In what will forever be known as the year of the Mets’ Collapse, the dull, but steady Senators staved off a heroic last month run by the Farsiders to avoid a post-all-star-break collapse of Hebraic proportions and edged the runners up by a few points but really only a stolen base or a homer here or there category-wise. Love Machine put up some big offensive numbers down the stretch to blow past the 4th place Hebs. who made a nice run for the money, aided by a few pick-pocket deals with the Amigos & Quails in the second half.
SENATORS – Led by NL MVP Jimmy Rollins and new-found star Brandon Phillips, the Senators got yeoman starts from the over-the-hill likes of Maddux & Moyer during the last week of the season to hang on. Despite losing Pence for a month & Being unable to replace the injured Kent, Lowry, Griffey & Cameron the last 2 weeks, the boys of this summer made 2 key moves with the acquisition of Roland at the break & the pick up of Kearns off the waiver scrap heap to replace Pence. All he did was hit .300m with 12-13 HRS. & 40+ RBIS in the second half, every one of which the CHAMPS needed. Other expansion moves of Backe, Gordon & Springer (5 wins & low ratio/whip) helped shore up a floundering pitching staff. Got every once of offense possible from Griffey in an injury-free comeback year & a solid season from star-to-be Zimmerman. Oh yeah – didn’t lose Pence at the break either. Balance all around won it for Cap & Eric.
FARSIDERS – Stormed back to pass the Senators by a point in the last 2 weeks but faded offensively down the stretch, getting little help from Reyes, Ramirez and martin when the chips were down. A great late season pitching run from Lilly (a steal), Francis, another budding star, Hudson & Martinez coupled with solid numbers from 3 very good closers put Marv & Paul in position to win it all. Billingsley also emerged as the starter the Dodgers have been waiting for but in the end the bats just weren’t there. Great run by a team seemingly headed nowhere after a solid opening 2 months.
LM – Erstwhile champs never really got it going until August when the likes of Burrell (a surprise 2nd half), Howard, Wright, Gonzalez (a stud) got it going at the same time w/ big, consistent numbers every night. Pitching wise, I think they were badly hurt by the trade of Peavy and nagging injuries to C. Young coupled with the mediocrity of the rest of the staff except the closers, Saito & Capps. Alas, Kip Wells hurt them all year and Mitre was a paltry exchange for Peavy, leaving it all on the backs of the offense to push them up the ladder. Uggla & Tulo a helluva price to pay for 3rd place.
HEBS – Closed the season with one of the best offensive squads on paper that we’ll see in a long time but couldn’t recover fully from the month long absence of Soriano. Might’ve grabbed 3rd had Soriano not gone down. . Texiera was the acquition of the year at the trade deadline, Atkins was huge post-break but Willingham disappeared and soon to be AL player A. Jones never got it going. Finally sunk when Renteria went down too. Pitching-wise Webb was what you’d expect and both Morris & Kendrick also pitched well. Lost Hennessey as closer in SF at critical time and Wagner…well we know that story. Overall almost made lemonade out of lemons given the fact that he mortgaged the draft on the $29 Pujols.
ZOMBS – Coming out of the draft assembled one of the best offenses & worst pitching staffs in memory which got them just what it should’ve – 5th place. Holliday was unreal all year, Lee & Ramirez spectacular as well, and even Bonds was good at the price but the rest of the offense only adequate with Belliard being the surpisingly best of the litter. Mid-late season additions of Zito, Glavine, Lowe & Peavy were all the right moves which wound up paying only small dividends. Never got a closer to count on, A story of too little, too late from the pitchers.
QUAILS – Thought Mike bailed too early with 1/5 of the season to go after turning over much of the roster at the break, especially with the mismatch deal with Hebs for whom – Gregg?, the maybe closer for the Marlins. Why not finish the deal & move Fielder in his last year of eligibility? I liked the team he started w/ far better than the ned product and the few keeps he got from the trades – Cordero & Victorino. Also hurt by the loss of Freel for at least half the year. Maybe he got too distracted by the Mets, who will even drive an Irishman to drink (more).
