Tag Archives: Cincinnati Reds

The Baseball Trading Deadline – The Shark Week Comparison

Whether it’s stocks, fantasy baseball, or the real thing, trading can be a dangerous proposition. There’s no guarantee that the deal will work; only time will tell whether your investment pays off or whether you get to sell you blood to make the rent this month.

 

But, one thing that is certain; where there’s trading there’s bleeding, and nothing draws the sharks like blood in the water. Since we here at Dubsism are at the same time not willing to wait for two years to see who the bleeders are and stuck in the middle of the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” we’ve decided to give the rating of winners and losers a bit of a  “swim with the sharks” twist.

Great White Shark: San Francisco Giants

Key additions:  SS Orlando Cabrera, 2B Jeff Keppinger, OF Carlos Beltran

Last season, the Giants were the Remora on this list.  It is only fitting that a team makes such a jump up considering the city is located on a peninsula the Spanish named “Tiburon;” their word for “shark.”  The Giants pitching staff is so dominant that any addition of offense makes them the apex predator in a seven-game series.

Tiger Shark: Texas Rangers

Key Additions: RHP Kohji Uehara, RHP Mike Adams

The one thing the Rangers needed was pitching. Since there really wasn’t a big-time starter available, the Rangers seriously upgraded their bullpen. This team now matches up favorably against anybody in the American League.

Bull Shark: Pittsburgh Pirates

Key Additions: 1B Derrek Lee, OF Ryan Ludwick

Yeah, I know, I can’t believe I’m writing about the Pirates in August.  Bull sharks are notorious for conducting the most attacks on humans; the Pirates in recent history have committed the most atrocities against baseball. The Bucs have been a bottom-feeder for nearly two decades, and even if they swim into a gill net and finish the season as baseball’s equivalent of waste at the tuna cannery, it won’t be because they didn’t give an honest effort.

Mako Shark: Atlanta Braves

Key Additions: OF Michael Bourn

This is a case of a shark that is the fastest in the sea, and a seriously feared predator.  If the Braves can stay healthy, the addition of a serious speed threat on the base paths mean Atlanta could easily blow past somebody.

Hammerhead Shark: Philadelphia Phillies

Key Additions: OF Hunter Pence

For the second year in a row, the Phillies are this odd, flat-headed creature. Just looking at a hammerhead, one gets the idea they are completely bereft of the ability to see either forward or backward. With some foresight, they might have seen that losing Jayson Werth would leave their line-up both far too-left-handed and with no protection for Ryan Howard.  However, this move solves a part of that problem; another rightie bat in the Phils’ line-up and/or a good bullpen guy would make them the most complete team in baseball.

Blacktip Reef Shark: Arizona Diamondbacks

Key Additions: RHP Brad Ziegler, RHP Jason Marquis

Timid and skittish, the blacktip reef shark seldom poses a danger in the National League West. And yet, this is the second time the D-Backs find themselves in this spot.  They find themselves here largely because two trades they made last year, and one they didn’t make this year.

This team entered 2011 looking like they needed to swim into a gill net and hope for a better lot in the next life.  But in last year’s Dan Haren deal alone, they unloaded $30 million in salary while getting four pitchers in return, including Joe Saunders, a not-that-long-ago former All-Star. When you add how they fleeced the White Sux for the perenially shaky Edwin Jackson (whose since been dealt twice), the D-backs boast an organization with nine of the top 80 picks from the 2009 draft. After all that, stop and think where this team might be if they  had traded Justin Upton.

Stingray:  Cleveland Indians

Key Additions: OF Kosuke Fukudome, RHP Ubaldo Jimenez

Much like nobody expected a guy who wrestled crocodiles and handled deadly snakes to meet his maker via a swimming carpet, anybody who saw the Indians as a buyer at the deadline is either a visionary or full of shit.  Not to mention, the Indians should get a mention for bringing up Jason Kipnis, who it seems hit about sixty home runs last week.

Nurse Shark: Boston Red Sox

Key Additions:  LHP Erik Bedard, RHP Josh Fields

Much like a nurse shark is a large fearsome looking creature that actually has the aggression level of Mickey Mouse on valium, the Red Sox look like a contender until you take a hard look at them. Seriously, once you look past that gawdy offense, you see right away this team has a pitching staff that is smoke and mirrors show in an intensive care unit. Granted, Josh Beckett seems to finally found a way to not suck, Lester is trying his hardest not to suck, but there’s a big drop-off after that…Tim Wakefield? John Lackey? Could somebody in Red Sawwwx nation be sure to let me know when the funerals for Daisuke Matsuzaka, Rich Hill, Bobby Jenks, and Clay Buchholz will be?

To that train wreck, the BoSox only add a questionable big-league starter who had given up 11 earned runs in his last 13 innings pitched before the trade, and a guy who is sporting an ERA over 6.00 in Triple-A.

At least the Yankees can’t pitch either.

Skate: Cincinnati Reds

Key Additions:  OF Bill Rhinehart, LHP Chris Manno

Much like the skate is hardly a shark, the Reds are hardly a contender. Granted, they have the reigning MVP in Joey Votto, and they have a Cy Young contender in Johnny Cueto (yeah, I can’t believe I just wrote that either). The problem is that’s only a pair in a poker hand that need three-of-a-kind at best to win.

The Reds really could have addressed some needs; every other team trying to win this shit heap of a division did so. Instead, the played the role of bottom feeder by trading an under-performer in Jonny Gomes for two serious “maybe in a few years” types. This is just another reason why the Reds in their current configuration never  should be taken seriously.

Dogfish: Detroit Tigers

Key Additions: RHP Doug Fister, RHP David Pauley,  3B Wilson Betemit

Yeah, I get the pseudo-irony of a team with a decidedly feline mascot being slapped with the Dogfish, but let’s be honest…two of the three guys they acquired are dogs.  Doug Fister might be a serviceable #3-#4 guy in a rotation, but who knows what Pauley is, and Betemit just plain sucks.

Remora: St. Louis Cardinals

Key Additions: RHP Octavio Dotel, RHP Edwin Jackson, LHP Marc Rzepczynski, SS Rafael Furcal, OF Corey Patterson

Yeah, we know a remora isn’t a shark, but you can’t watch Shark Week without seeing one. If you  aren’t familiar, a remora is one of those little fish that just hangs around, cleaning up whatever bits the big sharks leave behind. Lots of other sharks had a major feeding, and the Cards sucked up a lot of remnants.

Bathtub Toy Shark:  Milwaukee Brewers

Key Additions:  IF/OF Jerry Hairston, Jr., RHP Francisco Rodriguez

A 35-year old utility player who hits .250 with no power, and an over-priced and possibly washed-up reliever.  At least these type decisions are right at home in the NL Central.

The Chum Bucket: Los Angeles Angels & New York Yankees

“Yeah, I’d like to see you come down here and spoon out some of this slop…”

Just as you would expect, this would a a mish-mash of the assorted pieces left over from those who really didn’t figure out what the trade game is all about. For example, the Los Angeles Angels did NOTHING despite the fact they desperately need another bat.

As far as New York is concerned, re-read the above paragraph and replace the word “Angels” with “Yankees,” and replace the word “bat” with the phrase “solid starting pitcher.”

