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by Al McMordie - 06/03/2005
Two years ago, the Florida Marlins started 29-35. That poor start vanished, however, as they got hot at the right time and went on to win the World Series. So if your team is off to a below-.500 record thus far in baseball, take some solace in knowing that things could turn around. A year ago the Red Sox were playing lethargic ball and were in a tight race for the Wild Card spot, before getting hot in mid-August on their way to winning the Series. And three years ago the Angels were the surprise team to turn it on in the second half and get hot. It's still very early in the season, and here's a look at some teams that might be better than they've played thus far, and could begin to improve.
Florida Marlins: Florida is not having a bad season, but they are a very talented team, with speed atop the lineup (Luis Castillo, Juan Pierre), a bunch of sluggers to drive them in (Carlos Delgado, Miguel Cabrera, Alex Gonzalez), great starting pitching and fine defense. Their recent slump is a bit puzzling, but don't be shocked if this team rips off several winning streaks and makes a run at playing in October. They are one of the few teams that don't have many weaknesses.
Cleveland Indians: Cleveland had a terrific offensive team last season and only needed to upgrade the pitching to get better. They did, adding Kevin Millwood to team with C.C. Sabathia, and a revamped bullpen that has been very strong. Yet, the young kids on offense haven't hit. Cleveland is last in the AL in team batting (.244), which is even worse when you realize they play in a great hitter's park. They are also last in runs scored. If they can get the offense straightened out, the Indians could improve.
Seattle Mariners: Seattle is another team that's had a weak offense. This is surprising, as they have a talented leadoff hitter in Ichiru Suzuki, a strong defensive second basemen in Bret Boone and high-priced new sluggers in Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson. On paper, this is a better team than they've shown. They should improve, especially at home where they started just 11-15.
New York Mets: And speaking of high priced newcomers. The Mets are fourth in home runs in the NL and 7th in runs, with a strong middle of the order with Carlos Beltran, Mike Piazza and Cliff Floyd. Ace Pedro Martinez has been lights out anchoring the rotation. But they've been a .500 team all season and need to find a way to win on the road (10-16 start). This is one team that will be looking to add a quality hitter and starting pitcher before the All Star break -- and they have the $$$ to do it. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.