Have you ever watched Around the Horn, hosted by Tony Reali? He does a segment with the sports writers called "Buy or Sell?" The writers have to "buy" or "sell" something, meaning they either believe in the subject presented (buy) or do not (sell).
Here's my first edition of Buy or Sell? Respond with what you think in the comments section. So, do you buy or sell that...
1. Joe Mauer will hit .400?
I am going out on a limb here and am going to buy this. Joe Mauer already has had two batting titles at .347 and .328. Currently, Mauer is batting .425. He has looked better than ever since coming back from injury. Mauer is a catcher, and goes through "wear and tear," but has missed five weeks of the season, meaning the "wear and tear" is minimal compared to recent years. Add the protection he gets as a number two batter from Morneau and Kubel, Mauer is likely to continue to bat well.
2. David Ortiz is out of his slump?
Nope, he is not out of his slump, so I am going to sell this. Ortiz has raised his batting average by .014, hit three home runs, and has six RBI in the past 10 games. So what? He has played three of the worst pitching staffs in baseball over the past ten games in the Marlins, Phillies, and Yankees. We'll know if he's out of his slump when he plays some real competition, which isn't for a while.
3. The Cubs will not make the playoffs?
I buy this. The Cubs are playing .500 ball. Soriano and Fukudome have stunk, the Cubs fans want Bradley's head, and the offense has been non-existent. The Brewers and Cardinals are just better teams. Even worse, the Cubs are just .500 against division rivals, whereas the Cardinals, Brewers, and even Reds all have winning records against division rivals.
4. The Texas Rangers will win the AL West?
The Rangers will not win the AL West, so I will sell this. I still think the Angels will win the AL West. Los Angeles is riding a six-game winning steak, and has come to be within two games of the division lead. The Angels are nowhere close to being healthy, so they should be more than satisfied with their position. When they return to full health, especially the starting pitchers and Vladimir Guerrero, they will leap the Rangers for the lead.
5. The Phillies will repeat as world champions, world f***ing champions?
It's hard for me to say this, but I have to sell this. No team has won back-to-back championships this decade and only the Red Sox have won multiple championships. The Phillies have a potent offense, but the pitching is what's going to bite them in the butt. They have one of the worst starting pitching staffs in the National League and Lidge's injury has caused major concern about the efficacy of the bullpen.
6. Carl Crawford will steal more than 75 bases?
Duh, I buy this. Crawford has 37 stolen bases already. He's projected to swipe 89 bags. He's only been caught three times. Crawford wants to get to 100. Another goal of his is to steal 50 straight, without getting caught. He's only been caught three times, which is good for 92.5 percent theft. Crawford will get to this plateau as there is no better base stealer in the game right now.
7. The Mariners' pitching staff will finish with a sub-4.00 ERA?
Well, health is a concern, so I am going to sell this. Bedard, who has been so surprisingly good this year, has gone on the DL with injury. I don't think he'll be the same when he returns. I think Hernandez will remain stable, but Washburn has a career ERA over 4.00 (combined with his back problems). Vargas will not finish as well as he's doing, and Olson and Morrow aren't good enough.
8. The San Francisco Giants are Wild Card contenders?
I buy this. This is an instance where a pitching staff can carry a team. Imagine if your team had Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. That's almost a guaranteed two victories every week. They do lack a bat, but good pitching beats good offense. Zito and Sanchez are inconsistent, but if they pitch .500 ball, the Giants will remain as contenders for the Wild Card.
9. The New York Yankees will fizzle?
I am going to sell this. Do I honestly think that the Yankees will go defeated against the Red Sox for the entire year? No, I think they'll get their revenge, and when it counts. Knowing how the Yankees spend, it's inevitable that they'll make moves at the trade deadline that help the team. Losing is unacceptable, especially since Steinbrenner made a guarantee last year, and he will see it through.
10. The Detroit Tigers will win the AL Central?
I may be a little biased here, but I am still going to sell this. I am not choosing my team to leap them, I am choosing the Minnesota Twins. They are better in my opinion. With the return of Mauer to the lineup, combined with the underrated Morneau and Kubel, this offense is potent. Slowey and Blackburn have been amazing of the pitching side of things. I think the Tigers have offense problems (benching Magglio) and that Inge and Cabrera can't carry the entire load.