The World Cup of soccer has this great concept that you may or may not be familiar with. It’s called the Group of Death and it’s usually the most interesting group in the entire tournament in part because it has the strongest collection of teams. The Group of Death also derives its name in part from the fact that one or two of the strongest teams in the tournament will be eliminated after just 3 games. Well, Pool C features Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and (hilariously) Spain. Let’s just be honest right now: Spain’s not winning a game in this group. They will be lucky to avoid getting 10-runned three straight times. As for the other three teams, they each have a hefty amount of Major League talent on their respective rosters, and all three expect not only to advance, but to win the group as well. Let’s take a look at which team stands the best chance:
There’s been rumors of some sort going around the interwebs (from notable sources too, including the Rockies beat reporter for the Denver Post, Troy Renck), and basically the gist of them is this: the Rockies are considering/ may have had the drunken idea of moving Troy Tulowitzki off of the shortstop position. Rumors have also been flying around about a potential offseason trade involving Tulo, ideally one which would bring back something resembling a big league starter, because the Rockies currently have absolutely none of those lying around. The second idea isn’t so bad because the Rockies entered the season with Jamie Moyer slated as 3rd in their rotation. He didn’t even make it through the whole season before being handed his release papers. That first idea though? That one’s absolutely nuts, and here’s a couple of excellent reasons why.
Perhaps no team in the history of baseball has ever been as balls-to-the-wall aggressive over the course of both trade deadlines as the Los Angeles Dodgers were this season. The Dodgers’ new ownership, a group including Laker legend Magic Johnson, didn’t even flinch at the thought of picking up $300 million plus worth of player contracts if it meant a shot at immediately competing this season. Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Nick Punto, and Carl Crawford’s contract were all added to the roster mid-season in the hopes of giving LA the offense and starting pitching depth that manager Don Mattingly would need to make the playoffs.
Well thus far the high-priced replacements have, for the most part, stunk up the joint, going 8-13 since August 25th, the day of Adrian Gonzalez’s first game in Dodger blue. That isn’t to say the Dodgers won’t make the playoffs, because they’re 1 game out after splitting a 4 game set with St. Louis, but unless the newcomers, and Matt Kemp for that matter, start playing a little better, Los Angeles isn’t going anywhere.
Perhaps no team did more to address their weakness than the Los Angeles Dodgers, who pre-deadline, had one of the worst offenses in baseball, ranking 26th in baseball in runs per game (3.92) and 2nd to last in home runs hit (63, one ahead of the last place Giants). They were able to fill some of their biggest holes as well, plugging up gaps in the infield with Hanley Ramirez, a 28-year-old 3rd baseman who’s only a 3 years removed from finishing 2nd in the National League in the MVP race, and outfield with Shane Victorino, a 31-year-old former All-Star centerfielder. Los Angeles, perhaps more than any other team, did more to help their playoff chances because these acquisitions have the potential to greatly improve LA’s offense.
By all accounts it’s been a rough season down in South Beach for the Miami Marlins. The team was chosen to host the Opening Night game against the defending World Champion St. Louis Cardinals in their brand new retractable roof ballpark, adorned with sculptures, green walls, dancers, and a night club. The team disappointed their fans that particular April night, falling to the Cards 3-1, while failing to muster much, if any, offense. The lack of run support would become a running theme over the next 2 months as would high-priced bullpen blowups, leading to a 45-52 record. Not quite what owner Jeffrey Loria had in mind when, for the first time ever, he decided to open his wallet, upping Miami’s payroll to $118 million, the 7th highest in baseball. This is even more shocking when you consider the fact that just 1 year earlier the Fish spent just $56 million total on their team, good for the 24th most in baseball. All this spending hasn’t equaled wins however, and with an impatient front office feeling let down, some big moves have been made. Let’s analyze the pair of trades the Marlins have made so far: