Farewell to Skip Caray (cont.)
Player of the Week
He sometimes gets lost in the star-studded cast around him -- not to mention all the other stuff always orbiting around the Yankees -- but Bobby Abreu has been, and will continue to be, a critical part of that team's run at an American League East title. Last week Abreu had 12 hits in 27 at-bats (.444) with three doubles, four home runs and nine RBIs in seven games. Who leads the Yankees in RBIs? It's Abreu (76), not Alex Rodriguez (67).
Team of the Week
The Red Sox didn't have the league's best record last week. In fact they scrambled just to get to 3-3. But you have to give an enormous amount of credit to a team that had the front-office brains -- and something a yard or so south of that, too -- to take a hitter of Manny Ramirez's caliber and send him packing. Boston's message at the trade deadline was very clear: No one is above the team, no matter how good. Whether the trade of a future Hall of Famer turns into a positive or not in the remaining two months of the season, you have to admire a team that saw what was happening, didn't like it and decided against capitulation at the hands of an extremely selfish but undeniably talented superstar. Bravo for Boston. After the trade the Red Sox swept the A's at Fenway Park.
Lines of the Week
Kelly Shoppach, CLE vs. DET, July 30
5 for 6, 3 2B, 2 HR, 4 R, 3 RBIs, 1 BB, 1 K
Shoppach's 14 total bases were the most in one game this year.
Xavier Nady, NYY vs. LAA, August 3
4 for 5, 1 R, 2B, HR, 6 RBIs
Nady is hitting .385 with three homers and 10 RBIs in his first eight games with the Yanks.
Quotes of the Week
"We had a meeting with 25 guys who feel like a team. We haven't felt like that for a week."
-- Boston general manager Theo Epstein, after the trade of Manny Ramirez
"We should be embarrassed. I'm not sure enough people are."
-- Detroit manager Jim Leyland before Sunday's loss to Tampa Bay
Series to Watch
The Cardinals are getting desperate. They are 5-9 since they climbed a season-high 14 games over .500 on July 20. Their Sunday night loss to the Phillies in St. Louis pushed them a full six games behind the Cubs in the NL Central, and the Brewers are still a game ahead of them for the wild card. This weekend, in one of those pressure-packed series that could make a lot of difference, the Cardinals roll into Wrigley Field for three games against the Cubs. The two teams have split six games this season. They have nine more to go.
The Twins are in first place in the American League Central for the first time since May 13 after winning two of three from the Indians. And now Minnesota has Francisco Liriano back in the rotation -- and Livan Hernandez out of it. Who're the favorites now?
I don't have a lot of faith in the White Sox. In their last 28 games on the road, they're 9-19. They lost on Sunday to the Royals in Kansas City in a ridiculously fight-marred game that included A.J. Pierzynski getting punched again and Ozzie Guillen getting kicked out of another game. I will also say this: If the White Sox win the AL Central -- again, I have zero faith in that -- it won't be because of last week's trade for Ken Griffey Jr.
Final words on the trades: The Diamondbacks and Dodgers split their four-game series over the weekend. So no change there. But Manny Ramirez has eight hits and a couple of home runs in his first 13 at-bats with the Dodgers. He'll make a difference. Believe it.
Mark Teixeira had a grand slam, his first homer with the Angels, in a wild loss to the Yankees on Sunday. It's OK. They don't need him yet. They'll need him in October. And I think he'll be there.
What's up with the Mets? And don't we seem to be asking that every other week or so? The Astros swept them in Houston over the weekend, handing the New Yorkers their fourth straight loss and pushing them three games back in the National League East. Mike Pelfrey and John Maine are both having hard times since the All-Star break. The bullpen has a 6.80 ERA since the break, better than only the Braves. Closer Billy Wagner has an ominous strained forearm and is scheduled for an MRI on Tuesday. Why is nothing ever easy for these guys?
I'm not sure if I'm ready for Mark Cuban to be the Cubs' owner. I like the idea of someone to shake things up, but I'm worried that it could degenerate into something stupid.
For you Rogers Clemens bashers out there, note that Greg Maddux, after winning his second straight game on Sunday, now needs just three more wins to pass Clemens for eighth on the career wins list and the designation of winningest living pitcher. We already had a real debate on our hands as to who is the best pitcher of that generation. Now it's just ... closer.
The Brewers are alive in the National League Central race because of a boost from CC Sabathia (5-0, 1.88 ERA in six Milwaukee starts). But the Brewers' other ace is stumbling: In his last five starts Ben Sheets is 0-3 with a 4.61 ERA. Milwaukee starts the week five games behind the Cubs.
The Rangers fired their pitching and bullpen coaches last Friday night (Mark Connor, Dom Chiti). Odd. And probably, at this point of the season, unnecessary.