Some observations, predictions (gulp) and a not-so-pertinent question as the baseball season reaches the halfway point and the trade deadline simultaneously — virtually that is, of course:
If Zoom has been around for seven years (it has, I looked it up), how come it took a pandemic for anybody (well, many of us, at least) to know what it was? Guessing ZoomTime is just not as exotic as FaceTime.
Also wondering — what would sports (and political conventions) be doing if not for zooming technology? Don’t you love the ability to insert “drop-in” analysts during virtual telecasts?
I strongly suspect the Orioles will be active participants in the final days and hours before the trade deadline, but anybody thinking they will be a better team in the last month of the season is having a pipe dream. They will generally be considered sellers, but to use a stock market term Mike Elias will be “buying futures.”
Any additions to this year’s teams will come from the team’s alternate site in Bowie, not via trades. Strangely, for a team that has been so pitching poor in recent years, most of the interest has revolved around those who work on the mound.
Relievers Miguel Castro, Mychal Givens and Tanner Scott are the most attractive as Elias has let it be known Anthony Santander is the only player off-limits. Right-hander Alex Cobb has drawn some interest but the O’s will have to eat a substantial part of his guaranteed salary, which dulls his value as a trade chip.
Infielder Hanser Alberto’s name has also been bandied about, along with fringe starters Thomas Eshelman, Tommy Milone and Asher Wojciechowski.
Speaking of pipe dreams, as previously noted above and by more than a few readers who have called me out for a bold preseason observation, it’s past time to address the painful saga of Chris Davis. Some may remember (and many refuse to let me forget) that I wondered if a “calmer, quieter” Chris Davis might be ready for a turnaround season.
It wasn’t a prediction, but admittedly a strong suggestion that Davis looked like a completely different hitter this spring than he had in the past few years. Different, based on what had happened recently, could only suggest a productive bat in the middle of the O’s lineup. I even thought I saw a glimpse of it during the first series of the year, when Davis had only one hit, but struck out only once and had several hard hit balls caught in left field.
Obviously it quickly went downhill from there and my vision of a “calmer and quieter” hitter became a mirage. Once again spring training had proved to be a fickle dance partner. All I can say is my eyes saw a different player in Davis this spring than I had the previous three years. The same eyes I immodestly tell you that saw Santander was the real deal and should have made the Orioles’ Opening Day roster in 2019 instead of being held back until June.
Since I was in the midst of an eight-week hospital stay, I guess I could pass on the “observation” as just a bad diagnosis. But I can’t do that because I felt so strongly about this one I got out of bed to get this story on record before Opening Day. I should have stayed in bed and taken another nap.
It’s getting to the point where I’m starting to feel sorry for two of the best young players in the game — Mike Trout and Aaron Judge.
Trout is generally regarded as the best player in the game (believe it or not he does have some competition), and he may end up with more MVP trophies than anyone in history. But since he’s never played in a postseason win, let alone series, you have to wonder if he’ll ever play in a World Series. He could ask Ernie Banks how that feels.
Judge, who at 25 was a late-arriving superstar in the making, has a great smile and gregarious personality — and a body that breaks down instead of breaking records.
Major League Baseball’s expanded playoff system isn’t going to create as much widespread interest as originally thought. The top two teams in each division, plus the next two with the best winning percentage in each league will qualify.
The American League’s participants are virtually (I’m going to learn to hate that word) locked in. The top three teams in the Central Division — Minnesota, Cleveland and Chicago (in any particular order) are locks — and Toronto should coast to the last spot, easily outlasting Texas.
The National League has one appealing race — in the Western Division, where the top four teams could qualify. It’s more probable than possible that teams with a sub-.500 record could qualify.
Toronto may have gained the decisive edge by obtaining right-hander Taijuan Walker from Seattle to fortify a shaky rotation. The Yankees were among the teams the Blue Jays outbid to obtain Walker.
Those who delight in pitching matchups should be all excited about this weekend’s five-game schedule between the Yankees and Mets that includes a pair of double-headers. However, postponements and makeup doubleheaders have spoiled it.
Not only will Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom not face either other in what would be the matchup of the year, if not the pandemic, they won’t even pitch in any of the five games. Bummer.
- Given the success the NBA and NHL have had playing the final weeks of the regular season and all of the playoffs in a “bubble,” expect baseball to follow suit once they limp to the regular season finish line.
- Maybe it’s the pandemic, but during this abbreviated season, it does seem like the Dodgers and Giants play every weekend.
- I’ll admit I’m not crazy about baseball’s rule that has each team starting an extra inning with a runner on second and nobody out, but I have to admit it does bring an added degree of anticipation with the prospect of extra innings.
- The Cardinals, who at one point had played 14 games less than the Reds, played three doubleheaders in five days from Aug. 15-19. The Mets were faced with the same scenario Aug. 26-30. Will the team with the most seven-inning games win a division title? Or the last playoff spot?
Jim Henneman can be reached at JimH@pressboxonline.com
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox