Major League Report Cards at the All Star Break
MAJOR LEAGUE REPORT CARDS AT THE ALL STAR BREAK
IT'S OUR NATIONAL LEAGUE REPORT CARD GRADES AS CARDINALS, PIRATES EACH SNAG AN "A+" ...By Jim Hurley:
ST. LOUIS (55-34) - Now considered the "model franchise" in MLB, the Cardinals have an electric lineup starring All-Star C Yadina Molina and a pitching staff that truly boasts three potential Cy Young award winners in starters Adam Wainwright and Lance Lynn along with closer Edward Mujica.
PITTSBURGH (54-36) - Even with a little swoon lately, these 2013 Buccos have been one of the top two or three "feel-good" stories of the year and the fact Pittsburgh's playing .600 ball with key starting pitchers A.J. Burnett and Wandy Rodriguez missing time means this club's deeper than you think.
ATLANTA (53-39) - The Braves have overcome injuries to key bullpen arms and a lineup that strikes out plenty to lead the NL East all season long. Still, there's plenty of potent power bats on hand and closer Craig Kimbrel should be raking in some Cy Young votes these days.
CINCINNATI (51-41) - Gotta admit the Reds are right about where we thought they'd be at the unofficial midway point of this here-and-now season with 2B Brandon Phillips (third in the NL in RBI with 67) proving he's now one of the league's elite players.
ARIZONA (47-44) - Yes, we're aware of the fact the Diamondbacks have a slim lead in the NL West but there simply is not much inconsistency here and that includes 1B Paul Goldschmidt who may have a little Dave Kingman in 'em, if you know what we mean!
LOS ANGELES DODGERS (45-45) - This grade would have been a "D" just two weeks ago but Don Mattingly's crew has surged forward, thanks in large part to rookie OF Yasiel Puig who won't be going to the All-Star Game after all.
NEW YORK METS (40-48) - The Mets have won seven of their last 10 games and OF Eric Young, Jr. really has been a major sparkplug for Terry Collins' squad but for most of the season's first three months it's been marathon games (four 15-inning-or-longer tilts), weather issues and lots of empty seats at Citi Field.
CHICAGO (40-49) - The Cubs are just one winning streak away from "relevancy" but whatever happened to this pitching staff that now ranks a wobbly 10th in the league in team ERA?
MIAMI (33-57) - As bad as this season's been for the once-again-rebuilding Marlins, there's been bright spots too as RHP Jose Fernandez is a legit star.
PHILADELPHIA (46-47) - The old-and-tired Phillies have been given an energy jolt by All-Star slugger Domonic Brown and LHP Cliff Lee has been great but little else has gone right.
COLORADO (44-48) - The Rockies rank dead-last in the NL in team ERA and so it's somewhat surprising that this NL West club is "only" a few games below the .500 mark.
WASHINGTON (47-45) - When you enter a season with a World Series-or-bust mentality, you have to do better than this and, yes, we know OF Bryce Harper missed 31 games! Gotta say that manager Davey Johnson should have left the stage after last year's playoff collapse.
SAN DIEGO (41-51) - Flip the script with the aforementioned Dodgers as we would have handed the Padres a "C" grade just 10 days ago but late June/early July swoon has been a killer.
SAN FRANCISCO (40-50) - The 2010 and 2012 World Series champs have been a bad joke lately and now they're actually being considered "sellers" in this month's trade market. Hey, we've also seen manager Bruce Bochy blow things a few times lately like when the Jints batted out of order last weekend versus the Dodgers ... ugh!
MILWAUKEE (37-53) - Here are truly the biggest busts in the senior circuit as this team's biggest star (LF Ryan Braun) is about to be hit with a monstrous suspension while the defense/starting pitching for this Brew Crew is simply awful.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will be banging out loads of Major-League Baseball Winners all summer long and so check with us right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 after 1 p.m. Eastern time for weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners. Plus, the Football Season isn't that far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear in early August - can't wait! So, pile up the greenbacks while you're kicking back this summer of 2013!
IT'S THE AMERICAN LEAGUE REPORT CARDS AND WE HAND OUT OUR ONLY A+ GRADES TO THE RED SOX AND A'S ...
