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MLB Mail Bag: Week 9

MLB Mail Bag: Week 9

By: Lou Landers – @RealSportsCrew

1. Contenders and Pretenders:
Contenders:
1. Houston Astros
2. Washington Nationals
3. Colorado Rockies
4. Los Angeles Dodgers
5. Boston Red Sox
6. New York Yankees
7. Chicago Cubs
8. Cleveland Indians

 On The Bubble:
1. Texas Rangers
2. Toronto Blue Jays
3. Arizona Diamondbacks

The Pretenders:

1. Minnesota Twins
2. Milwaukee Brewers
3. Baltimore Orioles
4. St. Louis Cardinals

2. Will the Padres, Mariners and others move and why or why not?

I think that if any team is going to move, it would be the Tampa Bay Rays. Their attendance is one of the worst in baseball due to them being one of the youngest franchises in the league, but more so because so many people who live in the Tampa area are fans of other teams already. It doesn’t help that their stadium Tropicana Field is one of the worst playing environments in the big leagues. There is no movement on building a new stadium and as one of the smallest market teams in baseball, they’d be lucky to have a championship caliber team once every 15-20 seasons.
One of the West Coast teams mentioned could be on the move only because there are rumors of the MLB wanting to move to Las Vegas . I don’t see them expanding at this time, however, with Vegas being on the West Coast, it would make sense to relocate a team in the AL West or NL West to make it happen. The Mariners have at least been competitive over the last decade, despite having the longest playoff drought in MLB. The Padres on the other hand are one of the worst and least competitive teams in MLB year in and year out. I don’t think either one of these teams moving is imminent, but if I had to choose one, it would be the Padres.

3. Has Giancarlo Stanton ever been the same since he got hit in the face?
Of course when you get hit in the face by a pitch, you’re going to have lingering affects for a while when you step into the batters box. It is something that will be on your mind, regardless of whether or not you suffered an injury. I really don’t attribute that specific injury to Stanton not being the player he once was though. It is his injury history in general and his inability to stay on the field that has affected his level of play. If you are consistently out of the lineup for extended periods of time, it is incredibly difficult to get your timing back and be a steady contributor at the plate. There is no doubt that he is one of, if not the most powerful hitter in the Majors, however, he has never had a 40 homer season and only has topped the 100 RBI mark once in his career. I don’t think he is any worse of a player, he is just overrated.

4. The struggling San Francisco Giants:
As bad as their start to the season was, the Giants have been playing better baseball lately. They still find themselves well under .500 and in 4th place in the NL West, but with all things considered, they could be even worse. No one in their lineup has hit well this season outside of perennial all-star Buster Posey and their bullpen hasn’t been much better this season than it was in 2016. Their big money closer Mark Melancon has been on the DL for a good chunk of the season though and their ace Madison Bumgarner has been out since April. I expect the Giants to end the season on a high note, finishing around .500 and being competitive over the next 4 months. The problem is that they dug themselves such a hole in the early going that I don’t think they can pull themselves out of it. Of course, it doesn’t help that the Rockies and Diamondbacks have also emerged as competitive teams in the NL West.

5.  Red Sox winning ways:
Being a Yankees fan and a Red Sox hater makes this difficult to write. However, I like to be un bias in my opinions and recognize talent for what it is. The Sox were the favorite to win the AL East entering the season and they should still be considered as the favorite. They started slowly, as many teams do, especially after losing their big time slugger in David Ortiz to retirement. They have been without David Price in their starting rotation all season long which of course was a major loss to their rotation. He is back now and could take a few starts before he find his groove but it is certainly a welcomed addition. As good as Chris Sale has been for them, the reigning Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello has struggled mightily in 2017 and has only recently started to pitch like himself. This team is loaded with talent in their bullpen, lineup and rotation and should be right at or towards the top of the standings by season’s end. We have yet to see them at full strength, and although their winning streak was snapped on Sunday, don’t be shocked if they start a new one. The X-Factor for this team could be LHSP Eduardo Rodriguez who seems to have found himself this season after battling inconsistencies over the previous two seasons.
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