The last of the bad men or how the AL West has now become a no man’s land
I have to admit that this baseball season has become a wistful reminder that being the biggest and allegedly the best does not always mean what it said meant to represent . In the AL East, the New York Yankees were thought to be amongst the prohibitive favorites to come away with the division . Now languishing in fourth place , it now seems that the Bronx Bombers are to miss the postseason , along with it their chance to win an unprecedented twenty-eighth World Series crown . Add in the fact that this season is likely to be the last time that we will see of the all-times saves’ leader in Mariano Rivera . It would be safe to suggest that this is not the way that the esteemed closer would like to have left the game . The team’s captain Derek Jeter now on the disabled list was only a participant in seventeen games for the ball-club in 2013. The only saving grace for the Yankees has been the recent form of slugger Alfonso Soriano . Pitching has been the Achilles’ Heel for Joe Girardi and his staff and the all too inconsistent hitting that has led to this season of discontent and quite possibly a major upheaval within the organization at the end of the year .
For far too long, Brian Cashman has been far too reliant on overspending and the acquiring of high-priced free agents. . It would be safe to suggest that if the New York Yankees had it all to do over again , they would have changed a great many ways they went about this season , and also in dealing within the Alex Rodriguez fiasco , which has led to a testy relationship between the Yankees’ third baseman and the organization’s general manager. Baseball’s and the fans’ biggest wish, must be the non-appearance of the player and his teammates in this year’s postseason foray. Rodriguez’s appearance, while awaiting the adjudication of his appeal for violating baseball’s steroid policy, would be seen as a slap in the face of the fans but even more so, in bringing the game into further disrepute . From my own perspective, I have felt that Bud Selig’s haphazard handling of this has been the main reason there remains a great deal of ridicule of his tenure as the game’s highest ranking official . Consider a number of Selig’s predecessors , Faye Vincent , Bart Giamatti and Peter Ueberroth . Were any of the aforementioned individuals, as incompetent as the incumbent commissioner ? By all means do chime in with your thoughts on that.
Given the present tailspin of the New York Yankees, the AL wildcard race is now beginning to look a great deal like a game of ‘Texas No Limit Poker’ . Yet, no one can actually be sure, who is carrying a straight, in this game. It would be now safe to say, that this race will not have a decisive outcome until the very last day of regular season schedule. Coming off a 4-3 victory over the disappointing Toronto Blue Jays . Joe Girardi and his team will face the San Francisco Giants on Friday , in an intra-league game . However, I do believe that Girardi’s eyes will be focused on the upcoming three game series at home against the Tampa Bay Rays beginning on Tuesday 24th September . A series that will be pivotal for both teams as they each seek one of the two available AL wildcard berths . The Cleveland Indians , Baltimore Orioles , Kansas City Royals and New York Yankees are all within 2 ½ games of the wildcard berth, with the Tampa Bay Rays and Texas Rangers now atop of the wildcard berths holding down those two top spots. Care to guess, which paring from that septuplet is likely to prevail at the end of the day ?
Billy Beane , Brian Sabean and Dave Dombrowski are to my mind, are the three best general managers within the game of baseball ! Their accomplishments speak for themselves and I know that Yankees’ fans are likely to feel aggrieved by the statement made, but with all due respect, beyond the vast financial resources of the Yankees’ ball-club, can anyone point to a player who has risen up through the ranks of the organization’s minor league system that has been of considerable success at the Major League level that was drafted by Brian Cashman over the past five years ? ? Granted, the ball-club’s last title came by way of their lopsided series victory over the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009. The team managed by Girardi, was never really challenged throughout the postseason and in the championship series itself , with Hideki Matsui coming away with the World Series MVP Awards for his accomplishments in the series and postseason itself . Yet the makeup of the roster , was once again primarily made up of pieces sought elsewhere . A league-high $201 million team payroll was once again representative of what the New York Yankees seems to best and that is to create an even larger financial imbalance within the game , with an ever widening gap between the haves and have-nots within the sport.
In 2013, it was once again New York leading the pack with the highest payroll in baseball . Something I now truly believe the front office takes pleasure in parading, for everyone to know , and bear witness to, and that is in spite of the idiocy of Hal Steinbrenner , who maintained that the payroll would be no greater than $185 million for this season. Instead, with a salary obligation of $228.8 million , this ball-club simply shows no real intent to reduce their capricious financial outlay on players. The Los Angeles Dodgers , where Magic Johnson , one of the lead partners and team owner, has already gone on record by stating, “that no expense will be spared to obtain their ultimate goal” . . Well , Johnson does seem to be a man of his word, with the Dodgers’ team payroll at what they deem to be a manageable $216.6 million . If both of these teams should fail to make the World Series, I certainly believe that baseball’s hierarchy will have to ask themselves whether or not this type financial insanity within the game can be self-sustainable. The Dodgers by way of their $ 8 billion two-decade contract with Time Warner Inc is assured of financial stability as well as having the financial backing of Guggenheim Partners Inc , the owners of Guggenheim Baseball Properties LLC , a wholly owned subsidiary of the world-renowned venture capital and asset management company, backed by assets exceeding $125 billion ($125,000,000,000) . Mark Walter , Todd S Boehly , Stan Kasten , Magic Johnson and Peter Guber are prepared to put their money where their mouths just happen to be . Anything, that now places the spotlight on their ball-club and lessen the glare on their AL East counterparts, has to be seen as a distinct advantage for the NL West franchise from a PR standpoint.
