- Posted: 9:32 AM, May 31, 2012
"With the Pirates' win tonight, every team in the Eastern Time Zone except Detroit is at .500 or above."
That's 13 of 14 teams in this time zone at .500 or better, for those of you scoring at home. In the Central time zone, three of eight teams have winning records. In the Mountain? It's just the Rockies, and they have a losing record. Not sure where you put Arizona, with its "We don't change the clocks" defiance, but the Diamondbacks have a losing record. And in the Pacific, three of six teams are at .500 or better.
So what to make of this? The most credit goes to the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies. Their on-field excellence and off-field dominance have forced the rest of the East divisions to raise their games. All 10 teams in the two East divisions are being run with relative intelligence, you could argue.
To round out Rosati's count, though, you need the Central teams, and in those instances, it's a testament to how weak those divisions are. The Indians and Pirates, in particular, don't appear to be very good, yet their schedules are very forgiving. And the one team with a losing record - the Tigers - are expected to wake up in large part because of their easy competition.
These two East races, with the Red Sox and Phillies both owning winning records and residing in last place, are fascinating. Here's hoping they stay that way all year.
--At Citi Field yesterday, I wrote a column about the Mets and David Wright. Basically because I think this can't be discussed enough, and last night's game was a stinker, anyway.
For those of you who say, "The Mets have to sign David Wright!" I offer to you Exhibits A and B: Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols.
In my previous gig, I once wrote a blog post that stated, in effect, "I appreciate the risk of long-term contracts, but it sure would be nice for the Twins and Cardinals to retain Mauer and Pujols, respectively, given what it would mean to those markets."
Well, the Twins retained Mauer. He is signed through 2018, at $23 million per season. He has two home runs in 213 plate appearances this year .He had three homers in 333 plate appearances last year. Are Twins fans thanking the heavens for having the Minnesota native around for the long haul? Or are they shaking their fists skyward?
The Cardinals did not retain Pujols, who looks back to his old self with the Angels after an absolutely brutal opening four weeks or so. But Pujols' overall numbers are down because of his horrible start, and the Cardinals look just fine without him. Their attendance is up over 5,000 fans per game, in the wake of last year's World Series title, and while they've hit a speed bump lately, they look to be a serious contender once again.
So when you take a step back, is it absolutely essential that the Mets retain Wright? No. Because it never is in these circumstances.
--I continue to follow the Roger Clemens trial with fascination, and I thought yesterday was particularly interesting, as the defense tried to push the argument that it was Clemens' development of the split-fingered fastball, rather than his alleged usage of illegal performance-enhancing drugs, that allowed him to extend his career well past the "twilight" that former Red Sox GM (and current Baltimore GM) Dan Duquette mentioned when Clemens left Boston for Toronto after the 1996 season.
The defense is also pushing Clemens' work ethic hard, displaying that his success resulted from hard work rather than steroids and HGH.
This is, of course, a false choice. It's not one or the other. Clemens' work ethic and natural gifts helped make the splitter such a weapon, and if he was using illegal PEDs? That would help all the more, wouldn't it?
Both the defense and the prosecution have been guilty of overreaches in this trial, of trying to create a tidy narrative for the jury - most of which knows little about baseball - to digest. But those of us familiar with the characters and the storylines here know that the truth is far more layered.
In any case, I wish I had been in the courtroom yesterday when former Mets catcher Charlie O'Brien - who caught Clemens with the 1997 Blue Jays - asked Clemens what El Duque's real name was. Clemens, of course, could not answer from the defense table.
--Have a great day.