|A Surprising Start to the Season||| Print |||Send|
Written by Nicholas Kramer (Contact & Archive) on April 16, 2008
The New York Yankees are in last place in the American League East, while the Detroit Tigers have the worst record in the AL. Baltimore and Toronto are tied atop the East, the Kansas City Royals are fighting the Chicago White Sox for the lead spot in the Central, and the rebuilding Oakland A’s are in first out west. Are you surprised by any of this? Is this what everyone thought would happen in 2008?
As is in any sport, injuries are a factor in this surprising start to the season. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Seattle Mariners are fighting injury problems. The Angels still do not have any real idea about Kelvim Escobar expected return but Jon Lackey should back soon. Mariners’ starter Erik Bedard could have a chronic hip injury. The Mariners are downplaying the injury for right now but he has missed two of four scheduled starts already in the 2008 season.
The A’s have taken advantage of the injury plagued Angels and Mariners and along with the under achieving Texas Rangers. The Athletics behind the pitching of Joe Blanton and Rich Harden have taken the AL West by surprise. Can the A’s keep up their quality of play when the Mariners and Angels get healthy?
In the AL East the Yankees look worse for wear. They have to figure out what they can do to get their pitching fixed. Baltimore, Toronto and even Tampa Bay have looked better than the Bronx Bombers. The Boston Red Sox look decent and still are the force to be reckoned with in the division. The AL East could be the most exciting division to watch in 2008.
The Yankees will figure things out but it could be too little too late by the time that happens. Toronto is just being playing so hard already this season. Every loss has been fought until the end and every win has been hard fought as well. The Orioles have been sketchy starting out very well against the Mariners; since then they have been very up and down and could be showing their true colors of what they will do the rest of the season.
Kansas City and Chicago White Sox are showing how coaching and smart trades work to win. Detroit just can not get on the same page to win. Detroit right now looks a lot like their local government. It’s all in shambles. Kansas City Brian Bannister co-shared the player of the week award with Mariners Raul Ibanez this past week. Bannister went 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA. Right now a New York Mets fan is crying about trading him.
The Chicago White Sox are very happy they did not trade Joe Crede in the off season as everyone was thinking would happen. Ozzie Guillen’s hard-nosed coaching rubs well with most of his players and it shows every time they win or lose. The White Sox are also pitching well behind staff ace Javier Vazquez. Vazquez was also talked about a lot in the offseason as possibly leaving the White Sox who were expected to suffer another losing season.
The Detroit Tigers are amazingly bad so far in 2008. No team has gone 2-10, as the Tigers have done in the early going, and make the playoffs. Some may say that they were overrated with the talk of acquiring Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. The sad reality is the whole Detroit team is underachieving. Things are so bad that April could see a fire sale in Detroit. Players like Placido Polanco and Carlos Guillen could be dealt before June. Detroit will be forced also to look at its coaching staff and possibly replacing Jim Leyland before the All-Star break.
Even if the Detroit slide is slightly based on injuries, the overall ability of the Tigers to play quality ball right now is non-existent. In the next month Detroit will have to figure out how to fix every aspect of their game. A team that bats .235 and has an ERA of 5.49 can never make the playoffs or expect to even come close to a wild card spot. Their situation is not only the reality, but also the surprise of Detroit and the American League.