Monday, August 22, 2005

« Soriano could be wired to Twins; WC update »

By Suss
The trading deadline isn't over. August 31 is the waiver trade deadline, and there's always a nugget or two that changes things in the postseason races.

And, sports fans, we may have our nugget.

Soriano (MLB.com)Both the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the St. Paul Pioneer-Press are reporting that the Twins have claimed Rangers' 2B Alfonso Soriano on waivers.

This doesn't mean they have him yet, and they may not get him at all. According to MLB.com, "Twins claimed Soriano to block a trade to another team and the clubs do not expect to make a deal."

The way the waiver wire works is such: a team puts a team on waivers. The team with the worst record to claim the player "claims" the player. Now the two teams have 48 hours to make a deal. Then, the waiving team can either trade the player to that team, give them the player or retain the player. If they retain the player, he cannot be traded for the rest of the season.

The Twins have used the waiver earlier this season to nab a prominent second baseman. They acquired bat-flippin' Bret Boone from the Mariners, then weeks later released him.

Minnesota has a remarkable pitching rotation, featuring 2004 Cy Young winner Johan Santana, Brad Radke and Carlos Silva, along with lights-out closer Joe Nathan. However, their offense has been inconsistent. The season-ending injury to Torii Hunter was both an offensive and defensive handicap on the team, and the acquisition of Soriano would be an immediate fix to their hole at second base, as Luis Rivas has been slumping all year.

And Minnesota may not be out of this race. Last week they were 7 games back in the Wild Card chase, but with Oakland losing 5 of 6 games, the Twins find themselves back only 2 1/2 games of the A's after sweeping the White Sox and winning 3 of 4 vs. Seattle. Now the Twins play the White Sox again starting Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays (who have quietly stayed in the race) were swept in Detroit, the third stop in their 4-city, 13-game road trip. Toronto was outscored 29-13 by the Tigers. Capping off their trip is a four-game series at the Yankees, who are also in the middle of this Wild Card chase.

New York is currently tied with Cleveland in the standings. Both teams are 1/2 game behind Oakland, but the Yankees also have a shot at catching the Red Sox, who are 4 games atop the AL East. Cleveland, meanwhile, stays consistently hot by sweeping Baltimore and winning 2 of 3 at Texas. They now travel to Tampa to play four games, but the D-Rays should not be taken lightly at this point in the season -- they have one of the best records in the AL for the second half, and are playing like a team with nothing to lose. (Tampa has won 5 straight against the Rangers and Yankees.)

And with all these teams gaining ground, it seems that Oakland has been losing it. Unable to reclaim the AL West lead held by the Los Angeles Angels, they have lost 5 of 6 games, including dropping 2 games to Kansas City, who broke their 19-game losing streak Saturday against ace Barry Zito.

National League

Meanwhile, the NL Wild Card race is — go figure — too close to call. Currently the Phillies hold the lead after a 4-3 week against Washington and Pittsburgh. Even more mediocre this past week were the Astros, who at 1/2 game back lost 4 out of 7 against Chicago and Milwaukee to wrap up their homestand. Now they go on a West coast road trip to San Diego and Los Angeles.

The Wild Card will stay tight as Florida is one game back, Washington 1 1/2 back and the Mets are 3 back.

If the Mets are looking for a leg up, they will need to win most of their games on their upcoming West coast trip to Arizona and San Francisco, because in September the only sub-.500 team they play is Colorado.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Matthew Cary said...

If today was August 23, 2004, then you may have just witnessed the Indians finish their eighth loss in a row of a 9 game losing streak. After the All-Star break last season, the Tribe was 23-10 until the 15th, showing promise that they could see the play-offs. That was until they started their slide, losing 9 games in a row and going 17-27 the rest of the year (that’s only 3 games above .500 in the second half of the season.)

Today, they won their sixth game in a row, they are 22-16 so far in the second half of the season, and only have 3 losing streaks since the break (swept by Chicago in 4 games in the first series after the All-Star game and the recent sweep by Tampa Bay.) Also, they have won a total of 7 series and only lost 1 to Oakland and splitting another with Kansas City (this does not include the previously mentioned sweeps by the Sox and Rays.) As far as winning streaks, they have three; one of three games and since today’s 5-4 win over Tampa Bay, two 6 game winning streaks. (The first 6-game winning streak was back to back sweeps over Detroit and KC, and the second 6 gamer includes the recent sweep over the Orioles and the first two games of this 4 game series against Tampa.)

How does the rest of the season look? Interesting. Let me first explain what you see at the end of the next four paragraphs; the advantage stat. This is what the teams record would be if they won all of their games against teams below .500 and lost all of their games against teams over .500.

Starting with the Tribe, they play 18 games against teams with winning records; 6 games against the Twins, 6 against the White Sox, 3 against the Jays, 3 against the recently un-athletic Athletics. On the other hand, their other 18 games include 7 with the Royals, 6 with the Tigers, and 5 with the D-Rays. (Advantage: 18-18. No advantage.)

If you look at the Yankees schedule, who are tied with the Indians for that wild card spot, you would see they have 21 games against teams with losing schedules; 8 against the O’s, 6 against the Rays, 4 against the Mariners and 3 with the Royals. In their other 17 games, they have 8 games against the Jays, 6 games against World Champ Red Sox and 3 against the A’s. (Advantage: 21-17. Four game advantage.)

Speaking of Oakland, they only have 18 games against sub-.500 teams and 20 in the other category. (Advantage: 18-20. That’s a two game disadvantage.)

Just for kicks, since the Yankee’s schedule has a four game advantage, and they are less than four games behind Boston, let’s see what the Sox schedule looks like. They have games 18 against losing teams, which include their next 12 games coming up, and 20 against winning teams, which fall in their last 26 games. (Advantage: 18-20. Two game disadvantage.)

Who’s my pick for the Wild Card? The Cleveland Indians. “But Matt, you said that the Yankees have the advantage of schedule.” That is true, but the Yankees also don’t play the Twins. The Twins, I have a feeling, will decline from where they are now. They may have the pitching, but I don’t think they have the offense to stay competitive, and could lose at least half their games to the Tribe. Who’s my pick for the AL East? The New York Yankees. I can see the Red Sox not making the playoffs. I can’t see The Yankees not making the play-offs. They are going to make a run in the next couple of months and come September, the Red Sox may fall out first place in the East, and possibly miss October all together. They are 6-7 against the Yankees so far this season with 6 games left against New York, 5-7 against Baltimore with 6 games left against them, and 3-8 against the Blue Jays with 7 more to go. That’s a combined 14-22 record, 8 games under .500. They have their work cut out for them.

And finally, on a side-note, while I was on ESPN.com, I saw Tim Kurkjian give a “Happy Birthday” to Julio Franco. How does his season look? His team has the second best record in the NL, he’s hitting .299, with 9 homer’s, 9 doubles, and 40 RBI’s. Over his career, he has 2513 hits, 170 homers, 1150 RBI’s and 273 stolen bases. He’s a career .300 hitter and has a career .993 fielding percentage. Turning 47 makes him older than Ryne Sandberg and the same age as the L.A. Dodgers, Sweet'N Low and the Hula Hoop. That’s some pretty good company.

August 24, 2005 2:47 AM  

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