The Idiot Who Gets Bitten Because He’s an Idiot:

Again, this is something that no Shark Week would be complete without. You’ve all seen this guy, usually a fisherman who while trying to retrieve a 40-cent hook somehow forgets that even small sharks have mouths full of razor-sharp teeth that make an exceptionally efficient finger-removal tool.

Welcome to the world of the Houston Astros, a team who last year actually gave the Yankees, a.k.a. the richest team in baseball $4 million to put Lance Berkman in pinstripes, and this year proceeded to have a fire sale of such proportions that the Astros may lose 100 games a season for the next half-decade.

The Dubsism Baseball Power Rankings: The Post-Season “Why You Shouldn’t Cheer For” Edition

Here we are; another October full of post-season baseball. Let’s be honest, most of the crap I said about these teams six months ago was wrong, so why not go for month number seven proving I have no idea what I’m talking about.  Take the following for example (from April 22nd):

California in General: The Padres are leading the NL West based on a league-leading Team ERA of 2.82, the Giants are tight behind their statemates to the south in both the stat and the standings, and Oakland’s 3.16 means three of the top four staffs in terms of earned runs allowed get their mail in the Golden State. Toss in Dodger Matt Kemp’s pacing the NL with 7 homers and 20 RBI and the Angels not looking nearly as mediocre as one believed, and things are on the up. The question is how many of these things will still be true in August.

Indeed, how many of those things turned out true? Well, the Padres waited until August before they folded faster than Superman on laundry day, allowing themselves to get run down by a Giants team that is likely the weakest still standing. Honestly, after July, these were the only two California teams worth noting. So, instead of trying to make predictions, it is time to talk about why none of these teams are worthy of your support. With that, let’s get down to the rest of the remaining eight…

1) Philadelphia Phillies – (Pre-season Rank #1, 97-65, NL East Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 4-1

This team defines “mercurial.” They started the season as the favorites of the Dubsism staff, then they plummeted as low as #14 in the rankings, the low-water mark coming in that series at the Mets when they didn’t score a single run in four games. The are now again the hottest team in baseball, but as good as they are now, they won’t when. Why? Because it’s Philadelphia. No city has a bigger self-esteem problem than Philadelphia. Philadelphia spends hours staring in the mirror and laying awake nights wishing it were New York.  This is why Philadelphia fans hate everything; during the off-season they go down to the hospital and boo surgeries.

But it isn’t just the male Phillie fans who should be choked to death with a cheese-steak. I’ve got a belly full of these stupid female fans who spend hours blathering about how much they want to fuck Chase Utley. Behind the Red Sox, the Phillies have the highest percentage of obnoxious female pink-hat-wearing fans, you know the ones that get  sloppy drunk and wail about wanting to get on Cole Hamels’ cock. If you have a girlfriend who has a pink piece of sports apparel and won’t shut up about which player she wants to bone, punch her in the face immediately. Then punch yourself where your balls used to be for being involved with such a stupid bitch.

She just said she wants to suck off Shane Victorino, so its' OK to blast her.

2) Tampa Bay Rays (Pre-season Rank #4, 96-66, AL East Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 4-1

Tampa is such a non-interest generator that if the Rays were to win the World Series, you could probably hold the entire victory parade at a Shoney’s. Seriously, nobody gives a shit about Tampa or any of it’s teams. Do you remember when the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl. Of course you don’t, because you didn’t care then, and you don’t care now. The Rays are like are like local TV news. You watch to see weather and traffic, and once you see that you are that stream of fans heading to the car in the sixth inning.

EPSN’s Colin Cowherd made an interesting point about this team.  Apparently, Tampa was third on a list of potential cities to get one of two baseball expansion teams. While he was working for a news station in Tampa at the time, Cowherd says he was told by George Steinbrenner himself that he pushed the awarding of the franchise  to Tampa through, because his family lived in Tampa and he wanted to see his Yankees play down there during the season. In other words, there are TWO teams to hate because of that dead shitbag Steinbrenner.

3) Minnesota Twins (Pre-season Rank #10, 94-68, AL Central Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 5-1

I love the Twins, so it pains me to say this, but I have a serious dislike of Minnesota sports fans. The absolute worst sports fans in the world are Minnesota Viking fans, and too many Twins fans are just the retarded, in-bred cousins of those same Viking fans. I lived in the Twin Cities for 15 years, and I can tell you first hand that the Twins are a franchise that deserves a far better fan base than it has.  Minnesota fans worship at the alter of a Viking team that hasn’t won a fucking thing in forty years while they almost completely ignore the franchise that has won two World Championships in that time. Tune in a Minneapolis sports radio station in April and you will hear 24 hours of how the Vikings need to draft some other asshole who will undoubtedly under-perform.

Plus, Minnesota is where you grow fair-weather fans. At least the people in terrible sports cities like Tampa or Atlanta are honest, they don’t show up at all. But Twins “fans” filled the dreadful Metrodome when the Twins were winning; you could have fired a cannon in the place in the mid-90’s and not hit a soul. Now, since the arrival of Joe Mauer and the new ballpark, these “fans” can’t stop blowing themselves over shit we already know like the fact Mauer is a home town boy or that Target Field is gorgeous. It is just the residents of Minnesota collectively coping with the fact they got butt-fucked into building a stadium that is going to be half-empty in ten years. Not to mention, the Twins are no longer the payroll David to the Yankees’ Goliath anymore, so all you so-called “fans” need to get off that crap right now. Granted, the Yankee payroll is gargantuan, but the Twins are over $100 million themselves.

Oh, did I mention they are the world’s only passive-aggressive racists? They wouldn’t dream of using an epithet because that’s not “politically correct,” but they have no problem using the old “Would you want your daughter to marry one?” mentality when they run a black athlete out of town (I will never forget the Warren Moon incident, when Minnesota fans used a court case in which Moon was found not guilty because the case was unfounded to begin with, to call the local sports radio station to spew a lot of “that’s how THOSE people act” bullshit).

There’s about 50 real Twins fans in the world, and they are a great group of people. For the rest, there can’t be enough bridge collapses to get rid of all of you.

4) New York Yankees (Pre-season Rank #2, 95-67, AL Wild Card) – Odds of Winning World Series: 5-1

Are you now, or have you ever been a Yankees fan? Are you under the age of 45? Have you ever said “The Yankees sucked when I was a kid, so I’m not of one these new Yankee fans that came along when we started winning again”? If you answered “Yes” to these questions, you are pretentious douche-nozzle and you would be doing the world a favor if you stuck a shotgun in your mouth.

There’s soooooooooo many reasons to hate the Yankees. First, there’s the aforementioned loyalty-less fuckwads who think just because the Yankees sucked in the 80’s means they aren’t some dickhead who needs to be on the winning side. But least there is one less reason to hate them, since that piece of deep-fried monket shit known as George Steinbrenner is dead. At least he has a burn-in-hell worthy legacy, like sodomizing New York City out of a billion dollars to build a replica of a 90-year old shithole, then filling it with insufferable dickweeds who now are actually proud of their Ruthian assholery.

