With the dishonor of being one of the worst teams in baseball at 45-53 the Phillies are deep into rebuilding mode. Finding themselves in the gutter yet again this season the Phillies have come a long way from their World Series championship teams in the late 2000’s. Ranking 28th of 30 teams in hitting and 14th of 30 in pitching, has led to misery for fans. The most surprising thing has been the flip flop of positioning. Citizens Bank Park has been a notorious hitter friendly park yet no Phillies player is hitting over .300. Unfortunately for Philly fans they’re use to this type of losing and have found ways to keep things entertaining. When the Philly Phanatic is the best part of most games it does not bode well for the team on the field.
There have been many downs and not many ups for the Phillies but there have been some standouts. By far one of the best players for the Phils this year despite his recent struggles has been Odubel Herrera. Herrera hitting .285 with 10 home runs and 33 RBI’s and at only 24 years old is a player a team can build off of, though he’ll need to improve his fielding to achieve that goal. Another nucleus to build off would be Maikel Franco, though only hitting .257 he has 18 home runs and leads the team with 55 runs batted in. Though like Herrera, Fraco needs to work on his fielding and at only 23 has plenty of time to do so. On the pitching side Hector Neris (3-3 2.70) and Jeanmar Gomez (3-2 2.76) have been just a few of the standouts. At 27 and 28 years old respectively each player should be coming into their prime and could steady the top of the rotation for the next 3 to 5 years.
If the Phillies can build off of some of their young players and if their draft prospects pay dividends soon, fans can have more than mascot races and the Phanatics shenanigans to look forward to. If not, you can always join the Phanatic in trying to “catch ’em all”.
The first stop on “The Great Baseball Stadium Journey” in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was a rounding success. PNC park was majestic and the site lines from our seats were incredible. We’ll be posting our article tomorrow afternoon along with the companion pieces and a mid season review of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In the meantime here are some pictures from our trip.
After a slow start to the season the Los Angeles Dodgers (41-33) have turned things around and if the season were to end today they’d be one of the two wild card teams for the National League. The Dodgers are riding a hot streak 8-2 in the last 10 games having won 6 in a row going into Pittsburgh. Though the San Francisco Giants (47-27) are 9-1 in the last 10 games winners of their last three. Thus the Dodgers still trail the Giants in the NL west by 6 games. It is an “even numbered year” so if history repeats itself the Giants will win it all. The Dodgers will need to continue playing solid and improve their head to head match-ups with said Giants. For a team with such high expectations not to mention such a high payroll it can be said they’re under performing. The Dodgers need to focus on winning baseball games. Clubhouse chemistry has been an issue in the past and we’ll see this year if new manager Dave Roberts can steer the ship in the right direction. Roberts held firm when the team was playing poorly and one of the reasons he was hired was due to his leadership and ability to be cool under pressure.
The pressure is definitely on for the Dodgers having been eliminated in back to back National League championship series. Phenomenal pitching is keeping the Dodgers in the hunt like most years. With the staff currently sitting with a 3.32 era third best in the majors trailing only the New York Mets (3.19) and Chicago Cubs (2.76). Though if their star players don’t start playing like it they’ll find themselves out of the playoffs sooner if not entirely. Adrian Gonzalez (.267) is not looking like the player he was in years past. He is hitting 20 points below his career average but more importantly only has 6 home runs on the season. The silver lining for Gonzalez is he still has managed to drive in 32 runs. The Dodgers will need his “A” game if they’re to advance to the World Series this year. Though it is not only Gonzalez who has seen his numbers drop. Yasiel Puig is hitting only .244 with 5 home runs. Which does not make up for all his strikeouts; 45 in 55 games played. Not having a good year could be said for many other Dodger hitters. The Dodgers overall are 27th in the majors, hitting .235 collectively. Lower, believe it or not, than their neighbors to the south the San Diego Padres (31-43). A team that didn’t score a run until the 4th game of the season.
The Dodgers do have some players who are performing better or as expected. The indomitable Clayton Kershaw (11-1 1.57) has anchored the rotation. When things were bad early this season, the team could count on him to snap them out of a losing streak. Kenley Jansen (3-2 1.48) has blown three saves thus far but has been solid overall. It’s best this happens early in the season and not the post season. The brightest star for the Dodgers has to be rookie Corey Seager. Seager is a leading candidate for rookie of the year hitting .289 and belting 16 home runs while leading the Dodgers with 37 runs batted in.
Seager and Kershaw cannot do it all on their own. The Dodgers need Yasiel Puig, Yasmani Grandal (.192), A.J. Ellis (.191.) and Joc Pederson (.239) to start playing a lot better. This may be an “even numbered year” but the Dodgers don’t have just the Giants to worry about. They also have to look out for the Chicago Cubs (47-24) and Washington Nationals (43-30). Will it be the year the Cubs escape the curse? Will it be another one in the books for the Giants? Or will the Nationals and Dodgers mix things up. If you’re a Dodgers fan you can only hope this current streak is a sign of more sunny days ahead.
With the All Star Game fast approaching it’s time to shift our reviews from “Quarter Season” to “Mid Season” At the start of the season there was hope for Yankees fans. The addition of a couple new players and the resurgence of Alex Rodriguez bode well for the 2016 season. Many pundits had them winning the AL East. But as the beginning of July approaches the Yankees find themselves (35-36) 6 games back in the AL East trailing the first place Baltimore Orioles followed by the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees are in the unenviable spot of riding it out or cleaning house and reloading for next year. General manager Brian Cashman has stated he’s not ready to wipe the slate clean yet. But alas things have not gone the way the pinstripes wish it would have. Poor play and injuries to key players like C.C. Sabathia (5-4 2.71)and Mark Teixeira havae contributed to a poor first half of the season. Teixeira was also struggling mightlily at the plate hitting only .180 with 3 home runs. A good team snaps out of their slump and the Yankees have come a long way from being 8-15 at the start of May. The bad news is they haven’t gained ground either, still 6 games back now towards the start of July.
