Hardball Weekly 6/15/09 – Championship Week Edition


With Titles being handed out in the NBA (yawn) and the NHL (in spectacular fashion) last week, it seems appropriate to discuss SoCal baseball with the World Series in mind.

Let’s Get This One Out Of The Way

The Padres are not going to win the World Series.  For a long time.  They are now being outscored by more than 1-run per game (second worst in baseball, and whenever that’s the case, you know the only one they’re ahead of is Washington).  Their ace will be traded any day now, and even if he isn’t, he’s not really very good anymore (6-6 and on the DL).  After a nice hot stretch to get back into 2nd in the division, they have gone 5-12 since and are now barely hanging onto 2nd to last and Adrian Gonzalez hasn’t homered in 10 games.

But San Diego is a really nice place to live and EZ J’s in Pacific Beach makes a hell of a sandwich.

Ladies And Gentlemen, Your 2009 National League Champions…

It seems like the Dodgers are coming back to earth, but they’re still 7-5 in June, the West is still basically clinched, and they still have the best record in the National League by 7-games.  Colorado has won 11-straight and the Dodgers are still beating them by 10.5 games.  They have survived the Manny Ramirez suspension and the injury to opening day starter Hiroki Kuroda.  They are clearly the team to beat in the National League.

So pencilling the Dodgers in to the World Series, how will they fare?  Joe Torre will have the players prepared and while they are young in age, they have playoff experience, they have solid veteran presence, and their young guys have been in the league for a long time.  They’re not relying on rookies.  The Dodgers hit the ball like crazy and have pitched well, but the pitching will likely be their biggest question mark.  Chad Billingsley and Kuroda will be starters.  But then the next options are Clayton Kershaw, Randy Wolf, and Jeff Weaver.  None of these five are what you’d call playoff-tested reliable starters.

Can The Monkey Pitch?

After a rough start, Chone Figgins has taken the Angels on his back of late, hitting in 28 of 30 games (2+ hits in 16 of them!).  And with the Texans slowing down a bit, the Angels have crept to within 2.5 games of the West leaders (and just 3 of the Wild Card leading Yankees).  Vlad Guerrero is hitting .288 in June after taking over a month of due to injury, but his production is still abysmal (1 homer, 9 RBI in 52 games).  John Lackey and Ervin Santana have both been inconsistent since returning from injury and Kelvim Escobar is having shoulder problems again.

So with that many mixed signals, it is impossible to predict much about the Angels’ hopes in October.  They have so much going wrong but are still in the race with the Rangers (who have so much going right).  So by the law of averages, you’d think the Angels will pull it out and win the West but with their pitching as bad as it has been (5th highest ERA, 3rd highest batting average-against in baseball), an early exit may be a sure thing.

The Lineup (9 Things To Watch This Week)

Dodgers at Angels (Friday-Sunday)

Angels vs. Tim Lincecum (Wednesday, at San Francisco)

White Sox at Cubs (Tuesday-Thursday)

Nationals (most runs allowed in baseball) at Yankees (5th most) (Tuesday-Thursday)

Troy Tulowitski (Rockies) had 8 runs, 3 homers, 5 RBI, 3 stolen bases, and batted .421 last week

Jose Contreras (White Sox) returned from a stint in the minors with 2 wins in 16 shutout innings, with 11 K’s last week

Colorado has won 11 straight (host Tampa Bay and Pittsburgh)

Trade Watch: Mark DeRosa, Matt Holliday, Jake Peavy, Jack Wilson, Nick Johnson, Miguel Tejada, Ryan Spilborghs

Manny Ramirez drops to 6th in All-Star voting