Month in Review

The following is my weekly column found also at Sportsblurb.com

American League East:
New York Yankees (13-10): The Yankees are only on pace for 864 runs scored after the first month of this season. However, they find themselves in first place despite three starters carrying earned run averages over 4.50. Most impressive is the 2.64 collective earned run average of the bullpen in 64 and two-thirds innings.
Player of the Month: Mike Mussina
Dud of the Month: Mariano Rivera

Boston Red Sox (14-11): Posting the record they have despite allowing more runs than they have scored (127 to 117) is a surprise. Jon Papelbon has been a smashing success and allowed Keith Foulke (0.76 WHIP) to settle into a role where he doesn’t cost the team an exorbitant amount of games. Curt Schilling has returned to form, but Matt Clement is still brutal. No wonder they have offered Roger Clemens the world to come to Boston.
Player of the Month: Mike Lowell
Dud of the Month: Mark Loretta

Toronto Blue Jays (12-11): Hitting the ball hasn’t been a problem with the addition of Troy Glaus and Vernon Wells’ emergence from his April funk (sub-.650 career OPS). Unfortunately, the staff has allowed similar levels of hitting to the other team on a regular basis. A.J. Burnett has, predictably, been a colossal bust and only Roy Halladay and Gustavo Chacin are consistently making starts.
Player of the Month: Wells
Dud of the Month: Burnett

Baltimore Orioles (13-13): The Orioles have to be pleased with a .500 record after one month given their pitching staff woes. Inconsistent doesn’t begin to describe the talented Daniel Cabrera, Bruce Chen and Rodrigo Lopez look awful on the mound, leaving Erik Bedard and Kris Benson as the only worthwhile starters. Chris Ray has been excellent in filling the B.J. Ryan void at closer. The team closed out the month with three straight series losses and now had to put Brian Roberts on the disabled list with a groin injury.
Player of the Month: Miguel Tejada
Dud of the Month: Chen

Tampa Bay Devil Rays (11-14): A familiar position for the team, but they are only three games out. I don’t mean to imply they can contend, but all the new-season hope hasn’t faded for them yet. The pitching remains awful in Tampa Bay. Scott Kazmir is the obvious focal point to build around, but still lacks a great deal of control. Every other bit of the staff is garbage. Jonny Gomes has picked up the slack in a big way for Aubrey Huff and Julio Lugo, but he hasn’t had enough help and now Jorge Cantu takes his .814 OPS to the disabled list.
Player of the Month: Gomes
Dud of the Month: Travis Lee

American League Central:

Chicago White Sox (17-7): The World Champions have revamped their approach to offense and now muscle the way back to home plate with 33 home runs. Much of that has to do with the arrival of the rejuvenated Jim Thome. He has sparked this offense to excellence. If it weren’t for this newfound offense, the Sox might not be doing as well considering two-fifths of the rotation has posted a 6.52 earned run average. It appears as though Jon Garland’s contract with the devil has been non-tendered and he’s been designated for assignment.
Player of the Month: Jose Contreras
Dud of the Month: Scott Podsednik

Detroit Tigers (16-9): With all the talk surrounding the team’s home run surge, specifically focused on Chris Shelton, the unbelievable start by the pitching staff gets lost in the shuffle. The staff leads baseball in earned run average, OPS-against, batting average-against, and WHIP. Their five shutouts are also a league best. Powered by a 33-1 three-game thrashing of the Minnesota Twins, the team leads baseball in home runs with 38 and the American League in total bases with 414.
Player of the Month: Shelton, the pitching rotation
Dud of the Month: Placido Polanco (despite yesterday’s defensive gem)

Cleveland Indians (13-12): Who knows how high this team’s earned run average (5.52) would be if it weren’t for Cliff Lee and Jason Johnson? The two have been the only stabling factors in the entire staff. The team will welcome back C.C. Sabathia, who went down just three innings into the season, this week. Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez lead an explosive offense, but the top of the order needs to stop striking out. Grady Sizemore, Jason Michaels, and Jhonny Peralta have combined for 73 whiffs so far.
Player of the Month: Martinez
Dud of the Month: Paul Byrd

Minnesota Twins (9-15): They should thank the Royals for existing and saving them from the depths of the AL Central basement. This team has so many problems linked to hitting, pitching, and defense that it’s tough to know where to start the healing process. The best place to start would be with a youth movement including Jason Bartlett, Jason Kubel, and Francisco Liriano.
Player of the Month: Luis Castillo
Dud of the Month: Kyle Lohse, Brad Radke, and Carlos Silva

Kansas City Royals (5-17): No real surprises here and many projected the Royals to be one of the worst teams in all of baseball. The best part of this team, closer Ambiorix Burgos, is hardly ever used because they are rarely in a position to win. Mark Grudzielanek is the only regular hitting above .266.
Player of the Month: Shane Costa
Dud of the Month: The team.

