Grand Slams: The Decline of the Sure Bet Mega Star
Well, here we are, nearly halfway through the MLB season! Things are going great, as long as you don’t mind rainouts and you’re not a fan of the Angels, Dodgers or Blue Jays. Somehow, all three of those teams have not only failed at making their teams great this offseason, but may well have ruined their teams for a long time with huge contracts for over-rated players. Maybe they’ll get a big second-half surge, but I’m not betting on it.
In fact, as far as betting goes, I feel pretty good about my predictions to start the year (which I unfortunately forgot to share in the first Grand Slams article this year). The Tigers are and will continue to be my favorites for the AL Pennant. Good rotation and lineup, fairly weak division, iconic manager. If they get their bullpen figured out and avoid major injuries, they should be strong in the playoffs. In the NL, my opinion has shifted a little and I’m glad for it. I originally thought the Braves and the Nats would be the titans duking it out in the NLCS, but something just isn’t right with the Nationals. They may also have a second-half surge, but until then, the NL East seems like a one-team show in the Braves. Which I am completely ok with. The NL instead has shown that the Central Division is ripe with talent. At one point this year, the 3 best records in MLB were all in the same division: the NL Central. For that day or two, the Pirates, Cardinals and Reds had better records than any other team in MLB. So it’s becoming apparent that the Cardinals are here to stay, and honestly, for all the hype of the Dodgers this offseason, I actually think the Cardinals are more like the Yankees of the NL. They have a great baseball culture out there and are replete with talent both at the big league level and their minor league system is stacked. They should compete for years to come.
Probably the biggest story this year, discounting the PEDs and array of injuries, is the underperformance of mega stars. We’re almost to the All Star Break and there are still several players who are household names and haven’t done anything. Pujols, Hamilton, Kemp, Price, BJ Upton, ARod, Crawford, Beckett, Reyes, Teixera, Granderson and a slew of others, whether due to injury or just plain incompetency, are just sucking it up. All these guys are either getting paid gigantic sums or are on the verge of hopefully getting paid gigantic sums and have provided almost no value for their teams.
Thus, youth has become the name of the game. With guys no longer able to avoid injury and heal quickly with the use of PEDs, the younger, supple (did I use that right?) bodies of the less-experienced players has become a high priority among teams. I think we’re through with the age of teams paying guys like ARod and Pujols $250,000,000 for the age 30-40 seasons. It makes no sense and if teams are smart, they’ll start giving bigger contracts to guys like Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Wil Myers. Yeah, they’re unproven and don’t deserve quick as big of contracts as guys like CarGo and Cano, but they should be seeing more lucrative offers sooner in their careers.
I like my Braves. They’ll get over the strikeout thing. BJ is finally coming around. 6 good starters. Maybe trade for a quality bullpen arm. I like their chances.
I genuinely feel sorry for perennial underdogs who get closer and closer, but never put it all together. The Royals and Pirates just seem to never see their day. One day. One day.
I love, however, the Athletics. What a great team. Go Moneyball!
Red Sox won’t sustain this. I fully expect the Yankees to make some moves and dominate. Again. Ugh.
The Rangers are fun to watch. Seriously. I like em.
I think that’s most of it. Enjoy the next month or two and I’ll check in again later. Until then, rock out with your [explicit] out!