MLB Weekend Preview

There is a huge slate of big series this weekend as we inch closer to the trade deadline.  With more buyers than usual because of the second wild card it’s about to get real interesting.
Red Sox at Yankees

Arod (flicky by Keith Allison)

The Sox head into the Bronx struggling in the month of July, like they have the rest of the season.  Boston sits at 49-50, 10.5 games back in the tough AL East and 4.5 back in the AL wild card.  They are 13-24 combined in games started by Josh Beckett and John Lester.  If the Red Sox lose two of three or get swept it will be all too clear that they will become sellers come the July 31st trade deadline. 

The Sox rank near the top of the league in nearly every hitting team statistic.  But, if they can turn it around they would chase one of the many available starters available on the trade market:  Josh Johnson, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Johan Santana, Francisco Liriano, James Shields or Zach Grienke. 

A-Rod took a fastball off the hand this week and is likely out for 4-8 weeks.  The Yankees are not likely to shop for a replacement knowing he will be back some time in September.  Eric Chavez and Lance Nix will share time at third for now.   Before the Yankees traded for Ichiro and took two of three from Seattle early this week they were swept in Oakland by the A’s.  All four games were one run decisions.  The Bronx Bombers still have a 7.5 game cushion in the AL east over the Baltimore Orioles.
Dodgers at Giants

matt cain unloads

matt cain unloads (Photo credit: artolog)

Ace Matt Cain takes the bump for the Giants in the series opener Friday night in Frisco.  The Giants look to build on their three game lead in the NL West over the Dodgers.  The Giants are an outstanding 31-17 at home this season.  Panda (Pablo Sandoval) is really struggling to stay healthy this season.  While he has played he has been stellar: .299 avg, 8 HR’s and 33 RBI in 62 games. 
With Panda out…again… the Giants line up is stretched more thin than it already was, even though the Melky Cabrera is having a career year.   Their need for a bat is obvious but the pitching is carrying the Giants once again.  They are 2nd in the league in ERA, 3rd in quality starts, 2nd in WHIP and 2nd in BAA.  They won a World Series with this formula before.  The Dodgers have lost their first two games since acquiring Hanley Ramirez, but he has reached base six times. 

The Dodgers have cooled off since their torrid start this season got slowed down by injuries to Matt Kemp, Andre Either and nearly every other starter.  The Dodgers now have a nucleus of Matt Kemp, Andre Either and Hanley Ramirez, who are all under 30 years old.  Oh, and Clayton Kershaw is still dealing.  Yikes.

Royals at Mariners
Just joking.

Rays at Angels
The Angles hold the first wild card spot in the AL while the Rays are 2.5 games back of the second wild card.  Dan Haren and Alex Cobb take the mound for their respective teams in the series opener Friday night.  Albert Pujols missed Wednesdays game due to an elbow injury.  X-rays taken on Thursday, an off day for the Angels, were negative.

Albert has quite a history with his right elbow problems.  Though they have never slowed his production.  He really might be a robot that just needs a little WD-40 every once in a while.  Once again the Rays rank near the bottom in nearly every major hitting statistic. …and once again their pitching ranks near the top.  Their bullpen just had a 21 inning scoreless streak snapped on Thursday by the Orioles.  Rays starter James Shields is a free agent at the end of the year at could be on the move.  Knowing the Rays, they may try and dump him for a bundle of prospects.  I hope not, baseball is more fun when the Rays are good and making a run at the playoffs.  Angles payroll: $154 million.  Rays payroll: $64 million.

Cardinals at Cubs
The Birds head to the North Side this weekend.  Early this week the Cards swept the Cubbies in St. Louis, out scoring them 23-1.  The Cards starters are one a roll in the month of July.  After Thursdays win against the Dodgers, the Cards starters have gone six innings or more in twenty-two straight starts.  Just when the Cards were getting to full strength, Lance Berkman took a pitch off of his recently surgically repaired knee Tuesday night against the Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers.  The slugger can still hit, but it remains to be seen if he can stay on the field. 

The Birds need to take care of business if they want to keep up with the torrid pace the first place Reds are on.  The Cards sit 5.5 back of Cincy.  Well, the Cubs are the Cubs:  not in contention.  They are likely to dump Ryan Dempster and possibly Matt Garza by the July 31st trade deadline.  They recently called up their stud first baseman prospect Anthony Rizzo.  Unfortunately, the 22 year old can hit.  In 98 at bats he is hitting .323 with 5 home runs.  Theo Epstein knows what he’s doing and he will likely turn this “franchise” around in two or three years.  Damnit.  I hate Theo Epstein.  Nevertheless, lets have some fun this weekend in the Windy City ya’ll.

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