There are some bright spots, though few and far between, which is not enough for a team and city that is use to winning. Didi Gregorius (.286) has been solid behind the plate but his fielding has been less than desirable and under the average of most shortstops, currently sitting at minus 7 runs saved. Gregorius will need to improve his defense if the Yankees are to make up ground. The shortstop is the catalyst of the defense. Carlos Beltran is having a great year hitting .286 with 19 home runs and 51 runs batted in. On the pitching side the Masahiro Tanaka (4-2 2.91) has proved solid despite the lack of run support from his teammates. Though the standout has been Andrew Miller (4-0 1.17). Miller has been solid out of the bullpen and also picking up 7 saves in spot opportunities. Yankees fans are some of the most ravenous and these silver linings are not enough. Brian Cashman has not been getting the job done and if the trend continues the Yankees will be missing the playoffs. Which would be a big disappointment to a team with such high hopes going into the season and after the loss last year to the Houston Astros in the American League Wild Card game. Should the players stay or should they go? That is the question and not a choice that will easily be made.
Starting June 25th in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Dinosaur Spaceship will embark on an epic quest to see all 30 major league baseball stadiums in the next couple years. We’ll share our thoughts of the overall stadium experience along with companion articles. Our companion articles will be split into two segments. “One thing to do in each baseball city” and the other “One thing you must eat in each city”.
After kicking things off in Pittsburgh we’re on our way to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to see what the Phillies have to offer. We then head to New York City to check out Citi Field and Yankee Stadium. With our east coast leg ending in Boston to see Fenway Park. If you have suggestions of what we should “see” or “eat” while visiting each city please leave it in the comments and if we end up choosing your suggestions we’ll be sure to give you a shout out.
If the trends are to be believed “even numbered years” are the San Francisco Giants years to win it all. Since 2010 the Giants have won it all every other year. After a rocky start, the Giants are back on top the National League West leading by 5 games after taking two of three from the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend. The Giants are doing it again this year with their typical formula of outstanding pitching (3.51 5th overall) and solid defense (.988 Fielding Percentage 3rd overall). The Giants always seem to struggle with offense and are not different this year ranking 17th of 30 teams. Yet somehow they always find a way to get the job done. Though this year there are some serious contenders in the National League.
If the Giants seek to continue the trend they’ll need to deal with the like of the Chicago Cubs, Washington Nationals and New York Mets to make it to the World Series. The Giants need Angel Pagan to come back from the disabled list and stay in the lineup. Kelby Tomlinson has been a nice surprise hitting .289 on the season though has struggled as of late. Buster Posey while doing a great job behind the plate has not been stellar on offense hitting only .251. Madison Bumgaurner has been his stellar self with a 7-2 record and 1.88 era. The Giants will need to have all cylinders firing if they’re to make it back to the World Series.
The Giants are always the team everybody sleeps on. Though the Cubs have dominated headlines let us not forget who has won 3 of the last 5 World Series. The Giants go about their business during the regular season and have veterans who are used to the postseason pressure and continue to win. One things for sure come October, even though things are cooling down in the States baseball will just be heating up.
The Chicago Cubs hype machine is in full effect a quarter of the way through the season. They dominate National baseball headlines carrying the hopes of a city looking to rid itself of the infamous Billy goat curse. The Cubs are getting it done with solid pitching led by Jake Arrieta (10-1, 1.86 era) and overall best in the majors at 2.62. The pitching staff has picked up the slack when the offense has failed to get it done. The last time the Cubs won the World Series you’d have to go back to 1908 when they defeated the Detroit Tigers. Their last World Series appearance was in 1945 ironically enough against the Tigers. Though if you’re a Cubs fan don’t start RSVP’ing to the World Series quite yet.
There are areas of need just like all clubs have. They rank 12 of 30 in overall batting average and 13th in fielding percentage. But key players like Miguel Montero and David Ross are doing an outstanding job behind the plate but batting at .210 and .236 respectively, is not getting the job done. Montero’s health is also at doubt with return trips to the disabled list. To make matters worst Jorge Soler their young left fielder was also put on the DL. Though Soler was only hitting .223, the last 15 games was hitting .303. Another disappointment this year has been Jayson Heyward who is batting .240 and was one of their big offseason acquisitions. Heyward a notorious slow starter will need to prove it has been just that to justify the 186-million-dollar contract if the Cubs hope to win it all. In Heyward’s defense in the last 7 games he is batting .375 and last 15 .304. For the Cubs it’s one thing to dominate during the regular season but postseason baseball is a different beast. Lest we forget the 1906 Chicago Cubs and the 2001 Seattle Mariners neither of which won the World Series. Both teams hold the record for most wins in a regular season at 116. A pace the current Cubs team is set to match. Regular season accolades are great but if you’re not out there come October celebrating a World Series title it’s a mute point.
Look for the Cubs to continue relying on their outstanding pitching and timely hitting to continue their winning ways. Keep an eye out on the Washington Nationals, New York Mets and of course those pesky San Francisco Giants to challenge the Cubs for the National League title. If the Cubs can find some offensive help before the trade deadline and some of their star players start hitting the way they’re capable of; maybe, just maybe this will be the year Cubs fans can party like it’s 1908.