Friday, September 16, 2011

Let's Be Positive! - What fans of non-playoff teams have to look forward to in September

Maybe you’re like me. I don’t mean Asian, or incredibly handsome and devastatingly insecure. No, none of those things. Maybe you’re a baseball fan that doesn't know what to root for anymore. Maybe your team is out of postseason contention and perhaps your fantasy squad has long since been eliminated from the playoffs. It’s a rough part of the season for (let’s face it), most of us.

As I detailed a few days ago, only a handful of teams are still in realistic contention and most standard fantasy leagues are winding down to their last few participants. Lackluster trades, poor team management and failed expectations are the recurring themes for those of us whose real life baseball teams have been mirrored in the realm of Yahoo fantasy baseball. This should be one of the best times of the sporting year; the NFL and college football seasons in their second weeks of play, the pennant races in full swing and the NBA gearing up for October training camps. Unfortunately, Los Angeles is still team-less, the Boston College Eagles are a pitiful 0 – 2, the Dodgers have cratered and the mention of the NBA brings a sadness to my heart reminiscent of when Deena found out her secret admirer was actually Donkey Lips (handle that one)

But that’s why I’m writing this post. Hopefully this will serve as a form of catharsis for those of us afflicted from the September swoon of subpar sporting suffering (Oh yeah, you like that alliteration? I went to college).

I’m going to go through the 20 teams out of playoff contention, point out the bright spots amongst the smoldering embers of the 2011 season and hopefully give you a reason to watch your mediocre, inadequate or perhaps downright atrocious team in the remaining days of September. This is one of my rare “glass half-full” posts. I will finish each paragraph with an exclamation point. This is like a clear summer night in Seattle - stop whining and enjoy it.


Baltimore Orioles: Zach Britton is back in the majors after a summer in Norfolk with the AAA squad. He's going to be the future of the team regardless of the 17 earned runs he gave up in his last 7 major league innings before his callup (bad news is that those 17 ER were spread over 3 starts). Matt Wieters is doing his best Joe Mauer circa 2009 imitation over the past month and a half!

Chicago Cubs: Starlin Castro continues to be one of the most exciting young players in the league. Amazingly, the Cubs are the only team in the entire majors not to have ANY of their top 10 Baseball America or Baseball Prospectus prospects on their big league roster. I'm graspsing here Chicago. Hopefully spectulation of Billy Beane coming to town ramps up in September? Moneyball comes out on the 23rd!

Chicago White Sox: Dayan Viciedo needs to be as good as advertised and Zach Stewart's recent 1 hit shutout of the Twins should make for some good dozen ball games left. Adam Dunn could set the modern major league record for lowest batting average ever by a non-pitcher qualifying player. In three September games, he’s hitting 1 for 8. Still something to shoot for!

Cincinatti Reds: Surprisingly, the Reds might be the most boring September team on this list outside of the Cubs. They keep on throwing out aging players (Edgar Renteria, Ramon Hernandez) or guys that run super hot and cold (Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips) and their most exciting pitcher just got ruled out for the remainder of the season (Johnny Cueto). But Joey Votto keeps mashing and their top prospect, Yonder Alonso is batting .375 since his callup!

Cleveland Indians: Lonnie Chisenhall, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jason Kipnis and Carlos Santana should all be Cleveland infield fixtures for the next 8 seasons. Jim Thome is back. Ubaldo’s been up and down, but every start is another test to see if the Drew Pomeranz trade was worth it. Maybe the most significant September out of these 20 teams. Also, Major League is on Netflix!

Colorado Rockies: After a terrible start to the season, both Tulo and Carlos Gonzalez have been destroying pitching the second half, especially August. Each hit over .340 last month with over 1.000 OPS. Drew Pomeranz (the main piece in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade) gave up 2 hits in 5 innings in his big league debut against the offensively gifted Reds. Rex Brothers is absolutely unreal out of the pen, with 54 Ks in 44 innings. Lot to still watch in the Sunshine State. Gorgeous!

