Friday, September 01, 2006

September pennant race time

The calendar has turned another page and the Twins are still very much alive in the pennant race. Rather a lot changed in August and so let's look at where the race stands.

  • The Tigers hardly look invincible any more. While they remain ahead of the Twins and the White Sox today, they have been wheezing of late and unless their pitching returns to early season form, they will be in trouble. Both Jeremy Bonderman and Justin Verlander are looking mortal now.
  • The White Sox are still tough, but they have vulnerabilities as well. Everything went right last year for the Whities and their pitching was outstanding down the stretch. Arguably they should be a better team this year, especially with Jim Thome in the lineup, but they have scuffled as well lately. While Thome has been a big help, and Jermaine Dye is having an outstanding, MVP-type season, none of the front-line starters for the Whities have been performing as well as they did last year. It just seems like Ozzie Guillen has less buttons to push this year. I also think they miss Aaron Rowand more than they'll let on.
  • The Twins made a sensible move yesterday, picking up Phil Nevin from the Cubs for a box of rubber bands. Nevin is on the downside of his career, but he has more power than Rondell White and could provide 3-5 home runs in the next month if he sees regular action. The Twins have a larger problem, of course, which is that they are running out of starting pitchers. Francisco Liriano is still out and it's not clear that he'll be back. Brad Radke has been battling all season long and has done a great job with a ruined shoulder, but it's going to be difficult to depend on him going forward. That leaves Carlos Silva, who has become "enigmatic," i.e., unreliable, this year, and a trio of youngsters (Boof Bonser, Matt Garza and Scott Baker), who are all lacking in experience and consistency. The Twins may get a weather break this weekend since the remains of tropical storm Ernesto will be soaking the Eastern Seaboard, which could mean that one or more games against the Yankees may be washed away. That would benefit the Twins, because it would hasten the next opportunity for the one starter they can rely on, Johan Santana. Some combination of Silva, Bonser, Baker, Radke or Liriano must support Johan, because the Twins bullpen will not hold up if it has to pitch 6 innings every day for the next month.
  • The Yankees are looking formidable, but they may have more pitching problems than the Twins. As bad as the Twins starters look, the probables for the weekend series for the Yankees include a TBA on Sunday, so there's hope. It's starting to look like you can stick a fork in the Red Sox.
  • In the West, it looks like the A's are on the march again. The A's are the West Coast version of the Twins - lotsa role players, excellent management, but the nagging feeling that they don't have enough bullets.

All told, the American League has a number of good, but flawed, teams. Meanwhile, most of the National League teams are weak at best. The next month should be fun to watch, if a bit maddening.


Stinger said...

A couple of thoughts: Unfortunately, your son has routed you in the Twins/Brewers better record bet. The Brewers' collapse is 2004-esque.

For the NL, I can see the promotion for the NL playoffs: "Who is the best of the red-headed stepchildren? Who is the top rented mule? Who will lie on the railroad tracks tied up while the AL Express is coming? Who will the sacrificial lamb be? Watch the NL playoffs on your local community access channel, right after 'The Johnny Jamison Gets Stoned on TV Show' and 'Botany News From Bhutan'...because Fox knows they will get better ratings from another 'So You Think You Can Dance' marathon than they would from showing teams that would struggle against Chico's Bail Bonds!" Man the NL is pathetic!

As for the Twins, losing Liriano and Radke for most of the rest of the season is not going to help. Fortunately for them, the Tigers and White Sox aren't exactly lights out either, so the Twinkies still have a real shot at getting to the postseason. This makes me happy for two reasons: one, I like the Twins. The other is that it keeps the spotlight away from the purple sexual predators that are the Vikings.

Mark said...

Hey stingah,

Top notch post, good sir! I'm personally hoping for Jerry & Viva reruns myself, but I'm old school that way. Perhaps they could run old episodes of "Captain Dave's Popeye Cartoon Theater," too.

"I'm Cindy from Suamico."
"I'm not"

Or the infamous Bozo Grand Prize Game episode.

Kid missing bucket: "Damn!"
Bozo: "That's a Bozo no-no!"
Kid: "Stuff it, clown!"