The trade deadline was a bust, and with no August waivers/trade deadline to back it up, we are dancing with the ones that brung us from here on in.
I don’t understand the rationale behind the decision to clip the August trade deadline, but let’s applaud MLB for doing something. Yeah, something meaningless. How about doing something about the damn baseballs before every still-standing hitting record gets blown away, boys? But I digress…
There’s roughly a third of the MLB season remaining, and the Dog Days of August are in full bloom, so what better time to take a long look around both leagues and see what’s what? Here’s ten things to think about as we wait for the pennant and wild card races to sort themselves out after Labor Day:
- The Angels, Rangers and Giants are pretenders. They are all hovering around .500, but this is as good as it will get for these three clubs. And it’s a shame, especially in the Angels case, as they are one of the more entertaining clubs to watch, with All-World Mike Trout heading for another MVP; Japanese marvel Shei Ohtani (he pitches, too?); an on-his-last-legs Albert Pujols; and the defensive wizardry of Andrelton Simmons. Who cares about pitching if you can watch these guys (but yeah, pitching’s why they are a pretender)? And wouldn’t it be fun to see MadBum take the bump in a wild card showdown against Max Scherzer and the Nats? Not only did the Giants front office prohibit Bumgarner from sniffing the playoffs with another club by holding pat at the trade deadline, they will suck the life out of arguably the best postseason pitcher of our time with another meaningless stretch run where the big lefty will put up meh stats in boring games before sparse crowds. Could have been so much better. And the Rangers? Plain and simple, they should have been sellers. New ballpark or no new ballpark, this team had no shot and should have gotten something for Mike Minor while they had the chance. Oh well.
- The Red Sox are done. Yes, I’m only slightly trying to buck the inevitable here with a little SportsAttic reverse psychology, and the more teams that pose a threat to the Bombers making the playoffs the better, as far as I’m concerned. But they are toast. For those of you familiar with the unpleasantness of a two-day hangover, how about Boston’s four-month monster still raging in their collective heads here in early-August? All that’s left to wonder at this point is which member of the Bosox pitching staff will punch Dennis Eckersley in the face between now and October (dibs on Chris Sale).
- The Phillies will miss the playoffs. Way to make it happen, Bryce Harper! Yeah, yeah, let’s hear about all the injuries. Problem is, every club gets their share of IL trips (has anyone been paying attention to the M*A*S*H unit inhabiting the Bronx this season?). And despite that, there’s enough talent in Philly to contend for the division against the overrated Braves, not slog around with the six other flawed contenders hoping for the one-game, play-in window. Back to the protein shake infomercials, Gabe Kapler.
- The Nationals will not just make the playoffs, but make a run in October. Whah?? It’s the Curse of Harper working its contrarian magic in our nation’s capital. All those loaded Washington teams that underperformed during Harper’s postseason tenure in D.C.? Forget about them. The superstar moves up I-95 to Philadelphia and what do the Nats do? Rally from that miserable start all the way to hosting a wild card game. They will win that one (one more time, I really wish Scherzer would face MadBum in that one), and even throw a scare into the mighty Dodgers in the ALDS (you really think Dave Roberts and his boys in blue relish the idea of seeing Scherzer, Strasburg and Corbin in a short series?).
- The Mets will play meaningful baseball in September. Can they sneak in? Of course they can, but will they? It will take a lot, and if a miracle does occur, it will be on the back of their best-in-class starting rotation. Plus, they’ll need Robinson Cano to play as though they no longer test for steroids, Jeurys Familia to revert to a legit setup man, Pete Alonzo to shake the post-HR derby malaise, and Jeff McNeil to win the batting title. Would that still be enough? For interesting games in September, yes. To sneak into the wild card? Nope. For that, they’d also need Todd Frazier and Wilson Ramos to hit like it was five years ago, Amed Rosario to play like the next Francisco Lindor (weren’t Mets fans sold that bill of goods a few years back?), and Michael Conforto to finally harness all that potential we see in that sweet lefty swing of his into a .350, 15 and 45 stretch run. Too much to ask? Yeah, probably. But they’ll hang around awhile.
- Zach Greinke will look like the best investment of 2019 when the Astros sweep their ALDS opponent without breaking a sweat. And then we’ll be reminded in spades why he had the Yankees on his no-trade list at the deadline, when he spits the bit and costs the ‘Stros the ALCS with a couple of clunkers against the Evil Empire.
- Minnesota will fall out of their lead in the AL Central and all the way to the second wild card slot with an epic free fall of a finish. Then they’ll go to Oakland and wallop the A’s in the play in game, delighting the waiting Bronx Bombers and their fans (and infuriating AtticBro in the process), who will not notice their lack of quality, front-line starting pitching as they put up double-digits nightly in another postseason Minnesota beatdown.
- Aaron Boone will get both Luis Severino and Dellin Betances back for the Yankees stretch run. And the New York skipper will go into October with strict instructions from GM Brian Cashman to do his best Sparky Anderson imitation and channel a modern-day Captain Hook. Remember “reliever ball” from a year ago? Boone’s suspect in-game management and poor decisions around when to yank his starters severely handicapped the Yanks efforts to oust the Red Sox last October. His poor in-game management will still be on display in the 2019 postseason, but with a heavy reliance on Severino as his long-man and the addition of Betances to their loaded pen, look for New York to send Houston home once again.
- It’s the Dodgers’ year. Los Angeles fans get a break when the Yankees come calling with perhaps the only manager more inept at in-game decision-making than Dave Roberts. Ultimately the Yanks suspect starting rotation will be exposed, and their gassed pen that powered them by Houston in the ALCS finally caves. Simply too much talent on the L.A. side of the diamond, and Boone won’t be able to expose Roberts foibles despite ample opportunities.
- Playoff matchups, anyone? AL Wild Card — A’s vs. Twins. NL Wild Card — Nationals vs. Cubs (bye bye Joe Maddon, two consecutive play-in game losses will conclude his tenure in the Windy City). ALDS — Yankees vs. Twins and Astros vs. Indians. NLDS — Dodgers vs. Nationals and Braves vs. Cardinals. ALCS — Yankees vs. Astros. NLCS — Dodgers vs. Cardinals. World Series — Yankees vs. Dodgers. 2019 Champions — Los Angeles Dodgers.
Sorry to take all the suspense away, baseball fans. With the final third of the 2019 MLB season still to be played and beginning the annual slog through the Dog Days, let’s see just how accurate SportsAttic’s prognostications are.