and a perfect way to do it is with a 3 game home sweep over somehow also division leading Arizona Diamondbacks (44-45) this weekend.
Also Receiving Votes: NY Mets, Oakland A's, Texas Rangers, Detroit Tigers