Oh, and I haven’t mentioned this yet, but you have no idea how much it pissed me off that after Steinbrenner assumed room temperature that I kept being told “You didn’t have to like him, but you had to respect him.”  Fuck you. The same people who said this are the same people responsible for the impending death of America. George Steinbrenner was a criminal who deserves the same respect a dog pays to a fire hydrant.

5) Atlanta Braves (Pre-Season Rank #8, 91-71, NL Wild Card) - Odds of Winning World Series: 8-1

Who better to be in the “Punched in the Face Edition” than that geriatric drunken wife-beater Bobby Cox? Lately, people have been fawning over the fact that he has been kicked out of an entire season worth of games. “That just means he’s fiery, competitive and sticks up for his players,” I hear all the time. Did you ever consider that he might just be a flaming asshole with an anger management issue? I would say that getting piss-drunk and punching your wife in the face suggests the latter.

According to the police report, the Coxes had been entertaining friends when Bobby spilled a drink on the carpet of their northwest Atlanta house and Pamela made a comment about it. The report said that after the guests left, Bobby, 53, “hit her in the face with his fist,” pulled her hair and called her “a bitch.” When they reached the house, the police reported, they heard arguing inside, where they found Bobby drunk and Pamela with the left side of her face swollen.

My favorite part of this story was the press conference a few days later when Pamela Cox tried to deny the domestic violence allegations all while wearing a knuckle-mark on her cheek that looked just like a National League Championship ring.

That’s just the recent reason to hate the Braves. There’s a really good old reason, that being when that idiotic windbag Ted Turner owned them. Thanks to the “Mouth of the South,” we all got to live through the infancy of cable television by watching the sorry-ass 1980’s Atlanta Braves.  If you are my age, you remember having this shitty team shoved down your throat as “America’s Team.” Worse yet, TBS grew into a cable network capable of winning a bid to carry Major League Baseball so they could prove that Fox didn’t completely fuck up televised baseball.

6) Texas Rangers (Pre-Season Rank #11, 90-72, AL West Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 12-1

If we were to compare American cities to body parts, Arlington would be the appendix; something that everybody has, yet it is completely useless. Arlington is like the anus of Texas, wedged in between the unwashed buttocks of Dallas and Fort Worth. It doesn’t take long to figure out why Texans build all the stuff that draws huge pain-in-the-ass crowds in Arlington; it sits on such a useless piece of land that it is surrounded on one side by a giant airport and on the other by a giant nothing.  Why is the Rangers ball park here? Let’s be honest, nobody in Texas gives a shit about baseball past August. In fact, baseball in Texas is just a way to kill time until football season starts. This is why nobody should give a shit about the Rangers now. Besides, Texas hasn’t had a guy who could hit the cut-off man since Lee Harvey Oswald.

7) Cincinnati Reds (Pre-Season Rank #18, 91-71, NL Central Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 15-1

Here’s where you can still use that shop-worn “big market/small market”  argument, except the comparative scale is in sheer assholery. Granted, the Yankees have produced more flaming assholes than anybody, but they have more money than anybody. But when you have a team from the largest city in Kentucky that has produced such legendary buttloafs like Pete Rose, Joe Morgan, and Rob Dibble. Really, how can a team produce a guy who bets on baseball, the worst play-by-play guy EVER, and a guy who just blazed the “Raging Dumbfuck” trail for a shithead like John Rocker. Worse yet, how can a small-market team do that and still produce a world-class fuckface like Johnny Cueto, who during that brawl with the Cardinals back in August kicked Jason LaRue in his head multiple times, effectively ending his 12-year career. If I get to see only one thing I really want during this post-season, please let it be a 95-mph fastball directly into Cueto’s face, his teeth bouncing off home plate like bloody Chiclets.

8 ) San Francisco Giants (Pre-Season Rank #18, 92-70, NL West Champs) – Odds of Winning World Series: 18-1

See the guy in the black trunks above? The Giants need to sign him now so they will have at least one guy who can hit.  It’s like ever since Barry Bonds left, the Giants are in some sort of self-imposed deprivation of offense, like anybody who hits 30 homers will have his balls cut off and fondued at some sort of granola and sissy-fruit party. It’s not like it matters because nobody cares about the Giants except for a few Dodger haters and the future funeral home clientele who from their pine boxes will still be pining for the days of Willie Mays.

The funny part is that in a weird sort of way, the Giants are the perfect team for San Francisco. At the same time, San Francisco is a beautiful city with the same sleazy underbelly as any other world-class seaport; within mere yards of each other you can find the whitest-glove haute cuisine and foreign sailors chuffing down whatever cheap fare that will satisfy while leaving a precious few drachma for a booze-up and a working girl. San Francisco can turn the breath-taking topography of Northern California and simultaneously compliment it while turning it into a piss-reeking urban nightmare. When fall hits the Midwest and all those meat-and-tater midwesterners get all fawny over California and its’ golden sun, they are picturing Southern California and its sun-kissed beaches. But since they are so eager to get out of East Tree Stump, Ohio, they don’t realize until they get there that San Francisco is not that California. Rather, it is a city that is shrouded in fog more often than not, is prone to 40 mph winds, and can sport highs in the 60s in July.  I once lived in North Dakota, and one of the coldest winters I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.

The Giants are as much a collection of contradictions as their city.  The Giants are a team that boasts a tremendous pitching staff, and yet couldn’t hit water if they fell out of fucking boat. Even though they an old-school member of the National League with a large market, they can’t buy a better solution for their offense problem than Pat Burrell and Aubrey Huff.  Somehow they have managed to play team baseball well enough to win their division, yet on an individual level they are the biggest collection suckasses out there. Did they all agree to wear their uniforms as baggy as possible so they all look like airport windsocks in those 40 mph winds? Tim Lincecum looks like a Make-A-Wish kid baked on medicinal marijuana in those things, but at least they hide the man-boobs on those elephant seals known as Pablo Sandoval and Juan Uribe.  I mean, who the fuck can have any respect for a major league baseball team that has at shortstop a manatee with frosted tips on his goatee?

Goodbye, Sweet Lou…

Piniella with Portland of the Pacific Coast League, 1966

After announcing that his retirement originally scheduled for the end of this season was moving up to today, it is time to give Lou Piniella the send-off he richly deserves. 18 years as a player, 23 years as a manager, three World Series rings; his 1,835 wins as a manager rank him behind only Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre (three lead-pipe cinch Hall-of-Famers) for active managers, and ranks him ahead of Hall-of-Famers Tommy Lasorda, Dick Williams, and Clark Griffith. As a player, Piniella was the American League Rookie of the Year for 1969, and while he wouldn’t make Cooperstown from his efforts on the field, he’d certainly make the Hall of Pretty Damn Good.

Piniella during the five at-bats he collected as a Cleveland Indian in 1968.

Piniella during his Rookie of the Year season.

With that, I would like to offer the Dubsism version of the Dean Martin Roast, the photo retrospective known as the File Dump.

Many people are unaware that in addition to his baseball prowess, Piniella excelled at basketball at the University of Tampa.

Throughout his managerial career, Piniella often liked to show off his passing ability.

Lou was known to be a tad bit excitable. During his time as a Yankee, he developed a warm loving relationship with Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk. During a 1976 match, Piniella slid hard into Fisk, who bluntly expressed his displeasure, and the love fest began.