American League West:
Texas Rangers (13-12): One of the bigger surprises, not so much because they are doing well, but because they lead their division. The team has continued their trend of hitting, but has sprinkled in some worthwhile pitching. The rotation has been able to keep them in some games, but the bullpen is carrying a 5.01 earned run average. Without a great improvement there, they won’t be able to contend for too long.
Player of the Month: Kevin Mench
Dud of the Month: Francisco Cordero

Oakland Athletics (12-12): The A’s are up to their old tricks of starting off the season poorly. At 12-12, they are right where they were last year heading into May. The strength of the team, starting pitching, has struggled out of the gate as no starter has an earned run average below 4.00. The hitting remains a problem despite the uncharacteristically hot start from third baseman Eric Chavez. We’ve learned in the past not to judge the A’s on April.
Player of the Month: Chavez
Dud of the Month: Huston Street

Los Angeles Angels (12-13): The bulk of the Angels’ struggles center around the team’s .305 on-base percentage. Garret Anderson and Vladimir Guerrero have powered the offense, but the team has a league-worst 47 walks. John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar have led the staff, but now Escobar finds himself in a familiar state… hurt.
Player of the Month: Scot Shields
Dud of the Month: Jeff Weaver

Seattle Mariners (11-15): Four of the five starting pitchers carry earned run averages under 5.00. The only one? Felix Hernandez with a 5.06. He is fifth in the American League in strikeouts, but he hasn’t been able to keep guys off base (1.61 WHIP). Offensively, Adrian Beltre has been a huge disappointment… AGAIN! He does have seven stolen bases, but he’s hitting .189.
Player of the Month: Jarrod Washburn
Dud of the Month: Beltre

National League East:
New York Mets (16-8): Sadly, both Steve Trachsel and Victor Zambrano remain in the rotation ahead of Aaron Heilman. Despite that, the Mets have jumped out to a good start powered by their pitching. Jorge Julio has been brutal out of the pen, too, but picked up nicely by both Duaner Sanchez and Billy Wagner. David Wright is off to a great start at the dish, but has struggled mightily in the field.
Player of the Month: Sanchez
Dud of the Month: Cliff Floyd

Atlanta Braves (10-14): It has only been a month, but the streak is over. This team simply doesn’t have what it takes to grab another NL East crown. They can’t hit and beyond Johns Smoltz and Thomson, they can’t pitch much. On the bright side, Andruw Jones is on pace for another big home run season (48).
Player of the Month: Ryan Langerhans
Dud of the Month: Jeff Francoeur

Philadelphia Phillies (10-14): Another underachieving start for the Phillies sunk by an abysmal rotation outside of Brett Myers. The middle of their lineup has been excellent, but they’ve struggled to string any wins together. Another down month could seriously hamper their chances of contending with the Mets.
Player of the Month: Pat Burrell
Dud of the Month: Ryan Madson

Washington Nationals (8-17): With a 1-7 home record, it’s no wonder the Nats have struggled so much during the season’s first month. Nick Johnson is getting on almost 50% of the time (.455) and newcomer Alfonso Soriano has been excellent, but several others in the lineup have scuffled while the pitching staff has been inconsistent. Now, ace John Patterson is on the disabled list leaving Tony Armas as the most reliable arm. Given his injury woes, that doesn’t bode well.
Player of the Month: Johnson
Dud of the Month: Jose Guillen

Florida Marlins (6-16): This young team is playing exactly to expectations… poorly. With a team salary of about $18 dollars, any win is gravy for this team. The offense sports just five regulars, one of whom is hitting .192 (Mike Jacobs), but the pitching has been solid (team ERA of 4.39). This is still a team that is destined to lose over 100 games.
Player of the Month: Hanley Ramirez
Dud of the Month: Jacobs

National League Central:

Cincinnati Reds (17-8): Landing Bronson Arroyo for Wily Mo Pena has been quite fruitful for the Reds to this point. Arroyo has been excellent leading a pitching staff not expected to do much coming into the season. Brandon Claussen and Eric Milton have continued to pitch poorly, but Arroyo has paired with Aaron Harang for a worthwhile 1-2 punch. The offense remains potent and Edwin Encarnacion and Brandon Phillips have made fans forget that Ken Griffey Jr. is once again back on the disabled list.
Player of the Month: Arroyo
Dud of the Month: Javier Valentin

