As promised, the 2007 National League midseason report:
I think the Padres are the team with the most interesting options. They’ve been dominant pitching wise but pretty bad offensively. It’s convenient to attribute both those to Petco’s spacious outfield but I don’t think that’s entirely to blame/credit for both. The Pads have already added cheap offense by taking in guys with questionable character (Michael Barrett and Milton Bradley) so we’ll see if that comes back to haunt them. It will be interesting to see if they trade some of their pitching (even if it’s at the AAA level) to bolster their offense.
I really don’t have much good to say about this team. None of their hitters or pitchers are really that intimidating. Their first half MVP was probably Brad Penny and I am predicting that he is going to decline in the second half. His HR to outfield fly ball ratio has been very low, suggesting that he has been pretty lucky thus far. He also dated Alyssa Milano, so he’s pretty lucky in the regard as well. Look for him to give up a lot more home runs the second half. One surprise for the Dodgers has been James Loney who has an OPS of 1.045 (albeit in only 78 AB) and taken Nomar’s spot at first base. Anyway, I see this team fading as the second half progresses.
They really could go either way. Randy Johnson has been good when healthy but that’s saying a lot. Its great the Eric Byrnes is hitting so well but its not great that he’s been their leading power guy. They need more power and production out of the typical power positions like 1B, 3B and the rest of the outfield.
After a shaky start this team appears to be a few moves away from being able to win a pretty weak division. I said at the beginning of the year that I really liked the Lily signing and he’s turned out pretty well. Overall their starting pitching is pretty solid. They could probably use some bullpen help. (See the end of this article.) Also, although it was a good move to get rid of clubhouse cancer/bully/psycho Michael Barrett, they do miss his bat and could use a catcher with a bigger stick.
Their fast start means that if they can just play decent baseball throughout the second half they should be able to hold on to the division. The problem is they just dropped 3 of 4 to the Pirates and 2 of 3 to the Nationals, and they have been unimpressive away from home. What this team needs is a few veterans (maybe a starter and a bat) who have some playoff experience. They only real vet they have is Jeff Suppan who I refuse to acknowledge as a major leaguer, let alone a previous NLCS MVP.
A lot of question marks for the Braves. When will Andruw Jones start to hit? How long will Smoltz’s shoulder keep him sidelined? They could definitely use to add pitching, either a starter or reliever. I’m just not really sure who or what they have to offer. I’m hoping Buzzsaw will fill in the blanks for me.
Despite a number of injuries they still have a small lead in the division. They could use 7th inning help and also may be in the market for a starting pitcher, possibly Contreras. They’re also looking forward to Pedro’s return, which should help their chances.
The Phils aren’t that far back right now but I can see them being sellers before long. Even though Howard and Burrell will almost certainly have better second halves, they just don’t have the pitching with both Garcia and Lieber out.
This is not meant to be a knock on the NL, although it is obviously an inferior league (OK, that was), but any team who needs to add a “quality” arm to improve their bullpen should simply trade a marginal prospect to an AL team for a back of the bullpen rotation pitcher. It’s guaranteed to work. Trust me, I’ve seen enough Red Sox relievers get rocked only to get traded to the Padres or Dodgers and become key contributors (David Riske, Rudy Seanez, Cla Meredith). Jim Hendry, how do you feel about Mike Timlin?
One more things about the NL, then I’m done. I promise. Can you see any of these teams besides the maybe the Mets even having a chance to win the World Series? Well, maybe the Padres too I guess, but it’s just that none of them are very intimidating. Then again, the Cardinals are the reigning champions and I still have no idea how that happened.