Tag Archives: Washington Nationals

The Fifth Annual Dubsy Awards

heisman guy

Every January since this blog was created, we here at Dubsism have given an award for achievements during the previous year in some under-recognized categories in the world of sports. In prior years, the nominations for the awards were done exclusively by an internal committee, but we’ve had so much success allowing nominations from the general public that we had no choice but to continue that. .

Between our committee and our valued readers, we had more quality nominations than we could ever possibly use.  Thank you so much for that. When we received an outstanding nomination that proved to be a winner, we made sure to recognize those who submitted it. However, we did also receive nominations on multiple ballots that proved to be winners. If you see a winner that you nominated, and you weren’t credited, just know that you weren’t the only one who had the same idea.

With that, and after careful consideration, here are the winners of the Fifth Amnnual Dubsy awards.

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Presidents the Washington Nationals Could Have Chosen Rather Than Taft

washington nationals taft

This season, the Washington Nationals are adding a new contestant to their President’s Race. While we all know this move is just adding to the field so that Teddy Roosevelt remains the president who almost never wins, we can’t figure out why they picked William Howard Taft. Taft was the only president who also served as a Supreme Court Justice, but he also was the fattest Chief Executive ever. Well over 300 pounds, Taft once got wedged in the White House bathtub. A man of such girth doesn’t seem to be a likely candidate  to out run anybody.

That means there were plenty of other choices; let’s review a few who didn’t make the cut, but probably should have.

1) John F. Kennedy: Nobody can outrun a 1963 Lincoln convertible, but this would cause some other problems when the Texas Rangers come to town.

2) Franklin D. Roosevelt: Forget the fact he was crippled by polio. His desire to consistently beat his cousin Teddy combined with a Hoveround would make him unbeatable. Not to mention, there could be all kind of ad revenue possibilities on those “Senior Segways.”

3) George W. Bush: C’mon…the “won the race based on a recount in Florida” gags write themselves.

4) Andrew Jackson: The odds-on choice of the Washington Redskins, because the sight of Jackson winning the race while killing an entire Indian nation by bludgeoning them with a musket butt would make everybody forget about any “insensitive” nicknames.

5) Richard Nixon: You know “Tricky Dick” would be the king of “race fixing.” Picture him having his guys break into Teddy’s office late some night for purposes of rigging a race he should win anyway.

6) Ronald Reagan: I want Ronnie in this race for no other reason than to watch the liberal shitbags who now run this country all die from rage-induced strokes.

7) Barack Obama: The inverse of Reagan…this is where we get Rush Limbaugh to trot his “McNabb” line about how “there is a social agenda in this country that wants a black president to succeed.” Not to mention, you know the black guy is out-running any of these old, white dudes.

8) Jimmy Carter: Not sure how well he would run, but getting the costume would be easy; all you need is an old “Mr. Peanut” outifit with some minor modifications.

The Dubsism Baseball Power Rankings: The Homestretch Edition – The Contenders vs. The Pretenders

In my last baseball rankings,  I said the All-Star break to me has always represented the “far turn” in the horse race that is the Major League Baseball season. This means Labor Day marks the beginning of the home stretch; everybody has less than thirty games to play; everybody’s made their non-waiver and waiver trade deadlines, and everybody is bringing up the September “cups of coffee.”

But this is also the time of year where we discover who the “contenders” are; that select group at the front of the pack who may still be playing baseball a month from now. It’s that time we can start looking at how those teams will fare in that wonderful month of October. Not to mention, this another great opportunity to see how wrong we really were.

The Contenders:

1) Washington Nationals ↔

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The Nationals have one of the best young rotations in baseball.  Strasburg appears ready to return to his pre- Tommy John surgery condition, and the acquisitions of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson were huge.  If Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and Chien-Ming Wang can stay away from the injury problems that have bugged them, the Nationals should be able to stay in most games based on their pitching alone.  But the Nats should be stronger in the middle of the order since Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Michael Morse, and Danny Espinosa all could be 25 HR, 90 RBI guys.

Downside: The Nats have three question marks. The first is at first base; Adam LaRoche played only 43 games last year before season-ending surgery and hit just .172. Can he return to the form of his previous years? However, Michael Morse blossomed at first base once LaRoche went down.  Secondly, the Nats have an issue in the lead-off spot. Ian  Desmond is going to start the season there, but he’ll have to learn to be more patient.  He’s drawn only 63 walks in 308 games during 2010 and 2011. Lastly there’s the matter of timing. This needs to be the year the Nats take a step toward the future because this is the last year before the expectations are going to go up. They can still be mediocre this year, but if they finish third or worse in 2013, they may just become a red version of the Cubs.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Best starters in league

Team pitching stats are crazy

Bats awakening

The Bottom Line:

You see that line about “a red version of the Cubs.” Yeah, you can forget about that. The Nationals are the best and most complete team in baseball. They are the photo-negative of the Cubs.  The Nationals and the Cubs represent the polar opposites of the baseball world.

The Nationals have a solid core of young emerging stars. The Nationals starting rotation is one of the best in the game, and the bullpen is even more complete.

The lineup lacks a .300 hitter, and may only feature one guy who will drive in 100 runs, but when you look at how the Nats hit with runners in scoring position, the difference becomes clear. If you were to take the performance of this team in RISP situations and balance it statistically to all potential scoring situations, the average National batter would be (in 500 at-bats) a guy who hit 21 home runs, drove in 132, scored 127 runs, and stole 22 bases. That, despite the pitching staff, is the reason why this team is 30 games above .500. They simply don’t waste opportunities.

Taking all of that into consideration, and adding this team has a future regardless of what happens today. This is why I so completely do not understand all the hand-wringing over Stephen Strasburg and the fact the Nationals intend to “shut him down.”

First of all, this is about making sure the guy can pitch in the future.  Don’t forget the guy is coming off “Tommy John” surgery, and I would bet there are plenty of doctors in this equation who know a hell of a lot more about Strasburg’s elbow that the dipshits at ESPN know.  Don’t forget this plan to limit Strasburg’s innings pitched was in place coming out of spring training.  Nobody cared then, because nobody saw this team being the best in baseball six months down the road.  Now, all of a sudden, the blow-dries at ESPN think this is a problem.

Secondly, the National team you see on the field today was actually built for 2013 or 2014, and just so happens to be achieving ahead of schedule.  In April, nobody saw the collapse of the Phillies, the injury-depletion of the Braves, and the train-wreck called the Marlins. Nobody saw the changing of the guard in the National League East happening in 2012, but it did.  Frankly, I think the Nationals should be commended for not changing their long-term plan based on what microcephalics like Buster Olney think. After all, this team has been built on a philosophy of not mortgaging tomorrow to pay for today. Why change that now?

If that isn’t enough for you, consider the following two facts. One, Strasburg isn’t even the Nationals best pitcher. Don’t look now, but Gio Gonzalez has more wins, more innings pitched, and nearly identical ERA and WHIP.  Second, history has shown us that to win in playoff baseball, you need two strong starters and a dominant bullpen. Look at the Nationals’ pitching staff top-to-bottom and tell me they don’t have that with or without Strasburg.

2) Texas Rangers ↔

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  The only team in the A.L. West they have to worry about is the Angels. The Rangers have a line-up tailor-made to their hitter-friendly park, so there is no reason they can’t lead the league in team batting average again. Not to mention, they placed top five in runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

Downside: The Rangers are gambling in the wake of losing C.J. Wilson to division-rival Los Angeles with their $103 million investment in Yu Darvish and moving  Neftali Feliz to the starting rotation for the first time in his major league career. Then there’s the Josh Hamilton situation…we all know about the off-the-field issues, but don’t forget the former AL MVP has been hampered by injuries lately as well.  Now contract talks are stalled, and who knows what impact that will have.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Texas bats don’t fail

Texas pitching often fails

This year is just same

The Bottom Line:

Three facts define the Rangers’ success this season:

1) The emergence of David Murphy. On Monday, Murphy finally got enough at-bats to qualify in the American League batting race.  Murphy is now hitting .324 in 416 plate appearances.  He is now third behind Mike Trout (.332) and Miguel Cabrera (.331).

2) Adrian Beltre is a serious MVP candidate, and he’s getting hot at the right time.  Since Aug. 16, Beltre is hitting .423 with nine homers and 20 RBI, and he has an  1.398 OPS in that time.

3) Yu Darvish became the fourth Japanese pitcher to have a 14-win season in the Major Leagues. The others are Hideo Nomo (four times), Daisuke Matsuzaka (twice) and Kazuhisa Ishii (once).  For another milestone, Darvish only need 12 more strikeouts to become the third Japanese pitcher to reach 200 in a Major League season.

As far #3 is concerned, here’s the dirty little secret.  While Darvish has fanned 10 in back-to-back starts, he walks waaaaaaay too many batters.  This is why his ERA in the second half of the season is a stratospheric 5.71. The Rangers have never seemed to learn that you can out-bomb opponents to 90+ wins in the regular seson, but when you get into a play-off series with a team that can pitch, you can’t give away a lot of free base runners.

3 – Tie)  Cincinnati Reds  ↑ 10

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  General Manager Walt Jocketty managed to improve the starting rotation by adding former Padres ace Mat Latos, the bullpen by bringing in Ryan Madson and Sean Marshall, and added some needed depth by acquiring Wilson Valdez, Willie Harris, and Ryan Ludwick. With these additions to the existing weapons like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, and the fact the N.L. Central no longer has the likes of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, the Reds have the potential once again to seize the top spot in the division.

Downside: That pitching staff is managed by Dusty “The Ligament Shredder” Baker, the same Dusty Bake who think base-runners “just clog up the basepaths.”

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Great American

Ballpark holds team powered by

Mostly foriegners

The Bottom Line:

The Reds are summed nicely in this quote from Jay Bruce:

“If we continue to play baseball like we can play, it doesn’t matter what the Cardinals do. And I’m not saying that to be arrogant.  I’m just saying if we continue to play well like we have been, then they’re not going to be able to catch us.”

They are 7-3 in their last ten games, they are 40-29 on the road, and 37-24 against division opponents.

3 – Tie) Baltimore Orioles ↑ 6

What We Originally Said:

Upside: As bad as there were in 2011, their offense wasn’t all that bad and they’ve kept the core of it.  If Mark Reynolds can produce another 30-plus home run season, and Adam Jones and Nick Markakis continue their consistent hitting, the Orioles could end up being a mediocre team.

Downside:  The Orioles had the worst off-season of any Major League team.  If you don’t agree, here are their off-season acquisitions: pitchers Wei-Yin Chen, Tsuyoshi Wada, Jason Hammel, and Matt Lindstrom; and position players Wilson Betemit, Endy Chavez and Taylor Teagarden.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Baltimore baseball

Loves meaningless history

Two decades of proof

The Bottom Line:

To be honest, I have no idea how this team is contending: But they are, and I just have to accept that.

5)  San Francisco Giants ↑ 3

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The San Francisco Giants have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner form one of the best 1-2-3 combinations in the game.

Downside: The San Francisco Giants have one of the worst offenses in baseball. With the losses of Cody Ross and Carlos Beltran, this team may find itself relying on a 3-4-5 heart of the order consisting of Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, and Brandon Belt.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Pitching carries team

Even though Lincecum sucks

Melky keys offense

The Bottom Line:

When Melky Cabrera got suspended, the prevailing wisdom was the Giants’ offense would implode. Rather, the Giants hit a season-high on Monday being 19 games above .500, and offense is having no problems scoring despite the fact they are last in the National League in home runs.  Matt Cain said it best:

“All these guys are finding different ways to get on base, drawing out the at-bats or getting a hit or walk. They’re doing a good job getting timely hitting.”

6)  Los Angeles Angels ↓ 3

What We  Originally Said:

Upside: This team has ownership that isn’t afraid to make a move. Due to the free-agent signing of first baseman Albert Pujols and starting pitcher C.J. Wilson, the Angels committed $331.5 million, which left little room for the team to add anyone else significant during the offseason. New GM Jerry DiPoto did, however, get his hands on a decent bat bat behind the plate in Chris Iannetta, and reliable veteran relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins becomes the latest on the list of guys who have played for both of my two favorite teams (Angels and Twins).

Pujols adds to a lineup which featured six players with double-digit home runs, and six with over 59 RBI. Top prospects in catcher Hank Conger and outfielder Mike Trout will also be in the running for a full season with the club.

C.J. Wilson adds to a rotation which already featured 2011 A.L. All-Star Game starter Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana.

Downside: Which Vernon Wells do the Angels get in 2012?

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Weaver and Haren

Awesome one-two starting punch

Pujols is Pujols

The Bottom Line:

There is no understating the importance of the current stretch for the Angels.  Starting Monday, the Angels entered a 10-day span that sees the Angels playing two of the teams they have been trying to catch in the race for one of the American League’s two wild-card playoff spots.  Right now, they have taken two of a three-game series in Oakland, which will be followed by a seven-game homestand during which the Angels will host the Detroit Tigers for three and then face the A’s for a four-game rematch.

