The Good: The Bronx Bombers are back. The Yanks
have smashed a baseball-best 135 homers at the break,
scored the most runs, have the most total bases, have
the best slugging percentage in the league (.476) and
the best on-base percentage (.359). They are led by
first baseman Jason Giambi (22 homers), sophomore
second baseman Alfonso Soriano (20) and a come-to-life
Robin Ventura (19). Mussina, Wells, Pettitte and the
rest of the pitchers hold up their end, too.
The Bad: Their outfield play has been spotty
(except Bernie Williams in center, .312 with 11 homers
and 45 RBIs), which is why The Boss bought Raul
Mondesi from the Blue Jays. And with the big swings
come big misses. They strike out more than anyone in
baseball (almost eight a game) and lead the league in
grounding out into double plays (87 in 87 games).
What's Next: Another postseason trip, no doubt,
and very likely an AL East pennant -- or more. Lefty
Andy Pettitte's health may be a question and Roger
Clemens has been ouchy -- but now they have Jeff
Weaver. The rich, as they say ... well, you know what
they say. Sigh.
The Good: Derek Lowe has gone from bum to
brilliant (12-4, 2.36 ERA), the staff has the best ERA
in the AL, Johnny Damoncan play in the first
half (.308) -- Shea Hillenbrand??!! -- and Nomar
Garciaparra (.312) is all the way back.
The Bad: Manny Ramirez is just now coming back,
and slowly. There are those nagging concerns over
Pedro Martinez's health. Some other recent pitching
injuries (Rich Garces) will have the Sox shopping for
depth in July. The Yankees keep throwing on the
firewood. It's getting hot.
What's Next: A fight for a wild-card berth if
they can't overtake the Yanks. With Lowe, Martinez and
John Burkett, they should be able to stay close. If
one of them goes down ... well, blame it on the Curse.
The Good: The O's have been much closer to .500
than anyone would have guessed because of starter
Rodrigo Lopez (8-3, 3.04 ERA) and closer Jorge Julio
(17 saves) and a staff that has the sixth-best ERA in
the AL. If only they could hit some more.
The Bad: No regular is hitting over .300.
Veterans like Marty Cordova (.277, 40 RBIs), Mike
Bordick (.239, 21 RBIs) and righty Scott Erickson
(3-8, 4.41) have been disappointing. Peter
Angelos is still in charge. The Expos might be moving
next door next year. OK. We'll stop now.
What's Next: Young teams like this often
collapse in the second half. Manager Mike Hargrove has
done an admirable job so far, but this team doesn't
have near enough to compete in this division.
The Good: Eric Hinske (.273, 14 HRs, 46 RBIs)
may be AL Rookie of the Year. There is talent (Carlos
Delgado, Shannon Stewart, Roy Halladay). But with the
"For Trade" sign out, no telling who'll be left. At
least they know where they'll be in '03.
The Bad: The Jays dumped skipper Buck Martinez
after a 20-33 start, but placeholder Carlos Tosca is
sub-.500, too. Jose Cruz Jr. is having a tough year
(.227), pitcher Luke Prokopec is injured ... well, at
least Mondesi, his salary and his attitude are gone.
What's Next: This could be a completely
different team next season, new manager and all. The
farm system looks decent, and with some good trades,
they could contend faster than expected. But, oh no.
Not this year.
The Good: Randy Winn (.310, 7 homers, 42 RBIs)
is a star on a team bereft of them. There is hope
because of guys like pitcher Joe Kennedy (5-7, 4.33
ERA in 17 starts) and a farm system stocked with high
picks that could blossom. But, for now, they're
The Bad: Greg Vaughn (.163, 8 HRs, 29 RBIs) has
all but retired, becoming an albatross on a team that
has the lowest slugging percentage (.378) and on-base
percentage (.306) in the AL. Oh, the pitching's
rotten, too. Including a 5.56 ERA among relievers.
What's Next: Contraction isn't likely. So
Central Florida is stuck with a team strapped for cash
and proven talent while trapped in a nightmarish lease
at the Trop. This year's hopeless. The next few aren't
Note: All stats through Sunday. All photos AP, except Randy Winn (Al Bello/Getty Images).