With the midpoint of the 2010 Major League Baseball season right around the corner, it’s time to take a look at midseason reports.
In this particular instance, we’re going to be examining how to determine if your team is a buyer—or a seller—at the halfway mark of the 2010 campaign.
So, what are the Top Ten ways to know you’re a seller in MLB at midseason?
Let’s begin with No. 10...
It’s usually not a good sign if your team's bullpen ERA is significantly better that your team’s starting rotation ERA.
Not necessarily an immediate cause for concern, but red flags and alarms should begin blazing if your team is in this predicament.
And, of course, this could also mean your team just has a very solid bullpen.
Teams with relievers holding a stronger ERA of at least one run per game:
Minnesota (2.95 ERA bullpen/4.25 ERA starters)
Detroit (3.18 ERA bullpen/4.79 ERA starters)
Washington (3.47 ERA bullpen/4.57 ERA starters)
Kansas City (4.16 ERA bullpen/5.23 ERA starters)
Pittsburgh (4.24 ERA bullpen/5.78 ERA starters)
Does this really mean anything, though?
We’ll wait and see if any of the aforementioned teams become sellers by midseason.
Sadly, eight Major League Baseball teams fall into the category of having a combined batting average of .250 or lower in the 2010 season.
Those teams include the Chicago White Sox (.250), Baltimore Orioles (.249), Cleveland Indians (.247), San Diego Padres (.247), Toronto Blue Jays (.240), Seattle Mariners (.239), Pittsburgh Pirates (.238), and Houston Astros (.233).
A majority of those teams are in the cellar in their division, except for two: The Padres (41-29 overall, first place in the NL West) and the White Sox (35-34 overall, third place and 4.5 games out of first-place in the AL Central).
The other six teams, however, are likely going to be sellers come midseason—which is right around the corner.
I’m not going to specifically break this down statistically—but if your team’s 2-3-4 guys in the lineup aren’t producing, it usually spells disaster.
And the losses begin piling up.
Of course, many times, if the slump continues consistently for the players in those 2-3-4 slots in the lineup, they are usually replaced and used further down in the lineup.
Houston Astros manager Brad Mills has done plenty of shuffling this season with his roster, especially early on without Lance Berkman and the early slumps of guys like Hunter Pence (who has begun playing much better) and Carlos Lee.
The 2-3-4 guys' issues are also a prime example as to why the Astros are nearing 20 games below .500 at lightning speed.
And if your team is in a similar boat, don’t be surprised if they pull the “sell” trigger come midseason.
This is looking past, of course, forever fans that can even name you the leaders in the organization’s minor leagues.
But when a majority of the baseball world doesn’t know your No. 3, No. 4, and No. 5 starting pitchers, chances are your team will be leaning towards the “seller” side of things before the trade deadline.
With midseason just about a week away, there are a handful of teams with weak links, to say the least, towards the middle and back ends of their starting rotation.
Once again, that’s not to say teams cannot be successful with newcomers or little known pitchers, but when more than half of a team’s starters are surrounded with numerous question marks and high earned run averages, it’s time to begin thinking “sell” as the halfway point quickly approaches.
Most teams have at least two solid pitchers, and a majority of teams can also claim to lean on one appointed ace of the club.
But beyond that is where the water begins to get murky—at least for some teams.
It’s normally not the greatest of omens when your team's star players are newcomers or role players suddenly thrust in the spotlight.
And as mentioned in prior comments about a team possibly being a “seller” by the midpoint of the season, that’s not to say that teams cannot be successful with MLB rookies or former bench players stepping in as a club’s star.
However, when most of your team is assembled with call-ups and reserve players, that red flag should immediately be raised in terms of, “where will my team be at the halfway point of this season?”
Regardless of what analysts, fans, or sportswriters say about the unknown origins of trade deadline deals and buying/selling—keep in mind that we’re all pretty much doing the same thing: Making logical and educated guesses about the future of an organization based on stats, facts, and history.
