A blog dedicated to the New York Mets with some other baseball thrown in.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A League of Their Own

Lou Piniella smiled. He admitted being happy to be out of the American League. "I am glad I am here," he said of being manager of the Cubs.

And why wouldn't he be? The AL has become a beast. The Yankees and the Red Sox were the trendsetters, but now many teams are following suit, building and building for what should be a race next year in which you very possibly can have 90-plus-win teams miss the playoffs.

Keeping up with all of the behemoths in the American League is getting tougher and tougher. Teams are forced to make big moves in order to simply keep up with everyone else. To make matters worse, the Yankees and the Red Sox have extremely good farm systems to pair up with their ability to spend exorbitant amounts of cash.

It is a truly scary thought and even the Tigers, who have liquidated their farm system over the past two off-seasons between graduation to the bigs and trades, have Rick Porcello in their farm system who could be a future ace on short order. The teams on top of the American League are not going anywhere anytime soon and many teams in the AL have to make the all important decision to blow it up or try to hang with them. Most teams have decided to hang with them and step up their game.

Despite the difference being reported by the media between the two leagues, I always thought the AL was deeper while the NL was simply more top heavy. Sure they were not as deep as the AL, but surely their top teams could hang with the AL's big boys and direct evidence of that was the fact the NL has managed to walk away with some World Series Championships over the past few years. The Diamondbacks won in 2001, the Marlins won in 2003, and the Cardinals won in 2006. The NL's big boys could hang with the AL, no? Not so much.

I took the records of the top three teams in each division in 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007 and found out how well they did against the other league. The AL's top teams had a .602 winning % while the NL's top teams had a .495 winning %. Just let that one sink in. If you want to really put up an embarrassing stat, the bottom two teams in each division of the AL over that same period up time put up a .518 winning% while their NL counterparts performed exactly as you would expect last place teams to perform and had a .402 winning%.

When people say, the Devil Rays could be contenders in the NL, I do not doubt them. In fact, every team but the Orioles, Royals, and Rangers would be considered contenders in the National League. There is basically no justifiable way I can defend my favorite league any more and it is becoming quite embarrassing.

The real crux of the problem is outlined by a GM of a National League team.

"If we played in the other league, I'd probably do that," he said. "But in this league, I don't have to do it. If we keep the guys we'd give up, we have just as much chance to be playing in October as we would if we made the deal. So why do it?"

The only good thing I can think of is that the NL teams are hanging onto their youth and looking towards the future. The Reds have something brewing, the Dodgers are on the up and up with a group of top prospects, the Diamondbacks appear loaded, the Brewers have some solid youth, the Mets are on the right path if they could develop some pitching, etc. However, at this point in time no one feels compelled to take any giant leaps out front because they simply do not have to.

Omar appears to be the only guy will to make some bold moves, but no one wants to even deal with him for the parts he is looking for. Overall though, it seems that these GMs do not feel challenged enough to be compelled enough to start making some power moves to shift the balance of power overwhelmingly into their favor. I am not quite sure if that is a smart or ill-advised move, but that is what is going on and not much happened this year to close the gap between the two leagues and things actually seemed to have widen.

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  • Some Christmas stories are human interest stories filled with holiday cheer and some are not. This one, is not. I actually think the tiger was planning this for a while and there might have been some zoo keepers recruited for this as it appears to have been an inside job with no evidence of an escape.
  • If you are looking some actual baseball news, do not bother. There will be nothing until 2008 and even then it will be rather yawn inducing.
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    Anonymous Anonymous said...


    It has been a yawn inspiring offseason full stop.

    Yeha the AL are better, have more money, deeper organizations, bigger crowds yada yada yada. But they still have a DH and therefore do not play baseball.

    Colon could have a helluva bounce back year in the NL. He wont be a dominator but if his weight is down as there have been reports of, then a 2 yr low cost, high incentive deal could be the way to go.

    Clement is the same. 2yrs 3mil per but the chance to earn up to another 4 or so if healthy.

    Jason Jennings I wouldnt mind having on a 3 year deal. He is an underrated pitcher who could win 15+ games on the right team.

    1:34 PM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    I agree on the DH thing...but it is an undeniable fact that the 'better' league gets kicked around. For the sake of real baseball, could they please close the gap a bit?

    Colon is throwing in the mid 80's, no? Give me Livan over him if they have the same stuff. One has exhibited more health and knows how to use a mid 80's fastball.

    Jennings wouldn't be a bad one either. I would agree...but I have not been all that up to speed on his injury.

    2:58 PM

    Anonymous ossy said...

    in reference to this offseason, its more of addition by subtraction.

    loduca didnt hit much last year.
    mota sucked balls.
    everyone hated glavine.

    we all want a blockbuster but its just not there for us.

    7:35 PM

    Blogger Anthony said...

    Reading these posts are depressing me. Colon in the 80's and fat. Livan...blah. Jason Jennings to multiple year deal? Just doesn't sound like a team that has a shot in hell at a championship. How does that team beat the Red Sox, Tigers, etc?

    I do agree with the key to this offseason has been addtition by subtraction. Mota gone - excellent. Did hate Glavine. I think Schneider/Castro is better than LoDuca leading the charge at this point. Especially with the drama of his roids scandal now.

    I'm very concerned this team could be stagnant going into 08. Ryan Church, Delgado over the hill, a non-reliable (physically) Alou. Willie...

    On that note, happy holidays to everyone here. It's very fun to be a part of all the swelliciousness that Metropolitans brings. Thanks for keeping baseball and other stuff entertaining.

    10:34 PM

    Anonymous Two-By-Four said...

    The AP reports:

    Mark Prior and his hometown San Diego Padres agreed to a $1 million, one-year contract on Wednesday, making him the second postoperative pitcher to join the team in less than a month.

    I love what the Padres are doing. First they take a chance with Wolf and now with Prior. They know full well they can’t trade for a Santana and hope to sign him to a long term deal so they take educated risks. This is something I would love to see the Mets pursue but I guess the thought of signing someone who physically is a risk and could possibly not perform this year is alien to Wilpon’s and/or Omar’s thought and/or fiscal process

    12:58 AM

    Anonymous benny blanco from da bronx said...

    The AL is pretty badassed.
    But in the end it doesn't really matter. That just means thier All-Star is much more stacked than the NL's all star team, big deal.
    Once October hits, anything goes.
    It just menas the AL is harder to win in that the NL, whatever, who cares. Whatever makes it easier for the Mets to make it to the playoffs.

    God the offseason is soooooooo boooooooooring.

    BTW, great picture I got from the BMF blog, by slate.com

    3:24 AM

    Blogger mr. met said...

    Ossy...well said. I have to say seeing those guys gone is a good thing, though many people will contest the Glavine thing. But please...remember what he said about all the Met antics when it comes to celebrating...and you know....being happy. He hated it and therefore must have had some sort of negative sentiment to the 90% of the team that participated. I mean, he had to be sort of a rift causer in a sense, no?

    Livan may be blah, but he is not going to cost a whole hell of a lot.

    However Anthony, your other concerns are well founded. Stagnent in '08 won't be bad if they play a bit in between '06 and '07 and get Pelfrey to step up his game.

    2x4...we'll see the Mets ink Garcia, which is in the same ballpark as what you are thinking, but with far less upside in my eyes.

    I would not say anything goes in the playoffs 100% because when the NL has lost in the other years, it was a complete beating. Yikes. The Marlins and D-Backs did it with stellar pitching, but the Cardinals were still lucky as hell.

    1:11 PM


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