I hate these two days after MLB’s All-Star Game. I can’t stand having no, zero, absolutely zilch competition for two long, boring days. I live for the games! Gimme some games! Since there is nothing going on (ESPY’s anyone?) it’s a good time for the Dutch Lion to analyze the first half of the baseball season. PS The ESPY’s suck!
Regarding my (check that…..the Dutch Lion’s) predictions, we’re looking solid. Four of the Lion’s six division winners are currently in 1st Place (L.A. Dodgers up 7.5 games, Washington Nationals up 9.5 games, Boston Red Sox up 3.5 games, and Cleveland Indians up 2.5 games) while two other squads are not looking so hot (St. Louis Cardinals are tied for 2nd, 5.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers; Texas Rangers are also tied for 2nd, 16.5 games behind the surprising Houston Astros). Overall, I’ll take 4 of 6 if they go on to win their divisions.
What was the Dutch Lion wrong about?
- Houston Astros – What was I (ahem…..he….) thinking? Houston is dominating at 60-29! I guess we were underrating them, even though we had them earning a Wild Card spot behind…….
- Texas Rangers – The Rangers are 43-45 right now, tied for 2nd with the L.A. Angels at 16.5 GB.
- St. Louis Cardinals – The Cardinals are 43-45. They have been amazingly streaky. They were cold, then hot, then cold, and maybe hot again. They are tied with the Cubs just 5.5 games behind Milwaukee. Anything could happen in this NL Central. I still believe in the “Cardinal Way” but watch out for the Brew Crew! These kids are surprisingly good. Just because you’re young and rebuilding doesn’t mean you can’t contend now. Let’s do it Brewers!
- New York Yankees – The “Lion” had them in 4th place. Well, they look pretty awesome now, what with super phenom Aaron Judge leading them to 2nd place (.329, 30 HR, 66 RBI, 61 BB, .448 OBP, .691 SLG, 1.139 OPS; BOLD indicates MLB leader).
- Wild Card Predictions: We had Houston over Toronto and San Francisco over the Chicago Cubs (the Cooooo). Three of these four are not good at all. Toronto is in 5th place (41-47), Chicago is under .500 (43-45), and San Francisco is horrible (34-56). Only Houston is playing good baseball.
What was the Dutch Lion right about?
- We had Cleveland over Boston in the AL Championship Series. This might still be the prediction except that Houston looks unstoppable. Don’t forget we still have 2.5 months left before October. If anything, I might change our pick to Houston vs Boston.
- The “Dutch Lion” hates the Cubs, so much so that he calls them the “Cooooo”. I had to talk him down from leaving the Cubs out of the playoffs entirely but we compromised on putting them into the Wild Card game. As it turns out, at the half way mark of the season Chicago is still waking up from their October hangover. They feel like garbage and are playing like trash. They need to hydrate! They also need to find some motivation, although the biggest problem might be that they just aren’t that good. I’m so sick and tired of hearing everyone (media and fans) say that they are so talented. Are they? I don’t think so. Sure they have some good young players like Bryant and Rizzo. Every team does. Seriously, look around baseball. Almost every team has some young talent. The rest of the Cubs are NOT as good as everyone assumes. Baez? Overrated hot dog. Almora? He’s just ok. Addison Russell? When he’s not cheating on his wife he’s an average ballplayer. Zobrist? He’s an old utility player. Heyward? One of the worst signings in Cubs history. Hendricks? Pitched WAY over his head in ’16. Schwarber…..OH PLEASE! Today the Cubs got desperate and traded with their South Side rivals, the beloved White Sox. Somehow they talked Sox GM Rick Hahn into parting with underrated Jose Quintana. He’s under team control through 2020 which could be huge for the North Siders since they have old, used up pitchers such as over the hill, lump-in-his-throat John Lackey, overrated free agent Jake Arrieta, and overrated mental block, yips in his throws to 1B Jon Lester. Hahn is a North Sider who not-so-secretly loves the Cubs. Let’s be blunt. The “Lion” is not happy with this trade. Sure Hahn got 4 prospects including two good ones in OF Eloy Jimenez and SP Dylan Cease, but helping out your biggest crosstown rival? Hahn could have leveraged this situation for two more weeks right up until the July 31 trade deadline and then traded with any of the 28 other major league teams. Hahn could’ve found a comparable deal within the next two weeks with somebody like the Yankees and gotten OF Clint Frazier and LHP Justus Sheffield, or with Milwaukee and gotten OF Lewis Brinson and OF Corey Ray, or Houston might have given RHP Francis Martes and 1B A.J. Reed, or maybe even the Dodgers would have bitten and given up RHP Yadier Alvarez and OF Alex Verdugo. You know how you normally don’t trade with division rivals? Hahn should know better than trading with his biggest rival from 8 miles up the road. Doesn’t he know how it rips the heart out of the real Sox fans? The real fans know how great Quintana is. I believe Hahn made a serious mistake in dealing an underrated, underappreciated lefty starter in Quintana to a team that desperately needed a younger lefty starter that they now have under team-friendly control through 2020. It makes me sick! This is like the Chicago Bears trading with the Green Bay Packers. This is like Alabama trading with Auburn!?! This is like Ohio St. trading with Michigan?!? Would Branch Rickey have traded with the rival N.Y. Yankees when he was GM of the Brooklyn Dodgers? Giving Quintana to the desperate Cubs is like when Boston’s owner Harry Frazee traded Babe Ruth to the Yankees for……cash! (Ironically, did you know that the White Sox offered Shoeless Joe Jackson along with $60,000 for Babe Ruth? I know! I just learned that today.) When you have up to 28 other options and at least 2 weeks, or even 3 years, you can’t pull that trigger today. What a shame! What a sham! ShamWow! I think Rick Hahn was just ShamWowed by Theo Epstein the same way America was ShamWowed by Vince Offer! You just don’t do this trade. You can’t do it! The “Lion” is NOT happy! Roar!!!! Growl!!!!
