Initially, I was planning on using this post to give mid-season awards for excellence and ineptitude, a la Jayson Stark. Then I came to the realization that my choices would pretty much all be the same as Stark's, so the article would be redundant. Therefore, I'm going to use this post to simply muse a little about things of interest going on around the league, as we prepare ourselves for the home half of the 2005 season, and for the Bret Boone era, which begins tomorrow. Alas, your random musings...
*I still sport my Cristian Guzman batting practice jersey, circa 2002, proudly at Twins games every now and then. Back in the early 2000 years, he would rack up triples, sprint around the bases, and routinely beat out infield grounders. That stands as the most entertaining individual performance I have ever enjoyed watching in baseball. That said, I can't believe what an utterly horrible player he has become. His line for the Nationals this year is absolutely laughable: .201/.239/.291. He's 3/7 on stolen base attempts. Twins fans really need to give Terry Ryan the utmost credit for dumping this guy and allowing Washington to throw $16 million at him. His lazy slap-ball style might have played well on the hard turf of old at the Metrodome, but I don't think there is a single stadium in the Majors anymore where Guzman could be successful. At age 27, I think it's sadly safe to say he is done... I just feel sorry for the Nats, who really blew it by giving him a 4-year deal.
*I realize I'm not saying anything new, but Derrek Lee has been absolutely monstrous for the Cubbies this year. I would know better than most, he's on my fantasy baseball team. I've enjoyed the nice little luxury of signing on every night and seeing amazing day after ridiculously amazing day. Triple Crown? Probably not, but it's going to be a season for the ages nonetheless. By the way, I also have Brian Roberts on my fantasy team. I sure can pick 'em.
*With all the buzz about how amazing the White Sox have been, I really haven't heard much about the class of the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals. I knew they were doing well this season, but when I looked at the standings yesterday, and they have only one less win than the Sox! Who's going to beat this team... Mark Mulder, their prized off-season acquisition and a Cy Young candidate for much of last year, is MAYBE their third-best starter.
*Sticking with the NL Central, you have got to give some credit to the Houston Astros. This team was the laughing stock of the league early in the season, when they seemed to be out of the race after just a few weeks. Their offense has been so listless, that Roger Clemens has won only 7 games despite an amazing 1.48 ERA. Regardless, they have crept back up over .500 and are very much in the NL Wild Card race.
*The Angels picked the right guy to build their offense around in Vladimir Guerrero. In just 70 games this year, he's raking at a rate of .335/.388/.584. He's hit 16 homers, driven in 51, and stolen 6 bases without being caught. Despite his free-swinging ways, he's struck out only 27 times. With all due respect to Bonds and Pujols, Vladie is the best all-around player in baseball for my money. And uh, by the way... he's on my fantasy team.