The first month of the baseball season is always interesting. Fans panic when a team gets swept in a three game series. Others get excited when their team wins five or six in a row. To compare it with football, where they play a 16 game regular season, winning one football game would equal a 10 game winning streak in baseball. So baseball is a lot about taking two out of three and compiling wins. Early in the season, a lot can depend on who you play. The A’s are 12-8, but a perfect 6-0 against the Astros. The Brewers have won eight straight, but they are only 10-8 as they started the year 2-8. The last four have been against the Cubs and Padres. So taking advantage of who you play can be key. The Reds and Cardinals both made post season last year out of the NL Central. They were able to take advantage of the Astros, as both teams won 10 or more against Houston.
I’ve always felt don’t get too excited until Memorial Day. By then, teams will have played an assortment of good teams, decent teams, and lousy teams. You can’t win a pennant by then, but you can bury yourself. This year more than in any season in recent memory, there are some bad teams. Miami, Chicago, San Diego, and Houston seem really bad. Together they are 19-56. To finish in the money, you’ll need fat records against those teams. Right now, Toronto, the Angels and the Dodgers are off to slow starts. All three have spent a lot of money to upgrade and so far haven’t seen the results they’d have liked. Colorado might be the surprise of the season so far. The Rockies are 13-5 and tied with Atlanta for the best record in the National League. I didn’t think the Rockies had enough pitching to win this year, but so far so good. Three starters have an ERA below 3.50. Getting Troy Tulowitzki back at short has really helped. He leads the team with six homers and 17 RBI. The Red Sox have also played well, leading the AL East by two games. It seems that the attitude is better and with former pitching coach John Farrell coming back to manage it has helped young starting pitchers Jon Lester and Clay Bucholz.
Getting back to the original top of panic, it will be interesting to see which team fires its manager first. Reasons to make a change include shaking up the chemistry on a team and showing that management is dissatisfied with the direction of the team. It is more likely to happen to a team that was expected to be good. Mike Scioscia has been the Angels manager since 2000. They won a World Series in 2002 and now haven’t made the playoffs for three straight years and are off to a slow start. I would think he could one that is vulnerable as we had towards Memorial Day. They have spent money and have high expectations. For the second time since 2008, the Blue Jays have recycled a former manager. John Gibbons is back. He managed three full seasons and parts of two others and never made the playoffs. Nothing in his first stint said bring me back, but Toronto did when Farrell left for Boston. The third underachiever so far is the Dodgers. Don Mattingly has had some injuries to deal with both from position players and pitchers. They have spent money and have high expectations but changing the pilot would seem to be out of the question as the crew is relatively new at playing together.
About a month from now is the time to make some changes. Just make sure you don’t get buried early to the point you can’t come back.