- The “Lion” was glowing in his preseason praise of the L.A. Dodgers! Thanks for making me (ahem, the “Dutch Lion”) look so smart! I’m sticking with L.A. as our World Series Champion. As we wrote in the Preview:
Cue the music………”I love L.A.!”
Odds & Ends
- AL MVP: We predicted Mike Trout. With Trout’s injury, at this point it would be hard to go against Aaron Judge. Of course, if Houston continues at this torrid pace, it might be wise to bet on George Springer or Carlos Correa from the Astros unless Judge leads the Yankees to the postseason.
- AL Cy Young: Chris Sale. No changes here. Sale is dominating. I’m sold on this prediction.
- AL Rookie of the Year: We had Yoan Moncada. He hasn’t even been called up yet although there are rumors he will be called up on Friday to start the 2nd half on the South Side. For now, he toils in the South…….Charlotte, North Carolina.
- AL Manager of the Year: We selected Terry Francona in the Preview. While Francona is in the hospital with some heart issues, Houston’s Manager A.J. Hinch is having a banner year. He will win.
- NL MVP: Bryce Harper. Harp is once again dominating as he did two years ago. With Washington leading the NL East at 52-36, Harper will probably win MVP. Somebody on L.A. might earn votes but who would it be? Corey Seager? Cody Bellinger? Clayton Kershaw? Kershaw’s the most likely MVP from the Dodgers but sometimes pitchers aren’t considered. If Arizona wins the NL West, expect Paul Goldschmidt to earn votes or even win.
- NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw. We had Kershaw in the Preview and we’ll stick with him.
- NL Rookie of the Year: We had Hunter Renfroe from San Diego. He won’t win. It will be Cody Bellinger from L.A. (.261, 25 HR, 58 RBI, .961 OPS)
- NL Manager of the Year: We took Dusty Baker. He might win but if Arizona continues their surprising season (53-36), rookie Manager Torey Lovullo will probably earn this award.
- Has anyone noticed the strange home/away splits so far this season? Several teams have better road records than home records which is really odd. Cleveland is 21-24 at home but 26-16 on the road. What!?! Minnesota is awful at Target Field (20-28) but really solid out-of-state (25-15). Kinda weird. Houston is awesome both at Minute Maid Park (27-18) and on the road, but extremely successful while away (33-11)! Traditionally, the old maxim is to dominate at home and break even on the road. A team hopes to go something like 51-30 at home and 41-40 on the road for a 92-70 division winning record. The L.A. Dodgers are taking home field advantage to the extreme, going 39-11 at Dodger Stadium while doing slightly better than .500 on the road (22-18). The Diamondbacks are taking the more traditional path to the playoffs as Arizona is 33-15 in Phoenix but just 20-21 on the road. How will it play out over the 2nd half of 2017? I’m intrigued.
- Interleague Play: As usual, the American League is dominating like they have every year since 2004. So far this year the AL is 99-87 over the NL. For more info, check out my infamous post on the horrendously overrated 2016 Cubs in last October’s post entitled “The 2016 Cubs……Not That Good”.
Well, that’s about it for today. I need to get my mind off of this Jose Quintana trade. By the way, most people think the famous saying in regards to Shoeless Joe Jackson and the 1919 Black Sox Scandal was “Say it ain’t so Joe”. In fact, a kid stopped Shoeless Joe on the streets of Chicago and talked to him, but the actual words were “It ain’t true, is it Joe?” according to the book I’m currently reading entitled “The Betrayal” by Charles Fountain.
In that vein, if you were to tell me when I woke up this morning that Jose Quintana would be traded to the crosstown rival North Siders, I would have said “No way Jose!” The Betrayal? Not the 1919 Black Sox. The real betrayal is what happened today. I feel betrayed by Sox GM Rick Hahn. “Say it ain’t so Rick”! Or better yet……”It ain’t true, is it Rick?”