7) Detroit Tigers ↑ 8

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Last season, the Motor City Kitties finished in the top four in runs scored, batting average, on-base and slugging percentage. The numbers can only get better with the offseason acquisition of first baseman Prince Fielder, who just happens to be a career .282 hitter averaging over 32 home runs and 93 RBI per season over the last six years.

Downside: How does the move of Cabrera back to third base work out? What will be the impact of losing DH Victor Martinez? And I’m not sold on the rotation beyond Justin Verlander and Doug Fister.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Slugger’s paradox

Cabrera and Fielder

Yet team lacks power

The Bottom Line:

Rick Porcello needs to sue the Tigers offense for non-support.  Porcello hasn’t seen a Tiger touch the plate in 23 innings in which he’s pitched. The shutout run began with the sixth inning of Porcello’s start Aug. 12 at Texas, continued through the next 17 innings of three starts and through the first five innings Tuesday night at Comerica Park against Cleveland.

8 ) Oakland Athletics ↑ 13

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  America’s favorite breakfast cereal, Coco Crisp,  will still man the Oakland outfield after signing a $14 million, two-year contract with a club option for 2014 after hitting .264 with eight home runs, 54 RBI and 49 stolen bases last season. Then there the Cuban grab-bag known as Yoenis Cespedes. This kid could be the real deal.

Downside: The A’s are without many of their pitchers who brought success to the team in recent years. Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Josh Outman are out of the starting rotation, while Craig Breslow and Andrew Bailey are no longer in the bullpen. The one proven offensive power bat in the lineup has also departed; Josh Willingham hit 29 home runs and 98 RBI in 2011, but is now part of the Minnesota Twins.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

A’s have Cespedes

Ryan Cook and little else

At least no Manny

The Bottom Line:

The A’s continue to get production from a no-name roster. For example, pitcher Tommy Milone has tossed 13 consecutive starts in which he has walked no more than one batter, which so happens to be one start shy of the team record set by Gil Heredia in 1999.

9) New York Yankees ↓ 5

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The Yankees upgraded their pitching staff by adding Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda, and by subtracting A.J. Burnett.  Prospects Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos will soon find their way to the major league rotation as well. If the pitching staff gels and Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, and Mark Teixeira perform as expected, this team will prove formidable.

Downside:  Don’t look now, but this team isn’t getting any younger.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Pitching Staff Falling

Sabathia Pettitte hurt

Ivan Nova is best left

The Bottom Line:

The Yankees are old, hurt, can’t pitch and are fading fast.

10) Chicago White Sox ↓ 5

What We Originally Said:

Upside: General Manager Ken Williams also showed a desire to rebuild his club by getting rid of longtime White Sox starter Mark Buehrle and letting go of Juan Pierre, Carlos Quentin, Jason Frasor, Sergio Santos, and Omar Vizquel.

Downside: General Manager Ken Williams has no idea how to rebuild a club. He replaced staff ace Mark Buerhle by over-paying for the ever-fraudulent John Danks.  The rest of the starting rotation will depend on the fragile Jake Peavy and the unproven Chris Sale.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Smoke and mirrors

Houdini made this mirage

Contender won’t last

The Bottom Line:

The South Side fade is on, largely because the Mighty Whiteys can’t beat the Tigers. This is a big problem, since they have six games left with the Tigers this season, all coming over the next two weeks. After the most recent loss, the Sox are now 4-8 against the Tigers, including five straight.

11) Los Angeles Dodgers ↓ 4

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  Clayton Kershaw won the NL Cy Young last year and is a contender for the award again. He is signed with the Dodgers through 2013.  Matt Kemp was the runner-up for the NL MVP Award, and was a single dinger away from joining the 40HR/40 stolen base club.  The Dodgers have him locked up through 2019.

Downside: They still have yet to rid themselves of Frank McCourt.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Matt Kemp Clayton Kershaw

Ethier on the list too

Why Dodgers contend

The Bottom Line:

The Dodgers have undergone a nearly complete revamping, and yet they still can’t catch the Giants.

12) Tampa Bay Rays ↓ 2

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Their pitching staff will carry them in 2012.  David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, and Matt Moore form a six-man rotation that just might let the Rays continue their average 92 wins over the last four seasons. Only three teams in the majors had a higher average with one of the lowest four-year payroll totals in baseball at $222 million.

Downside: The Rays need a new fanbase and stadium.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Six-man rotation

Yet none of them really suck

Yet Rays kind of suck

The Bottom Line:

The Rays have gained 9 games on the Yankees and Orioles from (10.5 back to 1.5) since the All -Star break.  A big part of that gain is Jame Shields.  Shields has 13 wins, and has pitched into the seventh innings in 11 of his last 15 starts.  He only went that deep in four out of his first 13 starts.

13) Atlanta Braves  ↑ 1

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Last year, I said the Braves were a collection of “what-ifs” built around a solid core of just enough hitting and just enough pitching. Now, enough of those questions became facts so that barring injuries, the Braves can contend in the NL East.

Downside: The Braves finished 13 games back of the Phillies last season, and they way the season ended for them still has to sting. The question is did they improve enough to fix those issues?

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Chipper’s last hurrah

While team disintegrates like

Chipper’s ligaments

The Bottom Line:

The story in Atlanta is the arrival of pitcher Kris Medlen, who was named National League Pitcher of the Month for August.  Medlen pitched both of the complete games of his young career last month; one against the Rockies and another against the Padres.  Medlen had a stretch from from August 11-28 during which he had a 28 1/3 scoreless-innings streak , and his  ERA in his five August starts was a scant 0.50.

14 ) St. Louis Cardinals ↑ 4

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Despite losing Albert Pujols and manager Tony La Russa, the Cardinals still have enough weapons to be a factor in the N.L. Central. Starter Adam Wainwright comes back from Tommy John surgery, and he leads a rotation featuring Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, and Kyle Lohse. Also, could this be the breakout year for World Series MVP David Freese? His 21 RBI over 18 postseason games last October could signal the start of something big.

Downside: Let’s face it…losing Albert Pujols would hurt any line-up. This means Lance Berkman has to at least come close to the .301/31 HR/94 RBI campaign he put up in 2011, and Matt Holliday has to be a .300/25 HR/RBI guy as well.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Lance Lynn lifted staff

Lance Berkman’s big lefty bat

Replaced by Beltran

The Bottom Line:

The Lance Lynn miracle is over.  Since his banishment back to the bullpen after posting five positively pathetic starts, manager Mike Matheny at least expected he’d be adding another arm to a staff desparate for depth in front of closer Jason Motte.  But Lynn, who was an All-Star this season, has stunk in relief as well; in his most recent appearance he allowed four hits and two runs in one inning.

The Pretenders:

15) Pittsburgh Pirates ↓ 10

What We Said Originally:

Upside:  The Bucs are quietly cobbling together a respectable offense.  Outfielders Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, and All-Star Andrew McCutchen are likely to be the the 1-2-3  hitters; all of them hit over .275 last year, and all of them swiped over 20 sacks. Neil Walker looks like a #4 hitter after hitting 17 home runs and 62 RBI in only 460 at-bats.  Plus, the Pirates may have emerging power at the corner infield spots; Garrett Jones showed some pop with 17 homers last year, and Pedro Alvarez is due for his breakout year any time now.

Downside: Last year, the Pirates gave up the third-worst opponents batting average (.270) and received the fifth-fewest quality starts from their starting five.  A.J. Burnett is supposed to be the cure for that?

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Pirates no surprise

Tons of young talent living

In bad division

The Bottom Line:

The Pirates are dropping out of the race for one simple reason: they forgot how to win.  Pittsburgh’s record since August 9 is 8-18, in which time they have gone from 3 .5 games ahead in the National League Central to 11 games back now.

16) Arizona Diamondbacks ↑ 5

What We Originally Said:

Upside: In a division heavy in pitching, the D-backs chose bulk by getting potential question mark Trevor Cahill from Oakland and re-signing their own free agent, Joe Saunders, after non-tendering him at the December deadline for arbitration-eligibles. Kennedy, Hudson and Saunders logged career highs in innings last season, and it will be interesting to see if they can repeat that…see below…

Downside:  Even though the Arizona Diamondbacks finished first place in the NL West Division at 94-68, their starting rotation was filled with career-best seasons:

  • Ian Kennedy went 21-4 with a 2.88 earned run average and 198 strikeouts in 222 innings pitched.
  • Daniel Hudson went 16-12 with a 3.49 earned run average and 169 strikeouts in 222 innings pitched.
  • Joe Saunders went 12-13 with 3.69 earned run average and 108 strikeouts in 212 innings pitched.
  • Josh Collmenter went 10-10 with a 3.38 earned run average and 100 strikeouts in 154.1 innings pitched.

The D-backs line-up can be inconsistent as well – they struggled to hit over .250 as team despite everyday players Gerardo Parra, Justin Upton and Miguel Montero hitting .292, .289 and .282 respectively.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Arizona snakes

Swallowing their own venom

No playoff repeat

The Bottom Line:

The Diamondbacks’ youth movement has begun, at least among the starting pitchers. On their most recent turn through the rotations, the D-backs had the youngest rotation in the Major Leagues, beginning with left-hander Tyler Skaggs who turned 21 on  Monday.

17) Milwaukee Brewers ↑ 5

What We  Originally Said:

Upside:  Even though Miller Park is known for being tough on right-handed sluggers, the Brewers brought in third baseman Aramis Ramirez. He will need to have a Beltre-like season (.300/25 HR/90 RBIs) to help off-set the loss of Prince Fielder.

Downside: The big questions: Can Mat Gamel prove he is ready to be a major league first-baseman, including posting some power numbers at the plate? Can Wily Peralta develop into a credible big-league starter? Then there’s the elephant in the room…the Ryan Braun situation and what impact it may have…

The Mid-Season Haiku:

No Prince Fielder

Leaves Ryan Braun alone with

His tainted sample

The Bottom Line:

Even after the loss of Prince Fielder, this team can hit.  They have a streak of 73 games in which they have at least one extra base hit. Ryan Braun (96) and Aramis Ramirez (89) have combined to drive in 185 runs, the most of any teammates in the National League.

Now for the scary number…Carlos Gomez (16 home runs, 30 stolen bases) and the Angels ‘ Mike Trout (25/43) are the only players in the major leagues who have at least 15 homers and 30 stolen bases. Gomez had never hit more than eight homers in a season until this year.

18)  Seattle Mariners ↑ 10

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Felix Hernandez.

Downside: This is the last year of Ichiro Suzuki’s contract with the club. The 38-year-old has seen his batting average drop 80 points over the last two seasons, so you can only expect that this will be his final season with the club unless he’s back to being the old Ichiro. In addition to Ichiro’s decline, the Mariners finished dead last in runs scored, batting average, on-base and slugging percentage last year.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Felix Hernandez

Can only pitch, but team needs more

More of everything

The Bottom Line:

There’s no gold medal for a .500 finish in baseball, and in the red-hot American League West, a .500 record is still likely to leave a team in last place.  But considering where the Mariners have been, .500 would be an excellent finish to the season. For them, it would be like going to bed with Oprah and waking up with Halle Berry.  One game into the second half of the season back on July 13, the Mariners were 16 games under .500. They’ve trimmed that deficit by 75 percent, and if they can make up four games in the final four weeks, Seattle will have a huge reason to celebrate. They finally won’t suck anymore.

19) Philadelphia Phillies ↑ 4

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The starting rotation is as good as it gets with Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Vance Worley. New closer Jonathan Papelbon should help shore up the bullpen.

Downside:  If the Yankees and the Phillies make the World Series, they may want to get the games done before 4 p.m., so they can all hit the early-bird specials at Denny’s. This is another team that is aging before our eyes. Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins are 33, Chase Utley is 32, and Placido Polanco tops the list at 36. Not to mention, the Phillies have lost have lost four of their last five postseason series.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Team can’t be a winner

When it can’t even get right

Roy Halladay doll

The Bottom Line:

Tyler Cloyd, Phillipe Aumont, and the hope of getting healthy give the Phillies a reason to look forward to next season. They won’t the the Phillies of the last decade, but they won’t be as dreadful as the 2012 version.

20) New York Mets ↓ 9

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Whether its up or down, the theme once again for the Mets is hope. Hopefully, all the distractions that surrounded last season are gone with the departure of Jose Reyes. Hopefully, Ike Davis, and Johan Santana are healthy, will stay that way, and will perform up to expectations. Hopefully, there will be a resurgence of third baseman David Wright and Jason Bay now that the outfield wall has been moved in.

Downside:  Hopefully, all those things I just mentioned will happen.  Right after they all do happen, we can all join hands and visit the fairy princess together. Not only that, but this team goes nowhere as long as Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz own the team.  Let’s face it, meltdown, dumpster fire, train wreck…they all are synonymous with “Mets.”

