The American League East is proven to be baseball's toughest division, with more teams over .500 than any other division (4 of 5). That has caused this division to be really tight, and it doesn't seem to loosen up. The Red Sox currently lead the division, with a 61-42 record, which ranks first in the American League. In second place, the second best team in the AL resides, the Tampa Bay Rays. They are white-hot right now, and have only lost three games in the month of July, giving them a record of 17-3 in their twenty July games. The Orioles (57-45), Yankees (53-48), and Blue Jays (45-55) follow the leaders, while the top three teams are separated by only 3.5 games.
Three teams in the AL East are projected to finish over 90 wins. The Baltimore Orioles are a good team, but they haven't played as good baseball as the teams ahead of them. The O's need to really fight for the second wild card spot, knowing that one of the two will probably come from their division. Francisco Rodriguez will help solidify the bullpen, so don't be suprised if you see the O's making a run down the stretch.
New York Yankees -- 53-48 (Projected finish: 83-79)
The Yankees will miss the playoffs this season, bet on it. Playing in the toughest divison doesn't help at all, and probably the most "unlucky" team in terms of injuries can't get any breaks this season. The New York Yankees are going to miss out, and have to wait until next year. Perhaps Alfanso Soriano could turn this season around, but it's highly unlikely that he can solve all the "big" problems that the Yankees have.
Toronto Blue Jays -- 45-55 (Projected finish: 70-92)
The Blue Jays were my pick to win the division earlier this year, because I thought they truly fixed some problems that they had, rather than just making a "Miami Marlins" splash. They just proved again that you can't go from worst to first by adding star players. You have to have the chemistry in some way or another. It's up to them if they want to do a "Miami Marlins" firesale at the deadline.
The list is long; Ryan Braun, Carlos Ruiz, Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Melky Cabrera, and many more have been accused of taking performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). It's sort of funny to say, because when you look at these players statistics, you wonder how, after all these years, they can just hit for unbelievable power, contact, and play the field just as good as anyone else. When Barry Bonds was accused of taking PEDs, he simply said, "If the pitchers are taking them, how could I not?" That's really funny Barry. Think about it, if the pitchers were truly also taking the PEDs, how could Bonds explode onto the scene, a full head and shoulders above everyone else? If the pitchers were taking the drug, Bonds would've had an average year, and nobody would worry. Bonds, Braun, Ruiz, and Cabrera all did something wrong, and they can't do anything about it.
What is showed below is each of the player's monster year, the year before it, and the year after. This should show how much PEDs put you ahead of the game. All the players have shown that PEDs have been making them better, and that their records and achievements should be forgotten and given to a more worthy player who did play by the rules.
As you can see, each player has been "synthetically" boosted to become a player they are not supposed to be. You don't know if Bonds ever stopped taking the drug, because his average was up at .370, even following the positive tests. For Ruiz, Braun, and Cabrera they just aren't as good as they were while taking the PEDs.
Sadly, this makes you question every good ballplayer who plays by the rules. Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis are two candidates who everyone hopes that they do not cheat, but we can only wonder how they became the faces of baseball. Every good player will be questioned at one point, and even if they are clean, will be continued to be doubted because of these players.
I hate to say it, but this is where baseball is faulty. America's greatest pastime is an intriguing sport, but people who take the PEDs are making it worse for the actual superstars, the players who put in the work, time, and energy to be the best players of their time. I hope baseball can figure out a way to do away with PED usage forever, but sadly players will do whatever it takes to be the best that they can be, even if it means ruining their careers.
July 31 is nine days away. The blockbusters, smooth deals, and sleepers are still with their respective teams, but this won't remain much longer. Two pitchers, Matt Garza and Jake Peavy, seem to be all the rage for teams looking to get into contention, and would love pitching depth. Garza will be a free agent following the season, while Peavy has one more year remaining on his current contract. For many teams, this is the deciding factor between going after Peavy or Garza. But, what pitcher will give you the best benefit for this season?
Matt Garza and Jake Peavy are both great, commanding pitchers. You don't need to see their numbers to recognize that. Both, however, have had stays on the DL. When healthy, Peavy and Garza are great pitchers as you can see in their numbers. Peavy also is a three-time All Star and a Cy Young award winner, while Garza has yet to crack the awards column.
Garza and Peavy both rack up the strikeouts, and keep their WHIPs pretty low. Peavy has a lower ERA, but also has pitched in nearly 800 more innings than Garza. In the long term, Garza would always be a better option, as he is the younger pitcher. But, for one year who would be the better pitcher down the stretch?
Peavy's career numbers show that Peavy has been a better pitcher, but his prime may be behind him. If you look at both Peavy's and Garza's numbers this year, you can get a real feel of what type of pitcher each team is looking at.
As you can see, Matt Garza's 2013 numbers have been slightly better than Peavy's. What really separates the two pitchers is that Garza's ERA is nearly a run lower than Peavy's. Garza has been dominant, when healthy of course. Peavy has been declining, but can still put up above average numbers for a pitcher.
In my opinion, I believe that Garza will help a contending team more than Jake Peavy. Even though Peavy has two years left on his current deal (vesting option for a third), he probably will continue to decrease, while Garza is still in his prime.
GMs have their reasons for one pitcher over another, and honestly, they won't go wrong going for either target. But, I think Matt Garza has the highest chance of getting you over the hump, and into the World Series.
We have now heard that Matt Garza will not be traded to the Rangers, at least in the deal that was "99% complete" yesterday. There was injury concerns between the Cubs and Rangers, but it was not over Garza.
Yoenis Cespedes homered 32 times last night. He won the Home Run Derby, and put on a show for everyone in Citi Field, and everyone watching ESPN. He hit great, mashing eight more homers than Bryce Haprer, who finished second in the Derby. But, how does Cespedes compare to previous Derby winners? Let's take a look at the stats.
2012: Prince Fielder --- 30 HR
2011: Robinson Cano --- 32 HR
2010: David Ortiz --- 32 HR
2009: Prince Fielder --- 23 HR
2008: Justin Morneau --- 22 HR (2nd Place: Josh Hamilton --- 35 HR)
2007: Vladimir Guerrero --- 17 HR
2006: Ryan Howard --- 23 HR
2005: Bobby Abreu --- 41 HR
2004: Miguel Tejada --- 27 HR
2011: Cano --- 13 HR
2010: Ortiz --- 14 HR
2009: Fielder --- 24 HR
2008: Morneau --- 9 HR
Based on history, Cespedes could have a monstrous second half, or will most likely finish solid in terms of homer totals. With 15 home runs already, Cespedes will probably finish with around 30 bombs. But, we finally know to what level Cespedes' power is. That's what will make him for fun to watch when the second half comes.