Will someone please show us that they are the best in this division? Three teams are separated by just 1.5 games, and the fourth place team might be better than the second place team.
Philadelphia Phillies: OPS+ 105. ERA+ 112. Isn’t it funny how the Phillies pitching has out performed its hitting/defense? They have only had three above average offensive players this season; Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and Pat Burrell. Jimmy Rollins has been average, and hurt a little. Pedro Feliz has been a little below average, but they should have expected that. And everyone else has been pretty bad, outside of Jayson Werth. And a catcher with an OPS+ of 50 (Carlos Ruiz) isn’t helping the cause. His slugging percentage, in a clear, naked eye clear, hitters park, is lower than Julio Lugo’s batting average. The pitching has its weaknesses too, which hopes to have Joe Blanton turn out to be the solution (possibly doubtful, but he can’t be worse than Adam Eaton or Brett Myers have been). To speak of Blanton for a second…He overachieved last season, simply put. Even Keith Law agrees. But he is moving to a weaker league…But he is moving to a hitters park…Who knows what they get out of the struggling Blanton, but he is not a big time acquisition. He just helps a little.
New York Mets: OPS+ 105. ERA+ 101. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mets end up in the postseason. After all, I thought they would do so before the season began. But I would be surprised if they did much once they got there. Because they need a few bats. Beltran, Wright, and Reyes are all playing well, but they really need that corner OF bat if they want to do any damage. And my solution is Barry Bonds. I understand where Bonds detractors are coming from. I understand that Bonds isn’t going to be the most positive influence on the rest of the organization. However, after all Bonds has been through, most justified, and I am sure some of it not, his only asking price is dollar signs. And I could very well see Bonds coming in and trying to stay cool to revamp what the public sees in him as his career winds down. And I am sure, no matter how arrogant Bonds is, that he would like a World Series ring. Now, I do not know how he would perform, but I have a strong feeling that he would still get on base a ton. But if they don’t choose that route, the Mets could find a lesser bat through a trade. Another starter wouldn’t hurt either.
Florida Marlins: OPS+ 109. ERA+ 88. Say what you want about Run Differential, but I wouldn’t be entirely confident in the quality of team that the Marlins actually have. They may be just 1.5 games out, but they aren’t that good of a team. If we want to talk best middle infield, then definitely maybe. But this team isn’t as good as they appear. A pretty good offense, and not so good pitching. The front office should focus more so on the next few years, while the players should continue to play as hard as possible, just because they might as well try to win it all. I don’t see any other way.
Atlanta Braves: OPS+ 107. ERA+ 109. Losing John Smoltz really hurt this team. They are probably a stronger team than their record indicates, but without Smoltz they have another hole. It looks as if they should trade Tex if the right offer is on the table, because if they aren’t going to re-sign him, then they will just get a couple draft picks, which may or may not amount to anything of value. Draft picks are nice, but prospects are better. But they should hang onto until midnight of the trade deadline to see if they get hot…
Washington Nationals: OPS+ 83. ERA+ 97. I remember the first night of the season. Braves and the Nationals, battling it out to see who could stay undefeated. A healthy Nick Johnson. A brand new hi-tech stadium. And the Nationals “star” player hits a walk off home run to push their record to 1-0. I watched it, so I know it happened. Since then they have been the worst team in baseball. Nick Johnson renewed his spot on the “All DL team.” And Ryan Zimmerman has only played in 50 games. I feel bad for the franchise, I really do. I wanted them to do well this season. That night would have been a magical night had I been a Nationals fan. But they have fallen back into old habits, and those habits seem to be a reality for a few more years, at least. But every team has a solution if they want to be competitive and if they want to compete next year. They sign Ben Sheets, Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and Erik Bedard. Sure they will spend loads of money, but then they won’t be the laughingstock that they are now. 🙂