As those two titans of the game, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees seeks to reestablish their dominance within baseball. In the AL West , the Oakland Athletics are making a mockery of the division , but also of their divisional rivals , primarily the Los Angeles Angels and Texas Rangers . In the case of both Mike Scioscia and Ron Washington , as the regular season slowly comes to a close , there is a distinct possibility that might well be the last time we both of these managers in their current roles . GM’s Jerry Dipoto of the Angels and Jon Daniels of the Rangers, are likely to come to decision, that it would be in their teams’ best interests to relieve the managers of their duties .
A’s GM Billy Beane over the last two seasons has been able to work wonders with this organization , working on a shoestring budget , as he has drafted prudently , acquired the usual facsimile of the players he believes can contribute to the team’s success . Meanwhile , team owner, Lewis Wolff continues to work fiendishly in trying to get a new venue built for the storied franchise , all without any assistance from Bud Selig . By contrast, the commissioner was at the forefront, in assisting not only both New York ball clubs with the building of their recent venues but also the now barely competitive Miami Marlins , whose Marlins Ballpark has become an ode to all things ostentatious , while barely registering a blip in terms of home attendance levels for their home stands against an opponent, even during their inaugural season of 2012.
With payrolls in excess of $110 million apiece for the Angels and Rangers, it was felt that Jerry Di Poto and Jon Daniels, having mustered talented teams , had the inside track on determining how the AL West would play out in 2013 . Yet all season long, from the opening day , throughout May , June , July and August , there were the A’s plugging away , notching up wins and series’ victories , while their more financially acclaimed divisional neighbors struggled . Now the Texas Rangers finds itself in the midst of a wildcard race, that it seemingly wants no part off, having provided the inconsistency often observed by teams with sub.500 records . For the Los Angeles Angels , their season has been an immense disappointment , with the lone bright spot , being the another acclaimed season by 2012 AL Rookie of the Year and AL MVP runner-up , Mike Trout . Other than Miguel Cabrera , and the Orioles’ Chris Anderson , Trout is having one of the most dominant seasons of any AL player in terms of offensive productivity. A great monetary return , if you are solely basing it on a player who will be earning less than $550,000 , while many of his more celebrated teammates are earning in excess of $15 million annually, and in some cases earning that money while being on the team’s disabled list .
If Trout is said to have been a catalyst for the Angels’ offense then Yoenis Cespedes has been like a stick of dynamite that has exploded and simply sparked a great deal more offensive output than Beane , manager Bob Melvin and the coaching staff could have expected . Yet, it has been the A’s pitching that has been continuously stellar throughout much of the season . For players such as Derek Norris , Josh Reddick , Eric Sogard, Josh Donaldson , Coco Crisp , Grant Balfour , Bartolo Colon , Sean Doolittle , Ryan Cook , Jarrod Parker , Jerry Blevins and A J Griffin will now have a chance to redeem themselves, after a rather disappointing postseason appearance in 2012 . Falling to the Detroit Tigers in the ALDS in five games , led to their all to quick exit from the postseason after their surprising AL West divisional win last season .
A $71.3 million payroll amongst the lowest in the game and all seems to be right with the world in Oakland, as the A’s now seeks to close out their season on a seasonal high. An 8-6 win over the hapless Minnesota Twins , and with the two teams set to meet again on Friday . Bob Melvin’s team, and their magic number to assure themselves the AL West division crown is 5 games. At 90-63 , they will close out their current series with the Twins with a final game on Sunday at the O Coliseum , in Oakland , California . . This season and what it has meant to the fans of the organization has been symbolic of what having a great front office means for an organization. By contrast, we have the ongoing idiocy of what is now taking place with the Philadelphia Phillies , New York Mets , New York Yankees and Miami Marlins. At one time or another over the past two seasons , each of these teams, have been amongst the organizations with a $100 million payroll over the past two years . As to the actual success attained, simply judge for yourself by looking at the postseasons in 2010 , 2011 and 2012 respectively .
While the A’s look to celebrate their AL West success , I do not believe that there is a great deal that can be said by way of the ineptitude shown by Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners . In the case of the Astros , having made the move from the NL Central to the AL West , for the second consecutive season the ball-club’s loss total has exceeded one-hundred losses . I certainly do not believe Astros’ owner Jim Crane , expected 2013 to mirror an almost exact replica of 2012. GM Jeff Luhnow will now have to not only reassess the entire roster , but also the managerial staff of the organization and the direction he believes that they should be heading in . With their being growing uncertainty also , as to the Astros’ financial stability in spite of the guarantees of Jim Crane. It remains to be seen, what now is likely to take place with the ball-club concerning its immediate and long-term future .
In the case of the Seattle Mariners , there is not much more that can be said , other than fantasy geeks seem to be enamored with Dustin Ackley , in a the similar vein that a teenage boy would be giddy in seeing a naked pictorial of a voluptuous Playboy model, unclothed . Add in the fact that the talents of Felix Hernandez are being completely wasted within an organization that is simply bereft intelligence within its front office , as there seems to be minimal talent on the field of play. GM Jack Zduriencik , says all of the right things much like a politician with a well-written and prepared response to a difficult question . Yet, when posed the question, why is it, that this team has failed so miserably under Eric Wedge and his staff . Let us say, the response from the general manager, is simply par for the course. Howard Lincoln , Jack Ellis and Chuck Armstrong , as the senior-most executives on the board of directors for the Mariners, seem unconcerned by the team’s continued failures , be it on or off the field of play. At 67-87 and eighteen games left in their regular season schedule , Seattle by way of its lack of competitiveness , has simply been an abomination for their fans at home and on the road .
Picture gallery .
This season within baseball got off to a great start, along within the customary controversies along the way . Now one can only hope, that the postseason can provide the fans with a great deal of excitement as we await baseball’s showcase finale.
Picture and slideshow details below
(1) Alex Rodriguez strikes out during the first inning of a baseball game on Thursday night played at the Rogers Center in Toronto, Canada , against the Toronto Blue Jays. Toronto would go on to defeat the Yankees 6-2 , further placing New York’s slide out of the wildcard race in jeopardy . However, the Yankees will be looking forward to a pivotal the three-game series against division rivals the Tampa Rays . That series kicks off in New York starting on Tuesday 24th September , 2013 . AP Photo/ The Canadian Press / Mark Blinch …..
(2) Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi cannot hide his disappointment after another inexplicable loss by the fading Yankees . Now the manager has to deal with the announcement that Andy Pettite has made it known that 2013 will be his last season , formally announcing his retirement , as he joins teammate Mariano Rivera on the sidelines. Pettite is the most successful pitcher in postseason history in terms of wins and one the Yankees’ most successful pitchers in the franchise’s history. AP Photo / Mark Blinch …
(3) Billy Beane general manager of the Oakland Athletics . Beane looks to guide the team into the postseason for the second consecutive year and a deep playoff run this season. Operating on a shoestring budget , using his acumen and drafting prudently the A’s resurgence has been one of the most entertaining stories in baseball during 2013. AP Photo / Mark Thompson ….
(4) New owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, from left, Robert Patton , Stan Kasten, Mark Walter, Earvin “Magic’ Johnson,” Peter Guber, and Todd Boehly pose for a photo at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 2, 2012. The $2 billion sale of the team to Guggenheim Baseball Management was finalized Tuesday. AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes …
(5) Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout celebrates with teammate J B Shuck after hitting a two-run homer in a game played against the Oakland A’s on Wednesday , 18th September 2013 , in Oakland , California . AP Photo / George Nikitin ….
(6) Coco Crisp of the A’s is congratulated by teammates in the dugout after hitting a two-run home run against the Minnesota Twins in a game played at the O. Coliseum Thursday 19th September , 2013. Kyle Terada / USA Today ….
Yoenis Cespedes of the Oakland A’s seen here hitting one of several long ball this season for the team . The player has been the main offensive catalysts for the A’s one of the most productive offensive players in the AL and the league as a whole during 2013 . AP Photo / Mark Horne ….
(8) New manager Eric Wedge (R) of the Seattle Mariners is introduced to the media by Executive Vice President & GM Jack Zduriencik at Safeco Field on October 19, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. 2013 has been proven to be a disastrous season for the Mariners , with only the Houston Astros seated beneath them within the AL West . Getty Images / Otto Greule Jr …
(9) (L-R) Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, left, and owner Jim Crane chat during batting practice on before the game against the Colorado Rockies on Opening Day at Minute Maid Park on April 6, 2012 in Houston, Texas. For the second consecutive season the Astros have lost one-hundred games in regular season and with their being some serious questions now being asked of Crane as to the team’s financial viability . All of which have been denied by the team owner , who paid $775 million in purchasing the Houston Astros from former owner , Drayton McClane . Getty Images / Bob Levesey ……
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