|First Half Report Card: American League||| Print ||
Written by Jonathan Leshanski (Contact & Archive) on July 15, 2008
Boston Red Sox:Â Grade B+.Â The Sox were supposed to be the beasts of the east but due to injuries to key players and despite the emergence of players like Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia, the Sox are unlikely to match their 96-66 record of last year.Â They are still one of the strongest teams in the game, but they have underachieved so far and are sitting in second place in the AL as a consequence.
Chicago White Sox:Â Grade B-.Â The ChiSox are, for at least the moment, the class of the Central and thatâ€™s a far cry from the 4th place, sub .500 team of last year.Â Theyâ€™ve taken advantage of the development of Carlos Quentin and John Danks to rise in the standings, but the main thing theyâ€™ve taken advantage of has been the collapse of the Tigers and Indians.
Cleveland Indians:Â Grade D-.Â Hard to rate the Indians higher than this, and you could clearly argue for an F here as last yearâ€™s central winners at this point in the season find themselves 16.0 games back, beset by major injuries (to Travis Hafner, Fausto Carmona and Victor Martinez), and ready to throw in the towel with 70 games to go.Â Dealing C.C. Sabathia tells you everything you need to know, the only question is if they sell off some of the other parts.
Detroit Tigers:Â Grade C.Â Much like the Indians again the Tigers have fallen on hard times, but at least they can claim they are still vaguely in the hunt.Â Still at just two games above .500 the Tigers can hope that many of their underachievers and injury riddled lineup can have a strong second half.
Kansas City Royals: Grade C-.Â The Royals went out and spent a lot of money to strengthen their lineup by the addition of a solid hitter in Jose Guillen but havenâ€™t seen quite the results they were hoping for.Â In fact, they are on pace to finish within a game of last seasonâ€™s 69-83.Â Maybe Guillen wasnâ€™t the piece they really needed.Â On the plus side, with how badly the Indians and Mariners are playing, the Royals might not finish last overall or within their division.
Los Angeles Angels:Â Grade B.Â The Angels were predicted to be the class of the west and they havenâ€™t disappointed despite major injuries to their pitching staff which had to do without ace John Lackey, or number two starter Kelvim Escobar for much of the season.Â Â The burden has been picked up by youngstersÂ Joe Saunders and Ervin Santana, whoâ€™ve kept the Angels staff as one of the most formidable in the AL.
Minnesota Twins:Â Grade B.Â The Twins find themselves sitting in second in the AL central and wondering just how lucky theyâ€™ve been so far.Â They took the offseason to start the post-Johan Santana/Torii Hunter era and to move into a rebuilding mode by acquiring a lot of just about ready for the majors talent in return.Â Thus far the experiment has succeeded beyond the dreams of just about any expert.Â Again, part of that is not a reflection on how good this young Twins team is (and they are a talented bunch) but the collapse of the Tigers and Indians.Â Â Still you have to look at their record (4th best in the AL) and give this team a lot of credit.
New York Yankees: Grade C-.Â Yes they are above .500, and yes they have a ton of talent, but the New Yorkers are 6.5 games behind the division leading Rays and have a distinct lack of quality starting pitchers.Â Thatâ€™s a hard thing to overcome, and the Yankees offense hasnâ€™t looked good enough to compensate thus far.
Oakland Athletics: Grade B.Â It seems the Aâ€™s are alway just a handful of games on one side or the other of .500 and this year is no exception.Â The collapse of the Mariners and the surprising offense of this largely unheralded Aâ€™s lineup as well as the coming of age of rookies pitchers Dana Eveland and Greg Smith have kept the Aâ€™s within a handful of games of the Angels. Their trade of Joe Blanton however indicates that Billy Beaneâ€™s eye is on the future, not grabbing for the brass ring right now.
Seattle Mariners:Â Grade F.Â Ok.Â I got hate e-mail when I wrote that I thought the Mariners could be a last place team, but, no matter how good their pitching was I thought theyâ€™d struggle to score runs.Â Thatâ€™s been the case - they are last in runs scored in the American League and their pitching has been pretty bad to boot.Â Â At 18.0 games back, this season has become a fiasco, and the Mâ€™s have to seriously be considering a rebuilding plan.
Tampa Bay Rays:Â Grade A.Â The Rays have never been able to compete in terms of free agent talent so theyâ€™ve had to create a plan which allowed them to raise their own talent as well as acquire young talent from other teams.Â Â Itâ€™s finally coming together and with new owners willing to lock players into long term deals the Rays look like theyâ€™ll be contenders for years to come.Â This had been their best season ever, the only question is if the Red Sox or Yankees can spoil Cinderellaâ€™s trip to the postseason.
Texas Rangers: Grade B.Â The Rangers find themselves in slightly unfamiliar territory at this point in the season.Â They are on the right side of .500 and just 6.5 games off the division lead.Â They can places that credit squarely on the shoulders of Josh Hamilton, whoâ€™s chasing a triple crown, and Milton Bradley both of whom are having career years.Â Â They are a long shot for a playoff spot, but finishing above .500 would be a step in the right direction for this franchise.
Toronto Blue Jays:Â Grade D.Â Dead last in the East and three games below .500 the Blue Jays plan to build a contender looks to have fallen into disrepair.Â Theyâ€™ve failed to match pace with the Orioles and Rays and donâ€™t offensively match up with anyone in the AL except the Mariners and Royals.Â If the offense manages to recover they could make enough of a run to finish ahead of the Orioles.Â Finishing any higher than that would require someone else goes into freefall.