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Neyer: Rating the A.L. playoff contenders [ESPN Insider]
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Old 16 Aug 2005, 02:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Neyer: Rating the A.L. playoff contenders [ESPN Insider]

Here's something from the insider that some of you might like:


Here's 100 words apiece on each of the eight American League teams with legitimate postseason hopes, greatest to least.

The Chicago Americans wrapped up their division title in the spring, so at this point the only real question is, how good are they, really? Yes, the White Sox are 26-14 in one-run games. They've been lucky. But even if we give them a .500 record in one-run games, they'd still be tied with the Red Sox for the best record in the league. To me, it's simple: If Jon Garland pitches well in October, the White Sox have a real shot at finally winning another World Series (it's been 87 years now). Their hitters aren't good enough to carry them.

The Red Sox continue to throw at-bats toward Kevin Millar, who 1) can't play defense, 2) weighs 220 pounds, and yet 3) has hit a grand total of four home runs in 102 games. Nevertheless, if Trot Nixon and John Olerud hadn't hurt themselves, Roberto Petagine might still be rotting away in Pawtucket. I've never been happy to see somebody get hurt and I don't aim to start now, but it's gratifying to see Petagine in the majors, and smiting the ol' horsehide with some regularity. Now if Boston will just give him a spot on its World Series roster

Here's why I like the A's: If they lose a starting pitcher to injury or if Kirk Saarloos runs out of magical fairy dust, it shouldn't bother them a whole lot. Granted, losing Rich Harden or Barry Zito would be tough. But Joe Kennedy, currently pitching well as a reliever, is a perfectly fine major-league starter. And if Kennedy won't do, there's always Juan Cruz, who's been spectacular while making 10 starts in the Pacific Coast League. All that said, I do not think the A's will win simply because they're the A's; that didn't "work" last September.

The Angels are doing better than they should be doing, considering the many millions of dollars they're wasting on Darin Erstad and Steve Finley. The Angels' hitters are doing what we expected: It's Vladimir Guerrero and a bunch of other guys (many of them overpaid). What I didn't expect was the high quality of O.C.'s starters. Four of them have ERAs below four, and as a group, they rank No. 1 in the league with a 3.77 ERA (yes, better than the White Sox). Can you see John Lackey and Paul Byrd shutting down the Red Sox in October, though?

What can one say about the New Yorkers that hasn't been said? I have no idea, but the question is a good way to eat up a chunk of words. Just looking at the stats, can you believe the Yankees have funneled 303 at-bats to Tony Womack? Among all the mistakes that were made last winter, the worst was the signing of Womack. At least with Jaret Wright, you figured he'd get hurt and spend most of the summer in Tampa. Womack's sub-.300 OBP is the only thing that's kept the Yankees from leading the league in scoring.

Everybody gave up on the Indians in May, but now they're right in the middle of the wild card race. And they'd be doing even better if they didn't have 27 one-run losses, most in the majors. You want to blame the Tribe's relievers? Go ahead, but Cleveland's bullpen leads the American League in ERA, strikeout-to-walk ratio, and OPS allowed. And oddly enough, the Indians' run differential predicts a record (65-53) just slightly better than their actual record (63-55). How could that be? They're 15-6 in two-run games, which means in games decided by one or two runs, they're 33-33.

A lot of people thought the Twins would finish the year first on the Earth, but right now, it looks like they'll finish the season third in the American League Central. Yes, it's possible that Johan Santana and Justin Morneau will carry the Twins into October. But this team entered the season with little margin for error (thanks, at least in part, to inexcusable inaction by management), and surprisingly poor seasons from Shannon Stewart and Lew Ford have not been balanced by surprisingly good seasons from anybody else. (Oh, and the Bret Boone Experiment didn't work out so well, either.)

I'm not quite ready to count out the Blue Jays, but they probably have to rank as the least likely among the wild card contenders, because 1) they're six games behind the A's in the standings, 2) they've got 17 more games against the Yankees and Red Sox, and 3) their third-best starter is Josh Towers. It's not that the Blue Jays don't have a chance; of course, they do. It's that whoever does take that fourth postseason berth is going to play exceptionally well over the next six weeks, and I don't think Toronto's going to be that team.

Later this week: 100 words apiece on the 10 National League teams who are still harboring dreams of glory.
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Old 16 Aug 2005, 06:24 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Are the rumors true about Griffey to the White Sox? With Griffey being healthy and producing at the plate like old times and with that pitching staff they would be formidable come October. Only question mark would be how Hermanson will handle closing out the big games.
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Old 16 Aug 2005, 08:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by The Natural
Are the rumors true about Griffey to the White Sox? With Griffey being healthy and producing at the plate like old times and with that pitching staff they would be formidable come October. Only question mark would be how Hermanson will handle closing out the big games.
I'm expecting him to go to the Yankees to replace Bernie Williams at Center Field. As long as the Red Sox are in first place, you can expect the Yankees to do everything in their power to get better.
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Old 16 Aug 2005, 08:40 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The Yankees should definately pick up Griffey, if he is healthy (which I know hasn't been the case for a long time) but he is still a good player. Williams is a piece of crap, I know he usually steps it up in the playoffs but that doesn't mean shit if the Yankees don't even get there.
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Old 16 Aug 2005, 09:11 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Bernie's been on a hot streak lately....hero a few games ago, a few clutch hits in the past few games...Bernie's a very straky guy, though...getting Griffey wouldn't sadden me
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Old 16 Aug 2005, 09:16 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I think Griffey is bound to go to the Yankees in some point in his career.
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Old 16 Aug 2005, 11:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Natural
Are the rumors true about Griffey to the White Sox? With Griffey being healthy and producing at the plate like old times and with that pitching staff they would be formidable come October. Only question mark would be how Hermanson will handle closing out the big games.
Here's what it says in the insider:

White Sox still angling for Junior
Aug 16 - Center fielder Ken Griffey has cleared waivers, and the White Sox have offered the Reds at least a pair of minor-league hitters, The Chicago Tribune, citing a major-league source, reports.
Reds management, however, appears unwilling to approve the deal, which would require the team to eat a substantial portion of Griffey's contract.

Reds COO John Allen reacted angrily to the Griffey rumors, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported. "There's nothing to it!" Allen told the newspaper. "There's no trade talk going on! There's no trade! I'm not commenting on it. Where do you guys get this stuff? Who promulgates this story is beyond me."
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