BOSTON (57-37) - Hard to believe that the 2013 Bosox were supposed to be cellar-dwellers as new manager John Farrell has done a wonderful job and did you happen to notice that the Sawx have scored more runs than anyone in the junior circuit (492 or 5.23 runs a game)? The starting rotation of Jon Lester, Ryan Dempster, Felix Doubront, John Lackey and Clay Buchholz is a collective 12 games over .500 (that's 31-19) and even with closer issues this club wins lots of close games.
OAKLAND (54-38) - The newest version of the "Moneyball" A's has been a smashing success - keep in mind that Oakland had a preseason over/under won/loss mark of 84 ½ wins. There's been a revival of RHP Bartolo Colon (12-3, 2.69 ERA) and whether the renaissance has been "legit" or not won't be addressed here. Hey, is righty Grant Balfour (24 of 24 in save opportunities) the best closer in MLB right now?
TAMPA BAY (53-40) - Hats off to the rather no-name Rays who entered this weekend riding an eight-game winning streak as LHP Matt Moore is a 13-game winner and Joe Maddon's club really has not missed outfielder B.J. Upton at all ... how about that!
NEW YORK YANKEES (50-42) - The team's been absolutely gutted by injuries as 3B Alex Rodriguez has yet to play a game, SS Derek Jeter has played once and may again go on the DL with a quad injury, OF Curtis Granderson's been injured twice already and 1B Mark Teixeira played a mere handful-plus games and then re-injured his wrist area and so kudos to manager Joe Girardi for holding this team together and a round of applause for soon-to-be-retired closer Mariano Rivera too.
TEXAS (53-39) - The Rangers sport the league's second-best ERA (3.71) and so the power loss from the exodus of OF Josh Hamilton to the Los Angeles Angels has not been felt quite as much as anticipated but that makes us wonder if Ron Washington's squad has "overachieved" the first 92 games this season?
BALTIMORE (51-42) - Not bad for a team that's nightly starting pitcher is TBD (to be determined) more times than not but this power-packed lineup has a legit long-baller in 1B Chris Davis (34 HRs and 86 RBIs) in the middle of a potent attack that's first in the AL in home runs (125) and 3rd in runs scored (444).
CLEVELAND (48-44) - Fact of the matter is the Indians have been a bit too streaky for our taste but first-year manager Terry Francona gets high marks for keeping things together with a pitching staff that ranks 12th in the AL.
KANSAS CITY (43-46) - The Royals simply have not hit (or hit with power) this year while ranking 12th in runs scored and 13th in total home runs (only 60 dingers) ... how come?
DETROIT (50-41) - So what that the Tigers sit atop the AL Central as Jim Leyland's crew has been an unimpressive lot save for 30-homer guy 3B Miguel Cabrera. No doubt that with this everyday lineup talent and some powerful arms in the starting rotation, we would have thought the Tigers would be 18-to-20 games over .500 ... agree?
SEATTLE (40-52) - The M's are heaping praise on old man Raul Ibanez and his team-leading 22 home runs but plenty has gone wrong in the great Northwest with a team that is 13th in runs scored and 10th in the AL in team ERA.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS (44-46) - No question the Angels' recent surge (winners of seven of their last 10 games) has re-invigorated this team but it remains a troubling issue that Albert Pujols is hitting just .252 with 15 home runs and that RHP Joe Blanton is nine games below .500 at a disconcerting 2-11.
TORONTO (44-47) - There's another seventy-plus games left on this 2013 docket for the Blue Jays but the first half of this year has been fraught with injuries (see SS Jose Reyes) and various pitching woes ... like why is Toronto ranked eighth in the league in team ERA with a group that includes knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, RHP Josh Johnson and lefty Mark Buehrle?
MINNESOTA (37-52) - The Twins stagger into this weekend having lost nine of their last 10 and you gotta believe this is going to be the last hurrah for long-time manager Ron Gardenhire who would sell his kingdom for a young Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau.
HOUSTON (32-59) - The fact that the salary-strapped 'Stros have given some teams a major tussle (see the LA Angels) keeps 'em from getting an "F" grade here.
CHICAGO WHITE SOX (36-53) - One of the weakest offensive teams in memory, the Pale Hose averages a mere 3.8 runs a game and second-year manager Robin Ventura hasn't done much to generate runs outside of Adam Dunn's home runs (24 clouts in all).
NOTE: Lots more NFL, MLB and NCAA Football News & Notes coming soon!
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