Last time on Mild Retardation Theater, Phil waxed poetic about…Curtis Granderson…again (I know, right?), how Kenny Williams assraped Brad Eldred’s budding career four years ago and how Marlon Byrd’s mere presence had righted whatever was wronging the Red Sox. Let’s see what the brilliant baseball brain has for us this week:
Statistics through Sunday (last week’s rank)
1. Rangers (1): Matt Harrison’s new and improved sinker hasn’t been sinking. Otherwise there’s not much to be concerned about even though they’ve lost three consecutive series. This will be an interesting week with a four-game series against the hot Orioles before returning to Arlington to face Albert Pujols and the Angels.
Nothing to worry about here, except for one guy’s pitch that isn’t working, the fact that the Rangers haven’t won a series in two weeks and that their best player, having his best season is even money to a) relapse, b) accidentally kill a fan (again), c) have his spleen fall out of his body or d) all of the above.
2. Rays (3): Manager Joe Maddon has stepped up his revolving infield routine with Evan Longoria out. Three different starting third basemen in first six games without Longoria.
What is wrong with Maddon? The guy can’t settle on a lineup, just because his best player is out for two months and they don’t have anyone capable of playing that spot every day? Can’t he just get Ryan Freel on speed dial?
3. Braves (6): Twenty-second in scoring a year ago, the Braves are outscoring every team in the majors. Seven of the eight regulars have an OPS of .750-plus, and rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky is trending upward after a slow start.
The Braves are unstoppable! No team can keep this offensive juggernaut down! You know, except for the…Cubs? The Braves scored four runs in three games at Wrigley and lost two.
4. Dodgers (2): Two off nights in Chicago might not have been the perfect formula heading into the weekend series at Wrigley Field, which was Matt Kemp’s first without a home run since a two-game trip to Milwaukee in mid-April.
See, Matt Kemp, he spaces his homers out just right so that he hits at least one in every series, except for Milwaukee and Chicago, likely because those fans are extra racist. Just ask Jock Jones.
5. Cardinals (4): Started the week with a run differential of plus-62, the best in the majors.
This seems like a meaningless statistic, except under the new two wild cards in each league playoff format, it’s actually one of the tiebreakers.
If two teams end up tied for the final wild card, the tie is decided by:
- Head to head record against the other team, if still tied;
- Did Bud Selig ever own either team? If yes, that team is in. If not;
- Tony LaRussa gets to pick. If he can’t decide;
- Run differential! If still tied;
- Fuck it. Both teams can go!
6. Nationals (7): Bryce Harper joined a good team; he didn’t make it one.
He joined a good team with an injury-riddled, shitty offense. And, as much as I am inclined to not like the douchey teenager…he’s awesome. Even if the four inch eyeblack he wears makes it look like what happens to “the Peter Criss” in any KISS tribute band who starts weeping uncontrollably for any reason (most likely that he/she is in a KISS tribute band.)
7. Orioles (12): They loved every minute of misery they caused the Red Sox this weekend, especially the two shutout innings pitched by first baseman Chris Davis on Sunday. Camden Yards is going to be humming with the Rangers in town and the O’s having just won five straight from the Yankees and Red Sox.
I don’t get the Orioles. You know except that Buck Showalter is a really good manager, and always has been, and Dan Duquette is a really good GM and always has been. And, of course, both are raging asswipes.
8. Tigers (8): The dream collection of hitters is eighth in the AL (and third in the AL Central, behind Kansas City and Cleveland) in OPS. Something is not computing.
The “dream” collection of hitters is really just two guys, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. Prince is hitting well. Miggy isn’t…yet, and Austin Jackson’s been awesome. And the team is over .500 and only two games out of first. So what exactly is the big problem here?
9. Blue Jays (9): Only team in the AL to have gotten five-plus innings from a starting pitcher in every game this year.
That’s a great stat. You know the other great stat? They have the same record as Oakland. Wait, neither of those are great stats. Never mind.
10. Yankees (5): Will a big Sunday in Kansas City awaken a lineup that has been underperforming? Will Brian Cashman make a trade to replace Mariano Rivera?
I’m sure a big game against the worst pitching staff in…the world, was just the thing to turn the Yankees around. And here’s all you need to know about whether the Yankees will trade for a reliever. Both Phil and Dave Kaplan think the Yankees can be tempted to trade for Carlos Marmol. When those two big baseball brains agree on anything, it officially makes it the most laughable thought in history.
11. Phillies (11): They’ve let the Nationals know they’re taking them seriously.
Hey, you there! Yeah, you, the team that’s five games ahead of us in the standings! You, the team who has two great players still years away from their primes! We’re taking you seriously! You got that? Now, if you don’t mind, I’m gonna watch “Invincible” with my pants off again. Marky Mark rules!
12. Angels (18): If Albert Pujols hits from here on out like he did in 2010 (he was on the DL at midseason in ’11, so skip back two years), he’ll wind up hitting .287 with 36 homers and 100 RBIs. But who’s to say he’s going to get back on form because he has ended a regular-season homer-less drought that had reached 139 at-bats?
If Albert Pujols did exactly the same thing he did two years ago from this day forward, he’d have a good season. Unless he steps on a butterfly, in which case we’ll all die of smallpox nine months ago! Scary.
13. Marlins (20): Badly needed winning streak for Team Ozzie. Giancarlo Stanton has announced his presence.
Hi guys, it’s me, Giancarlo. Over here. Hey, guys! Guys! It’s me, Mike Stanton. Guys! No, the big black Mike Stanton, not the squatty white relief pitcher one. How’s it goin’?