Naturally, once Piniella matured into a leadership role, he mellowed.

Actually, not even being in his sixties mellowed “Sweet” Lou.

Actually, it was his down time at the salon that he used to calm his temperament.

Salons not withstanding, Lou always has a sense of cool.

Of course, Piniella’s sense of style is one of the reasons why he remains as part of the Yankee family to this day.

But in all seriousness, Piniella’s World Series win at the helm of the underdog Cincinnati Reds rates as one of the all-time managerial achievements of all time.

Mr. Piniella, you were a pleasure to watch both on the field and in the dugout and baseball fans everywhere owe you a sincere tip of the cap and a wish that your retirement offers you as much enjoyment as your career gave us.

Jim Edmonds: One Step Closer To Playing For Every Team in the NL Central

With the Cincinnati Reds acquiring of Jim Edmonds, the veteran outfielder has now worn his fourth uniform in the National League Central.

CINCINNATI (AP)– In a move made on Monday to add experience to a younger team poised for a stretch run toward the playoffs, the Reds acquired outfielder Jim Edmonds, sending outfielder Chris Dickerson to the Brewers.

Edmonds, 40, joined the first-place Reds and started in center field, batting fifth, against the second-place Cardinals for the series-opening National League Central clash.

“It’s been a quick six or seven hours to go from kind of the bottom of the standings to the top in a hurry,” said Edmonds, who played for St. Louis from 2000-07, winning a World Series title in ’06. “And to show up here playing the Cardinals, it’s going to be a little nuts. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

The Jim Edmonds Aging Outfielder Traveling Show makes yet another stop. Don't rule out the Orix Blue Wave or the Nippon Ham Fighters next.

This only leaves the Astros and the Pirates for Edmonds to complete the set, but since those teams aren’t likely to be on the recieving end of a “contender stocking up” deal anytime soon, Edmonds might be better served to complete his original goal of playing for every team in California. After he only needs to play for the Giants, Dodgers, and A’s to accomplish that feat.

The Baseball Trading Deadline – The Shark Week Edition

Whether it’s stocks, fantasy baseball, or the real thing, trading can be a dangerous proposition. There’s no guarantee that the deal will work; only time will tell whether your investment pays off or whether you get to sell you blood to make the rent this month.

But, one thing that is certain; where there’s trading there’s bleeding, and nothing draws the sharks like blood in the water. Since we here at Dubsism are at the same time not willing to wait for two years to see who the bleeders are and stuck in the middle of the Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week,” we’ve decided to give the rating of winners and losers a bit of a  Swim With The Sharks twist.

Great White Shark: The Texas Rangers

The Los Angeles Angels, pictured here as a seal, seem destined to give up their grip on the AL West.

Clearly, The Texas Rangers are going to need a bigger boat. Rangers’ General manager Jon Daniels played the role of Chief Brody to a tee. Not only did Daniels figure out he’s got a team ready to reel in winning now, he set sail to bag the fish he needed to make this team complete. The Rangers have been playing fur seal to the Angels’ Great White for nearly a decade now, but the additions of of ace Cliff Lee, catcher Bengie Molina, infielder Cristian Guzman, and slugger Jorge Cantu make a frankly scary roster when mixed with the likes of Josh Hamilton, Michael Young, Elvis Andrus and ironically enough Vladimir Guerrero, who was acquired in the off-season from the Angels.

Not only does this make the Ranges likely to seal up the American League West sometime in August, barring an unforeseen collapse, the Rangers become an honest-to-goodness World Series contender. If that weren’t good enough, the Rangers, who are awash in bankruptcy even managed to get the Nationals and the Marlins to toss in cash in their respective deals. Could this finally be the year where a good-looking Ranger team doesn’t get grilled into oblivion in the broiling Texas summer?

Tiger Shark: San Diego Padres

The Padres have spent eons being the bottom feeder of the NL West, so much so they gained a reputation for eating anything that would come their way; they were so desperate a few years ago they were the only team that showed interest in a clearly-finished Mark Prior. However, even a creature that eats everything occasionally gets a gourmet meal. Gaining the services of both  infielder Miguel Tejada and outfielder Ryan Ludwick while not giving away anything useful cement the Padres as a legitimate force come October.

Ludwick’s big bat finally provides some protection for Adrian Gonzalez, while his glove complements a stellar pitching staff. As long as they manage Tejada correctly, meaning they play him at shortstop as long as David Eckstein is on the disabled list. Once Eckstein returns, it will be necessary to platoon him with Jerry Hairston Jr. at shortstop. Otherwise, the Padres run the risk of seeing Tejada’s age and lack of range cost them in the long run.

Bull Shark: New York Yankees

Bull sharks are notorious for conducting the most attacks on humans; the Yankees commit the most atrocities against humanity. The Bronx Bombers were likely the best team in baseball before the trade deadline, however, that didn’t stop them from adding Lance Berkman to shore up the DH slot, Austin Kearns to make them even better against left-handed pitching, and (if he stays healthy) Kerry Wood to add the consistency to the setup role Joba Chamberlain seems completely incapable of doing.

Hammerhead Shark: Philadelphia Phillies

Just looking at a hammerhead, one gets the idea they are completely bereft of the ability to see either forward or backward. With some foresight, they might have seen the combination of Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay could’ve dominated National League lineups. Instead, they must give up a good bullpen guy to get Roy Oswalt.

With some hindsight, they might have seen that Greg Dobbs alone isn’t a good enough insurance policy against injury. In the absence of Ryan Howard, imagine how that line-up would look now had they dealt Jayson Werth for the obligatory bag of magic beans. In other words, they easily could be the bottom-feeder that didn’t find the good meal.

Nurse Shark: Los Angeles Dodgers

Much like a nurse shark is a large fearsome looking creature that actually has the aggression level of Mickey Mouse on valium, the Dodgers looked like a contender until the calendar read August.  Honestly (and I can’t believe I’m saying this), it really isn’t general manager Ned Colletti’s fault for once. Coletti is suffering the Malachi Crunch of being pinned in between the ugly divorce of owing junta Frank and Jamie McCourt and the over-priced, under-performing Manny Ramirez who is rapidly becoming the millstone around the neck of this franchise.

In other words, Colletti is trying to do his job, but he is in a swimming race in a shark tank with a bleeding side of beef chained around his neck. Somehow, he has manged to make deals for effective B-list players like Ted Lilly, Scott Podsednik, Ryan Theriot, and Octavio Dotel; the trouble is this team needed a couple of A-listers to make the difference.

Mako Shark: Minnesota Twins

This is a case of a shark that is the fastest in the sea, and a seriously feared predator. Just look at that thing; I shit my pants just uploading that picture. But the problem is the Mako wastes that fearsome nature chasing Charlie the Tuna. This is the perfect analogy for the Twins; a franchise that can grow some seriously scary talent, yet has no idea how to get full value on a trade.

It was no secret that even though the Twins uber-catching prospect Wilson Ramos was never going to do more at Target Field than sell hot dogs to the “ya, you betcha” Minnesota crowd as long as God in a Mask Joe Mauer is a Twin uniform. Sure it was obvious Ramos was the chum to catalyze any deal, but with high-quality bait you expect a high-quality catch.