The Mid-Season Haiku:

When R.A. Dickey

Is by far your best pitcher

Your life is mirage

The Bottom Line:

Note the above haiku-based snarkiness about knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey. Well, you can add catcher Kelly Shoppach to that list.  It seems “the Shopp” has whacked three homers since being acquired from the Red Sox a few weeks ago. Prior to that, all Mets catchers had hit only two this season.  That’s what the Mets are down to…non-important production from a career journeyman.

21)  San Diego Padres ↑ 5

What We Said Originally:

Upside: Again, you really can’t beat the weather in San Diego…and the Padres, despite the loss of Mat Latos, Aaron Harang, and Heath Bell still have a serviceable  (not great, serviceable) pitching staff currently slated to feature Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez, Tim Stauffer, Dustin Moseley, and Cory Luebke.  Heath Bell’s closer role has been replaced by Huston Street.

Downside:  The Padres offense last year was in the bottom three in runs scored (593), batting average (.237), on-base percentage (.305) and slugging percentage (.349). The only improvements to that came in the form of Carlos Quentin, Yonder Alonso, and current AARP member Mark Kotsay.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Diego baseball

Much in common with Bigfoot

Rumored to exist

The Bottom Line:

Signs of life in San Diego…Chase Headley has 16 homers and 50 RBI since the All-Star game.

22) Boston Red Sox ↓ 6

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  The Boston Red Sox are taking on an entirely new look in 2012.  For the first time in recent memory, Jonathan Papelbon, J.D. Drew, Tim Wakefield, and Jason Varitek will not be on the Opening Day roster for the Red Sox. And it’s about time, especially after what happened last September.  Despite this new look, New GM Ben Cherington will be faced with the challenge of keeping the Sox a contender.

Downside: I don’t give a damn what anybody says, I don’t buy this pitching staff.  Jon Lester has always been over-rated in my book. The loss of John Lackey is a case of “addition by subtraction.”  Clay Buchholz walks too many guys. Who knows what Daniel Bard and Vincente Padilla really are?

Then, there’s the whole issue of that idiot Bobby Valentine. I can’t wait for the Terry Francona “Miss Me Yet?” billboards to break out all over New England.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Worst .500 team

Valentine captains a ship

Which hit iceberg twice

The Bottom Line:

Last Friday night’s lopsided 20-2 loss to the Oakland A’s may have represented the bottoming out for the 2012 Red Sox. The 20 runs were the most scored against the team this season and the margin of defeat was the greatest since a loss in 2000.  It didn’t help that much of the damage — 13 of the 20 runs — were produced by former Red Sox players Brandon Moss (four RBI), Josh Reddick (four RBI), and George Kottaras (five RBI).

23) Cleveland Indians ↓ 9

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  Shin-Soo Choo seems to be healthy. Vinne Pestano and Nick Hagadone could be the foundations of a solid, young bullpen.  Carlos Santana is a potential All-Star.

Downside: Fausto Carmona (or whoever he really is) may never get ba They also have the best home record in all of baseball.ck into the country and Grady Sizemore is probably finished as an effective major league player. The heyday for this team was fifteen years ago, and unless you can find a way to add Roger Dorn, Pedro Cerrano, Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, and Jake Taylor to the roster, there will be more than one long summer in Cleveland’s near future.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Somehow not shitty

Can pitch but have no offense

Shin-Soo Choo Korean sneeze

The Bottom Line:

Signs of life in Cleveland:   The Indians’ have a record of 17-8 in one-run games, the second-best mark in the majors.

24) Toronto Blue Jays ↓ 5

What We  Originally Said:

Upside: Jose Bautista.  In 2010, he hit .260 with 35 doubles, 54 home runs and 124 RBI. In 2011, he hit .302 with 24 doubles, 43 home runs, and 103 RBI. He has to figure in the MVP race.

Downside: The Blue Jays could have a bright future, but the future isn’t today.  Ricky Romero has also been nothing short of excellent for the club. Last season, the 27-year-old went 15-11 with a 2.92 ERA and 178 strikeouts. It’s time to see if youngsters Brett Lawrie,  Anthony Gose, and catcher Travis D’Arnaud can live up to expectations.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Canada’s baseball pride

Needs pitchers who are not in

Intensive Care Unit

The Bottom Line:

When healthy, this team can be quite interesting. But that just doesn’t seem to happen

25) Miami Marlins ↓ 7

What We Originally Said:

Upside: I don’t think there could be a more interesting team to watch in 2012. Miami is one of three teams in the Dubsism Top Ten from the N.L. East Division and got there through having by far the most active off-season. Tey’ve got a new name, new uniforms, new logos, a new stadium, a new manager,  and of course, new players. The new Marlins Park will play host to the new-look squad under new manager and old loud mouth Ozzie Guillen, who will be leading new shortstop and reigning N.L. batting champ Jose Reyes, new closer Heath Bell, and new starting pitchers Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano. Added to existing Marlins Hanley Ramirezx and ace Josh Johnson, there’s no way this team won’t be entertaining at least.

Downside: This also just could be the loading of a gigantic powder-keg. Zambrano and Guillen in the same dug-out? The Marlins may want to keep the bomb squad handy at all times, not just for the volatility I just mentioned, but for the fact if this team doesn’t win right away, look for it to get blown up quick.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Guillen loves Castro

As he not as huge asshole

As Ken Williams

The Bottom Line:

Year One of the the Great Marlin Experiment was an abject failure. What will Year Two bring?

26) Kansas City Royals ↓ 2

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The club is loaded with young talent like Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar.  Alex Gordon turned a corner in 2011. Billy Butler, Jeff Francoeur, and Jason Kendall provide veteran leadership, and there are more top prospects on the way like Wil Myers and Bubba Starling. The Royals also added pitching with starter Jonathan Sanchez and closer Jonathan Broxton.

Downside: General Manager Dayton Moore is a bit of an unproven commodity, so there’s no guarantee that he isn’t going to mortgage the future if the fans expectations suddenly outstrip the team’s talent.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

The ghost of George Brett

Cries when sees yet another

Great player leave town

The Bottom Line:

For the 27th consecutive year, Royals fans wait for next year.

27) Minnesota Twins  ↓ 2

What We Originally Said:

Upside: It is possible they get production from the faces of the franchise, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Last year thanks to injuries, Mauer hit .287 with three home runs and 30 RBI, while Morneau hit a horrid .227 with four home runs and 30 RBI.

Downside: Only three players on the Twins saw more than 100 games of action last year. There’s Michael Cuddyer, who is now getting his mail in Colorado, outfielder Ben Revere, and third baseman Danny Valencia. These might be the only Twins who matter in 2012.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Willingham and Plouffe

Deserve shampoo ad more than

Overpaid slap hitter

The Bottom Line:

Jamey Carroll –  Your Winner of the Duane Kuiper Award, given to weak-hitting middle infielders.  Before hitting a solo shot on Monday, Carroll had gone 1,384 at-bats without leaving the yard, which was the longest active streak in all of baseball.

28)  Colorado Rockies ↓ 1

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Troy Tulowitzki hit .302 with 36 doubles, 30 home runs, and 105 RBI in 2011. Carlos Gonzalez hit .295 with 27 doubles, 26 home runs, and 92 RBI in only 127 games. Casey Blake, Marco Scutaro, Ramon Hernandez, and Michael Cuddyer will all be joining the Colorado this season, which can only provide more cushion in a lineup that already features some of baseball’s best hitters. The crisp air in Colorado with these players and Todd Helton at the forefront can only mean runs, runs, and more runs.

Downside: The starting rotation will consist of Jeremy Guthrie, Jhoulys Chacin, and then any three out of about six possibles, including the 49-year old Jamie Moyer.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Even Yoda knows

Tulowitzki and Car-Go

The whole of team is

The Bottom Line:

The Rockies have won nine of their last 13 home games, improving their overall home record to 30-41. They must win eight of their remaining 10 home games to avoid finishing with their fewest number of home victories in any season not interrupted by a labor dispute. Other than the strike-shortened 1994 season when the Rockies went 25-32 at home, they have won no fewer than 38 home games. The remaining home schedule includes three games with the Giants, four with the Diamondbacks and three with the Cubs.

29) Houston Astros ↑ 1

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  They have some nice young talent on the team like Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, and Fernando Martinez, and they still have Carlos Lee as the lone power source on the roster.

Downside: Last year, the pitching staff was bottom five in league rankings with a 4.51 cumulative ERA, 1.42 WHIP and a .266 opponents batting average en route to a league worst 56-106 record. That staff didn’t get any better.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Houston, we have a

Problem of epic status

Football months away

The Bottom Line:

Until further notice, Houston will be regarded as a AAA team.

30) Chicago Cubs  ↓ 1

What We Said Originally:

Upside: Its spring, when Cubs fans everywhere have hope that at long last, this will finally be the year the winning drought in Wrigley Field ends. Plus, they off-loaded head-case first class Carlos Zambrano on the Marlins. Starlin Castro might be the bona fide star in Wrigley.

Downside: It’s not going to happen. Getting rid of Zambrano now means a pitching staff comprised of Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Chris Volstad and Travis Wood; along with threat of Jeff Samardzija getting work as a starter in spring training. The Cubs have an average-at-best rotation and no replacement for Aramis Ramirez on offense. Snicker if you must, but A-Ram stacks up favorably against some historic third-basemen. He’s complied the second-most 25-home run seasons (9) for a third baseman, behind only Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews who each had 12. Not to mention, only Chipper Jones has more seasons with at least a .300 batting average, 25 home runs and 90 RBI at the hot corner. Once again, spring becomes summer; the Cubs’drought continues.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Cubs under Ricketts

Like bad date when one wants sex

Gets only hand-job

The Bottom Line:

I get that the Cubs have won nearly ten more games than Houston, but like I said before, the Astros are really a AAA team.  The Cubs have far too much talent to be as lousy as they are.  For example, they have scored two or less runs in ten of the last eleven of Jeff Samardzija’s starts.  They still can’t get out from under Alfonso Soriano’s obscene contract, and they just made it worse by giving Starlin “Future Soriano” Castro big money as well.

What We’ve Learned: The Baseball Power Rankings at the All-Star Break – The “Haiku” Edition

So, if you are one of the six regular readers of this blog, right now you are asking yourself just what in the hell is Haiku? In short, traditional Haiku is a very short form of Japanese poetry typically characterized by a very restrictive format consisting of 17  syllables in phrases of 5, 7, and 5 syllables respectively.

This restriction forces a juxtaposition of imagery or ideas and generally mixed with what the Japanese call kireji, or “cutting.” It isn’t “cutting” as you would normally think of it; it isn’t really something slicing through something else, but at the same time it is just that. To make a long story short, it’s a lot of that artsy-fartsy shit like “a crystal clear picture painted with a vague brush’ that’s only appreciated  those hipster-doofuses who smoke clove cigarettes and hang around the liberal arts building at (insert your local college here) when they are working part-time at Barnes & Noble.

In fact, I had just such a doofus explain this “cutting” thing to me as “the juxtaposition of two images or ideas with a kireji word between them acting as a verbal punctuation mark which signals the moment of separation and colors the manner in which the juxtaposed elements are related.”

I tried figuring out just what the fuck that meant until some brown stuff started leaking out of my ears, then it dawned on me. It’s exactly the same undefinable reason why baseball is a great metaphor for life while at the same time being a shitty metaphor for life.  It’s why the colloquial American lexicon is full of baseball terms, and yet anybody who uses more than two of them in any one sentence is likely a sub-literate.

After that revelation, I thought why should I wrestle with this alone? Why not do one of my Power Rankings entirely in Haiku? Why not make some baseball fans’ brains bleed as well?

1) Washington Nationals ↑ 2

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The Nationals have one of the best young rotations in baseball.  Strasburg appears ready to return to his pre- Tommy John surgery condition, and the acquisitions of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson were huge.  If Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and Chien-Ming Wang can stay away from the injury problems that have bugged them, the Nationals should be able to stay in most games based on their pitching alone.  But the Nats should be stronger in the middle of the order since Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Michael Morse, and Danny Espinosa all could be 25 HR, 90 RBI guys.

