Believe it or not, folks--one quarter of the 2013 season is in the books already. If things continue the way they've been going, numerous sportswriters will end up with their pants on fire as two of the most hyped teams in the majors are off to lackluster starts.
What's going on with the Blue Jays? They were predicted to make the playoffs!
Blockbuster trades in the offseason brought a slew of stars to the city that hasn't hosted a World Series since the early-'90's. Unfortunately, none of those transactions have panned out so far. 2012 NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey was 3-5 with a 4.83 ERA through his start on May 14th. Melky Cabrera, who would have qualified for the 2012 NL batting title had he not voluntarily withdrawn due to steroid violations, was looking less than superhuman through mid-May with just 1 homer and a batting average in the .280's. Another major acquisition, Jose Reyes hurt his ankle in April and has not returned to action since. Mark Buehrle, a 4-time All-Star, was 1-3 with a 6.33 ERA through May 17th. Right-hander Josh Johnson, another import, was placed on the 15-day Disabled list this month after running up a 6.86 earned run average. As a result, the Jays have been languishing in the basement all year. At the time of this post, they were sporting a 17-25 record. Manager Josh Gibbons wasn't ready to throw in the towel yet, though he spoke to reporters about the uphill climb ahead. "We've dug a pretty big hole and there's a lot of good teams in our division, so it won't be easy."
Good news for Jays fans: They won 4 games in a row recently and there's still plenty of baseball left to be played.
Dodger fans were dancing in the streets (metaphorically speaking) when new owners shelled out a record $230 million to shore up the LA roster for the 2013 slate. Apparently, no one got the memo that money doesn't buy a championship (well, sometimes it does but not in this case). Predicted by numerous sources to capture the NL West, the Dodgers are off to a 17-23 start. If things don't turn around soon, Don Mattingly could lose his job. "I don't have the energy to worry about that," the LA skipper said recently. "I need all my energy to continue working on this club."
It's true that the men in blue have a long way to go.
On the bright side, the often injured Carl Crawford, who was a question mark for this season, has stayed healthy so far and was batting over .300 as of May 17th. 2011 Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw has been lights out on the mound with a 4-2 record and 1.40 ERA. The positives end there more or less.
Hanley Ramirez pulled a hamstring during a game against the Giants and is out for what will likely be an extended period. Adrian Gonzalez has a strained neck and, though he is off to a hot start despite the injury, he was recently removed from a game as a precautionary measure. Pitcher Zack Greinke, a Cy Young recipient in 2009, missed most of April due to collarbone surgery and only recently returned to action. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have just 4 homers between them so far and neither is flirting with a .300 batting average. At the close of play on May 17th, the Dodgers ranked 29th in the majors in two major offensive offensive categories--runs scored and slugging percentage.We'll see what the embattled Mattingly can do with the hand he's been dealt.
Among the pleasant surprises in the majors this year are the Indians and Red Sox, who were both predicted to finish near the bottom of their respective divisions. The Sox are off to a hot start and are giving the injury-riddled Yankees hell in the AL East. The Indians are vying for the AL Central lead with the Tigers--who were more or less expected to runaway with the division. I've always had a soft spot for underdogs, so I'll be watching these races carefully.