To be blunt, Ramos should have got the Twins Miss Universe, but Matt Capps is Miss Iowa. Now don’t misunderstand us here, while Iowa may be an acronym for “Individuals Out Watering Animals,” Miss Iowa is a hottie in her own right. But unless she becomes Miss Universe, she’s a decked-out Cadillac Seville in a world of Rolls-Royce Silver Shadows.  In other words, Capps is a fully-loaded, brand new Cadillac for which the Twins paid $750,000.

Blacktip Reef Shark: Arizona Diamondbacks

Timid and skittish, the blacktip reef shark seldom poses a danger in the National League West. However, teams wading through Arizona do occassionally run the risk of having their legs mistakenly bitten.  However, this timid nature leads some to believe that this shark may be an endangered species when in fact they may have put a screwing to a couple of larger sharks in the Baseball ocean.

Frankly, I’m amazed to hear people who think the Diamondbacks got screwed in the Dan Haren trade. Keep in mind this is a franchise in need of swimming into a gill net and hoping for a better lot in the next life. Just in the deal with Angels alone, they unloaded $30 million in salary while getting four pitchers in return, including Joe Saunders, a not-that-long-ago former All-Star. When you add how they fleeced the White Sux for the perenially shaky Edwin Jackson, the D-backs now boast a farm system stocked with nine of the top 80 picks from last year’s draft.

Remora: San Francisco Giants

Yeah, we know a remora isn’t a shark, but you can’t watch Shark Week without seeing one. If you  aren’t familiar, a remora is one of those little fish that just hangs around, cleaning up whatever bits the big sharks leave behind. Lots of other sharks had a major feeding, and the Giants got a few nice bits in relievers Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez. Plus, the bit of “addition by subtraction” that happened by shipping Bengie Molina to Texas, thus opening the way Buster Posey to look like a right-handed coming of God In a Mask Joe Mauer could easily move the Giants up the food chain.

The Chum Bucket:

"Yeah, I'd like to see you come down here and spoon out some of this slop..."

Just as you would expect, this would a a mish-mash of the assorted pieces left over from those who really didn’t figure out what the trade game is all about. For example, the Los Angeles Angels did net a nice catch in Dan Haren, but this team really needed a big bat at a corner infield position/designated hitter position (Adam Dunn, anyone?). When you combine that with the price of the Haren deal, it’s pretty hard to say  the Halos helped themselves for the long term. Another team that needed offensive firepower and didn’t get it were the White Sux. Not only they not get Adam Dunn, Lance Berkman shot down the Sux with his no-trade clause. They still can make this worse by engineering one of those Kenny Williams “waiver wire” specials by grabbing Manny Ramirez. Plus, Ken Griffey, Jr. is still out there – oh wait, Williams has already made that mistake before.

Then there’s the teams who added nothing. The Cincinnati Reds find themselves in a neck-in-neck race with the Cardinals, but just couldn’t get that extra horse they need. Roy Oswalt cost too much, Dan Haren pulled out the no-trade clause, and they came up empty looking for bullpen help. In the end, they are pinning their hopes on a couple of senior citizens they have stashed in Triple-A Louisville, Russ Springer and Jason Isringhausen (yeah, I can’t believe they are still alive either!)  But at least the Cardinals’ swim in the shark tank came out as a net zero. Sure, Jake Westbrook helps the rotation, but giving up Ryan Ludwick when the Cards were already offensively challenged… this team better plan on winning a lot of 2-1 games. The Mets literally did nothing, Jarrod Saltalamacchia likely can’t replace the injured Kevin Youkilis (except as a Scrabble word) for the Red Sox, much like Jhonny Peralta won’t come close to replacing Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen for the increasingly toothless Tigers.

The Idiot Who Gets Bitten Because He’s an Idiot:

Again, this is something that no Shark Week would be complete without. You’ve all seen this guy, usually a fisherman who while trying to retrieve a 40-cent hook somehow forgets that even small sharks have mouths full of razor-sharp teeth that make an exceptionally efficient finger-removal tool.  Welcome to the world of the Houston Astros, a team that actually gave the Yankees, a.k.a. the richest team in baseball $4 million to put Lance Berkman in pinstripes.

But worry not sports and shark fans; while Shark Week is just a week, there still the waiver wire deals for which August is notorious. In fact, I hear Adam Dunn may still be available…

The Dubsism Baseball Power Rankings: You Gotta Know When To Hold ‘em, and Know When To Fold ‘em

Because this blog was way overdue for a Kenny Rogers reference.

Doesn’t it just seem right that since we are roughly a third of the way through the baseball season, we would release our third set of team-by team rankings? With each team having approximately 57 games under their belts, there should by now be a fairly clear picture of who the contenders and the pretenders are. Granted, guessing in the first week in June who will still be standing at the end of September is a bit like playing a hand of 7-card stud with only two cards on the table, but you should at least have a solid idea who has an “ace in the hole” and who is holding a big bag of bluff.

The Rockies clearly have an ace showing in Ubaldo Jimenez. With all the perfect game hullabaloo flying about, Jimenez’ 11-1 record and microscopic ERA haven’t been getting the attention they deserve. The problem: that ace has no kicker; the next best pitcher on the Rockies’ staff is arguably either the injured Jorge De La Rosa or the nearly anonymous Jhoulys Chacin.

It’s probably that lack of “Aces Up” that led us to be so wrong on the Padres and Blue Jays. Don’t look now, but the Padres have quietly strung together more wins than another team in the last calendar year. Meanwhile, the Blue Jays are in the thick of the race in the AL East, having just taken two of three from the Yankees and have a big series in Tampa this week.

The Giants are loaded with aces like Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain, but unlike poker, baseball is a game in which you need a few clubs in order to win, and the bat rack in San Francisco just doesn’t have any thump in it. On the other hand, the Cincinnati Reds are getting plenty of thump out of the likes of Jonny Gomes, Joey Votto and the suddenly resurgent Scott Rolen.  They also are working on their own collection of solid young pitchers, such as Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Aroldis Chapman (the phenom still fine-tuning at AAA Louisville), and if Edinson Volquez can regain his 200+ strikeout from following elbow surgery, this team may hold more than one surprise down the stretch.

The definitive "Hold 'em/Fold 'em" flowchart.

But, there are still a lot of cards to come. Peruse the full rankings and draw your own conclusions. The numbers behind each team indicate change from the previous ranking. Teams with the biggest changes from the last ranking are in are in bold. The teams with the biggest difference between their preseason ranking and their current position are in italics.

