Everything is coming up roses for the Pirates, but things aren't so sunny in Philadelphia. Our beat man also makes his picks for the All-Star team and checks in with scouts.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has become baseball’s parallel universe. On the western side of the state in Pittsburgh, the Pirates look like serious contenders for their first post-season berth—and winning season—since 1992. On the eastern side, the Phillies appear destined to miss the playoffs for a second straight season since winning five straight National League East titles from 2007-11.
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The RBI might be an old-fashioned stat, but it's still a measure of success in Detroit. Our beat man also checks in on Mariano Rivera, Justin Verlander, Munenori Kawasaki, and with scouts.
For those of us of a certain age—in this case, less than one year away from 50—RBI still have meaning. Yes, the sum of a player’s RBI has long been rendered irrelevant by sabermetricians, who have logically and correctly proven runs batted in are a function of opportunity rather than skill. This fact is still hard to accept for someone who grew up in an era before the Bill James Abstracts were marketed to the masses. In my youth, RBI were the hallmark of a clutch hitter. So said the radio broadcasters and all the writers whose articles I devoured every Thursday in The Sporting News.
The Dodgers are going to have to rely on their pitching to carry them to October. Our beat man also checks in on Carlos Marmol, the A's stadium situation, Alex Cobb, and with scouts.
Don Mattingly is not a cockeyed optimist. He is plain spoken and admittedly frustrated that his team with a $200-million-plus payroll has an awful record and is in last place in the National League West. Yet the manager remains hopeful the Dodgers can somehow get back into the pennant race with more than half the season remaining.
The Giants' rotation might not be as dominant as usual, but the team is still confident in its chances for October. Our beat man also checks in on Brandon McCarthy, Bryce Harper, Gerrit Cole, with scouts, and weighs in on Kirk Gibson vs. Mark McGwire.
The Giants know more than any other club that the big thing is just making it to October. When they reached the postseason in 2010 and 2012, the Giants weren’t even close to be considered favorites but went on to win the World Series each year. The Giants were able to navigate through three post-season rounds because of their strong starting pitching. It gave them the edge over teams with better lineups, especially in short series with days off that allowed manager Bruce Bochy to set up his rotation in the most optimal way.
Several teams with playoff hopes could be affected should MLB follow through with Biogenesis suspensions. Our beat man also checks in on Stephen Strasburg, Jonathan Gray, Grady Sizemore, the Phillies, and scouts.
What if Major League Baseball gets its way and is able to suspend those players whose names have been linked to rogue doctor Tony Bosch and the now-defunct Biogenesis anti-aging clinic? Will the suspensions hurt many teams? Will they impact many pennant races?
The Cubs might have an ugly record, but the team feels that better days are ahead. Our beat man also checks in on Dustin Pedroia, Ian Kennedy, the Mariners, and scouts.
On the surface, it seems like this is nothing more than another miserable season for the Cubs. They are 21-30 and fourth in the National League Central, 13 ½ games behind the Cardinals. Just three major-league teams have worse records: the Marlins (13-40), Astros (16-37), and Brewers (19-32).
They might be on a historically bad pace, but the Astros are optimistic about 2013. Our beat man also checks in on Matt Garza, the AL Central, Carlos Ruiz, and with scouts.
Bo Porter is enthusiastic, optimistic, and energetic. Very enthusiastic, optimistic, and energetic. In fact, the first-year Astros manager possesses so much of those three qualities that he believes that his team is not nearly as bad as its record says it is and it won’t be as historically bad as some analysts have predicted.
Jean Segura and Michael Saunders both could challenge for a Most Improved Player award. Our beat reporter also checks in with Bryce Harper, Carlos Zambrano, Rick Ankiel, Philip Humber, and scouts.
It’s too bad for Jean Segara that there isn’t an award for the Most Improved Player in the major leagues. The Brewers shortstop would be the early favorite. However, Segura is at least going to be able to settle for a spot on the National League team in the All-Star Game with the way he has played his first 37 games.
The Nationals' offense is off to a sluggish start. Our beat reporter also checks in with the potential use of pitcher helmets, Roy Halladay, and scouts' takes.
Davey Johnson doesn’t believe in team meetings. The 70-year-old Nationals manager is old school in that regard, preferring to informally chat with the players on his team when he needs to communicate a message. However, Johnson felt the urge to call a team meeting last weekend with his Nationals standing at 15-15 after 30 games, a far cry from where they were expected to be after winning 98 games last season, more than any team in the major leagues. Johnson’s message was simply to tell his players to relax.
The Twins might have a mediocre record, but it's an upgrade from 2012. Our beat reporter also checks in on whether major leaguers would accept a gay teammate, the Phillies, Stephen Strasburg, and returns with scouting reports.
The Twins are 12-12 one game into May. While .500 may seem to be the epitome of mediocrity to some, after finishing the last two seasons at 66-96 and 69-93, respectively, the Twins will take it.
The Braves are thriving thanks to Justin Upton. Our beat reporter also catches up with the Tigers, Albert Pujols, and the Rockies.
The Braves have the best record in the major leagues at 15-6. However, manager Fredi Gonzalez is quick to say his team could be better. Not necessarily have a better record—a .714 winning percentage is hard to beat, mind you—but playing better overall baseball.
The Reds have battled injuries early on, but some scouts think the 2013 squad might be better than the 2012 team. Our beat man also checks in on Yovani Gallardo, the Blue Jays, Ubaldo Jimenez, and the Red Sox.
Manager Dusty Baker isn’t ready to say this year’s edition of the Reds is better than the team that won the National League Central last year. That is understandable, considering that ace pitcher Johnny Cueto, cleanup hitter and left fielder Ryan Ludwick, and top left-handed set-up reliever Sean Marshall are on the disabled list.