From The Stands
From The Stands
By Brendan Brosh
The Angels and Cubs are hurting. As two of the best teams in baseball, it is remarkable how much talent is currently on their disabled lists. What’s even more astonishing is that neither team has given in, and both continue to win.
The Angels presently have star outfielder Garret Anderson, intimidating set up man Brendan Donnelly, first baseman Darin Erstad, third baseman Troy Glaus and DH Tim Salmon on the disabled list. Wise decisions in the offseason, however, have safeguarded the Angels spot in the AL West. Glaus, who was leading the league in home runs, may be the most serious of the injuries and could be out the rest of the season.
The importance of signing Vladimir Guerrero and Bartolo Colon, cannot be understated after this recent slew of injuries.
The wisdom and foresight of Anaheim’s General Manager, Bill Stoneman is enviable. With less national media attention than the east coast Orioles, Red Sox and Yankees, Stoneman has assembled arguably the best team in the American League.
Without Alex Rodriguez, and with 2B Alfonso Soriano, the Rangers have been the unlikely upstart in the AL West. How long they can sustain this level of play is anyone’s guess, but the Rangers will probably hover around .500 after the All Star break.
The Oakland A’s do not have the roster depth of the Angels to seriously compete for a playoff spot and the aging Seattle Mariners have been the biggest disappointment of the season. With the Wild Card likely to come out of the AL East, the Angels are the only playoff bound team from the West.
Similarly Dusty Baker’s Cubs, can lay a claim to the best team in NL, but have an uphill battle in the Central Division facing the likes of the Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds 19 times this year. The surging Milwaukee Brewers can also be a nuisance.
And Baker, like Mike Scioscia, cannot be pleased with his current injury situation. With two certifiable aces, in Kerry Wood and Mark Prior riding the bench, and slugger Sammy Sosa out with back spasms (due to a sneezing fit), the Cubs have shown fortitude by staying in the pennant race.
When his pitching staff fully recovers, Baker will have the most intimidating group of starters in the league: with Wood, Prior, Matt Clement, Greg Maddux and Carlos Zambrano.
With a great mixture of veterans and young talent, the Cubs have what it takes to dominate the NL Central for years to come. The Astros, however, as one of the oldest teams in baseball, are going through a renaissance of sorts and could delay Chicago’s return to the postseason on the backs of Clemens, Bagwell and Biggio.