  1. Tampa Bay Rays 3  (Pre-season Rank – #4)
  2. New York Yankees 1 (Pre-season Rank – #2)
  3. Minnesota Twins ↔ (Pre-season Rank – #10)
  4. Atlanta Braves 6 (Pre-season Rank – #8)
  5. Philadelphia Phillies 3 (Pre-season Rank – #1)
  6. San Diego Padres 10 (Pre-season Rank – #25)
  7. Toronto Blue Jays 12 (Pre-season Rank – #28)
  8. St. Louis Cardinals 3 (Pre-season Rank – #6)
  9. Cincinnati Reds 14 (Pre-season Rank – #18)
  10. Los Angeles Angels 3 (Pre-season Rank – #15)
  11. Los Angeles Dodgers 3 (Pre-season Rank – #13)
  12. Detroit Tigers 1 (Pre-season Rank – #14)
  13. Boston Red Sox 6 (Pre-season Rank – #3)
  14. San Francisco Giants 8 (Pre-season Rank – #17)
  15. Florida Marlins 8 (Pre-season Rank – #12)
  16. Oakland A’s 8 (Pre-season Rank – #21)
  17. Texas Rangers 4 (Pre-season Rank – #11)
  18. Colorado Rockies 9 (Pre-season Rank – #5)
  19. New York Mets* 9 (Pre-season Rank – #23)
  20. Washington Nationals 3 (Pre-season Rank – #24)
  21. Chicago White Sox 6 (Pre-season Rank – #9)
  22. Chicago Cubs 2 (Pre-season Rank – #22)
  23. Milwaukee Brewers 2 (Pre-season Rank – #20)
  24. Kansas City Royals  2 (Pre-season Rank – #29)
  25. Seattle Mariners 13 (Pre-season Rank – #7)
  26. Houston Astros 3 (Pre-season Rank – #26)
  27. Arizona Diamondbacks 5 (Pre-season Rank – #16)
  28. Pittsburgh Pirates 3 (Pre-season Rank – #27)
  29. Cleveland Indians 2  (Pre-season Rank – #30)
  30. Baltimore Orioles (Pre-season Rank – #19)

* Before you ask why the Mets and their 33 wins are ranked so low, it’s because they are the definition of “Blue smoke and mirrors.”  The Oliver Perez debacle is just a harbinger of things to come in Queens.

The 2010 Dubsism Major League Baseball Pre-Season Rankings

Rankings By Division:

American League:

AL East:

1) New York Yankees

Upside: The Bombers easily could have turned on the money-hose and flooded out free-agents like Jason Bay or Matt Holliday, or they could have wasted some serious dough by resigning an over-valued Johnny Damon. But, instead of having their usual explosive cash-gasm, they realized their in-house options are just fine. They finally seem to understand that you don’t necessarily need a 30-homer guy in the ninth spot in the batting order.  Rather, the Pinstripes traded away a bunch of Grade B prospects for the more budget-friendly likes of Curtis Granderson and Javier Vazquez. After all, what do you really need to do when you are the defending World Series champs yet another goddamn time…

Downside: Yankee Stadium is getting suspiciously close to looking like an assisted-living facility. The Yankees roster contains so many “seasoned veterans” that it’s a good bet there will be more than one pair of support hose under those pinstripes. Oh and somebody really needs to find a way to keep A.J. Burnett from having the “Hindenburg” inning that tends to flame out his starts.

2) Boston Red Sox

Upside: The Red Sox will field a very complete and deep squad, one that will be better than everybody except the one team they desperately want to beat. The Sawwwx offer three starters who would be aces on more rotations than not, their defense doesn’t have it’s usual Bahhh-ston Hahhh-bahhh sized hole in it, and despite what Sawwwx fans want to believe, the offense should be just fine. Of course, math doesn’t rank high in the skill sets of most Sawwwx fans, which explains why last year’s allegedly non-steroid-enhanced lineup accounted for a mere 10 homers less than allegedly juiced 2004 edition.

Downside: The astonishing lack of obvious holes on which their inevitable August slide can be attributed. Sure, the line-up still contains the light-bending sucking black hole known as the un-Ramirez-protected David Ortiz and nearly every pitching staff gets as shaky as Haitian construction techniques at the fifth spot in the rotation, which means we just have to wait to see what will bring this year’s “Bucky Dent” moment.

3) Tampa Bay Rays

Upside: They are the anti-Yankees, meaning they have a shitload of young talent and they have a payroll more suggestive migrant farm workers than the caviar-encrusted platinum jock straps of the Bronx Bombers. Whether or not the Rays sucker-punch their way past the Yanks or the Sawwwx for the promised land of October baseball, this team will give fits of apoplexy to veteran-fueled opponents with their raw athleticism. The odds of this increase significantly if the Rays next wave of prospects (particularly Desmond Jennings and Jeremy Hellickson) pan out as some “experts” expect.

Downside: If this team hits the trade deadline looking like it is out of reach to throw that October sucker-punch, the Rays could be parted out like a Chinese prisoner “volunteered” for organ donation. Case in point: the pending free agency of Carl Crawford who is already rumored to be on Yankee manager Joe Girardi’s line-up card for Opening Day 2011.

4) Baltimore Orioles

Upside: The O’s are another AL East squad resplendent with young talent, especially catcher Matt Wieters, who could prove to be a discount-store version of Joe Mauer at the plate (maybe not average wise, but Wieters does have 25 -homer potential). Plus, the trio of Adam Jones, Nolan Reimold and Nick Markakis may very well be the best young outfield in the league.

Downside: The youth of the pitching staff, which is stocked with a talented stable of potential, most notably Brian Matusz,  Chris Tillman, and Brad Bergesen. But with that youth comes inexperience and the ever-present threat they don’t develop.

5) Toronto Blue Jays

Upside: A well-spring of young arms; hill-wise all the Blue Jays need is for two of the cruise-ship full of pitchers they brought to camp to show the potential to toss 200 innings. Behind those young hurlers, the Blue Jays will field a defensively solid squad, with the glaring exception of third baseman Edwin “Hands of Stone” Encarnacion. This should allow those young moundsmen to put the pill over the plate with a reasonable expectation their ERA’s won’t rocket toward the stratosphere.

Downside: This team is at least a few years away from contention, and even then they likely will need the Red Sox to get back to their historic “shooting themselves in both feet” tendencies and for the Yankees to set the Wayback Machine to 1984.

AL Central:

1-Tie) Chicago White Sox

Upside: The quartet of Mark Buerhle, Jake “No, Really, I’m Pretty Sure I’m OK…this time” Peavy, John Danks, and Gavin Floyd forms the backbone of the best starting rotation in the division. The South Siders should be able to stay in front of the Twins if there is they can squeeze the last bit of toothpaste out of the tubes that are the careers of Paul Konerko, Andruw Jones, and A.J. Pierzynski. Forgive me now for saying I will believe that when I see it.

Downside: The amazing number of shitty hitters the Whiteys will field. Granted, Juan Pierre and Alex Rios should allow the White Sox to play in their usual Ozzie Guillen-influenced style; in other words, swinging wildly and generally running  amok, then wringing  just enough out of an aging bat or two. As a recipe, it is clearly riskier than a good, old-fashioned game of Russian Roulette, but don’t forget the White Sox managed somehow not to blow their brains out in 2005.

1-Tie) Minnesota Twins

Upside: Carl “Scrooge McDuck” Pohlad is dead, and along with the anticipated revenue from the new ball park, the Twins have managed to jam a crowbar into their change purse. With the expected signing of Joe Mauer to a hefty-yet-deserved contract extension and the signing bonus that likely will accompany it, the Twins just might finally hurdle the $100 million salary threshold. The Pohlad family still owns the team, but at least the new billionaire-in-charge seems willing to spend when needed.