Houston Astros: Shyikes. This one is going to be challenging. Astros starting pitching is actually not half bad – they strike out a lot of people. They’re 6th in the NL in strikeouts and 11th in the majors. Strikeouts are fun! Also, you can watch Brett Wallace knowing he can’t be much worse than he is this year!

Kansas City Royals: Watching Eric Hosmer absolutely rake and Alex Gordon shed his “bust” label. Looking for signs of life out of Mike Moustakas. Hoping Danny Duffy shows that plus-stuff he's supposed to have. Plus, you’re not in last place!

Los Angeles Dodgers: Jerry Sands, Dee Gordon, Tim Federowicz and Justin Sellers are hitting a combined .217. These could be four 2012 projected starters for YOUR Los Angeles Dodgers. Sweet. I’m using a microscope to see if there’s any redeeming qualities to their September play. I will then hit myself in the face with said microscope, repeatedly. No exclamation point here. Can't even muster it.

Miami Marlins (yes, really): Mike Stanton and Logan Morrison are two of the most exciting young players in the league...and two of the dumbest. Matt Dominguez has to prove he can play 3B in the majors. Also, Ricky Nolasco has given up at least 4 earned runs in 5 of his last 6 starts. Let's see if he can continue his hot streak!

Minnesota Twins: From all reports, Ben Revere is one of the fastest guys in the league. That's all I got. Sorry Minnesota. Adrian Petersen is great!

New York Mets: Bobby Parnell has been pretty bad this month, but from all indications, he might be the closer next year. Pray he doesn't suck, Queens. Lucas Duda is the only top 10 prospect on the roster right now. Overall, it looks like the Mets are being the Mets. But go to that stadium though. It's real nice!

Oakland Athletics: Seeing if Jemile Weeks and Michael Taylor have it in the majors (though Weeks has mostly proved it). Brandon McCarthy highjacked what was left of Fat Bartolo's stem cells and revived his Weekend at Bernie's corpse of a career. Also, Moneyball comes out on the 23rd!

Pittsburgh Pirates: God, I hate this team. But still, Andrew McCutcheon is worth the price of admission every night, and Joel Hanrahan (if he gets in) is absolutely devastating. Roberto Clemente!

San Diego Padres: Kyle Blanks is only hitting .222, but he’s a legit 6-6, 270 lbs and looks like he’s 6-9, 320 lbs. He’s a black Frankenstein up there. If you think that’s racist, you’re completely correct. Also, here's hoping that Anthony Rizzo proves he's not an early bust!

San Francisco Giants: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong all have ERAs under 3.40. In fact, Tim Lincecum’s ERA at 2.59 is higher than all of the active Giants’ batting average except Pablo Sandoval (.308) and Nate Schierholtz (.278). Either way, you might see a shutout!

Seattle Mariners: Ichiro needs 30 more hits to reach 200 for the 11th consecutive season, with 13 games left to play. If he averages 4 ABs a game for all those contests, he’ll need to his at least .576 to reach 200. I believe in you Ichiro!

St. Louis Cardinals: Jason Motte is dominating the back end of the ‘pen, as he’s rapidly cementing his place as closer for 2012 and beyond. Albert Pujols broke his wrist, only missed two weeks (incredibly) and is 7 RBI away from 100 for the 11th straight year. He is a robot. PAY THE MAN!

Toronto Blue Jays: Brett Lawrie, JP Arencibia, Colby Rasmus and Joey Bats. This is the most exciting young team in the majors!

Washington Nationals: Even though he is going to be limited to around 70 or 80 pitches in his remaining two or three starts, Stephen Strasburg is an obvious "must-watch". But what I’m most interested in is Tyler Clippard. He’s striking out a fantastic 11 guys per 9 in 82 innings. Most importantly, I’m interested to see if his arm is going to fall clean off his body. I’m talking about ribs in a crock-pot for 8 hours fall off the bone. He’s thrown every other day for a month straight (15 games in 30 days). Ridiculous!

There you go. Hopefully I was able to shine some light on an otherwise dissapointing season for the lot of us. Unless you're a Cubs fan. That just sucks.

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