Friday, August 8, 2014


The ugly chic of the 60s as captured in the creation of the "non-place" in DEAD HEAT...
James Coburn and Aldo Ray either don't notice or don't care.
We are seeing some movement from the teams that were previously buried "in the pack" of a 2014 season that seemed to be settling for the a kind of parity best described by the phrase "dead heat on a merry-go-round."

Four teams--the Orioles, the Yankees, the Royals and the Pirates--have been making noise since the All-Star break. Interestingly, the only team out of this group that indulged in a "roto wire" makeover at the end of July was the one that plays in the Bronx.

Can the M's escape the horse latitudes??
The Royals may at last benefit from some karma. Even though the Tigers landed David Price at the last possible moment at the "horse latitudes" trading deadline, they have been floundering rather noisily in the past ten days, which might actually give the long-suffering team from KC a shot at the division crown (as of this writing, they are only a game and half behind).

Two other teams are hanging around the AL wild card race (and we are likely down to a race for one wild card slot, unless the Angels take a serious powder). Who's that? Why, those snappy 1977 expansion teams, the Jays and the M's. Toronto needs Edwin Encarnacion to give them enough offense to hit their way past their deficiencies. Seattle needs to keep their pitching healthy and get something resembling production from Kendrys Morales and Austin Jackson.

What will surprise you is that the M's have the second best Pythagorean Winning Percentage in the AL right now. Yes, that's right: second--they have slipped past the Angels. Right now, however, they're playing six games under that projection.

Mara Branscombe: the "new age" Camilla Sparv??
Over in the NL, the Great Muddle seems destined to continue. The Pirates, waiting for the condemning in-print folly of ex-Prospectus kackster Jonah Keri, now masquerading as a meta-numerate mediot, have found themselves and are back in the thick of things.

The other NL Central teams (Brewers, Cardinals, Reds) have been up and down since the All-Star Break; St. Louis is the one team here that went for the bold makeover at the "fluid body" deadline, and thus far the results of their pitching revamp (John Lackey, Justin Masterson) is spectacularly inconclusive. Underpowered offenses seem to be the order of the day in the NL Central, except for the Brewers, who've been betrayed mostly by their bullpen (2-7, 4.44 since the first of July).

The East and West aren't quite so murky, with only two teams in each division making a play for things. The Braves have a crippled pitching staff and an enigmatic offense, so it's looking more and more like they will drift in at or near .500. That leaves the Nationals by default in the NL East. On the other side of the country, the Dodgers have played sluggishly all season, and the edges of their starting rotation has been turning up with intermittent flakiness and/or injury, but they do have the most overall talent in the league and that should keep them from blowing it. The Giants stopped hitting homers in June (they hit more round-trippers in April than they hit in June and July combined) and they'll have to get back to the long ball to bolster a sagging pitching staff.

We expect the Pirates will assert themselves into the #4 slot (first wild card) and that it will be a knotty, molasses-like stretch drive for the #5 slot between the Cards and Giants--though the Reds and/or the Braves might patch something together and make some noise.