Downside: The pitching staff, which was suspect before the loss of Joe Nathan, is now officially mediocre. Scott Baker may need to hire a stand-in if he is to convince anybody he is an ace and Carl Pavano is, well, Carl Pavano. Not to mention the Twins are drawing to an inside straight on whether Francisco Liriano can be effective after the “Tommy John” surgery and the loss of confidence he put on display last season.

3) Detroit Tigers

Upside: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello might be the most interesting trio from Michigan since Grand Funk Railroad.

Downside: The front office, which embarked on a cost-cutting exercise until they were reminded that they have a slough of veterans being hampered in their duties by their walkers. Their solution to this? Signing the 68-year old Johnny Damon. This means if you want to see elderly DH’s with more chins than a Shanghai phone book (Is Greg Luzinski still in the league?) chug home from second on one-hop singles, just wait for Damon in left field.

4) Kansas City Royals

Upside: Fuck everything else, to find something in print that says the Royals don’t finish last in this division may require an archealogical expedition. If for no other reason, the elevation from the cellar is due largely to the fact that no matter what else happens, Zach Grienke and Joakin Soria will pitch the Royals past the unbelievably fetid Indians.

Downside: The shockingly large number of at-bats that will be  twirled unproductively into the Twilight Zone at the hands of Scott Podsednik, Jason Kendall, Jose Guillen, Brayan Pena and Yuniesky Betancourt.

5) Cleveland Indians

Upside: As soon as we here at Dubsism find one, we’ll let you know. Wait, we’ve got one: Shin-Soo Choo hasn’t been inducted into the South Korean army…yet.

Downside: This is likely the first of many seasons to come with the Indians making reservations for the bottom of the standings.

AL West:

1) Seattle Mariners

Upside: How can you not love a one-two punch of Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee in front of a team that shits horseshoes? Seriously, this team personifies luck, as was demonstrated by the 2009 campaign that saw the M’s win 85 games even though they were outscored by 52 runs. Luck isn’t a strategy, but luckily it probably won’t take much to win this division.

Downside: The festival of mediocrity the starting rotation becomes after the aforementioned one-two punch. Plus, the wheel of karma spun by the baseball gods will not look favorably on lead-pipe cinch Hall-of-Famer, greatest player ever in the history of the franchise, and deliciously banned-substance-free Ken Griffey, Jr. being exiled from the lineup for the final time by ‘roid-rage expert and colossal asshole Milton Bradley.

2) Texas Rangers

Upside: Don’t look now, but for the first time in EVER, the Rangers have pitching depth…I’ll wait for a minute so you can let that sink in. Seriously, they’ve got eight legitimate contenders for the five rotation spots, which means they have eight more than than they’ve ever had before. It goes without saying this assumes Rich Harden doesn’t rack up seven bazillion more frequent-flyer miles on MRI Airlines.

Downside: And now for your Bizzaro world moment of the day: the Rangers can pitch and play defense, but they can’t hit! Again, I’ll wait for a minute so you can let that sink in. With suspects like Chris Davis, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Taylor Teagarden, and/or Elvis Andrus likely populating the bottom of the order, you can expect the Rangers’ team on-base percentage to hurtle over the cliff faster than Thelma and Louise. The wild-card in all of this: Josh Hamilton and his ever-present overcoming of his “obstacle du jour.” This time it is rumored to be hangnails and a persistent fear of sock puppets.

3) Los Angeles Angels

Upside: Even though he Dodger Blue during his playing days, and even though he looks more and more like Rush Limbaugh every day, you have to love Mike Scioscia. He is one of a rare breed of managers who understand tactics, strategy and how to develop and handle people.

Downside: Will the last one left in Anaheim please turn out the lights? The Halos wont miss Vladimir Guerrero, but the departures of John Lackey and Chone Figgins significantly downgrades the rotation and the lineup. This is really a concern for the pitching staff, which needs to prove itself more durable, especially Scott “Opening Soon at a Disabled List Near You” Kazmir.

Oakland A’s

Upside: The performance of A’s bullpen has historically fluctuated more than Oprah’s weight, but now they boast a rare mix of quantity and quality. Andrew Bailey, Brad Ziegler, Michael Wuertz, Joey Devine, Jerry Blevins, Craig Breslow and Brad Kilby together compose a solid group of young relievers who collectively will earn about $482 in 2010.

Downside: The $10 million pipe-dream known as Ben Sheets, and the crumbled Greek column once known as Eric Chavez’ spine. If Sheets actually manages to stay out of intensive care come the trade deadline, the A’s will likely deal him for yet another cavalcade of prospects.  More likely is that Sheets’ arm falls completely off and Oakland gets to watch $10 million swirl down the shitter. Plus, the A’s may be holding open tryouts in May to find anybody who can actually hit the damn ball.

National League:

NL East:

1) Philadelphia Phillies

Upside: Flash to the scene in “Bull Durham” is teaching Nuke Laloosh about the importance of clichés. The Phillies have no need of this lesson; they are a veritable textbook. They’re “gamers.” They “play ‘em one game at a time.” They’ve “been there before.” They “know how to finish.” Of course, the only way to get such a string of positive verbal fossils is to be the best team in baseball. Yes, you read that right, especially you Yankee fans whose blood-pressure just took a geyser-like upshot. In fact I will say it again: As of right now, the Philadelphia Phillies are the best team in baseball; fuck you, New York. Man, that felt good.

Downside: I’ll never understand what the rationale was behind the Cliff Lee/Roy Halladay swap meet. The Phillies revenue has sky-rocketed in the past five years, given their success and the resultant boost in attendance, TV ratings, jersey sales and everything else associated with the Phillies. Hell, even the Jamie Moyer Geritol is flying off the shelves. The point is the Phils easily have the dough to have kept both aces, then restocked the farm with the compensatory picks when Lee signed elsewhere this year. Speaking of pitchers, which version of Brad “Sybil” Lidge shows up this year? Is it the lights-out, shutdown closer or do we get another episode of “Meltdown Man?”

2) Atlanta Braves

Upside: While the Bravos may be lacking after dealing away its pitching depth for a prospect and a case of urinal cakes, they also don’t really show an Achilles heel. Not to mention, this is finally the last year of the Bobby Cox regime, and Jason Heyward might be the first guy to hit a home run that crosses and entire time zone.

Downside: All the bullshit we will have to live through on what will prove to be the Bobby Cox’s farewell tour. For one, I can’t wait for next year when Cox is getting kicked out of bingo games at the senior center. Here’s a little known fact: Did you know that “Jair Jurrjens” is actually an old Dutch term meaning “he who is destined to spend as much time in an MRI machine as Rich Harden?” That can’t be good.

3) Florida Marlins

Upside: The Players’ Union and how they forced world-class skinflint Jeffrey Loria to actually pony up some cash for a long-term deal for ace Josh Johnson and  getting second baseman Dan Uggla to return. Stop and think about what kind of an asshole you would have to be to make the gravy-sucking pigs from the Players’ Union look like a bastion of righteousness and moral certainty; Loria is every bit that cretin.