There’s no doubt I had Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt in mind when putting together this No. 5 statement on this Top Ten list.
Oswalt, currently holding a sparkling 3.08 ERA through 15 starts, is 5-9 overall and is likely on his way out of Houston.
But other teams are in the same boat.
Who goes where, and if anyone even ends up being shipped out, has yet to be seen.
However, if this statement is right on the money in describing your team, chances are fairly high that they’ll be “sellers” as the midseason approaches.
Of course, when you’re talking about a club’s ace, you’re also talking about loads of money and a strict contract, meaning the only way any team will rid themselves of their ace will be if they can get a whole lot in return.
Because when you axe your ace, there’s only one thing in mind—rebuilding.
Once again, as a lifelong baseball fan and an Astros featured columnist, this statement perfectly describes Houston’s team in 2010.
Within the past week alone, three moves were made to pave the way for three Triple-A guys to get a shot in the big leagues.
So far, that decision is paying dividends—not in terms of piling up wins for the club, but in giving the young guys a wonderful opportunity to prove they have what it takes to make it in the majors.
Jason Castro, a Houston product with loads of potential and highly-regarded as the future of the team, has done a phenomenal job since donning the Astros catching gear.
But if your team has been dealing with more call-ups than injuries, chances are they’ll be “sellers” here at midseason.
It’s not a guarantee they will be selling by the trade deadline, but it’s definitely a hint of what’s to come.
Nothing can be more frustrating for a baseball fan that to watch his team take a late lead, only to let it slip away in the closing moments.
If so, watch out—changes may soon be heading your team’s way.
In the same breath, change may be exactly what your club needs in order to be successful in the future.
With the trade deadline getting closer and closer with every game played, it’s only a matter of time before those dominoes begin falling.
They may not be colliding as quickly as the assumed college football realignment mess that hit the fan at the beginning of this month, but trust me—MLB trades will soon begin taking place.
And if your team falls into this No. 3 criteria, they’ll likely be on the “seller” end of the scale come midseason.
You’d have to be a fly on the wall—or a baseball insider—to truly have the dirty details of what goes on behind the closed doors of a team’s locker-room.
But if most of the media attention, and players/managers quotes, is spent discussing the future of the club rather than where they currently stand, you’re likely looking at a team of “sellers.”
I can’t point to one particular instance of a team I have in mind for the 2010 season, but it’s a fact that this type of self-destruction occurs almost every year in every sport.
It’s almost like a disease, because once the team’s focus is off playing the game and is instead directed toward who’s going where, the season is essentially over.
So, if your team falls into this No. 2 category, it’s pretty much a forgone conclusion that the club is thinking “sell” as the midseason nears.
Look no further than the 2010 Houston Astros (27-45 overall entering Thursday’s game) as a prime example of this No. 1 reason to begin thinking and claiming “sell” by midseason, which is less than 10 games away.
Sadly, though, there two other teams in addition to the Astros with records indicating they are 20 (or more) games under .500—Pittsburgh (25-45) and Baltimore (19-51).
And it has to be extremely difficult to be a Baltimore Orioles fan right about now.
It’s frustrating for Astros and Pirates fans as well, don’t get me wrong.
Anytime you, as a fan, are more used to your team losing than winning, it’s a tough pill to swallow.
But it also means there may be hope for the future, especially if your team has players that other clubs are interested in pursuing.
With the midseason right around the corner, absolutely think “sell, sell, sell” if your team falls into this No. 1 category.
The trade deadline is quickly approaching, and with the midseason on the horizon as well, it’s that time of year to begin contemplating, “Will my team be buyers or sellers at the halfway point of 2010?”
Hopefully this made things a little more clear.
As an Astros fan, all I can do is hope and pray for the right moves to be made in rebuilding Houston into a baseball city.
Denton Ramsey may be reached via email at email@example.com