You might not have to; if the option on his contract isn’t activated, he’s a free agent.
I agree, but I’m convinced the only reason we stayed in first through June is because the Braves were having a crappy month as well. We really do need a bigger margin between us and the second place team for me to be truly happy - but I watched today’s game against the Reds and was very impressed with Milledge’s grab in the top of the 3rd? 4th? (not sure - but it was impressive)
Mariner fan - after last year, I have to say, they are way above my expectations this year.
Damn, but I do love me some Ichiro.
Bonus: The company is sending me and my husband to the game on Thursday for free.
Detroit and Cleveland are ahead of the Twins.
Which means we’ve got 'em right where we want 'em (see: 2006, except for the playoffs. That sucked.)
Indians fan here, and the team is definitely exceeding expectations this year. The neck-and-neck competition with Detroit has made the season much more interesting. They’ve both got a shot at getting in this year, which I’d like to see.
The Yankees can get lost for a year, or even several. I’m sick of them.
Not to mention how the tabloids have treated him
I don’t know that he won’t be a Yankee next year, though. History suggests he will follow the money, and history also suggests that where the Yankees really want a player, money is no object. Of course, his (and Boras’) biggest dream is to have the Red Sox and Yankees get into a bidding war.
As for my own favorite team, the Mets, the season is scarily reminiscent of 2001. They followed two years of making the playoffs (and coming off a year winning the NL pennant) by scuffling through late July/early August, keeping close and trading places with the Braves for first place in the division a few times, before spiraling down in August and early September.
They put together a push for the wild card, which was especially inspirational after 9/11, but losing a series to the Braves (with Benitez blowing a save in a critical game) killed any hopes.
I remember seeing what I see now with the Mets since the end of May: a sudden inability to hit in RBI situations from multiple veteran players in the lineup. Things like getting men on second and third with nobody out and “the heart of the order” coming up, followed by an infield popup, intentional walk and a double play grounder – and not against top shelf pitchers like Webb or Oswalt either. The number of times I’ve seen the Mets get the leadoff hitter to second base with nobody out, and still not bring him home, is pretty alarming.
I was at the game on Saturday and despite the 5-2 win, many fans were booing pretty loudly every time a player came up in a key hitting spot and made an out swinging at the first pitch. Which happened maybe eight times.
If the Mets can get their hitting woes straightened out they should still be the favorites to win the NL East; but after almost two months of “scuffling” I’m afraid it may be symptomatic of something deeper than just “a funk”. The Phillies and Braves have been hitting well, all it would take is for their pitching to hold out or pick up and the Mets could find themselves finishing third by the end of September :(.
They’re playing not only above beginning-of-year expectations, but above expected level given their current performance metrics, primarily “runs scored compared to runs against.” The fact that they have one of the most reliable bullpens I’ve ever seen makes the narrow margins somewhat easier to tolerate, but it’s still worrisome. The starting rotation has holes, the offense is streaky and inconsistent (and burdened by nonperforming veterans), and management, not having predicted the current success, is waffling badly about how to capitalize.
Big up side: the division appears to be near the bottom of an up-and-down trend over the last few years, so the competition is weak. Some modest performers are stepping up a notch or two. There is real potential waiting to be called up from AAA, if management would just make a decision. (The departure of Hargrove gives good cover for necessary personnel shifting, I think.) There are a couple of good pitchers floating around on the trade market that could solidify the rotation.
On paper, given current performance, this team wins 82-85 games, and misses the wild card, finishing second or third in a weak, clumped-around-mediocre-quality division. That they’re trending above 90, and have a shot at the playoffs, is due in part to the bullpen, and to that ineffable quality of chemistry that comes along once in a while and allows a team to exceed its objective potential. Almost to a man, these guys have that look, like they’re finding their collective identity and assigning themselves a mission. Ichiro, in particular, is having a monster year, and is finally emerging as a clubhouse leader, after spending several years deferring to other players and acting as the solitary master in the corner. The big exception is Rally-killer Richie, who shuffles listlessly around the field like he’s in a cancer ward, enduring an endless series of medical tests, awaiting the inevitable terminal diagnosis.
Other than him, though, this team, whatever its actual merits or however it winds up in the final standings (and I’m still skeptical of their long-term chances, despite this past weekend’s four-game split against Detroit, which might suggest a real ability to compete), has a legitimate fire in the belly. And that gives the Mariners something that we haven’t seen for several years: It makes them fun to watch. Win or lose, they’re putting on a good show this year.
Cubs are my team. My pre-season prediction was 4th or 5th, which was going against the common wisdom that they’d be at the top of their division. For the first couple of months, it looked like I was going to be right and the team seemed to be melting down. But Piniella and the boys have gotten their act together and are hot on the tail of the Brewers, so this is one thing I wouldn’t mind being wrong about.
I just wanted you to know that I finally made the pilgrimage up north to watch that game in person. There were tons and tons of Dodger fans there in person, which I had always noticed on the TV broadcasts. I had always assumed that they were just Southern California transplants who lived up there, but boy was I wrong! I ran into two other guys on the same flight I was on who went up for the game, and several other folks at the stadium. There were busloads of Dodger fans who appeared to have come on some organized tour up to SF. I’ve gotta get in on that next time around!
Anyway, I share your concerns about San Diego. I have a feeling we’re going to have another year where the Dodgers and Padres take the division and Wild Card spot, but I’m hoping the order is reversed this time around. Either way, I’m not really comfortable with the idea of having to face San Diego in a seven-game NLCS.
Like jimmmy, I’m a Nats fan. Before the season began, my call was that they’d end up somewhere between 50-112 and 63-99. Right now, they’re 37-54, which puts them on track to win 66. They won’t; they’ll get pummeled down the stretch. Right now, I’m guessing they’ll stagger to 58-60 wins.
It doesn’t matter anyway: this season’s really been Waiting for '08, when the new ballpark will be in place, and when the new organization will have settled in and started defining a direction for this team.
Is the new park as nice as I hear it is? Shame all that wonderfulness is wasted on the Giants, isn’t it?
The view is gorgeous. It’s a comfortable, intimate stadium. And all I could think was, “This place will be really great when they get a baseball team someday!”
ETA: Oh…I just got home from a real baseball stadium. Another win for the Boys In Blue to maintain the best record in the Senior Circuit. How 'bout those Dodgers?!
My team was basically mathematically eliminated on opening day.
The Texas Rangers.
Moving thread from IMHO to Cafe Society.
I’m always gratified when my Padres are doing well, though I don’t follow the sport enough to ever have any expectations, pre-season, one way or the other. The fact that a few Dodger fans in this thread are hesitant about their prospects against us in the division is also very encouraging.
GO SAN DIEGO!
Sox fan here, of the Red variety. I’m obviously happy with the Red Sox over all performance as they are in first place. But the Sox follow the clocks, Spring ahead, Fall behind. Lets hope it doesn’t happen like that this year… however I am disappointed with their hitting… its not so hott (or consistent).
Red Sox fan, like the others have said, our team looks good this year, and the Yanks don’t. This does not mean that I have forgotten about that five game sweep we suffered at the end of the summer last season. I still feel that like a punch in the gut. Doesn’t look like it will be the same way this season, but I’d like to clinch sooner rather than later and risk losing a tight race battle down the stretch.
Toronto, I really can’t explain why you’re not competing with us as well.
Red Sox fan here. I was flying high for the first half of the season until a couple weeks before the break. Now I’ve got a bad feeling. Their bats are asleep again. For the past month or so, they’ve been playing ~.500 baseball, and the Yankees are heating up. In fact, NYY are playing some great baseball now and I have a feeling, barring injury, that the AL East will be tight come late September.
Matsuzaka has been OK – but with the hype, he’s a disappointment. Okajima, Daisuke’s “someone to talk to,” has been lights out. Without Okajima and Mike Lowell (unsung in a big way), this team would be pretty bad about now and the AL East would be much closer than it is. Ortiz’s power numbers are down (injured knee) and Ramirez is not having his typical .320/40/120 year. Youkilis has been excellent, but he’s peetering out. He’ll be batting < .300 come August. One thing I don’t get is why Lugo, although he’s been hitting* lately*, consistently starts over Cora.
All in all, I’ll give them a B+, lowered because of their play as of late.
Checking in from the East Bay: the Oakland A’s are sliding, notwithstanding a win this afternoon. Definitely performing below expectations, especially considering how well they held it together when everyone was injured a couple of months ago. But they can’t hit for shit, and things really started to spiral when Rich Harden went out the Saturday before All-Star, after having not pitched in almost two months, and just brought some weak ass shit that brought down the mood of the whole club for about a week and half. I think the A’s are through with him. This may be of interest to some of you folks out there–if your local GM is in the mood to pick up a young, fire-armed pitcher who seems to have some issues about keeping himself on the field, Billy Beane will be waiting for his call this winter. The A’s simply can’t afford to pay for non-performance.
As for the team of my youth, I keep gnashing my teeth every time I look at the box score and see the Phillies latest misstep. One step up, two steps back. But at least they’re still within short range.
Speaking of which, I noticed that the Yankees are now 7 games behind Boston. I can’t resist mentioning what I predicted a couple of months back. Are you nervous yet up there in Sawx country?
We’re Red Sox fans. We’re always nervous.