Friday, May 22, 2009

First to Third: Contender/Pretender

On Tuesday, we took a look at which managers could feel their seat getting warm and found four managers who should be concerned about their job status. Today, we'll look at a few of the early surprises of 2009 and whether their quick start makes them a contender or a pretender.

Toronto Blue Jays - Somehow, Roy Halladay (left) and ... well, honestly I can't name another Toronto starter... have Team Canada playing with the best record in the American League. Despite my inability to name another starter, the Blue Jays are doing it with their bats and lead the majors in runs scored. But honestly people do you really think the Jays can keep it up all year with the Yankees and Red Sox breathing down their neck? No way, they're not the Rays of 2009. Verdict: Pretender.

Texas Rangers - If I can't name a Toronto starter besides Halladay, can I name a Ranger starter? How 'bout Kevin Millwood, who seems to have resurrected his career with four wins and an ERA under 3.00. It also helps that they have three guys with at least 10 home runs and Michael Young hasn't missed a beat offensively since moving to third base. MVP-candidate Josh Hamilton has been hurt and if he can stay healthy, watch out! Verdict: Contender.

Milwaukee Brewers - The Brewer offense boasts a middle of the order that competes with anyone. The recent call-up of prospect Mat Gamel only boosts their lineup, despite the loss of Rickie Weeks. Veteran closer Trevor Hoffman is 10-for-10 in save chances and has only given up three hits in 11.0 innings in 2009. I still don't think they have enough pitching for a run at the division, but no one is running away with it either. Verdict: Pretender.

Atlanta Braves - Although they're presently in an unsurprising third place in the NL East, at 20-19, Atlanta is hanging right in with the Mets and Phillies, who have yet to make this a two team race. Pitching is what is helping the Braves as Derek Lowe and Javy Vazquez have pitched well. With an ERA under 2.00, Jair Jurrjens looks like a star in the making. Their offense hasn't been terrible, but I still they'll be on the outside looking in come October. Verdict: Pretender.

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