KABOOMS – Guys, this love affair w/ Pierre has to stop. He’s little more than a 1 category guy. To finish out of the money holding onto Lee & Chipper and not taking the route of the Atlantics or Surge is just mis-management or wishful thinking. Should’ve moved both in late July at the latest. On the bright side watched Rookie of the Year Braun emerge as a mjor talent and probably can keep Zambrano even at his price with Hudson a nice keeper as well. Whatever happened to McCann in Atlanta? Lotta rebuilding to do and a lotta money to do it. My guess is that they won’t spend $55 on 3 pitchers again on d-day.
SURGE – Unlike past years, Walt bailed early too but if you are gonna do it, follow his lead, ie. assemble nice, well-priced talent like Hart, Hermida, Drew, Utley, Loney Weeks, Petit, Snell and maybe even Wiggie with the rebuilding Astros. Unless he pulls an Atlantic City –like no show on Dday should be a major force in ’08. ( Sorry Walt, had to nail you on your attendance record).
AMIGOS – The affable trio did their best to help other teams win once again with All-Star break dumping and came up w/ a few guys to build around Byrnes (a monster year). Matsui, Votto, maybe Ethier and Pie, if he gets his head skrewed on in Chicago. Like Gallardo, Owings and maybe even Arroyo for a comeback year at a nice price. Not as threatening as Surge or Atlantics but not horrible either. Big break if Soriano winds up closer in Atlanta.
FISH – Despite some last week offensive heroics for which the Senators are most grateful will need to come up big on draft day. Beltran & LaRoche are borderline at their prices. Winn a probable keeper, Greene emerging as another NL force at SS. Valverde or Lidge good post-season trade bait for some offense and H. Bailey & James nicely priced too. Watch Hawksworth as a sleeper as Cards have to rebuild their pitching.
ALTANTICS – Our Metophiles did a Surge-like job at the break in building for 08 with Kouz, Uggla & Tulo. Helton seems to have some gas in the tank too, B. Wilson the Giant closer & Marmol may follow suit in Chi. Maine & Wainwright look like keepers and a bounce back from Nomar may help too. 1 small oversight – should have re-grabbed Matsui who was there for their taking on waivers but they missed it. In better shape than the Mets going into 08.
PLAYERS to watch in 08 after exceeding expectations in 07 – Ankiel (I’m not sold yet), Texiera, Braun, Rowand, Griffey, Phillips, Hart, Loney, Hermida, Greene, H. Ramirez, Hudson, Belliard, Guzman, Tulo. Pitchers – Billingsley, Saito, Moyer, Valverde, Kendrick, Gregg.
DISAPPOINTMENTS: A.Jones (watch Nationals go after him in new ballpark), Ensberg, Bay, Delgado, McCann, Taveras, F. Lopez, Rolen, Barrett, Tracey, Freel, Duffy, E, Chavez..
Pitchers – Nolasco, A. Reyes, Cain (comeback comin’) K. Wells, Patterson, Willis, Sheets, Carpenter, Wolf
TIME TO CALL IT A DAY? (besides Bonds & Biggio) we’re at the near end for the likes of Roberts, Benitwz, M. Giles, Edmonds, D. Wells, W. Williams, Gonzo, Hattieberg, Randy J., Glavine, Klesko, Griffey, Eaton (remember Preston Wilson???), Livan, Kent, Jenkins
MVD candidates – I’ve got 5 category Rollins nosing out Halliday. Other nominees: Byrnes, Wright, Fielder.
DONKEYS – hands down Uggla w/ honorable mention for Moyer, Loney, Guzman
10 Off-seasons questions:
1. Who gambles on Griffey next year?
2. Aforementioned Ankiel.
3. Where do Rowand & A. Jones wind up?
5. What AL pitching free agent the Mets open the bank for? Johann Santana is my bet.
6. B. Hall, Duncan, Alou, Floyd, S. Green, Hamilton, Logan, Dobbs, Pedro, Looper, Humber, Pelfry, Wood, Capuano
7. In-coming AL free agents
8. All money teams & Zombs will be rebuilding.
9. New Yankee skipper – LaRusso, Girardi or Mattingly
10. Sleeper – J. Torre to Cardinals
That’s a wrap, Gents. Hope to see you in off-season.
Co-owner of Champion Senators – Cap.