Where Are All The Playoff Races?

It’s August 3rd so let’s take a look at what to expect for MLB playoff races during the next two months .

In the AL East, the Red Sox lead the Yankees by just one game, but the Yankees are up seven games in the Wild Card race. Cool Standings gives the Sox a 97.3 percent chance of making the postseason while the Bronx Bombers have a 97.7 percent chance. Tampa Bay? They are 10 games back in the Wild Card and have just a 1.3 percent chance of playing baseball in October.

The AL Central boasts zero teams with a positive run-differential (yikes!). The race is tight though as Detroit leads Cleveland by three games. Of course, that’s a decent chunk and gives the Tigers much better odds to make the playoffs than the Indians have (61.3 percent vs. 24.4 percent). In the past two months though, Cleveland is 21-32. To put that in perspective, Kansas City was 22-32 in that time. Yes, the Indians just acquired Ubaldo Jiminez but there’s still a lot of questions around his velocity. Given the Indians performance the past two months, a 24.4 percent chance of making the playoffs seems generous.

In the West, there actually is a good race. Texas and Los Angeles are just a game apart. The teams have gone back and forth all year, but Texas upgraded its bullpen at the deadline while the Angels did nothing. Cool Standings gives Texas 62.7 percent odds at reaching the postseason while the Angels have just a 39.0 percent chance.

So in the American League, I only see the AL West as a real playoff race. Detroit is going to pull away and Boston and New York will battle for the AL East, with the loser earning a playoff berth via the Wild Card. That’s pretty weak overall. Continue reading “Where Are All The Playoff Races?”

Kenshin Kawakami: Not Worth $23 Million

Looking through last year’s free agency, there is one player who signed a big contract who I had never heard of:

Kenshin Kawakami.

He’s a starter for the Atlanta Braves and signed a 3 year, $23 million contract with them this past offseason. Now, Kawakami is 34 years old and before this year, had never pitched in the Major Leagues. So WHY?

Why did the Braves shell out all this money for a pitchers years past his prime who has never faced big league batters?

Kawakami pitched extremely well in Japan, posting a 2.30 ERA last season while striking out 112 batters in 117 1/3 innings. But, the transition to MLB has hurt so many Japanese pitchers that shelling out all that money for a player already 34 years old just doesn’t make sense. The Red Sox put a huge amount of money into Daisuke Matsuzaka, expecting him to compete for Cy Youngs here, but instead he has struggled mightily and is 1-5 this year with an 8.23 ERA (He’s on the DL now). Remember the Yankees’ Kei Igawa? That worked out real well too. There is a history of dominant Japanese pitchers failing in the United States and those pitchers were in their prime. Kawakami isn’t. Continue reading “Kenshin Kawakami: Not Worth $23 Million”

2009 National League East Preview

Here is the first division preview for the upcoming season and I begin with the NL East:

Predicted Standings
1. New York Metsdavid-wright3
2. Florida Marlins
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. Atlanta Braves
5. Washington Nationals

Best Hitter: Hanley Ramirez
Best Pitcher: Johann Santana

Mets

The Mets return the same offense as last year with David Wright, Jose Reyes, and Carlos Beltran leading the team. Johan Santana leads the starting rotation and is followed by Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez. Santana is an ace, but Pelrey and Perez could put the Mets in a tough situation if either doesn’t live up to expectations. However, their bullpen is key as the Mets have two proven closers in Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz. There won’t be many times this year when the Mets blow a lead after the 7th inning so if an opponent wants to win, it is going to have to beat the Met’s starters. Continue reading “2009 National League East Preview”