You got to love it when the executives for the boys of summer try to make it interesting. This last week saw a slew of trades being executed, some which may have some huge implications for the playoffs.
Of the many deals that were made, I would have to say that the most significant one would belong to the Chicago White Sox and their acquisition of ace Jake Peavy from the Padres. Peavy is one of a few pitchers that can take over a game o his own and all but guarantee a win for the team every fifth day. Although currently injured, Peavy will undoubtedly pay dividends when he does take the mound.
Big bats often get a lot of the glory but it might be better for the public image of the team to have them take a back seat to the pitchers. Prince Fielder has proven he can swing a big bat; last week he also showed he can throw a temper tantrum with the best of them. I can understand the heat of the moment, but to try and charge the other team’s locker room after the game- grow up, man.
A pair of rookies showed they deserve to be in the spotlight and proved they could handle it. J.A. Happ (of the Phillies), in danger of losing his rotation spot to a healthy Pedro Martinez goes out and throws a complete game shutout ( I think his job is safe). Randy Wells has been doing his part to fuel the resurgent Cubs as they battle for the divisional title in the competitive NL central.
Only two division titles still appear to be competitive barring a meltdown from one of the other division leaders. The Yankees appear to be back on top and are in firm control of the AL East; the Angels continue to have a lock on the AL West; the Phillies in the NL East and Dodgers in the NL West have been in control of their divisions for some time now.
The AL Central is still within reach of the White Sox; getting Peavy into the rotation would help their effort. Detroit hopes that there big trade acquisition, Jarrod Washburn, will be the difference maker. Over in the NL Central, the Cardinals are back on top with the Cubs nipping at their heals; the Astros have dropped back a few games making their chances a bit tougher.
What to Watch this Week
The four game series between Boston and Detroit has the potential to really shake up the wildcard race. Boston returns home after losing four straight to the Yankees giving them a pretty sizable lead in the division. To win the wild card the Red Sox will have to compete with the tough Texas Rangers (currently with the same record as Boston) and a Tampa Bay team that is only a game and a half behind.
Boston looks to end their six game losing streak against a Detroit team hungry to hold onto their division lead. Detroit currently holds a three game lead over the White Sox and has won four of their last five. Detroit looks to hold off the White Sox who happen to have a pretty soft schedule this week.
Both teams have top pitching staffs; Boston currently ranks fourth in the AL in pitching and Detroit fifth. Their team batting averages are only 2 points apart with Boston having a .262 average and Detroit .260. Boston’s offense was pretty anemic in New York, and would undoubtedly love to break out against Detroit at home. However Justin Verlander appears to have regained his ace-like form and Edwin Jackson has shut Boston down before (for 2 1/3 innings during the ALCS last year when he was with Tampa Bay).
When it comes down to it these are two highly talented teams looking to return to the postseason. Their four game series should make for some great baseball this week.
Beer: When talking Boston, playoffs, and beer it only seems appropriate to talk about Sam Adams Oktoberfest. While still light and easy to drink like a summer ale it has somewhat full bodied taste like a winter beer.