With the 2015 MLB season a quarter gone, it’s time to look back at those teams whose expectations were high, and results are poor, thus far.
Everyone always talks about “on paper.”
Paper is all about the hypotheticals, the obvious, the logical and the should be. Hypothetically, Free Agent X should bolster a pitching staff. A young team that finished just under .500 last year is obviously heading in the right direction. It is only logical to think that bringing in this group of guys is going to lead to a few more wins. With these moves, this team should be a contender.
Needless to say, it is easy to build a team on paper. However, as we see every year, baseball is not played on paper and things do not always pan out exactly how we predicted once the games get going. With nearly two months of the 2015 season having gone by, here are the most disappointing teams so far.
Boston Red Sox (22-26; 4th in AL East)
Boston made some splashy moves over the winter, adding sluggers Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval to an already loaded offense. A lot of people fell in love with the signings, figuring that a lineup stacked from head to toe could overcome the team’s mediocre-at-best pitching staff and make the playoffs in a weak AL East. What many failed to remember is that it is pitching that wins championships.
The rotation has been nothing short of a disaster (Rick Porcello and Joe Kelly have been especially bad), putting up a Major League-worst 5.17 ERA while allowing the fifth-most walks per nine innings. Only seven teams’ rotations have recorded fewer wins, which is exactly why the last place Red Sox are looking at a basement finish for the second straight year. To add insult to injury, the BoSox offense is in the bottom-10 in runs scored.
Chicago White Sox (21-25; 5th in AL Central)
Red is not the only variety of sock color to be struggling these days. Despite a handful of significant offseason acquisitions, the White Sox find themselves sitting in last place in the AL Central with a 21-25 record. Obviously, sub-.500 baseball was not the objective when Chicago brought in Jeff Samardzija, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, Adam LaRoche and Zach Duke. Some thought the White Sox could bring playoff baseball back to The Windy City, or at least give the South Side a Wild Card contender throughout the season.
Unfortunately, the new faces in town have not done much to help the cause. Cabrera and LaRoche have combined for just 33 RBI while Samardzija has been average at best despite a 4-2 record. Robertson, the team’s new closer, has already blown three saves (he blew five all of last year).
Cleveland Indians (22-25; 4th in AL Central)
As mentioned, the White Sox are not the only team stuck in the AL Central cellar – the Indians are a mere half game ahead of the ChiSox in the division. For whatever reason, experts went out of their way to hype up the Tribe prior to the start of the season, with Sports Illustrated going as far as to make them their World Series pick. Personally, all that never made an ounce of sense, but the idea of Cleveland being somewhat competitive did seem feasible.
Nope… the Indians just have not gotten the consistent pitching needed to support their top-10 run scoring offense. While Corey Kluber has been stupid good of late (he has 50 strikeouts and five earned runs in 32 IP his last four starts), the ace cannot keep the team’s pitching afloat on his own. The starting staff has put together a 4.57 ERA this season and has managed to combine for a WAR of 0.4. That number is 24th in baseball. On the bright side, Terry Francona’s group has been playing well of late; they have won seven of their last 10. Perhaps late really is better than never.
Miami Marlins (18-30; 5th in NL East)
Any follower of the game knows what a mess this team is. Two whole months of the season are not even over and the Marlins are in last place, have dealt with crippling injuries and fired their manager… and then replaced him with the general manager. Anyone not in Miami cannot help but laugh at this latest Jeffrey Loria induced catastrophe, yet this was not how things were supposed to go in 2015.
This was going to be the year the Marlins made it back to the postseason. The team had a wild offseason – the good kind – seemingly upgrading the roster with the likes of Dee Gordon, Mat Latos, Michael Morse, Martin Prado, Dan Haren and Ichiro Suzuki following franchise cornerstone Giancarlo Stanton’s $300 million extension. With a young, talented nucleus already in place, the Marlins were going to make the jump to October. Instead, few of the Marlins’ pickups have made much of an impact, the team’s youth is going through growing pains – both physical and mental – and Stanton’s deal now seems like a pact that will doom him to baseball purgatory in South Beach for at least the next seven years.
But again, people (myself included), thought this team was going to the playoffs back in April. In the Marlins defense, it is our fault for thinking a Loria-led club could turn out alright.
There’s a lot of season left for any of these team to turn it around, but thus far, each has been a major disappointment. Just goes to show why games aren’t played on paper; anything can happen between the white lines.