It isn’t quite the All-Star break for baseball, yet most of the league’s teams are at or past the halfway point of this year’s grueling 162-game season.
With that being said, there are certainly a number of teams and players that have already stood out in a negative way. Yep, they’re askin’ for it.
It’s a special edition of “Throwing Tomatoes”...nah, let’s call it a “special delivery”. So get your ammo ready, and let’s start slingin’...
Throwing Tomatoes: Volume VIII **
SPECIAL DELIVERY: Baseball’s Halfway Point
Colorado Rockies (32-50) Eight short months ago, this team was the NL’s representative in the World Series. What happened? A lot of things, including first half injuries to Tulowitzki and Holliday, struggles by ace Jeff Francis, and little progress from some of their promising young players. Oh, and Colorado’s pitching staff has a team ERA of 4.70. Only Texas and Pittsburgh are worse.
San Diego Padres (32-51) Injuries to Jake Peavy and Chris Young during the first half certainly didn’t help, but the lack of production by the offense (with exception to Adrian Gonzalez) has been the bigger issue.
Detroit Tigers (41-40) Sure, they’re above .500 and finally getting their act together, but it’s still been a rough first half for a Tigers team that entered 2008 with a boatload of lofty expectations. Offseason acquisition Miguel Cabrera (.279 average, 11 HR, 47 RBI) has been decent since joining the Tigers. Dontrelle Willis, on the other hand...let’s get back to him in a minute.
Cleveland Indians (37-45) One game from the World Series last season, the talented Indians now find themselves in the cellar of the AL Central division. Cleveland’s offense has been abysmal in the first half, batting .246 as a team. That’s good for 27th in the majors.
Seattle Mariners (31-50) After a promising 2007 campaign, the M’s thought they had the door open to the playoffs after acquiring Erik Bedard during the offseason. Instead, Seattle is by far the AL’s worst team. GM Bill Bavasi and manager John McLaren were first-half casualties. Who’s next?
New York Mets (40-41) and Omar Minaya Are the Mets suffering from a hangover after last season’s collapse? That depends on whom you ask. Still, this team has way too much talent to be performing this poorly.
Fortunately for Mets fans, the Phillies are not running away with the East. By the way, Minaya and the front office deserve a tomato for the way they handled the Willie Randolph firing.
Troy Tulowitzki (.157 average, 2 HR, 13 RBI) In 34 games this season, Tulowitzki is nowhere near the Mendoza line. That’s a far cry from his 2007 campaign, where he batted .291 with 24 homers and 99 RBI.
Barry Zito (3-11, 5.91 ERA) This is not exactly what the Giants were looking for when they signed Barry “The Green Giant” Zito to a monster deal before the 2007 season. What happens if Barry loses 20 games?
Shawn Chacon (2-3, 5.04 ERA, and one violent act) Chacon didn’t perform well, but more notable was the outburst in which he snapped and threw Houston GM Ed Wade to the ground. Chacon has since been cut by the Astros, and don’t be shocked if he never pitches in the majors again.
Francisco Liriano (0-3, 11.32 ERA) With Santana departing, the Twins were depending on Liriano to return to his 2006 form (12-3, 2.16 ERA) after being out for the entire 2007 campaign. Instead, Liriano struggled and was shipped back to AAA. The Twins persevered and have played well anyway.
Eric Gagne (1-2, 6.98 ERA, five blown saves) If you’re like me, you thought the Brewers were crazy to sign Gagne to a $10 million, one-year deal, especially after watching him struggle with Boston last year. Salomon Torres has pitched so well in the closer’s role, Milwaukee would be equally as crazy to make a change now that Gagne’s back.
Ryan Howard (.216 average, 113 Ks) While his 20 homers are only three behind the major-league lead, Howard has struggled throughout the year. In fact, he’s on pace to eclipse last year’s horrific 199 strikeout total.
Erik Bedard (4-4, 3.79 ERA) Bedard hasn’t exactly been what the Mariners have hoped for this season. Then again, he certainly isn’t the only one to blame for Seattle’s woes either.
Phil Hughes (0-4, 9.00 ERA) and Ian Kennedy (0-3, 7.41 ERA) These were the two young talents that were supposed to help anchor the Yankees’ rotation, while adding youth to an older roster. Neither has panned out at this point.
Bronson Arroyo (4-7, 6.19 ERA) After two solid seasons in Cincinnati, Arroyo has struggled during the first half of 2008. Most notable was Bronson’s one inning, 10-run disaster against Toronto about a week ago.
Homer Bailey (0-3, 8.76 ERA) I’ve always thought it was a bit of a jinx to be a pitcher named “Homer”. Still, one of the game’s most highly touted prospects continues to underachieve in Cincinnati.
Dontrelle Willis (0-1, 10.32 ERA, demotion to High-A Lakeland) Willis has been a disaster since joining the Tigers during the offseason. To say Dontrelle (21 walks, 5 Ks) was wild before his demotion to Single-A would be the understatement of the year. What’s higher, his leg kick or his ERA?
Near Misses (Honorable Mentions) Felix Pie, Victor Martinez, Eric Byrnes, Bill Hall, Richie Sexson, Jim Thome, Robinson Cano, Steve Trachsel, Brad Penny, Tom Gorzelanny, Joe Blanton, Pedro Martinez, and Matt Morris.
Honorary Tomato Throwers of the Week: Because those who found success earn a chance to sling one at their opposition.
Asdrubal Cabrera—at the Toronto Blue Jays during his unassisted triple play on May 13.
Jered Weaver—at Mike Scioscia for removing him while having a no-hitter intact.
Carlos Delgado—at the New York Yankees after having 9 RBI on June 28.
Mark Teixeira—at the Seattle Mariners after hitting three HRs on June 22.
If you get a chance, check out this post’s counterpart, “Gold Stars: Baseball’s Halfway Point”.
This has been “Throwing Tomatoes”...now don’t forget to wear red this Independence Day. ** All stats as of Sunday June 29, 2008