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by Bryan Leonard - 06/19/2008
It's only June, but already there have been some surprises and some busts this baseball season. Here's a look at some of baseball's disappointments.
Mariners: The addition of strikeout king Eric Bedard to potential ace Felix Hernandez gave Seattle a dynamite one-two lefty/righty punch atop the rotation, a goal of every team. Yet, they are second worst in team ERA in the American League. Throw in the fact that Seattle is last in the AL in runs scored with a dysfunctional offense and you can see why theyâ€™ve been huge underachievers.
The Nationals came to town as the worst team in the National League, riddled by injuries and losers of 10 out of 12 games. By the time the Nationals left town, however, they had completed a three-game sweep capped by Sunday's 6-2 victory. The Father's Day crowd at Safeco Field was raining down boos upon the Mariners, who lost seven straight at home and now are the worst team in baseball. Pitcher Jarrod Washburn said, "It's been terrible. We find a different way to lose every night. We're just not good. We haven't shown any signs of turning it around. It's frustrating. It's embarrassing." Manager John McLaren wonâ€™t last the season.
Indians: The Indians have had a variety of problems, mainly on a struggling offense. However, they are improving, ranked 6th in the AL now in runs scored. Since pitching carries a team though the long summer, Cleveland is in decent shape with four left-handed starters and one right-hander. The lefties are C.C. Sabathia, Cliff Lee, Aaron Laffey and Jeremy Sowers, while Paul Byrd is the lone right-hander. Fausto Carmona is currently on the shelf, but when he comes back they have the staff to make a run. Perhaps their timing has been poor: Tribe pitchers have allowed seven grand slams this year, the most in the big leagues.
Tigers: Itâ€™s no secret what has gone wrong in Detroit: Pitching. There hasnâ€™t been enough of it, ranked 3rd worst in the AL in team ERA. They are third in the AL in runs scored, so offense is not a problem. So is there hope? Yes. The potent lineup with Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez posted 22 runs in their three games against the Dodgers to sweep their second consecutive series. Also, Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya are returning from injuries to bolster a weak pen. Theyâ€™ve gotten ace Justin Verlander straightened out, as well, off a terrific game against the White Sox. Look for Detroit to go shopping for a starter before the trade deadline.
Braves: So why is Atlanta terrible on the road and in a 6-13 rut? Injuries! Batting champion Chipper Jones is battling injuries, while the pitching staff has been positively decimated. Until last week, the Braves had been 0-7 without Jones in the lineup this season. Donâ€™t look for the Braves to turn things around unless several of their pitchers get healthy.
Dodgers: New LA manager Joe Torre must feel snake-bitten. Sparkplug Rafael Furcal has been on the shelf, and ace Brad Penny just lasted only 3 2/3 innings of the Dodgers' 12-7 loss to the Detroit Tigers. Penny will have an MRI exam to determine the source of pain. The Dodgers on Saturday ended a 24-inning scoreless streak! LA has a losing record as a favorite, so beware of these money-burning Dodgers.