Downside: The Nats have three question marks. The first is at first base; Adam LaRoche played only 43 games last year before season-ending surgery and hit just .172. Can he return to the form of his previous years? However, Michael Morse blossomed at first base once LaRoche went down.  Secondly, the Nats have an issue in the lead-off spot. Ian  Desmond is going to start the season there, but he’ll have to learn to be more patient.  He’s drawn only 63 walks in 308 games during 2010 and 2011. Lastly there’s the matter of timing. This needs to be the year the Nats take a step toward the future because this is the last year before the expectations are going to go up. They can still be mediocre this year, but if they finish third or worse in 2013, they may just become a red version of the Cubs.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Best starters in league

Team pitching stats are crazy

Bats awakening

2) Texas Rangers ↑ 2

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  The only team in the A.L. West they have to worry about is the Angels. The Rangers have a line-up tailor-made to their hitter-friendly park, so there is no reason they can’t lead the league in team batting average again. Not to mention, they placed top five in runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

Downside: The Rangers are gambling in the wake of losing C.J. Wilson to division-rival Los Angeles with their $103 million investment in Yu Darvish and moving  Neftali Feliz to the starting rotation for the first time in his major league career. Then there’s the Josh Hamilton situation…we all know about the off-the-field issues, but don’t forget the former AL MVP has been hampered by injuries lately as well.  Now contract talks are stalled, and who knows what impact that will have.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Texas bats don’t fail

Texas pitching often fails

This year is just same

3)  Los Angeles Angels ↑ 6

What We  Originally Said:

Upside: This team has ownership that isn’t afraid to make a move. Due to the free-agent signing of first baseman Albert Pujols and starting pitcher C.J. Wilson, the Angels committed $331.5 million, which left little room for the team to add anyone else significant during the offseason. New GM Jerry DiPoto did, however, get his hands on a decent bat bat behind the plate in Chris Iannetta, and reliable veteran relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins becomes the latest on the list of guys who have played for both of my two favorite teams (Angels and Twins).

Pujols adds to a lineup which featured six players with double-digit home runs, and six with over 59 RBI. Top prospects in catcher Hank Conger and outfielder Mike Trout will also be in the running for a full season with the club.

C.J. Wilson adds to a rotation which already featured 2011 A.L. All-Star Game starter Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana.

Downside: Which Vernon Wells do the Angels get in 2012?

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Weaver and Haren

Awesome one-two starting punch

Pujols is Pujols

4) New York Yankees ↑ 3

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The Yankees upgraded their pitching staff by adding Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda, and by subtracting A.J. Burnett.  Prospects Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos will soon find their way to the major league rotation as well. If the pitching staff gels and Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, and Mark Teixeira perform as expected, this team will prove formidable.

Downside:  Don’t look now, but this team isn’t getting any younger.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Pitching Staff Falling

Sabathia Pettitte hurt

Ivan Nova is best left

5) Chicago White Sox ↑ 1

What We Originally Said:

Upside: General Manager Ken Williams also showed a desire to rebuild his club by getting rid of longtime White Sox starter Mark Buehrle and letting go of Juan Pierre, Carlos Quentin, Jason Frasor, Sergio Santos, and Omar Vizquel.

Downside: General Manager Ken Williams has no idea how to rebuild a club. He replaced staff ace Mark Buerhle by over-paying for the ever-fraudulent John Danks.  The rest of the starting rotation will depend on the fragile Jake Peavy and the unproven Chris Sale.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Smoke and mirrors

Houdini made this mirage

Contender won’t last

6) Pittsburgh Pirates ↑ 15

What We Said Originally:

Upside:  The Bucs are quietly cobbling together a respectable offense.  Outfielders Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, and All-Star Andrew McCutchen are likely to be the the 1-2-3  hitters; all of them hit over .275 last year, and all of them swiped over 20 sacks. Neil Walker looks like a #4 hitter after hitting 17 home runs and 62 RBI in only 460 at-bats.  Plus, the Pirates may have emerging power at the corner infield spots; Garrett Jones showed some pop with 17 homers last year, and Pedro Alvarez is due for his breakout year any time now.

Downside: Last year, the Pirates gave up the third-worst opponents batting average (.270) and received the fifth-fewest quality starts from their starting five.  A.J. Burnett is supposed to be the cure for that?

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Pirates no surprise

Tons of young talent living

In bad division

7) Los Angeles Dodgers ↓ 6

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  Clayton Kershaw won the NL Cy Young last year and is a contender for the award again. He is signed with the Dodgers through 2013.  Matt Kemp was the runner-up for the NL MVP Award, and was a single dinger away from joining the 40HR/40 stolen base club.  The Dodgers have him locked up through 2019.

Downside: They still have yet to rid themselves of Frank McCourt.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Matt Kemp Clayton Kershaw

Ethier on the list too

Why Dodgers contend

8 )  San Francisco Giants ↑ 6

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The San Francisco Giants have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner form one of the best 1-2-3 combinations in the game.

Downside: The San Francisco Giants have one of the worst offenses in baseball. With the losses of Cody Ross and Carlos Beltran, this team may find itself relying on a 3-4-5 heart of the order consisting of Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, and Brandon Belt.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Pitching carries team

Even though Lincecum sucks

Melky keys offense

9) Baltimore Orioles ↓ 4

What We Originally Said:

Upside: As bad as there were in 2011, their offense wasn’t all that bad and they’ve kept the core of it.  If Mark Reynolds can produce another 30-plus home run season, and Adam Jones and Nick Markakis continue their consistent hitting, the Orioles could end up being a mediocre team.

Downside:  The Orioles had the worst off-season of any Major League team.  If you don’t agree, here are their off-season acquisitions: pitchers Wei-Yin Chen, Tsuyoshi Wada, Jason Hammel, and Matt Lindstrom; and position players Wilson Betemit, Endy Chavez and Taylor Teagarden.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Baltimore baseball

Loves meaningless history

Two decades of proof

10) Tampa Bay Rays ↓ 8

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Their pitching staff will carry them in 2012.  David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, and Matt Moore form a six-man rotation that just might let the Rays continue their average 92 wins over the last four seasons. Only three teams in the majors had a higher average with one of the lowest four-year payroll totals in baseball at $222 million.

Downside: The Rays need a new fanbase and stadium.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Six-man rotation

Yet none of them really suck

Yet Rays kind of suck

11) New York Mets ↓ 2

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Whether its up or down, the theme once again for the Mets is hope. Hopefully, all the distractions that surrounded last season are gone with the departure of Jose Reyes. Hopefully, Ike Davis, and Johan Santana are healthy, will stay that way, and will perform up to expectations. Hopefully, there will be a resurgence of third baseman David Wright and Jason Bay now that the outfield wall has been moved in.

Downside:  Hopefully, all those things I just mentioned will happen.  Right after they all do happen, we can all join hands and visit the fairy princess together. Not only that, but this team goes nowhere as long as Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz own the team.  Let’s face it, meltdown, dumpster fire, train wreck…they all are synonymous with “Mets.”

The Mid-Season Haiku:

When R.A. Dickey

Is by far your best pitcher

Your life is mirage

12) Cleveland Indians ↓ 1

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  Shin-Soo Choo seems to be healthy. Vinne Pestano and Nick Hagadone could be the foundations of a solid, young bullpen.  Carlos Santana is a potential All-Star.

Downside: Fausto Carmona (or whoever he really is) may never get ba They also have the best home record in all of baseball.ck into the country and Grady Sizemore is probably finished as an effective major league player. The heyday for this team was fifteen years ago, and unless you can find a way to add Roger Dorn, Pedro Cerrano, Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, and Jake Taylor to the roster, there will be more than one long summer in Cleveland’s near future.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Somehow not shitty

Can pitch but have no offense

Shin-Soo Choo Korean sneeze

13)  Cincinnati Reds ↓ 1

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  General Manager Walt Jocketty managed to improve the starting rotation by adding former Padres ace Mat Latos, the bullpen by bringing in Ryan Madson and Sean Marshall, and added some needed depth by acquiring Wilson Valdez, Willie Harris, and Ryan Ludwick. With these additions to the existing weapons like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, and the fact the N.L. Central no longer has the likes of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, the Reds have the potential once again to seize the top spot in the division.

Downside: That pitching staff is managed by Dusty “The Ligament Shredder” Baker, the same Dusty Bake who think base-runners “just clog up the basepaths.”

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Great American

Ballpark holds team powered by

Mostly foriegners

14) Atlanta Braves ↓ 1

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Last year, I said the Braves were a collection of “what-ifs” built around a solid core of just enough hitting and just enough pitching. Now, enough of those questions became facts so that barring injuries, the Braves can contend in the NL East.

Downside: The Braves finished 13 games back of the Phillies last season, and they way the season ended for them still has to sting. The question is did they improve enough to fix those issues?

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Chipper’s last hurrah

While team disintegrates like

Chipper’s ligaments

15) Detroit Tigers ↑ 2

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Last season, the Motor City Kitties finished in the top four in runs scored, batting average, on-base and slugging percentage. The numbers can only get better with the offseason acquisition of first baseman Prince Fielder, who just happens to be a career .282 hitter averaging over 32 home runs and 93 RBI per season over the last six years.

Downside: How does the move of Cabrera back to third base work out? What will be the impact of losing DH Victor Martinez? And I’m not sold on the rotation beyond Justin Verlander and Doug Fister.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Slugger’s paradox

Cabrera and Fielder

Yet team lacks power

16) Boston Red Sox ↑ 2

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  The Boston Red Sox are taking on an entirely new look in 2012.  For the first time in recent memory, Jonathan Papelbon, J.D. Drew, Tim Wakefield, and Jason Varitek will not be on the Opening Day roster for the Red Sox. And it’s about time, especially after what happened last September.  Despite this new look, New GM Ben Cherington will be faced with the challenge of keeping the Sox a contender.

Downside: I don’t give a damn what anybody says, I don’t buy this pitching staff.  Jon Lester has always been over-rated in my book. The loss of John Lackey is a case of “addition by subtraction.”  Clay Buchholz walks too many guys. Who knows what Daniel Bard and Vincente Padilla really are?

Then, there’s the whole issue of that idiot Bobby Valentine. I can’t wait for the Terry Francona “Miss Me Yet?” billboards to break out all over New England.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Worst .500 team

Valentine captains a ship

Which hit iceberg twice

17) Miami Marlins ↓ 7

What We Originally Said:

Upside: I don’t think there could be a more interesting team to watch in 2012. Miami is one of three teams in the Dubsism Top Ten from the N.L. East Division and got there through having by far the most active off-season. Tey’ve got a new name, new uniforms, new logos, a new stadium, a new manager,  and of course, new players. The new Marlins Park will play host to the new-look squad under new manager and old loud mouth Ozzie Guillen, who will be leading new shortstop and reigning N.L. batting champ Jose Reyes, new closer Heath Bell, and new starting pitchers Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano. Added to existing Marlins Hanley Ramirezx and ace Josh Johnson, there’s no way this team won’t be entertaining at least.

Downside: This also just could be the loading of a gigantic powder-keg. Zambrano and Guillen in the same dug-out? The Marlins may want to keep the bomb squad handy at all times, not just for the volatility I just mentioned, but for the fact if this team doesn’t win right away, look for it to get blown up quick.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Guillen loves Castro

As he not as huge asshole

As Ken Williams

18 ) St. Louis Cardinals ↔

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Despite losing Albert Pujols and manager Tony La Russa, the Cardinals still have enough weapons to be a factor in the N.L. Central. Starter Adam Wainwright comes back from Tommy John surgery, and he leads a rotation featuring Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, and Kyle Lohse. Also, could this be the breakout year for World Series MVP David Freese? His 21 RBI over 18 postseason games last October could signal the start of something big.

Downside: Let’s face it…losing Albert Pujols would hurt any line-up. This means Lance Berkman has to at least come close to the .301/31 HR/94 RBI campaign he put up in 2011, and Matt Holliday has to be a .300/25 HR/RBI guy as well.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Lance Lynn lifted staff

Lance Berkman’s big lefty bat

Replaced by Beltran

19) Toronto Blue Jays ↓ 3

What We  Originally Said:

Upside: Jose Bautista.  In 2010, he hit .260 with 35 doubles, 54 home runs and 124 RBI. In 2011, he hit .302 with 24 doubles, 43 home runs, and 103 RBI. He has to figure in the MVP race.

Downside: The Blue Jays could have a bright future, but the future isn’t today.  Ricky Romero has also been nothing short of excellent for the club. Last season, the 27-year-old went 15-11 with a 2.92 ERA and 178 strikeouts. It’s time to see if youngsters Brett Lawrie,  Anthony Gose, and catcher Travis D’Arnaud can live up to expectations.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Canada’s baseball pride

Needs pitchers who are not in

Intensive Care Unit

20) Arizona Diamondbacks ↑ 2

What We Originally Said:

Upside: In a division heavy in pitching, the D-backs chose bulk by getting potential question mark Trevor Cahill from Oakland and re-signing their own free agent, Joe Saunders, after non-tendering him at the December deadline for arbitration-eligibles. Kennedy, Hudson and Saunders logged career highs in innings last season, and it will be interesting to see if they can repeat that…see below…

Downside:  Even though the Arizona Diamondbacks finished first place in the NL West Division at 94-68, their starting rotation was filled with career-best seasons:

  • Ian Kennedy went 21-4 with a 2.88 earned run average and 198 strikeouts in 222 innings pitched.
  • Daniel Hudson went 16-12 with a 3.49 earned run average and 169 strikeouts in 222 innings pitched.
  • Joe Saunders went 12-13 with 3.69 earned run average and 108 strikeouts in 212 innings pitched.
  • Josh Collmenter went 10-10 with a 3.38 earned run average and 100 strikeouts in 154.1 innings pitched.

The D-backs line-up can be inconsistent as well – they struggled to hit over .250 as team despite everyday players Gerardo Parra, Justin Upton and Miguel Montero hitting .292, .289 and .282 respectively.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Arizona snakes

Swallowing their own venom

No playoff repeat

21) Oakland Athletics ↑ 2

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  America’s favorite breakfast cereal, Coco Crisp,  will still man the Oakland outfield after signing a $14 million, two-year contract with a club option for 2014 after hitting .264 with eight home runs, 54 RBI and 49 stolen bases last season. Then there the Cuban grab-bag known as Yoenis Cespedes. This kid could be the real deal.

Downside: The A’s are without many of their pitchers who brought success to the team in recent years. Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Josh Outman are out of the starting rotation, while Craig Breslow and Andrew Bailey are no longer in the bullpen. The one proven offensive power bat in the lineup has also departed; Josh Willingham hit 29 home runs and 98 RBI in 2011, but is now part of the Minnesota Twins.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

A’s have Cespedes

Ryan Cook and little else

At least no Manny

22) Milwaukee Brewers ↑ 3

What We  Originally Said:

Upside:  Even though Miller Park is known for being tough on right-handed sluggers, the Brewers brought in third baseman Aramis Ramirez. He will need to have a Beltre-like season (.300/25 HR/90 RBIs) to help off-set the loss of Prince Fielder.

Downside: The big questions: Can Mat Gamel prove he is ready to be a major league first-baseman, including posting some power numbers at the plate? Can Wily Peralta develop into a credible big-league starter? Then there’s the elephant in the room…the Ryan Braun situation and what impact it may have…

The Mid-Season Haiku:

No Prince Fielder

Leaves Ryan Braun alone with

His tainted sample

23) Philadelphia Phillies ↓ 8

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The starting rotation is as good as it gets with Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Vance Worley. New closer Jonathan Papelbon should help shore up the bullpen.

Downside:  If the Yankees and the Phillies make the World Series, they may want to get the games done before 4 p.m., so they can all hit the early-bird specials at Denny’s. This is another team that is aging before our eyes. Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins are 33, Chase Utley is 32, and Placido Polanco tops the list at 36. Not to mention, the Phillies have lost have lost four of their last five postseason series.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Team can’t be a winner

When it can’t even get right

Roy Halladay doll

24) Kansas City Royals ↑ 3

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The club is loaded with young talent like Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar.  Alex Gordon turned a corner in 2011. Billy Butler, Jeff Francoeur, and Jason Kendall provide veteran leadership, and there are more top prospects on the way like Wil Myers and Bubba Starling. The Royals also added pitching with starter Jonathan Sanchez and closer Jonathan Broxton.

Downside: General Manager Dayton Moore is a bit of an unproven commodity, so there’s no guarantee that he isn’t going to mortgage the future if the fans expectations suddenly outstrip the team’s talent.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

The ghost of George Brett

Cries when sees yet another

Great player leave town

25) Minnesota Twins ↑ 4

What We Originally Said:

Upside: It is possible they get production from the faces of the franchise, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Last year thanks to injuries, Mauer hit .287 with three home runs and 30 RBI, while Morneau hit a horrid .227 with four home runs and 30 RBI.

Downside: Only three players on the Twins saw more than 100 games of action last year. There’s Michael Cuddyer, who is now getting his mail in Colorado, outfielder Ben Revere, and third baseman Danny Valencia. These might be the only Twins who matter in 2012.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Willingham and Plouffe

Deserve shampoo ad more than

Overpaid slap hitter

26)  San Diego Padres ↑ 2

What We Said Originally:

Upside: Again, you really can’t beat the weather in San Diego…and the Padres, despite the loss of Mat Latos, Aaron Harang, and Heath Bell still have a serviceable  (not great, serviceable) pitching staff currently slated to feature Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez, Tim Stauffer, Dustin Moseley, and Cory Luebke.  Heath Bell’s closer role has been replaced by Huston Street.

Downside:  The Padres offense last year was in the bottom three in runs scored (593), batting average (.237), on-base percentage (.305) and slugging percentage (.349). The only improvements to that came in the form of Carlos Quentin, Yonder Alonso, and current AARP member Mark Kotsay.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Diego baseball

Much in common with Bigfoot

Rumored to exist

27)  Colorado Rockies ↓ 1

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Troy Tulowitzki hit .302 with 36 doubles, 30 home runs, and 105 RBI in 2011. Carlos Gonzalez hit .295 with 27 doubles, 26 home runs, and 92 RBI in only 127 games. Casey Blake, Marco Scutaro, Ramon Hernandez, and Michael Cuddyer will all be joining the Colorado this season, which can only provide more cushion in a lineup that already features some of baseball’s best hitters. The crisp air in Colorado with these players and Todd Helton at the forefront can only mean runs, runs, and more runs.

Downside: The starting rotation will consist of Jeremy Guthrie, Jhoulys Chacin, and then any three out of about six possibles, including the 49-year old Jamie Moyer.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Even Yoda knows

Tulowitzki and Car-Go

The whole of team is

28)  Seattle Mariners ↓ 4

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Felix Hernandez.

Downside: This is the last year of Ichiro Suzuki’s contract with the club. The 38-year-old has seen his batting average drop 80 points over the last two seasons, so you can only expect that this will be his final season with the club unless he’s back to being the old Ichiro. In addition to Ichiro’s decline, the Mariners finished dead last in runs scored, batting average, on-base and slugging percentage last year.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Felix Hernandez

Can only pitch, but team needs more

More of everything

29) Chicago Cubs ↑ 1

What We Said Originally:

Upside: Its spring, when Cubs fans everywhere have hope that at long last, this will finally be the year the winning drought in Wrigley Field ends. Plus, they off-loaded head-case first class Carlos Zambrano on the Marlins. Starlin Castro might be the bona fide star in Wrigley.

Downside: It’s not going to happen. Getting rid of Zambrano now means a pitching staff comprised of Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Chris Volstad and Travis Wood; along with threat of Jeff Samardzija getting work as a starter in spring training. The Cubs have an average-at-best rotation and no replacement for Aramis Ramirez on offense. Snicker if you must, but A-Ram stacks up favorably against some historic third-basemen. He’s complied the second-most 25-home run seasons (9) for a third baseman, behind only Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews who each had 12. Not to mention, only Chipper Jones has more seasons with at least a .300 batting average, 25 home runs and 90 RBI at the hot corner. Once again, spring becomes summer; the Cubs’drought continues.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Cubs under Ricketts

Like bad date when one wants sex

Gets only hand-job

30) Houston Astros ↓ 10

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  They have some nice young talent on the team like Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, and Fernando Martinez, and they still have Carlos Lee as the lone power source on the roster.

Downside: Last year, the pitching staff was bottom five in league rankings with a 4.51 cumulative ERA, 1.42 WHIP and a .266 opponents batting average en route to a league worst 56-106 record. That staff didn’t get any better.

The Mid-Season Haiku:

Houston, we have a

Problem of epic status

Football months away

Signs We Are Near The End Of Civilization: The “Steve Urkel/Mega Shark” Guy Is A Big Enough Celebrity To Throw Out The First Pitch

Call it what you will, but this weekend’s series between the Washington Nationals and the New York Yankees could be seen as a possible World Series Preview. It could be seen as a changing of the guard amongst the powers in baseball. After all, the Yankees are old; if it weren’t for Jamie Moyer, I’d be using all my “old” jokes on them. Not to mention, the Bronx Bombers are  going to run  into major luxury-tax issues if they decide they want to keep some of their star players.

In contrast, the Nationals are frightfully young; like that pimply-faced prodigy who by graduating from Harvard at age fifteen has already accomplished more than a middle-aged dipshit writing some blog which gets four readers a week ever will.  Not to mention the Nationals are only going to get better; not only are they disgustingly young, they are loaded with prodigy-level talent.  Bryce Harper is a uber-stud waiting to happen, and Stephen Strasburg is the brightest young pitching star in baseball today. Top that off with their impressive collection of pitchers who are under 30, and it is very clear the Yankees are yesterday, and the Nationals are tomorrow.

But this is still today, and today is when the Yankees can get honest-to-goodness stars to throw out the first pitch at their games. If that fails, they have a never ending supply of former stars players they can trot out.

On the other hand, by virtue of being in D. C., once a year the Nats’ can get the President. But after that, it seems the pickings get slim. As proof, I offer Jaleel White.

In case you don’t recognize the name, White is likely most remembered for playing annoying super-geek Steve Urkel on the almost-as-equally annoying sit-com Family Matters back in the 90′s. Since then, he’s brought us such cinematic masterpieces such as Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus.

Even the minor-league team on Tatooine gets better stars.

If we’ve learned anything from this, its that there is a lag between success on the diamond and landing real stars to toss out your first pitches. Stay tuned to Nationals games for the reat of this season; I can’t wait until we see the stars of Piranhaconda or Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus on the mound in D.C.

What We’ve Learned: The Dubsism Baseball Power Rankings After 10% Of The Season

1) Washington Nationals ↑ 13

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The Nationals have one of the best young rotations in baseball.  Strasburg appears ready to return to his pre- Tommy John surgery condition, and the acquisitions of Gio Gonzalez and Edwin Jackson were huge.  If Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, and Chien-Ming Wang can stay away from the injury problems that have bugged them, the Nationals should be able to stay in most games based on their pitching alone.  But the Nats should be stronger in the middle of the order since Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Michael Morse, and Danny Espinosa all could be 25 HR, 90 RBI guys.

Downside: The Nats have three question marks. The first is at first base; Adam LaRoche played only 43 games last year before season-ending surgery and hit just .172. Can he return to the form of his previous years? However, Michael Morse blossomed at first base once LaRoche went down.  Secondly, the Nats have an issue in the lead-off spot. Ian  Desmond is going to start the season there, but he’ll have to learn to be more patient.  He’s drawn only 63 walks in 308 games during 2010 and 2011. Lastly there’s the matter of timing. This needs to be the year the Nats take a step toward the future because this is the last year before the expectations are going to go up. They can still be mediocre this year, but if they finish third or worse in 2013, they may just become a red version of the Cubs.

What Actually Happened:

The pitching has been exceptional; the starters have an ERA of 1.72. Nobody in the lineup is tearing the cover off the ball, but this team only needs to score three runs to win. Even though it’s early, it is time to get worried about the injury factor – Elvin Ramirez, Chien-Ming Wang, Cole Kimball, Drew Storen, Chris Marrero, and Michael Morse are already on the DL, and we are waiting MRI results on Ryan Zimmerman.

2) Los Angeles Dodgers ↑ 16

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  Clayton Kershaw won the NL Cy Young last year and is a contender for the award again. He is signed with the Dodgers through 2013.  Matt Kemp was the runner-up for the NL MVP Award, and was a single dinger away from joining the 40HR/40 stolen base club.  The Dodgers have him locked up through 2019.

Downside: They still have yet to rid themselves of Frank McCourt.

What Actually Happened:

Two words: Matt Kemp…and getting rid of Frank McCourt didn’t hurt either.

3) Texas Rangers ↑ 2

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  The only team in the A.L. West they have to worry about is the Angels. The Rangers have a line-up tailor-made to their hitter-friendly park, so there is no reason they can’t lead the league in team batting average again. Not to mention, they placed top five in runs, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage.

Downside: The Rangers are gambling in the wake of losing C.J. Wilson to division-rival Los Angeles with their $103 million investment in Yu Darvish and moving  Neftali Feliz to the starting rotation for the first time in his major league career. Then there’s the Josh Hamilton situation…we all know about the off-the-field issues, but don’t forget the former AL MVP has been hampered by injuries lately as well.  Now contract talks are stalled, and who knows what impact that will have.

What Actually Happened:

Josh Hamilton is still playing like the MVP-caliber player he can be, Yu Darvish is showing signs of being the “real deal,” and this team is leading the league in runs scored and team ERA. That’s a tough combination to beat.

4) Atlanta Braves ↔

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Last year, I said the Braves were a collection of “what-ifs” built around a solid core of just enough hitting and just enough pitching. Now, enough of those questions became facts so that barring injuries, the Braves can contend in the NL East.

Downside: The Braves finished 13 games back of the Phillies last season, and they way the season ended for them still has to sting. The question is did they improve enough to fix those issues?

What Actually Happened:

The Upside? The Braves are first in the National League in runs scores and second in home runs. The Downside? The Braves are twelfth in the National League in team ERA.

5) New York Yankees ↓ 3

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The Yankees upgraded their pitching staff by adding Hiroki Kuroda and Michael Pineda, and by subtracting A.J. Burnett.  Prospects Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos will soon find their way to the major league rotation as well. If the pitching staff gels and Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano, and Mark Teixeira perform as expected, this team will prove formidable.

Downside:  Don’t look now, but this team isn’t getting any younger.

What Actually Happened:

It’s not like the Yanks don’t already have enough offensive weapons, now all of a sudden Nick Swisher is leading the American League in RBIs, and Derek “Retirement Home” Jeter is hitrting .400.

6) Detroit Tigers ↔

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Last season, the Motor City Kitties finished in the top four in runs scored, batting average, on-base and slugging percentage. The numbers can only get better with the offseason acquisition of first baseman Prince Fielder, who just happens to be a career .282 hitter averaging over 32 home runs and 93 RBI per season over the last six years.

Downside: How does the move of Cabrera back to third base work out? What will be the impact of losing DH Victor Martinez? And I’m not sold on the rotation beyond Justin Verlander and Doug Fister.

What Actually Happened:

The rib cage injury to Doug Fister hurts, and they will need him back and healthy before October, but this team should be just fine until then. Nobody else in the AL Central is legit, and that includes the smoke and mirror job known ans the White Sox.

7) Tampa Bay Rays ↔

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Their pitching staff will carry them in 2012.  David Price, James Shields, Jeremy Hellickson, Wade Davis, Jeff Niemann, and Matt Moore form a six-man rotation that just might let the Rays continue their average 92 wins over the last four seasons. Only three teams in the majors had a higher average with one of the lowest four-year payroll totals in baseball at $222 million.

Downside: The Rays need a new fanbase and stadium.

What Actually Happened:

The Rays have five guys with a slugging percentage north of .550, and they have three starters with ERA under 3.50.

8 ) St. Louis Cardinals ↑ 2

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Despite losing Albert Pujols and manager Tony La Russa, the Cardinals still have enough weapons to be a factor in the N.L. Central. Starter Adam Wainwright comes back from Tommy John surgery, and he leads a rotation featuring Chris Carpenter, Jaime Garcia, Jake Westbrook, and Kyle Lohse. Also, could this be the breakout year for World Series MVP David Freese? His 21 RBI over 18 postseason games last October could signal the start of something big.

Downside: Let’s face it…losing Albert Pujols would hurt any line-up. This means Lance Berkman has to at least come close to the .301/31 HR/94 RBI campaign he put up in 2011, and Matt Holliday has to be a .300/25 HR/RBI guy as well.

What Actually Happened:

Seven guys batting .320 or better, five guys slugging .500 or better, and four starters with ERAs under 2.50.  But this team needs Lance Berkman to get healthy and Matt Holliday to bat better than .215.

9)  Los Angeles Angels ↓ 8 

What We  Originally Said:

Upside: This team has ownership that isn’t afraid to make a move. Due to the free-agent signing of first baseman Albert Pujols and starting pitcher C.J. Wilson, the Angels committed $331.5 million, which left little room for the team to add anyone else significant during the offseason. New GM Jerry DiPoto did, however, get his hands on a decent bat bat behind the plate in Chris Iannetta, and reliable veteran relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins becomes the latest on the list of guys who have played for both of my two favorite teams (Angels and Twins).

Pujols adds to a lineup which featured six players with double-digit home runs, and six with over 59 RBI. Top prospects in catcher Hank Conger and outfielder Mike Trout will also be in the running for a full season with the club.

C.J. Wilson adds to a rotation which already featured 2011 A.L. All-Star Game starter Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, and Ervin Santana.

Downside: Which Vernon Wells do the Angels get in 2012?

What Actually Happened:

Albert Pujols has yet to happen. This team has far too much talent both on the hill and at the plate to not be in the top ten despite their slow start. Raise your hand if you think this team won’t be a factor come October…

10) Toronto Blue Jays ↑ 5

What We  Originally Said:

Upside: Jose Bautista.  In 2010, he hit .260 with 35 doubles, 54 home runs and 124 RBI. In 2011, he hit .302 with 24 doubles, 43 home runs, and 103 RBI. He has to figure in the MVP race.

Downside: The Blue Jays could have a bright future, but the future isn’t today.  Ricky Romero has also been nothing short of excellent for the club. Last season, the 27-year-old went 15-11 with a 2.92 ERA and 178 strikeouts. It’s time to see if youngsters Brett Lawrie,  Anthony Gose, and catcher Travis D’Arnaud can live up to expectations.

What Actually Happened:

We stand by the original statements. It really isn’t Jose Bautista’s fault everybody quit pitching to him; but it will be a while before opposing pitchers fear his protection enough to pitch to him again.  But that will happen given the rate at which Toronto’s young talent is developing. Thios team has a future, but that future isn’t necessarily today.

11) Milwaukee Brewers ↑ 5

What We  Originally Said:

Upside:  Even though Miller Park is known for being tough on right-handed sluggers, the Brewers brought in third baseman Aramis Ramirez. He will need to have a Beltre-like season (.300/25 HR/90 RBIs) to help off-set the loss of Prince Fielder.

Downside: The big questions: Can Mat Gamel prove he is ready to be a major league first-baseman, including posting some power numbers at the plate? Can Wily Peralta develop into a credible big-league starter? Then there’s the elephant in the room…the Ryan Braun situation and what impact it may have…

What Actually Happened:

So much for Wily Peralta…he got shipped back to the minors on Monday.  Somehow, this team is 2nd in the National League in home runs considering Corey “Wears his sunglasses at night” Hart leads this team in the triple-crown categories (.286/5 HR/12 RBI).  Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m the first who made that joke.

12) Philadelphia Phillies ↓ 9

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The starting rotation is as good as it gets with Cole Hamels, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Vance Worley. New closer Jonathan Papelbon should help shore up the bullpen.

Downside:  If the Yankees and the Phillies make the World Series, they may want to get the games done before 4 p.m., so they can all hit the early-bird specials at Denny’s. This is another team that is aging before our eyes. Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins are 33, Chase Utley is 32, and Placido Polanco tops the list at 36. Not to mention, the Phillies have lost have lost four of their last five postseason series.

What Actually Happened:

This team is a complete wild-card. Between, Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley, this team has $56 million on the disabled list.  If they get healthy soon, they can still be a contender just on the pitching staff alone. But if they don’t, they could be an afterthought by the all-star break.

13) Chicago White Sox ↑ 10

What We Originally Said:

Upside: General Manager Ken Williams also showed a desire to rebuild his club by getting rid of longtime White Sox starter Mark Buehrle and letting go of Juan Pierre, Carlos Quentin, Jason Frasor, Sergio Santos, and Omar Vizquel.

Downside: General Manager Ken Williams has no idea how to rebuild a club. He replaced staff ace Mark Buerhle by over-paying for the ever-fraudulent John Danks.  The rest of the starting rotation will depend on the fragile Jake Peavy and the unproven Chris Sale.

What Actually Happened:

Earlier, we said this team is a “smoke and mirror” job. This team is where it is now based on a perfect game tossed by a nobody and an early .340 performance by Alex Rios, which won’t last.

14)  Cincinnati Reds ↓ 6

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  General Manager Walt Jocketty managed to improve the starting rotation by adding former Padres ace Mat Latos, the bullpen by bringing in Ryan Madson and Sean Marshall, and added some needed depth by acquiring Wilson Valdez, Willie Harris, and Ryan Ludwick. With these additions to the existing weapons like Joey Votto and Jay Bruce, and the fact the N.L. Central no longer has the likes of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, the Reds have the potential once again to seize the top spot in the division.

Downside: That pitching staff is managed by Dusty “The Ligament Shredder” Baker, the same Dusty Bake who think base-runners “just clog up the basepaths.”

What Actually Happened:

Thanks to the “Ligament Shredder,” Ryan Madson has already been through the “Tommy John” surgery. You know this won’t be the only damage Dusty does.   This team will hit, which will keep them in contention in a weak division, but Dusty will once again turn the bullpen into a graveyard.

15)  San Francisco Giants ↓ 4

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The San Francisco Giants have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and Madison Bumgarner form one of the best 1-2-3 combinations in the game.

Downside: The San Francisco Giants have one of the worst offenses in baseball. With the losses of Cody Ross and Carlos Beltran, this team may find itself relying on a 3-4-5 heart of the order consisting of Pablo Sandoval, Buster Posey, and Brandon Belt.

What Actually Happened:

The loss of Brian “The Beard” Wilson may be fatal. The Giants’ recipe for success has been (insert starter here) for six innings, then some combination of Santiago Casilla, Guillermo Mota, and Sergio Romo, then Wilson in the 9th. Without Wilson, and worse yet, with Lincecum and Cain unable to reliably deliver the first six, this team can’t win.

16) Baltimore Orioles ↑ 6

What We Originally Said:

Upside: As bad as there were in 2011, their offense wasn’t all that bad and they’ve kept the core of it.  If Mark Reynolds can produce another 30-plus home run season, and Adam Jones and Nick Markakis continue their consistent hitting, the Orioles could end up being a mediocre team.

Downside:  The Orioles had the worst off-season of any Major League team.  If you don’t agree, here are their off-season acquisitions: pitchers Wei-Yin Chen, Tsuyoshi Wada, Jason Hammel, and Matt Lindstrom; and position players Wilson Betemit, Endy Chavez and Taylor Teagarden.

What Actually Happened:

OK, so the O’s have won ten games so far, so why are they ranked so low? Because they are the O’s. The best this team can hope for is mediocre, and they haven’t looked all that good in winning.  You can count on this team to fade soon; they just don’t have the horses to stay in a race.

17) Arizona Diamondbacks ↓ 4

What We Originally Said:

Upside: In a division heavy in pitching, the D-backs chose bulk by getting potential question mark Trevor Cahill from Oakland and re-signing their own free agent, Joe Saunders, after non-tendering him at the December deadline for arbitration-eligibles. Kennedy, Hudson and Saunders logged career highs in innings last season, and it will be interesting to see if they can repeat that…see below…

Downside:  Even though the Arizona Diamondbacks finished first place in the NL West Division at 94-68, their starting rotation was filled with career-best seasons:

  • Ian Kennedy went 21-4 with a 2.88 earned run average and 198 strikeouts in 222 innings pitched.
  • Daniel Hudson went 16-12 with a 3.49 earned run average and 169 strikeouts in 222 innings pitched.
  • Joe Saunders went 12-13 with 3.69 earned run average and 108 strikeouts in 212 innings pitched.
  • Josh Collmenter went 10-10 with a 3.38 earned run average and 100 strikeouts in 154.1 innings pitched.

The D-backs line-up can be inconsistent as well – they struggled to hit over .250 as team despite everyday players Gerardo Parra, Justin Upton and Miguel Montero hitting .292, .289 and .282 respectively.

What Actually Happened:

Just what we thought…the starting rotation has two guys with ERAs north of 6.00. Without a repeat of the pitching performances from last year, this team can’t rely on inconsistent bats.

18) Cleveland Indians ↑ 1

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  Shin-Soo Choo seems to be healthy. Vinne Pestano and Nick Hagadone could be the foundations of a solid, young bullpen.  Carlos Santana is a potential All-Star.

Downside: Fausto Carmona (or whoever he really is) may never get back into the country and Grady Sizemore is probably finished as an effective major league player. The heyday for this team was fifteen years ago, and unless you can find a way to add Roger Dorn, Pedro Cerrano, Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn, and Jake Taylor to the roster, there will be more than one long summer in Cleveland’s near future.

What Actually Happened:

Don’t even tell me about this team being in first place.  I bit on the Indians last year, and I’m not about to do it again.  This team in many ways could be a mirror image of the Orioles, and they will be a memory by July as well.

19) Boston Red Sox ↓ 7

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  The Boston Red Sox are taking on an entirely new look in 2012.  For the first time in recent memory, Jonathan Papelbon, J.D. Drew, Tim Wakefield, and Jason Varitek will not be on the Opening Day roster for the Red Sox. And it’s about time, especially after what happened last September.  Despite this new look, New GM Ben Cherington will be faced with the challenge of keeping the Sox a contender.

Downside: I don’t give a damn what anybody says, I don’t buy this pitching staff.  Jon Lester has always been over-rated in my book. The loss of John Lackey is a case of “addition by subtraction.”  Clay Buchholz walks too many guys. Who knows what Daniel Bard and Vincente Padilla really are?

Then, there’s the whole issue of that idiot Bobby Valentine. I can’t wait for the Terry Francona “Miss Me Yet?” billboards to break out all over New England.

What Actually Happened:

The starting pitching sucks, the relievers aren’t much better…and…wait for it…there’s the whole issue of that idiot Bobby Valentine.  The Terry Francona “Miss Me Yet?” billboards are coming soon.

20) New York Mets ↑ 4

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Whether its up or down, the theme once again for the Mets is hope. Hopefully, all the distractions that surrounded last season are gone with the departure of Jose Reyes. Hopefully, Ike Davis, and Johan Santana are healthy, will stay that way, and will perform up to expectations. Hopefully, there will be a resurgence of third baseman David Wright and Jason Bay now that the outfield wall has been moved in.

Downside:  Hopefully, all those things I just mentioned will happen.  Right after they all do happen, we can all join hands and visit the fairy princess together. Not only that, but this team goes nowhere as long as Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz own the team.  Let’s face it, meltdown, dumpster fire, train wreck…they all are synonymous with “Mets.”

What Actually Happened:

We’ll keep this simple…the Mets still suck, just not as much at first as we thought.

21) Oakland Athletics ↑ 8

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  America’s favorite breakfast cereal, Coco Crisp,  will still man the Oakland outfield after signing a $14 million, two-year contract with a club option for 2014 after hitting .264 with eight home runs, 54 RBI and 49 stolen bases last season. Then there the Cuban grab-bag known as Yoenis Cespedes. This kid could be the real deal.

Downside: The A’s are without many of their pitchers who brought success to the team in recent years. Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, and Josh Outman are out of the starting rotation, while Craig Breslow and Andrew Bailey are no longer in the bullpen. The one proven offensive power bat in the lineup has also departed; Josh Willingham hit 29 home runs and 98 RBI in 2011, but is now part of the Minnesota Twins.

What Actually Happened:

How the A’s have won 9 games all while being last in the league in average, slugging percentage, and hitting with runners in scoring position is a minor miracle.

22)  Colorado Rockies ↓ 2

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Troy Tulowitzki hit .302 with 36 doubles, 30 home runs, and 105 RBI in 2011. Carlos Gonzalez hit .295 with 27 doubles, 26 home runs, and 92 RBI in only 127 games. Casey Blake, Marco Scutaro, Ramon Hernandez, and Michael Cuddyer will all be joining the Colorado this season, which can only provide more cushion in a lineup that already features some of baseball’s best hitters. The crisp air in Colorado with these players and Todd Helton at the forefront can only mean runs, runs, and more runs.

Downside: The starting rotation will consist of Jeremy Guthrie, Jhoulys Chacin, and then any three out of about six possibles, including the 49-year old Jamie Moyer.

What Actually Happened:

Moyer is the best pitcher in a starting rotation consisting of guys all young enough to be Moyer’s kids. Despite that, none of the youngsters can do better than an ERA of 2.28 and a WHIP of 1.35.

23) Miami Marlins ↓ 14

What We Originally Said:

Upside: I don’t think there could be a more interesting team to watch in 2012. Miami is one of three teams in the Dubsism Top Ten from the N.L. East Division and got there through having by far the most active off-season. Tey’ve got a new name, new uniforms, new logos, a new stadium, a new manager,  and of course, new players. The new Marlins Park will play host to the new-look squad under new manager and old loud mouth Ozzie Guillen, who will be leading new shortstop and reigning N.L. batting champ Jose Reyes, new closer Heath Bell, and new starting pitchers Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano. Added to existing Marlins Hanley Ramirezx and ace Josh Johnson, there’s no way this team won’t be entertaining at least.

Downside: This also just could be the loading of a gigantic powder-keg. Zambrano and Guillen in the same dug-out? The Marlins may want to keep the bomb squad handy at all times, not just for the volatility I just mentioned, but for the fact if this team doesn’t win right away, look for it to get blown up quick.

What Actually Happened:

Could this be…I hate to say this…but could this be yet another “dream team” that fails to perform?  How long before Jeffrey Loria is wiring the blasting caps to blow this thing up?

24)  Seattle Mariners ↓ 3

What We Originally Said:

Upside: Felix Hernandez.

Downside: This is the last year of Ichiro Suzuki’s contract with the club. The 38-year-old has seen his batting average drop 80 points over the last two seasons, so you can only expect that this will be his final season with the club unless he’s back to being the old Ichiro. In addition to Ichiro’s decline, the Mariners finished dead last in runs scored, batting average, on-base and slugging percentage last year.

What Actually Happened:

Jason Vargas and Blake Beavan joined with King Felix to give the Mariners a reasonable front three in a rotation. The trouble is the lumber is still in a slumber; no Mariner has gone deep more than twice.

25) Pittsburgh Pirates ↔

What We Said Originally:

Upside:  The Bucs are quietly cobbling together a respectable offense.  Outfielders Jose Tabata, Alex Presley, and All-Star Andrew McCutchen are likely to be the the 1-2-3  hitters; all of them hit over .275 last year, and all of them swiped over 20 sacks. Neil Walker looks like a #4 hitter after hitting 17 home runs and 62 RBI in only 460 at-bats.  Plus, the Pirates may have emerging power at the corner infield spots; Garrett Jones showed some pop with 17 homers last year, and Pedro Alvarez is due for his breakout year any time now.

Downside: Last year, the Pirates gave up the third-worst opponents batting average (.270) and received the fifth-fewest quality starts from their starting five.  A.J. Burnett is supposed to be the cure for that?

What Actually Happened:

A.J. Burnett bunts a ball into his face literally within the first five times he handles a bat. This may prove to be a blessing, but the reality now is the Pirates are lousy.

26) Chicago Cubs ↔

What We Said Originally:

Upside: Its spring, when Cubs fans everywhere have hope that at long last, this will finally be the year the winning drought in Wrigley Field ends. Plus, they off-loaded head-case first class Carlos Zambrano on the Marlins. Starlin Castro might be the bona fide star in Wrigley.

Downside: It’s not going to happen. Getting rid of Zambrano now means a pitching staff comprised of Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Chris Volstad and Travis Wood; along with threat of Jeff Samardzija getting work as a starter in spring training. The Cubs have an average-at-best rotation and no replacement for Aramis Ramirez on offense. Snicker if you must, but A-Ram stacks up favorably against some historic third-basemen. He’s complied the second-most 25-home run seasons (9) for a third baseman, behind only Mike Schmidt and Eddie Mathews who each had 12. Not to mention, only Chipper Jones has more seasons with at least a .300 batting average, 25 home runs and 90 RBI at the hot corner. Once again, spring becomes summer; the Cubs’drought continues.

What Actually Happened:

The Cubs are usually finished once the ivy blooms. Thanks to an unusually warm spring in Chicago, that happened early this year.

27)  San Diego Padres ↔

What We Said Originally:

Upside: Again, you really can’t beat the weather in San Diego…and the Padres, despite the loss of Mat Latos, Aaron Harang, and Heath Bell still have a serviceable  (not great, serviceable) pitching staff currently slated to feature Clayton Richard, Edinson Volquez, Tim Stauffer, Dustin Moseley, and Cory Luebke.  Heath Bell’s closer role has been replaced by Huston Street.

Downside:  The Padres offense last year was in the bottom three in runs scored (593), batting average (.237), on-base percentage (.305) and slugging percentage (.349). The only improvements to that came in the form of Carlos Quentin, Yonder Alonso, and current AARP member Mark Kotsay.

What Actually Happened:

It’s not really that hard to meet expectations when nobody expects anything from you.

28) Houston Astros ↑ 2

What We Originally Said:

Upside:  They have some nice young talent on the team like Jose Altuve, Jason Castro, and Fernando Martinez, and they still have Carlos Lee as the lone power source on the roster.

Downside: Last year, the pitching staff was bottom five in league rankings with a 4.51 cumulative ERA, 1.42 WHIP and a .266 opponents batting average en route to a league worst 56-106 record. That staff didn’t get any better.

What Actually Happened:

Wandy Rodriguez has respectable numbers for a pitcher.  In Houston, that makes him one of a dozen.

29) Minnesota Twins ↓ 1

What We Originally Said:

Upside: It is possible they get production from the faces of the franchise, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. Last year thanks to injuries, Mauer hit .287 with three home runs and 30 RBI, while Morneau hit a horrid .227 with four home runs and 30 RBI.

Downside: Only three players on the Twins saw more than 100 games of action last year. There’s Michael Cuddyer, who is now getting his mail in Colorado, outfielder Ben Revere, and third baseman Danny Valencia. These might be the only Twins who matter in 2012.

What Actually Happened:

When does Ron Gardenhire become Ron Garden-fired? The Twins haven’t canned a manager since the same year Jamie Moyer made his major league debut (yes, every single baseball time reference on this blog will orbit around Planet Moyer). The last manager to be fired by the Minnesota Twins was Ray Miller on September 12th, 1986.  Let’s be honest, Garden-fired’s success came from players developed by Tom Kelly, and Garden-fired’s 6-21 play-off record makes him one of the worst post-season mangers ever. However, to be fair, it isn’t like he is going to get a chance to change those numbers anytime soon.

30) Kansas City Royals ↓ 13

What We Originally Said:

Upside: The club is loaded with young talent like Eric Hosmer and Alcides Escobar.  Alex Gordon turned a corner in 2011. Billy Butler, Jeff Francoeur, and Jason Kendall provide veteran leadership, and there are more top prospects on the way like Wil Myers and Bubba Starling. The Royals also added pitching with starter Jonathan Sanchez and closer Jonathan Broxton.

Downside: General Manager Dayton Moore is a bit of an unproven commodity, so there’s no guarantee that he isn’t going to mortgage the future if the fans expectations suddenly outstrip the team’s talent.

What Actually Happened:

This team couldn’t suck more if you gave them a fully-automated, electrically-powered, full-on sucking machine. This team couldn’t suck more if you crossed them with Linda Lovelace and the Vietnamese “Me love you long time” girl from Full Metal Jacket.  It all starts when you have to say Bruce Chen is your Opening Day starter. For every other team in the league, that’ s an April Fools’ joke. For the Royals, that’s a fucking sucking reality.

Enter Your Own “Wang” Joke for the Washington Nationals

Time for some brutal honesty, men. Every one of you has taken a “C-list” woman on an “A-List” date just because you knew it dramatically increased your odds of breaking a “dry spell.” Picture the Washington Nationals as Mr. Dry Spell, and free-agent pitcher Chien-Ming Wang as the C-list chick and you get the idea.

But the Nats are soooo lonely. They haven’t had a taste since Montreal, so you really can’t criticize the Nats for dropping $2 million just to get some Wang back in their clubhouse. They’ve waited through two years of Wang injuries for this moment, and as Wang takes the bump tonight, here’s your chance to make a lot of dick jokes.  A name like Wang takes the hard out of dick jokes.  A name like Wang begs to be given head…lines.

That’s why were here at Dubsism have started our own hash tag on Twitter. Just head to #wangheadlines and hit us with your best shot.


This leaves us all on tinterhooks until the day some copywriter in D.C. gets the nads to whip out his dick joke chops. I think the Wang wait won’t be long.

Matt Stairs: My First Fantasy Baseball “Man-Crush”

“Not that there’s anything wrong with that…” – Jerry Seinfeld

If you’ve never been a fantasy baseball participant, this won’t make sense to you at all. In fact, most of this blog makes very little sense to most people, so you are far from alone. However, if you’ve known the joys of fantasy baseball draft day, and the near-suicidal despair of watching your first-round draft pick Ken Griffey, Jr. snap a hamstring in a spring game literally three hours after you drafted him, then you understand the concept of the Man-Crush.

Simply defined, the Man-Crush is all about being “in love” with a particular player.  Just like love, sometimes you don’t know why you love them; you just do. You’ll do anything to get them on your team, and it will crush you when your love goes unrequited; your dreams unrealized.

My first fantasy baseball “man-crush” was Matt Stairs. I choke up a little bit just typing his name; given the fact the reason I’m writing this today – this is the day Stairs was designated for assignment by the Washington Nationals.  Stairs is a unique guy who has had a unique career up to this point.

I can’t even bring myself to think this might be the end for Stairs; after all, he is 43 years old. I hold out hope that some other team, one whose uniform he has not yet worn, will see fit to give the professional pinch-hitter another shot.  See, Stairs has played for damn near everybody.

  • 1992-1993: Montreal Expos
  • 1995: Boston Red Sox
  • 1996-2000:  Oakland A’s
  • 2001: Chicago Cubs
  • 2002: Milwaukee Brewers
  • 2003: Pittsburgh Pirates
  • 2004 – 2005: Kansas City Royals
  • 2006: Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers
  • 2007: Toronto Blue Jays
  • 2008 – 2009: Philadelphia Phillies
  • 2010: San Diego Padres
  • 2011 (up to now): Washington Nationals

Stairs has worn 13 major-league uniforms, more than anybody in baseball history.  Let’s be honest, guys that change addresses that often are either complete headcases or “Have Fastball, Will Travel”-type bullpen guys.  The reason Stairs has been on so many rosters is he became a slugging pinch-hitter extraordinaire. Nobody has more career home runs coming off the bench than Stairs.  Any team out there needing some thunder from the bench? Just call Matt Stairs.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone Stairs climbed his way into my heart with power. It all started back in 1996, and the first time I saw him as a young outfielder with the Oakland A’s.  Specifically, it was the day in Minnesota I saw him hit two moon-shots off whatever slagheaps the Twins were offering as pitchers in those dark days of Dome-ball.  Both of those shots arced majestically into the upper deck in right field and right into my heart. I was hooked.

He had a short, quick swing, forearms like Popeye the Sailor, and he was left-handed. Anybody who knows me knows I’ve always has a weakness for leftie Canadian sluggers. Corey Koskie, Justin Morneau…I even sneaked peeks at Larry Walker even though he belonged to another.

I saw all I needed to see that afternoon in the Metrodome. Stairs had He had all the hallmarks of a 30-homer, 100-RBI guy.  But he didn’t look like your classic leftie slugger.  He was only 5’9” and stocky, and he didn’t have that beautiful, smooth stroke most good left-handed hitters have. I didn’t care. His upper-cut swing was a thing of beauty to me.

But I wasn’t the only fantasy suitor whose eye he caught.  Sadly, Matt would not be mine. Instead, I had to watch him blossom into that productive player while he belonged to another. Finally, in 2000, I landed Matt.  He was coming off his career year, slugging 38 dingers and driving in 102.

That April was the sweetest month. Matt was off to a hot start, and things started to seem as though he was going to be the piece that was missing, finally elevating me out of the fantasy baseball doldrums.

But the honeymoon didn’t last.

Matt’s production tailed off; he never again would hit 30 homers, nor drive in 100 runs. But I clung to the hope that the salad days would return. My friends tried to tell me that the relationship was bad for me and I should end it, but just couldn’t do it. I didn’t see the pudgy, slowing outfielder they saw; all I saw was Matt.

It took three more years before I finally had to face the ugly truth; Matt was never going to be the light of my fantasy baseball life. Ending the relationship was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but ultimately, I was better off for doing it.

A lot of years have gone by since it’s been over, but I still have feelings for Matt. Who ever really forgets their first?  Up until today, I would see him around every once in a while; it always did my heart good to see him doing well wherever he was.  To this day, that bomb he hit against the Dodgers in the 2008 NLCS will always be a special moment; that rarest of highs when the addict finally catches the dragon he’s been chasing. But as the saying goes, eventually, all good things come to an end, and this is no different. Even though we’ll never be together again, it will be a strange day for me when Matt is eventually out of the league.

That’s the danger in fantasy baseball. It’s always fun until somebody gets hurt.

Guest Column: Joe McGrath on Stupidity

Editor’s Note: Mr. McGrath has long and storied history in the management of professional sports franchises, most notably as the general manager of the Charlestown Chiefs of the now-defunct Federal League. Oh, and this is probably a good time to mention that Mr. McGrath’s views are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Dubsism, our staff, or anybody else whose house you might want to burn to the ground.

What a lot of you don’t know about me is that I love to read in my spare time. I picked up this habit on those long bus trips to places like Peterborough back in my Federal League days. The other night I found this book of quotes, and it had a section on stupidity. As I read through some of these quotes, it occurred to me just how rampant stupidity is in our world.  Albert Einstien once said only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. I don’t that guy ever said anything ever more important. The funny part is that so many of these quotes, eve if they are hundreds of years old still apply to some of the shitheads we have out there today.

1) Bud Selig, Commissioner, Major League Baseball

“The only thing that ever consoles man for the stupid things he does is the praise he always gives himself for doing them.” - Oscar Wilde

For life of me, I can’t figure out what this shit-for-brains was thinking. He has one guy who wanted to buy the Dodgers and had the money, cash goddamn money, and all of it that day. Instead, Commissioner Big Brain sells to a guy that has less than 2% of the cash up-front, and has the rest of the money in a financing plan shakier Oprah’s flabby ass.

2) Brian Sabean, General Manager, San Francisco Giants

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and consciencious stupidity.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

You baseball guys are such pussies sometimes. In hockey, if our star goalie gets plowed over, we just send a few of the big boys out to exact some “street justice.” But when Buster Posey got creamed on a play where deserved to get creamed, you bitched about it so long and loud you probably went through two full menstrual cycles while you did it. Teach your boys to play hard, but play smart, and most of all, keep your little fairy-yap shut. The game is about them, not your soft, fluffy ass.

3) David Kahn, General Manager, Minnesota Timberwolves

“Success in almost any field depends more on energy and drive than it does on intelligence. This explains why we have so many stupid leaders.”  - Sloan Wilson

This is right in my wheelhouse, as I was a general manger you far more years than I care to remember. There’s tow parts to the bottom line to success in that job.

  1. Never question the integrity of the league commissioner, even if you know the cocksucker is so crooked his driver’s license picture looks like a question mark.
  2. Never fire a coach who is happy to have a shitty job.

I rarely see a guy who steps in it like this moulyak. He blew through both of these in less than a month. First, he essentially calls NBA Commissioner David Stern a crook by insinuating the league’s draft lottery is fixed. Of course Stern’s a crook, he’s a Commissioner. To be a Commissioner, you have to be a politician, and to be a politician, you have have to be slimier that a snot-covered pile of worm-filled horse shit. You just can’t say it.

Then he jerks around Kurt Rambis on the Wolves’ head coaching job. Look, I get Rambis couldn’t coach his way out of a paper bag if you gave him a map and a blowtorch, but nobody in their right mind wants that job. If you have a guy whose is happy to fail in a job where you expect failure, be happy with that.

4) Jim Hendry, General Manager, Chicago Cubs

“The ugly and the stupid have the best of it in this world. They can sit at their ease and gape at the play. If they know nothing of victory, they are at least spared the knowledge of defeat.” - Oscar Wilde

Let’s be honest, anybody in a leadership role with the Cubs clearly understands this. Without the thrill of victory, there is no point of reference for the agony of defeat. That means if you are Jim Hendry, there’s just of lot of confused staring into the opposing dugout and wondering, “Why do those guys all seem so happy?”

5) Jim Riggleman, ex-Manager, Washington Nationals

“Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.” – Oscar Wilde

I understand how the blue-collar set thinks Riggleman standing up for his pride is a noble and honorable act. That’s exactly why they are on the lower rung of the social ladder and will never climb it. Riggleman wasn’t some ball-scratcher making eleven bucks an hour on some assembly line; he had signed a binding contract to do a job, for which he was to be paid in one year what the people worshipping his titanic act of stupidity make in a decade.  Instead, Riggleman doesn’t have the raisins to live with his pride being wounded a bit and commits career suicide over it.

6) E. Gordon Gee, President,  Ohio State Penitentiary University

“Between a fellow who is stupid and honest and one who is smart and crooked, I will take the first. I won’t get much out of him, but with that other guy I can’t keep what I’ve got.” - General Lewis B. Hershey

Time for some brutal honesty for Brutus F. Buckeye. The “resignation” of Jim Tressel was not an attempt of the university to ward off NCAA sanctions. It was attempt by Gee to yank his ass out of the fire. Gee committed the cardinal sin of letting a subordinate get away with murder because he was producing results. Every once in a while, you have to make sure your people aren’t doing things for which you ultimately will be held accountable.

When you find out something on which you need to act, there are plenty of ways to deal with such a problem that still insulate yourself. Put a sealed letter of reprimand in his file that contains a clause to the effect of  “you are on double-secret probation for period of time X, at the end of which this letter will be removed from your file.”

The trick is you keep that letter in your file along with a log of everytime the farted in the wrong key; that way you have a record that you acted on known bad behavior, and you have plenty of stuff to introduce into the record for any potential legal proceedings.

Either way, you will have cards to play instead of losing your job for “looking the other way.”  Denial always means death when the word gets out.

When The Affair Is Over – Jim Riggleman and The Washington Nationals

I know that title sounds a bit flip, but in all honestly, this relationship was an affair, not a marriage.

It all started a few years back when the Nationals fired the best manager they could hope to get at the time.  On the rebound from Manny Acta, Mike Rizzo hired Jim Riggleman. From all appearances, the relationship was working; the Nationals as of this writing are arguably the hottest team in all of baseball. This franchise is playing .500 baseball for the first time in Washington.

However, it seems there was a problem that we all didn’t become aware of until yesterday afternoon. Don’t think for a minute this wasn’t brewing for a while; 50-something year old guys don’t just have blow-ups and walk out on six-figure salaries and contractual obligations.

I have to admit, I don’t like that Riggleman has been getting piled on for quitting; in fact I understand the position he’s in. Don’t get me wrong, I think he handled it badly, but let’s not forget it takes two to tango.

Let’s go back to the marriage/affair analogy. Rizzo and Riggleman are in a relationship where they are responsible for the development of a team of young players. A “marriage” would have given Riggleman a long-term deal, rather than the series of one-year deals he had been working under, which makes Riggleman feel he was a permanent “interim manager.”  Let’s be honest, that’s exactly what he was.

This is the part where you ask yourself why is Rizzo willing to get into bed, but not willing to walk down the aisle with Riggleman? I’d be willing to bet you Rizzo’s cause for pause is Riggleman’s managerial record.

  • Overall record of 662-824 (.445) in 12 seasons as manager
  • He’s only ever finished a season over .500 twice (one was the strike-shortened 1995 season)
  • Has only won more than 80 games once
  • Never managed a division-winner

That’s not exactly a sparkling record, but it also ignores a couple of key facts.

Riggleman has been lucky enough to manage some bad franchises; ones that really didn’t have a commitment to winning when he was there; San Diego, Chicago Cubs, Seattle, and now Washington. If that weren’t enough, look at the managers he’s replaced.

  • Greg Riddoch – 200-194 (.508) in three seasons with San Diego; never managed in the major leagues again
  • Tom Trebelhorn – 49-64 (.434) in 1994 with the Cubs; never managed in the major leagues again
  • John McLaren – 68-88 (.436) in 156 games with Seattle; never managed in the major leagues again
  • Manny Acta – 158-252 (.385) in three seasons with Washington; now managing the Cleveland Indians

Boil it all down, and it tells you Riggleman is a “clean-up” guy; he’s the type of manager that digs teams out of holes created by another manager, and leaves those teams in a position to be better than when he came. Look at the records of teams in the season after he left, and compare it to what Riggleman inherited.

  • San Diego – 1994: 47-70  1995: 70-74
  • Chicago Cubs – 1999: 67-95  2000: 65-97
  • Seattle – 2008: 36-54  2009: 85-77

Here’s the problem; the clean-up guy is like the rebound girlfriend, the one you date after a bad break-up; the one who convinces you that you don’t hate all women, just the one you caught screwing your best friend. The sad reality is that nobody marries the rebound girl, her job is to pave the way for the one who is going to get the ring.

In other words, Riggleman is not the manager who is going to get a ring. There’s three kinds of major league managers: there’s the “dig you into a hole” guy, there’s the “clean-up” guy, and there’s the “ring” guy.  Nobody ever hires the “hole” guy on purpose, because they don’t come with warning signs. But general manager certainly know the “clean-up” and “ring” guys; and they hire according to their needs. Mike Rizzo is no exception.

So, Rizzo knows something Riggleman doesn’t. Riggleman’s not knowing his role meant he overplayed his hand when he confronted Rizzo with the “marry me or I’m outta here” ultimatum.

What Riggleman needs to realize is that “ring” guys can’t exist without “clean-up” guys; for every Joe Torre, there’s a Buck Showalter. It is also the “clean-up” guys who get the jobs. The trick to success in any line of management, be it baseball or in business is to know your strengths and weakness and own them.  Be who you are, not who you think you are.

However, having said that, Rizzo plays a role in getting us all to this point as well. Rizzo had to know this was an issue, and Rizzo chose to not deal with it. Riggleman asked to meet with him behind closed doors and settle this matter, but he chose to decline the meeting. That means there is no way Rizzo can claim he didn’t know there was a problem, and there’s no way he can say he did all he could to avoid this catastrophe.

It begs the question why he turned down the meeting in the first place. Anybody in management can tell you that people who want to meet with their boss does so because they are frustrated about something. In my real job, I’ve had people who worked for me come to me with various complaints, and in 99% of those cases, as a manager you don’t even have to do anything, just hear them out.  That’s a pretty low level of effort, but saying “no” to that meeting is the best way to tell an employee you couldn’t give a rat’s ass less about them or their problem. Funny how that tends to result in people telling you to take your job and shove it.

Riggleman felt he deserved better, and that caused him to make a bad decision. It bodes badly for a man in a leadership role to walk away from a commitment to his team over over what is essentially a disagreement with his boss.  Not to mention, giving your boss an ultimatum is never a good idea.  Riggleman deserves criticism for that, but for every word aimed at him, one should be aimed at Rizzo.  After all, an ultimatum tends to be an act of last resort and Rizzo didn’t even have the stones to tell him “you’re not our guy” to his face.  Sending a message to your people that you don’t care about them is far worse than anything Riggleman did.

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