4 Hyped MLB Teams Racing to the Bottom

Peter ChenContributor IIIApril 29, 2012

4 Hyped MLB Teams Racing to the Bottom

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    With the MLB season ending its first month, already there are signs of serious trouble with some of the most hyped teams in baseball. 

    Four teams in particular, all of whom have won the World Series in the past decade and were popular picks to win their respective divisions, are struggling mightily as April ends.

    These four teams are all among the top seven in the MLB in overall payroll.

    Is it unlucky injuries, inadequate adjustments by new players and managers or just the baseball gods frowning on the fat cats? Turn the page for more.


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    The Phillies, second in payroll only to the Yankees, have been one of MLB’s best teams for years. Suddenly on hard times, they resemble the 2011 San Francisco Giants with lights-out pitching but ominously anemic hitting.

    Without Ryan Howard and Chase Utley, the Phils are down to 33-year-old Jimmy Rollins (four for his last 41) batting third and have thus far scored fewer runs than all but three teams.

    The average age of the starting lineup is ancient, as only Hunter Pence and John Mayberry are (barely) under 30. 

    Cliff Lee is on the DL too. 

    The 2011 Giants went 86-76, but they were in a much weaker division. If Howard, Utley and Lee don't return to form, and fast, the Phillies, up against the likes of the Braves and Nats, will meet an unkinder fate. 

    Prediction: 80-82

Red Sox

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    The Red Sox imploded spectacularly in September 2011. It’s a new season, with the third highest payroll in baseball, and a new manager in Bobby V.

    But 2012 has brought some unwelcome injuries, and the same old combustible pitching staff, sporting among the highest ERAs and WHIPs in all of MLB.

    With Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford on the shelf, the Sox currently feature an all-newcomer outfield of Marlon Byrd, Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney. 

    The newly acquired closer, Andrew Bailey, hasn’t thrown a pitch. His stands-in, Aceves and Melancon, have not been good, although Aceves seems to have stabilized from his nightmarish outing against the Yankees. 

    Pedroia, Gonzalez, Ortiz and Youkilis are a fearsome foursome at the plate, but in baseball’s toughest division, the outfield and pitching staff injuries could spell doom.

    Curse of the Bambino redux?

    Prediction: 79-83


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    Number series brainteaser: What are 1.011, .906 and .587? 

    Why, those are Albert Pujols’ OPS figures for 2010, 2011 and 2012, respectively. 

    No worries. Pujols, signed to a 10-year deal, is simply off to an unusually slow start. Right? 

    The Angels had better hope the 32-year-old Pujols is merely experiencing a slow adjustment to a new league and is not entering an irreversible decline.

    The rest of the offense, built around the likes of 36-year-old Torii Hunter, 33-year-old Vernon Wells and Kendrys Morales, is not going to keep pace with the Rangers.

    Right now, the last place Angels, with baseball's fourth highest payroll, aren't keeping pace with anyone in the AL West. If Pujols can't get on track it will be a long hot summer in Anaheim.

    Prediction: 80-82


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    The Miami Marlins entered 2012 on a tidal wave of optimism, with a gleaming new stadium, a high-profile manager and big name offseason acquisitions including Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Carlos Zambrano and Heath Bell.

    All of those star players inflated the Marlins' payroll to seventh highest overall in MLB—rarified air for a franchise accustomed to frugality.

    So far the pitching has been acceptable, but the hitting has been awful, with a .230 team batting average and a paltry 64 runs scored, second lowest in all of baseball.

    Oh, and then there was the controversy surrounding manager Ozzie Guillen's remarks about Fidel Castro.

    Miami is in the NL East, home of some of the best pitching in MLB. If the Marlins' early season hitting slump continues, there won't be any cigars in 2012, Cuban or otherwise.

    Prediction: 78-84