Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Good Teams Beat the Teams They Are Supposed to Beat

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, a World Series contender is supposed to beat the bottom feeders, not play to their level. If the Cardinals end up on the outside looking in when the playoffs open, they'll have no one to blame but themselves. Yet again, we see a team that was supposed to be the class of the NL Central drop two games to a team they should be taking 2 of 3 from (if not sweeping). No disrespect meant to the Pirates -- they have some intriguing young talent for the first time in what seems like forever. But, the Cardinals have a payroll that suggests contender, they've signed free agents thinking it enhanced their standing as contenders, and they've made late season trades that are consistent with moves a contender would make. Yet here we sit on 8/25 and they are 3.5 games behind the Reds for the NL Central lead and are 1 game out of the NL Wild Card. Obviously, plenty of time left, but you gotta get it going. NOW. This season won't be considered successful in St. Louis without a solid showing in the playoffs.

Here's a quick look at what's at stake for other NL playoff contenders:
Reds - The season's a success at this point -- no matter what happens. That said, Walt Jockety has done a nice job of mixing veteran players with the young talent that the Reds had developed. This team has really taken on the challenge of being a power in the NL -- not just a surprise.

Braves - Many tabbed them to have a good season, and they've delivered. Winning one last division for the retiring Bobby Cox would be a fitting end to one of the greatest managerial careers in the history of the game. I don't see them letting go of a playoff spot at this point, but Philly always seems to make a late charge, so they may end up the Wild Card. Missing the playoffs is always considered disappointing for a team with Atlanta's recent history, but would be especially painful after the season they've had so far.

Phillies - While currently on a 3 game losing streak, the Phillies are starting to play like the team that many expected them to be when 2010 opened. They are currently tied atop the Wild Card standings, but are only 2.5 out of the division lead. Outside of the Yankees, there probably isn't another team in baseball that will see more negative press for missing the playoffs. If/when they make it to October baseball, they'll be a tough out for anyone with a rotation of Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels.

Padres - They've been the surprise team of the year, and they just keep rolling. Their pitching is as good as anyone's despite the fact that it doesn't have the name recognition. Their offense isn't as feared as other teams', but they excel at getting the key hits when they matter. A nice playoff run, and Adrian Gonzalez could be a full fledged star -- not to mention one step closer to being a former Padre. It'd be disappointing, and a little surprising, to see them lose their 6 game lead at this point, but the season is a huge success simply because they played well enough to hang onto A-Gon and Heath Bell all season -- players many predicted would be gone long before the non-waiver trading deadline.

Giants - The division is a longshot at this point, but they're tied for the Wild Card. Buster Posey has had a monster season, and could easily end up winning Rookie of the Year, which would be quite a feat considering the great play we've seen from rookies in 2010. Their big guns in the rotation haven't been as good as expected, but you can't count out a team that can go into a short series with Lincecum and Cain pitching the first two games.

No comments:

Post a Comment