St. Louis Cardinals (17-8): Everyone knows how amazing Albert Pujols’ April was, but the team as a whole certainly hasn’t hit like they are known to. Two regular hitters have posted OPS under .580 (Encarnacion and Molina). Scott Rolen has missed time and Jim Edmonds has had his problems at the plate with 24 strikeouts. Questions from the staff circle around Jason Isringhausen (and his 6.00 earned run average) rather than Sidney Ponson, surprisingly enough. Chris Carpenter is putting together another Cy Young season thus far.
Player of the Month: Pujols
Dud of the Month: Molina

Houston Astros (16-8): Granted the team has been a beneficiary of a light schedule; any headway the team can make as they await a Roger Clemens decision is great, especially considering their start from last year. Four starters have kept earned run averages below 3.00 including Taylor Buchholz’s 2.05. The offense has been able to pick up Preston Wilson and account for his 26 strikeouts with stepping up their performances.
Player of the Month: Lance Berkman, Buchholz
Dud of the Month: Andy Pettitte

Chicago Cubs (13-10): Everything the Cubs have done, good or bad, is overshadowed by the devastating loss of Derrek Lee. He joins Mark Prior and Kerry Wood on the disabled list. With him out, Juan Pierre and Aramis Ramirez need to step up immediately before the Central division laps the Cubs. Greg Maddux is doing his part to keep the team in contention in the interim.
Player of the Month: Maddux
Dud of the Month: Ramirez

Milwaukee Brewers (14-11): Everyone’s favorite as surprise team of the season, the Brewers have been solid, if unspectacular. Prince Fielder has arrived and Carlos Lee has really put it all together as the two drive that lineup. The rotation, outside of Chris Capuano, has been sporadic to downright bad (Doug Davis). Derrick Turnbow has come out and shown that last year was no fluke.
Player of the Month: Turnbow
Dud of the Month: Davis

Pittsburgh Pirates (7-19): Despite how bright the future looks with youngsters Zach Duke, Paul Maholm, and Ian Snell, when they are all experiencing growing pains in the same lineup, it’s going to lead to bad things. Mix in the gas can commonly referred to as Oliver Perez and you have a 7-19 record. The silver lining for the team is that three offensive players have OPS above .930.
Player of the Month: Craig Wilson
Dud of the World: Perez

National League West:
Colorado Rockies (15-10): I’m not going to rain on the Rockies’ parade and suggest that the only reason they are atop the West is because it is baseball’s worst division. Instead, I’ll point out that they have achieved this honor after one month despite missing nine games from Todd Helton with a stomach virus and that the offense has a higher road OPS to date with .929. A 3.15 bullpen earned run average has also contributed to their fast start.
Player of the Month: Brad Hawpe
Dud of the Month: Danny Ardoin

San Francisco Giants (13-11): Jason Schmidt seems to have lost it in terms of his control and overall effectiveness. Noah Lowry went out on the disabled list two innings into his first start of the season. That leaves Jamey Wright as the anchor at the moment making their position in the division tenuous at best. Moises Alou and Omar Vizquel still showing more than adequate signs of life.
Player of the Month: Alou
Dud of the Month: Pedro Feliz

Arizona Diamondbacks (12-13): The D’Backs are scoring more than they are allowing and Brandon Webb has been fantastic as the ace, but half of the pitching staff is toting an earned run average over 5.00. The offense has mixed and matched several players as they continue to look for the winning combination.
Player of the Month: Webb
Dud of the Month: Orlando Hudson

Los Angeles Dodgers (12-13): Of the six regular hitters, two have OPS totals above .697. That won’t win you too many ballgames even with a team earned run average of 3.81. Danys Baez has been great replacing Eric Gagne, his Sunday performance in San Diego notwithstanding. Rafael Furcal and Jeff Kent can’t stay this bad, meaning the Dodgers should improve and could find themselves in the driver’s seat a month from now.
Player of the Month: Brad Penny
Dud of the Month: Furcal and Kent

San Diego Padres (9-15): If only Jake Peavy was pitching as well as Woody Williams and Chris Young, the Padres might have a few more wins. Instead Peavy has scuffled until finally getting on track against San Francisco last night. The offense is putrid, to say the least. No regular player has an average of .271 or OPS above .776. It is impossible for words to describe just how awful that is for a team.
Player of the Month: Trevor Hoffman
Dud of the Month: the entire lineup

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