14. Giants (10): Pablo Sandoval’s broken hamate bone provides a chance to let Conor Gillaspie get his feet wet. It does nothing to ease the burden on Aubrey Huff, who was sidelined with anxiety issues.
Yes, Phil just identified the silver lining in the Giants losing their best offensive player. The chance to see a singles hitter play third base for two months while Audrey Huff breathes into a paper bag. Giants fever! Catch it!
15. Reds (16): Mat Latos has had two scoreless outings in his last three starts.
Great job, Latos! Got your ERA under five now! (4.93).
16. Indians (19): Have beaten the Rangers, White Sox and Angels in their last three series, giving Chris Perez a chance to be first reliever to double-figure saves.
They’ve beaten one really good team and two lousy teams in their last three series. Which means, what? And notice the patented awkward phrasing where he says “giving Chris Perez a chance to be the first reliever to double-figure saves.” More than a chance, given that when Phil wrote it, Perez had 10. Which, I think is double figures.
17. Diamondbacks (13): First base platoon of Paul Goldschmidt and Lyle Overbay isn’t as productive as Goldschmidt was when he carried the load last August and September. He hits right-handed but batted better against right-handers than lefties a year ago.
Two things about this. First, no good player ever gets platooned with a hump like Lyle Overbay. Second, Goldschmidt played out of his gourd last year, there was no way he was going to be as good this year. So…what? So what? So, let’s dance!
18. Mets (14): Power outage in Queens.
Because the hallmark of their early season success has been all those homers they’re always hitting. They rank 14th in a 16 team league with 19 homers. Does Phil know any of the rules?
19. White Sox (17): Chris Sale move to the bullpen was a shocker, especially for Sale.
Hey Chris, you can’t sit here no more. You gotta go sit in that little box way over there behind the fence. Sorry. No sore armed guys here in the dugout. Go down there and see if you can snap whatever’s left of your ulnar collateral ligament! Coop says you have to!
20. Athletics (24): Brandon Inge is hitting .174 since joining Oakland, and that has raised his season average to .140. Painful math for him.
The very night Phil mocked Inge’s batting average, Inge hit a walk-off grand slam.
I mean sure, Inge still sucks. But that’s so Phil. I love those yellow throwbacks the A’s rock some games. My retinas don’t, but the rest of me does.
21. Red Sox (15): Two five-game losing streaks by May 5 for a team that was put together to make the playoffs. The problem is simple: Fix a pitching staff that is allowing the most runs in the majors. Must be looking at all available options, including the White Sox’s Matt Thornton.
What about Matt Thornton?
Well, he’s expensive. He’s old. He’s given up more hits than innings. The White Sox desperately need a closer, but they don’t think he can handle it.
Perfect! Let’s get him!
22. Rockies (21): Allowing the most runs in the NL, but don’t blame Jamie Moyer. His 4.01 ERA is the lowest in the rotation.
Maybe blame him for the fact that the bullpen has to go at least four innings every time he starts, which fucks it up for everybody else? Nah, that’s too harsh. Replace that with, “Wow, the Rockies pitching sucks, then.”
23. Astros (30: It’s all about Jose Altuve and his .352 average.
Exactly a month ago, for Phil, it was all about JD Martinez’s hot bat and how he was emerging as a bona fide star. Since that day? .195/.347/.273/.620. You read that right…he’s slugging .273. Let’s put that into perspective. Tony Campana is slugging .396. JD Martinez is 6’3, 200. Tony Campana was a prize in a box of Honeycombs that Oneri Fleita ate in 2009.
24. Brewers (22): Shortstop Alex Gonzalez’s season-ending knee injury is a real crippler. It comes on the heels of losing first baseman Mat Gamel.
Get it! A real crippler! Phil is a hoot. Look, if losing Alex Gonzalez and Mat Gamel kills your offense…your offense was terminal in the first place. The problem for the Brewers is that they have a shitty farm system, and they traded their one really good prospect, Brett Lawrie to the Blue Jays for Shaun F’ing Marcum. Oops. That turned out fine, because they signed E-ramis for three years and he’s hitting .218 with a 75 OPS plus. So…profit?
25. Pirates (25): Is the real Pedro Alvarez finally standing up?
He looks slightly less portly when he stands up. So…maybe?
26. Mariners (23): Seven-game losing streak spoiled what had been a solid April.
Seattke was two games under .500 in April and are two games under .500 so far in May. Maybe they’re just shitty?
27. Royals (26): Nothing is holding these guys back more than the stunted development of Luke Hochevar, a supposed No. 1 starter with a 5.46 career ERA after 600-plus innings. He has allowed seven-plus runs three times already.
No, what’s holding them back is starting Luke Hochevar every fifth day even though he’s proven every year that he’s terrible. That and the fact they have nobody to take his spot.
28. Cubs (29): History says it’s time for a flurry of homers from Alfonso Soriano, which would provide a huge lift.
History also says it’s time for Ryne Sandberg to get really hot. So look out Darwin Barney!
29. Padres (27): Loss of lefty Cory Luebke creates a chance for Jeff Suppan to get back to big leagues.
Sweet Jesus. Suppan is back? I thought he was dead. And judging by the velocity on his pitches, he just might be.
30. Twins (28): Ranked in the bottom three teams in AL in OPS from catcher, first base, second base, third base and right field, with Michael Cuddyer’s old spot in right the biggest void. Six players have started there, combining for a .156 average.
If Jock Jones is still on the phone, maybe have him head on back out to right field in Minnesota. I’m sure he could put up a .210 obp or something.