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What's Wrong With....

   by Al McMordie - 05/11/2008

Each baseball season expectations are strong for most teams, at least as far as improvement. Then the season starts. Suddenly, things don’t go quite according to plan. Some teams play better than expected, others stumble through hitting slumps or injuries. Fortunately, it’s only May, so there is plenty of time to get things straightened out. Here’s a look at several disappointing teams.

Mets: This weekend the Mets had a 12-6 win over the Reds, the first win at home for new ace Johan Santana. The first win? It was his only third home start of the season. Still, it’s a bit surprising to see one of the best pitchers in baseball, on a team loaded with talent, not picking up a home win until 6+ weeks into the season.

There are big names on this team, Santana, Moises Alou, Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Delgado and Carlos Beltran. So why are they roughly a .500 team? The team batting average and runs scored are in the middle of the pack in the NL. Beltran is hitting .233, Delgado .234, and Reyes .246. After beginning the day with a .216 average, Delgado had three hits from the No. 7 spot in the order, missing the cycle by a triple. Delgado is 10-for-27 (.370) during his hitting streak, so there are some good signs.

Still, this team should be better and has a lot to prove. Last September they had a collapse for the ages in blowing the division to the Phillies, an albatross that is still around their necks. On a recent road trip, the manager admitted they were glad to get away from hostile Shea, as fans had been ripping some of the players.

Just as soon as they won that 12-6 game for Santana at home, they played the second game of a doubleheader, a 7-1 loss as the boos returned to Shea Stadium. Cincy starter Bronson Arroyo allowed only one run. In his previous 16 2/3 innings, the right-hander surrendered 23 runs on 31 hits! (Booooooo....) At least their pitching is ranked 5th in the NL, a key to winning over the long haul. But watch this team at home carefully if the boos begin to wear on the players and coaches.

Yankees: Unlike the Mets, the Yankee problems are more obvious. The offense has struggled lately because of the absence of Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada, especially against lefties. Last week they lost again to Kenny Rogers and Cliff Lee, a pair of southpaws. Lee shut them out 3-0. The offensive problems are also noticeable in a remarkable 25-11 start under the total.

And the pitching has been worse. GM Brian Cashman had a chance to land Santana over the winter, but refused to part with top prospects Philip Hughes and Ian Kennedy. Big mistake. Hughes has a 9.00 ERA and an 0-4 record, while Kennedy is a little better....with an 8.37 ERA! The two are a combined 0-6. If Cashman convinced the owners to hang onto these guys instead of dealing for Santana, he’ll likely be gone.

Kei Igawa was just brought up to fill some starting holes and has been worse, with an 18.00 ERA, cementing the notion that he has been a disastrous waste of $46 million. Igawa gave up six runs and 11 hits in three-plus innings in a 6-5 loss Friday night, and is getting another chance! If they can ever get their power offense back healthy, the Yankees might be a good shot over the total, but until now the facts remain they are an under machine.

Padres: Hard to believe the last place Padres won 89 games last season. The pitching is in the middle of the pack, while the offense is last in the NL. Playing in such a huge park is going to hurt their offense, so it’s up to the pitching to carry the day. Notice that for bettors it’s still a boon: San Diego is 13-4 under the total at home.

Rockies: The good news is the defending NL champions recently won 3 in a row. The bad news is they’ve been mostly bad all season. How did this team win the pennant? Last year they were tops in the NL in fielding. This year: dead last. They are 11th in the 16-team NL in runs scored and 14th in pitching.

Young star SS Troy Tulowitzki was benched earlier in the season, and then put on the disabled list last week. At the time of his benching, he told the Denver Post, “It’s not a work day, I am being benched. It’s up to me to get better.â€쳌 Clint Barmes, the team’s hottest hitter, is starting at shortstop with Jeff Baker getting the nod at second base. Tulowitzki is struggling this season, hitting just .152 in 105 at-bats. Manager Clint Hurdle didn’t rule out sitting Tulowitzki for an extended period before he landed on the DL, and also admitted that he’s considering batting him down in the order. That magical 22-1 run ended with a 4-game World Series sweep. It appears the Rockies pact with the devil ran out, or at the very least, their good fortune. Good luck, as always, Al McMordie.

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