Tuesdays with Smitty: A Midseason Review

Now that the All-Star game has come and gone – let’s take a look at where teams are halfway through the season and how my predictions are looking. Grim? Maybe? On target? Well, I won’t go that far yet, but let’s see how I did:

American League:

    American League East – Smitty’s Pick: Boston Red Sox Actual: For the most part of the first half it was a 2 team race, but the Yankees are coming on strong and looks like it will be a interesting race in the 2nd half. Can the Rays hold on? Boston’s offense has struggled as of late and the addition of a healthy Big Papi should be a huge mid-season spark for the Red Sox lineup. If Jed Lowrie hits, will Julio Lugo make it back in the lineup? So far Sidney Ponson has been effective for the Yankees. Joba has been effective in the starting rotation, as well as Rasner. Pettite has been spectacular. Will the starting rotation hold up? Is Wang going to make it back? If Matsui and Posada are done for the season, how will it affect the offense.

    Smitty’s Pick: Still the Red Sox. It is going to be tougher then most expected and this will go down to the wire. But the addition of Big Papi and the continued effectiveness of Beckett, Dice-K and Lester should get them through

    American League Central – Smitty’s Pick: Detroit Tigers Actual: Chicago White Sox. Honestly, did anyone outside of Chicago see this coming? Besides Wally? What can you say – Ozzie is working his magic. Minnesota is another surprising team as no one expected them to contend this year after the loss of Tori Hunter and Johan Santana. Detroit got off to a horrible, horrible start, but has started to climb. If the Sox and Twins sputter, the division will be there for the taking. Cleveland seems to be stuck in a ALCS hangover, and don’t appear to be recovering. The trade of C.C. Sabathia has to be the proof.

    Smitty’s Pick: Sticking with the Tigers as I think they are going to get hot in the 2nd half. But then again I was wrong about the first half, so who knows..

    American League West: Smitty’s Pick: Seattle Mariners. Actual: Anaheim Angels. I am officially on the record as saying that I will never pick the Seattle Mariners again. 22 games out at the break? Are you kidding? But Anaheim has looked that good with dominant pitching and even better bullpen. Can their hitting hold up? The last couple of years has seen an Angels second half fade – will that trend continue? Vlad Guerrero continues to look more and more like Andre Dawson every day.

    Smitty’s Pick: Just forget it okay? Unless there is a total collapse, the Angels have this division.

    National League:

National League East – Smitty’s Pick: New York Mets. Actual: Tie between Mets and Phillies. It has been an interesting first half for the Mets. A terrible start, a mishandled firing of Willie Randolph, only to finish the winning streak. The Phillies have been strong in the first half, while missing their MVP for over a month in the first half. Chase Utley has to be the front runner for the MVP award. Is Ryan Howard the new Dave Kingman? Joe Blanton should an interesting pick up. Can’t forget to mention Florida, as they continue to hang in there thanks to Hanley Ramirez and the likes of Dan Uggla and Mike Jacobs. But can the young pitching hold up? Will the Mets failure to have a back up plan for the brittle likes of oldies such as Pedro Martinez and Moises Alou be their downfall?

Smitty’s Pick: Philadelphia Phillies

National League Central – Smitty’s Pick: Chicago Cubs; Actual : Chicago Cubs. The Cubs have looked good so far as Giovanny Soto has been a huge spark to the lineup. Jim Edmonds has been huge for the Cubs as well. Adding Alfonso Soriano to the lineup – see previous comments on Big Papi. Rich Harden will be a huge pick up if he can stay healthy. The Brew Crew has been exciting this year and the addition of Sabathia well before the trading deadline was sheer genius from GM Doug Melvin. Even if he is a one year wonder, Melvin decision to maximize the rental was a smart move. If Sheets can stay healthy, they should be a tough 1-2 punch.

Smitty;s Pick: Still the Cubs, but the Brewers will make it a tough race. The Wild Card is coming out of the Central.

National League West – Smitty’s Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers; Actual: Tie between Arizona Diamondbacks and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Welcome to the Norris Division, where a below .500 record gets you a share of first place. Both team’s hitting is anemic and pitching is strong. If either team’s hitting can pick up, they should be able to walk away with the division at this point. Then again, if the Rockies get hot, who the heck knows. Anything goes in this division.

Smitty’s Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers. Arizona’s lineup is full of young hitters and the pressure of the race could make things tougher for an already struggling offense.

Final Analysis:

Boston, Detroit and Anaheim taking their respective divisions. The Wildcard goes to the Yankees.

Philadelphia, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers taking their respective divisions. The Wildcard goes to the Milwaukee Brewers.

Do I dare say a Red Sox/Cubs World Series? Let’s hear your thoughts on the first half of the MLB season.

14 Responses to "Tuesdays with Smitty: A Midseason Review"

  1. Chas   July 23, 2008 at 9:48 pm

    Smitty, glad to see the return of your weekly column. Ok, so you were back last week, but I wasn’t paying attention.

    Really going out on a limb with that Red Sox-Cubs prediction. I’m tempted to say Angels-Brewers, but I just can’t imagine the Halos beating the Sox in a playoff game, let alone a series.

    You going to finally make it to Cooperstown this year? I mean Hall of Fame weekend. Your induction is still quite the long shot. 😉

  2. Casey   July 23, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    I am having a difficult time dismissing the Rays – no conscience and a chip on the shoulder is a nasty mix.

