by Josh Nagel - 06/05/2008
Now that the season is a third of the way through, it's worth noting that zero managers have met the firing squad … yet. But the watch officially is on. Mets skipper Willie Randolph survived a well-publicized meeting with management and Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen did the same, but neither might be around for long if the their teams continue on losing paths and the managers themselves pose some of the biggest distractions.
But John McLaren of Seattle might have taken the unofficial lead after his team got swept at home by the Angels and general manager Bill Bavasi ordered the players to stay at their lockers after Wednesday's 5-4 loss and demanded that they take accountability for the league's worst record and one of the biggest disappointing starts of a team expected to contend. Bavasi then had some not-so-flattering remarks regarding McLaren, whose days could be numbered. On one hand, perhaps.
Here is a look at some Major League Baseball trends through June 4:
American League East
Tampa Bay Rays - Although Tampa Bay could quickly be losing its grip on first place in the division, the Rays are still big winners for their backers. Their net profit of 1,240 units is the best in the majors so far this season and their 1,084 run line units are among the best as well.
New York Yankees - Mike Mussina, who many thought was on the brink of being washed up, leads the team with nine wins and a 4.01 ERA. That's either the sign of a nice comeback, or an indicator if how dreadful New York's pitching has been. While it's a little of both, it's more of the latter. They are 20th in the league in team ERA (4.39) and quality starts (28), and the only MLB team capable of making a federal production out of starting a former bullpen pitcher. It didn't work, and the Yankees are still searching for answers.
American League Central
Chicago White Sox - This is perhaps the most controversial first-place team of all time, and there's a real reasonable solution right around the corner … fire Ozzie Guillen, and sooner than later. The next time the White Sox lose a few games and Guillen goes off again, it should be the last we hear from him. General manager Ken Williams calling him out was long overdue, now it's time to take the next logical step. Yes, Guillen took them to a World Series title, but that was a few years ago, and winning one does not give you carte blanche to repeatedly embarrass your organization and become a distraction to the team. It's time for a change, and a team to stay away from until it happens.
Detroit Tigers - Who would have thought that, next to the Mariners and Padres, the Tigers would be would the third-least profitable team in the league. Their -1,702 units says it all, and there hasn't been a lot of reason to believe they will turn it around. They have lost seven of 10 and failed to score more than four runs in any of the losses.
American League West
Oakland A's - The A's offset a four-game skid with a four-game win streak and still find themselves above .500. But despite cashing in for 746 units to the good for their bettors, this team, as is its nature and as the streaks indicate, is hard to peg and one that's easy to find yourself frustrated with.
Texas Rangers - Former All-Star Vicente Padilla has quietly put together a nice season at 7-2 with an ERA of 3.67. But the pitching highlights end there for the Rangers, who have an MLB-worst 5.01 ERA. Even so, they have somehow climbed to .500 and, if they could get another reliable starter, might be able to make some noise in this division.
National League East
Florida Marlins - A couple of recent three-game skids slowed Florida's momentum a tad, but the Marlins still find themselves atop the division and have cashed in for bettors a whopping 1,203 units this season. Also a bit of surprise is the team's 34-20-4 record against the over behind its sixth-ranked offense.
Atlanta Braves - The Braves were dealt a blow by losing John Smoltz for the season, and felt the loss immediately as the Braves blew a two-run lead in the ninth and lost to the Marlins. But what's really worth noting about Atlanta is its staggering 38-19-3 record against the under. Whenever a team can get a .667 record against a side - and it's not the first week of the season - this is something worth noting.
National League Central
Chicago Cubs - The red-hot Cubs have won nine-straight and covered the run line in five of those, probably not a good enough mark to consider laying 1.5 runs. Especially when you consider that most of their prices during this run were in the -140 range, with the steepest checking in at -240 for Ryan Dempster against the Rockies in a 5-4 win in Chicago.
Milwaukee Brewers - The Brewers deserve a mention, at least in part, because their six-game winning streak has gotten them out of the hole and up 230 units on the season for bettors. They also get a little ink because an old friend of mine, Bay Area sportswriter Jim Seimas, somehow got to run as the "Chorizo" in the Great Sausage Race May 29 in Milwaukee. If you've ever bet on this race - and who hasn't? - it's worth noting that the Chorizo is the heaviest uniform of them all, and that most of the racers are college-age kids who are regulars, mixed with one or two "guest" runners each time. Don't put your cash on the Chorizo or the newbie: Jim finished fourth out of five, needing a heroic late surge to beat out fellow guest runner Steve Poltz, a 48-year-old singer/songwriter from San Diego who ran as the Polish Sausage. Coincidentally, that night's 8-1 loss to the Braves was Milwaukee's last defeat before its current winning streak.
National League West
Arizona Diamondbacks - It's been a rough run for the Diamonbacks and their supporters; Arizona has lost eight of 10, including a sweep at home at the hands of the Giants and another on the road to the Brewers. They have dropped to -300 units on the season, which is largely indicative of the thick prices bettors are laying when they lose. The offense has dried up; Arizona has scored four runs or fewer in nine of its last 10 games, and reached five runs just once.
San Diego Padres - Until its starting pitching staff gets healthy - the Padres are suffering from injuries to aces Jake Peavy and Chris Young - there isn't a lot to be hopeful about here, except the occasional decent price on a Greg Maddux home start. San Diego certainly can't count on its offense to pick up the slack; the Padres rank 28th in runs scored with 3.70 per game, and are near the bottom in every statistical offensive category.