Downside: The aforementioned pinch-those-pennies-so-hard-Abe-Lincoln-bleeds-internally mentality of Loria. Follow that up with all the bullshit going on over the new-stadium,  the 40 inches of rain that comes from the heavens in ten minutes like God’s doped-up racehorse pissing on your head every afternoon at 4 p.m. sharp, and the scatter-shot approach to the bullpen, and it isn’t hard to see this franchise is literally 50 bucks away from being the Pirates.

4) New York Mets

Upside: Manager Jerry Manuel’s sense of humor will come in handy sometime right around Memorial Day when he will be joking about “having time to play some golf” the day before the press conference announcing his firing.

Downside: The Mets’ are like the rich family on a daytime soap opera. Their front office is furnished with, amongst other amenities, hot and cold running cash. But, if you are the Mets, with wealth comes a Dr. Phil level of dysfunction. In this past off-season, the Mets couldn’t seem to figure out if they actually had an operating budget; nobody in the organization seemed to know if anybody actually knew about the star center fielder’s knees (which are dissolving like an Alka-Seltzer as we speak) and nobody can say if the team futzed with Citi Field’s dimensions in response to the whining that the park suppresses offense. Want to know a secret, Mets fans? It ain’t the ball park…

5) Washington Nationals

Upside: How can you not have a man-crush on a heart of the order featuring Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Dunn, Josh Willingham, and Elijah Dukes? So what if the Nats’ occasionally misspell their own uniforms (the photo below is not the only example of the Gnats Nats need of “spell check. “? Don’t look know, but the Mets can easily see this team in their rear-view mirror, and if they aren’t careful, they may just start seeing the Nats’ tail-lights.

Downside: Is there something in the water in the greater Baltimore-Washington metroplex that makes sports franchise owners unconscionable assholes? An area that features Redskins’ owner and probable live-puppy eater Daniel Snyder and the Orioles’ Peter Angelos, who as a child must have wanted to be Snidely Whiplash form a vortex of ownership evil that threatens to suck in the Nats’ Theodore Lerner.

NL Central:

1) St. Louis Cardinals

Upside: Every other team in this division sucks. If the Redbirds can stay healthy, they should be on cruise control by mid-August. The cash-flooded Cubs and Astros have spent stupidly, and the Reds and Pirates can’t find anybody that still takes S&H Green Stamps, and the Brewers only have three players.

Downside: The supporting cast beneath their dwindling number of star players is dangerously thin. However, a lot of this can be cured if Colby Rasmus finally emerges.

2) Cincinnati Reds

Upside: Pure balls. What are the odds that a prospect who happens to be a left-handed pitcher toting a 100-mph fastball ends up in Cincinnati? Of course, this assumes Dusty Baker method of handling pitchers doesn’t have Aroldis Chapman’s elbow in pieces by August.

Downside: In five years, most of their roster won’t be in baseball. The cast of Scott Rolen, Orlando Cabrera, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, Francisco Cordero are all in the sunset years of thier careers. Oh, and Dusty Baker is an idiot.

3) Milwaukee Brewers

Upside: They have Ryan Braun,  Prince Fielder, and Yovani Gallardo.

Downside: Ryan and Fielder can’t take all the at-bats, and Gallardo can’t pitch every inning.

4) Chicago Cubs

Upside: The inevitable Lou Pinella meltdown. It generally happens when Lou has heard enough questions about (insert reason du jour why the Cubs suck here). This usually happens around August 1st, and treats us all to a profanity-filled tirade as only Lou can do.

Downside: All the money the Cubs have tied up in flame-outs like Alfonso Soriano and pitcher-turned-planet Carlos Zambrano.

5) Houston Astros

Upside: They have a deeper roster than the Brewers.

Downside: That isn’t saying much. The Astros field three great players and the three other solid ones. The other 19 could barely impact a Triple-A Roster. Owner Drayton McLane gives all the signs of a billionaire preparing to back away from this investment by selling the team.

6) Pittsburgh Pirates

Upside: Steve Pearce certainly shows all the signs of being the real deal.

Downside: Even when they trade Pearce, they’ll get another bag of magic beans (I’m looking at you, Lastings Milledge). What does it says about you when you get screwed in a trade with the Natinals Nationals?  It says you are the kind of organization that can have neartly twenty years of top ten draft picks and nothing to show for it.

NL West:

1) Colorado Rockies

Upside: The Rockies are the only team in the West with decent depth.  With the everyday players including Seth Smith, Ryan Spilborghs, and Melvin Mora and a bullpen including Matt Daley, and Esmil Rogers.

Downside: The alarmingly high number of at-bats that will be sacrificed in the belief that Clint Barmes is anything more than a utility player.

2) Los Angeles Dodgers

Upside: Despite the facts that every left-handed pitcher in the world is issued a Certificate of Ownerhship at birth for Andre Ethier, and Manny Ramirez plays left field like he is in a bar-league softball tournament, the trio of Ethier, Ramirez and Matt Kemp are the best outfield in baseball.

Downside: The shaky, flaky nature of the pitching staff. Letting Randy Wolf leave means the Dodgers are dependent on the inconsistent Clayton Kershaw and a Chad Billingsley who spent the end of last season crying in the fetal position.

3) Arizona Diamondbacks

Upside: Justin Upton, who just makes you want to believe.

Downside: Trading Max Scherzer for another shot at Edwin Jackson, who is due for another good month any day now…after all, in his seven years in the league, he’s already had two of them.  Their next best pitcher is the post-aneurysm surgery slop artist Ian Kennedy has become.

4) San Francisco Giants

Upside: The starting rotation: Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, the catastrophe formerly known as Barry Zito, and Jonathan Sanchez. Is there a better foursome out there?

Downside: The Giants hit like a T-ball team. This team was batting Bengie Molina (20 HR, 80 RBI .265 avg.) in the four-spot last year in an attempt to protect Pablo Sandoval, the only respectable bat they have. To improve on that, the Giants are turning to the suspiciously-close-to-finished Aubrey Huff (15 HR, 85 RBI, and .241 avg).

5) San Diego Padres

Upside: GM Kevin Towers always seems to find players whose skills play well in that airport spacious park they have.

Downside: Towers is lucky he has this ability, otherwise the trade deadline would be no fun for him. Look for Adrian Gonzalez, Heath Bell, and Jon Garland to all be on a plane by July 31st.

Overall Team-by-Team Ranking

  1. Philadelphia Phillies
  2. New York Yankees
  3. Boston Red Sox
  4. Tampa Bay Rays
  5. Colorado Rockies
  6. St. Louis Cardinals
  7. Seattle Mariners
  8. Atlanta Braves
  9. Chicago White Sox
  10. Minnesota Twins
  11. Texas Rangers
  12. Florida Marlins
  13. Los Angeles Dodgers
  14. Detroit Tigers
  15. Los Angeles Angels
  16. Arizona Diamondbacks
  17. San Francisco Giants
  18. Cincinnati Reds
  19. Baltimore Orioles
  20. Milwaukee Brewers
  21. Oakland A’s
  22. Chicago Cubs
  23. New York Mets
  24. Washington Nationals
  25. San Diego Padres
  26. Houston Astros
  27. Pittsburgh Pirates
  28. Toronto Blue Jays
  29. Kansas City Royals
  30. Cleveland Indians
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