    The Twins are officially sputtering. How much longer before they promote Liriano. The guy is killing it here in Rochester.

    Vladdy the new Hawk? I don’t remember Dawson dropping lazy pop flies.

  3. Doug   July 23, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    Here are a couple of my bold predictions for the remainder of the MLB season:

    1) The Rays will not only miss out on the playoffs, but will finish 5+ games back of the AL East winner.

    2)The Brewers will beat the Angels 4-2 to win the world series.

    3)The Phillies and Mets will have a 1-game playoff to see who claims the NL East crown.

  4. Riverhawk20   July 24, 2008 at 12:05 am

    My predictions for the AL East are pretty simple. Boston finishes in first and the Rays win the wild card. The Mets will finish on top in the NL, and we will see both of them in the World Series.

  5. Riverhawk20   July 24, 2008 at 12:06 am

    Boston and New York that is.

  6. Casey   July 24, 2008 at 6:26 am

    Doug and River Hawk20,

    Welcome to the Clipboard!


  7. Reynell   July 24, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    I’m with Doug on his Tampa Bay Rays stance; we’ve seen this happen too many times before only to have the young upstart team fizzle out (Crazy to think that of a healthy Josh Hamilton on that team – wow). I guess that leaves the Yankees getting into the playoffs. I think they make a move before the 31st and get a guy like Washburn for the end of their rotation. Watched the Anaheim-Boston series after the break and the Angels looked amazing. If I had to choose, I’d take the Angels.

    For my NL pick, put all the team emblems on a roulette table then spin. Whichever team the ball lands on is my pick to play the Angels.

    Was it really necessary to reference last year’s ALCS or the Tribe for that matter?

  8. Casey   July 24, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    Speaking of the Tribe – what exactly has happened to that team? 8 games under .500. Looking up at the Royals?

  9. Wally   July 24, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    I think it’ll be Boston vs Brewers or Cubs in the World Series. Heart says “Cubs”, but brain says “Brewers”. I think BoSox win it all, esp with home field advantage … and that’s significant in Boston. Visiting teams are more intimidated there than most places. Milwaukee looks formidable now that CC is in the rotation … played great in St Louis this week and made a statement. Cubs have more pressure on them than anyone else in contention … how can I not expect them to fall short of the WS … AGAIN!!!!

    If Joe Morgan’s statement from a few weeks ago is accurate, don’t rule out the WhiteSox. He said during a Sunday night ESPN telecast that the WSox bullpen is “the best he’s ever seen.” Now, I don’t believe that for a minute, but he said it. Joe … what r ya smokin’???

    Re: the Tribe … I predict they will be very good next season. I saw them play 3 games in Seattle this past weekend. They have tons of good young players who play hard and they are well-coached. Add another decent starter and some help in the pen … they’ll be a contender for sure. Now … why the hell would I spend 3 days watching Mariners vs Indians??? Well, it was sunny and high 70’s all weekend there … whereas it’s been nothing but rain and 50’s in Anchorage.

    Overall, it’s great to have all these close races!!! Looking forward to the strectch run.

  10. Casey   July 24, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    Jenks, Dotel, and Linebrink might not be the ‘best ever’, but they are as good as any relief corps in the AL.

    BoSox will only make the WS if Beckett, Dice-K, and Lester toss 8 innings every outing the rest of this year. Of course then Paps has to turn into a rubber band.

    Brewers or the Cubbies representing the NL – that would be great stuff. What was/is wrong in Cleveland that would cause CC to pitch like he has been given a new life?

  11. Muels   July 24, 2008 at 7:30 pm

    Watch for some of the young arms of Boston to kick-start the bullpen for the Saux- Masterson, Bowden, who knows who else down on the farm will pop in to throw some middle-late relief and take some of the pressure off of Delcarmen/Okie/Timlin…

  12. Casey   July 24, 2008 at 7:48 pm

    Don’t forget about Hansen. I will look for a kick start from the young arms, but am not expecting it this season.

  13. Wally   July 25, 2008 at 11:41 am

    CC has had a great start with Milwaukee, but let’s not annoint him a modern day version of the ’83 Rick Sutcliffe (or was it 84?). Sutcliffe joined a very good
    Cubs team and went something like 11-0 after mid-season and propelled them to playoffs where … well … they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Anyway, lets see how CC does the second time around the league. A new pitcher always has the initial advantage in a new league.

  14. Reynell   July 25, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    What is the problem with the Tribe? they’re not disciplined hitters, and I mean everyone including Grady Sizemore. When you’re not disciplined you will be a streaky team as Cleveland is showing us all this year. The best example is Travis Hafner. Anyone remember the monster season he had in 2006? 42 HRs and 117 RBI. The two years prior weren’t too bad either. Now he’s hitting .217 and getting booed every home game. Some games they are first pitch hitters, other games I’ve watched they are all frozen watching the same breaking ball to the outside corner. I don’t know if it is this simple, but replace the hitting coach. I love Eric Wedge and he is lucky to have the city behind him through such years. The pitching is good every year to me, including the bullpen. Even this year with Cliff Lee, and of course last year was great with CC and Byrd. But something has to be done with these young players who seem to have minor league tendencies at the plate sometimes.

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