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The Baseball Notebook


November 4, 2010 7:45 AM

Reflections On The Baseball Season

BasebalFans.jpgIt's time to start wrapping up the baseball season. It was a year that showed the resurgence of pitching and the resurgence of the National League, at least their best teams, so it was appropriate that it ended with San Francisco winning a World Series on the strength of their arms. Let's take a quick run through all 30 teams with a quick-hit summary of their season.
NL WEST

San Francisco: The champions are a long way from those days when they were in fourth place, seven games out in midsummer. Pitching carries the day in the end.
San Diego: A team expected to finish in last and trade Adrian Gonzalez fights to the final day of the season and picks up Gonzalez' option for next year. If only the city's football team made as much use of talent.
Colorado: Some great individual talent in Ubaldo Jiminez, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzales and they contended deep into the year. Just a couple pieces away.
LA Dodgers: A franchise in turmoil, as Joe Torre leaves and Don Mattingly tries to pick up the mess.
Arizona: Disappointing most of the year, manager Kirk Gibson comes in and gives them renewed spirit and hope for next season

NL CENTRAL

Cincinnati: A return to the top of the division for the first time since 1995 and the likely MVP in Joey Votto--another turnaround job for Dusty Baker.
St. Louis: A big disappointment, as three outstanding pitchers, Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday didn't get a shot in October. A rare underachieving year for Tony LaRussa.
Milwaukee: They win just enough to tease, not enough to get on the right side of .500. Until they get more pitching that won't change.
Chi Cubs: Perhaps the most dysfunctional organization in the game. Resources to burn, yet never anywhere near the playoff race.
Houston: Made some nice midseason trades to get younger and in a soft division could be on the way back in 2011.
Pittsburgh: The wasteland of baseball. A beautiful park housing a Triple A team that trades off players as soon as they develop.

NL EAST

Philadelphia: In spite of the LCS disappointment, they remain the team to beat in this league. But the window won't stay open forever.
Atlanta: The end of an era with Bobby Cox' retirement and they fittingly get him a playoff berth. Emergence of Jason Heyward one of MLB's top individual storylines.
Florida: If they spend some money they can get back in the playoffs and provide a showcase for the potent Hanley Ramirez-Dan Uggla middle infield.
NY Mets: The housecleaning has begun and Sandy Alderson is set to pick up the pieces. They've rivaled the Cubs in the dysfunctional category, but the new GM knows how to build.
Washington: The sad ending of the Stephen Strasburg debut seems to epitomize the struggles of this franchise.

AL EAST

Tampa Bay: A great year with 96 wins and an AL East title brings an end to the glory days of Tampa baseball--with a lack of attendance and several free agents to be, a long winter is ahead.
NY Yankees: The only fan base in the world that can turn 95 wins, a Division Series sweep and two LCS wins into a cause for soul-searching anguish.
Boston: Injuries and two outstanding teams ahead of them doomed '09.
Toronto: Jose Bautista's power surge lit up the league and in another division would have pushed for a playoff berth.
Baltimore: The arrival of Buck Showalter triggered a late-season resurgence and the possibility of five strong teams in the East for 2011.

AL CENTRAL

Minnesota: The organization that just churns out quality pitching, disciplined baseball and division titles. What else is there to do but tip your hat to a team that loses an All-Star closer and All-Star first baseman and still goes to the playoffs?
Chi Sox: It wasn't a bad year, but they never quite found the rhythm that the talent suggested they were capable of.
Detroit: A tough year for Jim Leyland, as they fell hard after the All-Star break.
Kansas City: The rumors that Zack Greinke is going to be traded make this franchise the Pittsburgh of the American League.
Cleveland: A team that has the look of an old dilapidated factory on Lake Erie.

AL WEST

Texas: With or without Cliff Lee, they're going to be factor in this division for years to come behind Nolan Ryan's vision and Ron Washington's resilience--and Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz bashing balls all over the place doesn't hurt either.
LA Angels: A sound baseball organization that's hit the need for some re-tooling. Will owner Artie Moreno cough up the $$$ to make the process go quicker?
Oakland: Billy Beane's put together another sound young pitching staff. The A's were feisty in 2010 and will be better in '11.
Seattle: The American League's best pitcher in Felix Hernandez, but the everyday lineup is woeful.

Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football , game analysis in the NFL and a wrap-up of baseball season. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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