While you were out on the golf course, or laying by the pool, or working your life away, the Major League Baseball season has kept right on trucking. This week marks the 1/3 point in the regular season for most teams. It is safe to say we’ve had a few surprises, a few disappointments, and at least a few what-in-the-hell-were-they-thinking moments.
Let’s take a three-day, partially homerrific look at the good surprises since April.
(1 of 3) Surprises that make GM’s look like geniuses:
Guess he could manage talent after all.
We can’t have a GM/genius conversation without first mentioning Dodger head man Ned Colletti. Now, while pulling over a free-agent Joe Torre back in ’07 was more or less a no-brainer, what I’m giving Colletti props for here is locking him up with a 3-year deal, when the all-knowing Steinbrenners wouldn’t even offer two. All he’s done in LA is produce a playoff baseball team in year 1 and rock out the best record in baseball for most of 2009. All the while doing most of his damage without Manny Ramirez.
Up by Lake Erie, Dave Dombrowski’s rookie-or-bust campaign seems to be working out. Of all the preseason prognostications I saw, only 1 (Joe Morgan’s) had the Tigers making the playoffs as AL Central winners. With plenty of questions in the starting rotation and bullpen, that was admittedly fair to say. World Champion GM Dombrowski had a few ideas (along with manager Jim Leyland) on how to buck the system: keep a couple of 19- and 21-year-old rookies with the big club out of Spring Training.
All that has done so far is prove dead on. 21 year old Ryan Perry (he of the 101 mph fastball) has more than done his job in a setup role (with Zumaya out) and in long relief. He was recently sent down to Triple-A to make room for the return of Jeremy Bonderman, but not due to performance. My assertion is that it was due to the gigantic (and ridiculous) contracts he already agreed to with Nate Robertson $7M, Dontrelle Willis $10M, and Brandon Lyon $4M (otherwise known as the “Theiving Bums” around these parts.)
The other was 19 year old high-school pitcher Rick Porcello, who had no experience above Single-A ball before 2009 camp. Porcello notched 6 straight wins and was in the tops of the AL in several categories for the month of May. Arm strength duration may become an issue as he gets into the 20’s with games started, but for the first third of ’09, it was clearly the right move to make. And with the Tigers sitting in 1st place most of the year, who’s to argue?
This way to the show.
Other happy findings this year have been the surprise Reds with young talent all over the field, currently sitting only 3.5 games out in the NL Central, and the San Francisco Giants with All-World pitcher Tim Lincecum and the (new) ageless wonder Randy Johnson. Nobody saw the Giants making any kind of splash this year, yours truly included, yet here they sit hovering around the NL Wildcard slot.
Honorable Mention: Zach Greinke (even though the Royals have fallen back to Earth), Roy Halladay, Texas Rangers pitching, the A’s Matt Holliday trade, and Trevor Hoffman.
We’ll continue with 1/3 season disappointments and strange moments later in the week. Now get back outside and enjoy the summer air.
I’ll leave you with my June 9, 2009 playoff predictions. AL – Red Sox, Blue Jays, Tigers, Angels. NL – Braves, Cubs, Reds, Dodgers