Time For Teams To Take Reality Checks
With most teams having about 30 games left in the 2009 season it is time for them to take reality checks. The season ends on Sunday, October 4.
My method of eliminating teams isn’t foolproof but if a team is 10 games out of first place at the start of September they can forget about winning their division. Some teams still have a chance at the wild card if they are five or six games behind the wild card leader.
For instance no team in the NL Central has a realistic chance of winning the division since the Cubs are in second place and 10 and-a-half games behind the first place Cardinals.
The teams that were leading their divisions on August 1 are still leading their divisions a month later. The Dodgers are the only team of the six division leaders that has seen their lead reduced in the last month.
They were seven games ahead of the Rockies and Giants on August 1. Today they have a five and-a-half game lead over the Rockies.
This is a division by division breakdown for the other four division leaders that have extended their leads in the last month.
AL East: Yankees extended a half game lead over the Red Sox on August 1 to six and-a-half games today.
AL Central: Tigers extended a one and-a-half game lead over the White Sox to a three and a half game lead over the Twins with the White Sox falling seven games behind the Tigers.
AL West: Angels extended their four game lead over the Rangers on August 1 to four and-a-half game lead a month later.
NL East: Phillies were six games ahead of the Marlins on August 1 and today they are seven and-a-half games ahead of the Braves with the Marlins now nine and-a-half games out and in third place.
The wild card leaders in both leagues also extended their leads:
AL Wild Card: The Red Sox were two and-a-half games ahead of the Rangers and four and-a-half games ahead of the Rays on August 1. A month later the Red Sox have extended their lead over the Rangers to three and-a-half games and their four and-a-half game lead over the Rays to six games.
NL Wild Card: On August 1 the Rockies and Giants were tied for the lead in the NL wild card race with the Cubs one game back. Today the Rockies hold a slim one game lead over the Giants and a three game lead over the Braves. The Cubs have slid to fifth place and six games behind the Rockies.
Only five teams in the AL are closer than 10 games behind the division leaders.
The hottest teams among the division leaders and contenders are the Red Sox, Twins and Cardinals who all have 8-2 records in their last ten games.
The White Sox are the coldest team in the major leagues with a 1-9 record. Their only hope is to win the AL Central since they are fourteen games behind the Red Sox in the wild card race.
The Nationals and Orioles have already been eliminated and the Nationals can go 16-13 the rest of the season and still lose 100 games.
The Pirates are four losses from being below .500 for every season since 1992 encompassing 17 seasons. They have been 10-25 since July 24.
Sixteen teams are ten or more games behind the division leaders. The Twins and Rangers are the only contenders that are less than five games behind the leaders in their divisions.
The White Sox seem to have given up on the season already. When they traded veterans Jim Thome and Jose Contreras that signified to me that they are not serious about winning this season. Contreras was not a big loss but Thome not batting four or five times a game is a tremendous loss.
Since ending a seven game winning streak on July 3 the White Sox have won three games in a row only once when they defeated the Yankees three times in a row.
It is difficult to say anything negative about a perfect game but since the Mark Buehrle perfect game on July 23 against the Tigers he has not won a game. He will be pitching tonight in the Metrodome trying to salvage one win out of the three game series with the Twins.
Since the perfect game the White Sox have a 14-24 record. I can’t help but wonder if that perfect game had a negative effect on the team.
A win tonight with a Tigers loss would move them to six games back but a loss combined with a Tigers win would place them eight games back of the Tigers.
Many teams will be taking reality checks in the coming days as they decide whether to abandon their hopes of making the playoffs.
If they do give up on the 2009 season some teams will give their September callups a chance to see how they perform at the major league level.
With the economy still not recovering many teams will be looking at younger and less expensive players to play well the rest of this season. If they do then they are more likely to trade veterans with exorbitant contracts and not offer many free agents this offseason outlandish contracts.
Only nine major league teams as of today have seen a rise in attendance this season. The Dodgers have an increase of 11,706 and the Brewers have an increase of 11,412. That is not much of an increase considering both teams have played about 65 home games so far this season.
The Red Sox have an increase of 12,822 in 66 home games. They have only drawn 194 more fans per game than they drew in 2008.
Four of the nine teams with increased attendance have drawn 837 or less more fans per game this season.
Nine teams have drawn more than a quarter million less fans than they drew in 2008.
Even new stadium openings have not helped the Mets who have drawn 703,803 less fans and the Yankees who have dropped 459,959 fans.
The top five teams in attendance are leading their division. The Tigers on the other hand are 12th in attendance and have lost 521,399 fans this season for a loss of 8,022 a game.
The Mets have drawn 10,653 less fans per game this season. The Mets fans probably have stayed away in droves due to the team being out of the NL East race most of the season.
In addition they have been hit by injury after injury to their best players and pitchers.
The most alarming attendance stat of all is that 4,233,628 less fans attended major league games than at this point last season.
As teams are eliminated and pro and college football start their seasons these attendance numbers will get even worse.
If we thought we saw free agents signing for a lot less money last offseason it will probably be worse this time.
It is doubtful that any player will be signed for $180 million like Mark Teixeira was last offseason. There will probably be fewer longterm contracts and more two and three year contracts.
The Chicago Cubs hopefully have learned that you can’t sign a player like Milton Bradley who had never hit more than 22 homers or driven in more than 77 runs and expect him to improve on those numbers.
The Cubs spent $30 million over three years for Bradley who is hitting .269, has hit 12 homers and has driven in only 37 runs. Seven Cubs have driven in more runs than Bradley.
Rookie Jake Fox has driven in 39 runs for the Cubs in 178 fewer at bats than Bradley.
The Cubs best option may be to release Bradley if they can’t trade him. They may lose a ton of money but it would be better than going through another season like the 2009 season.