By Father Gabe Costa
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Well, the All-Star Game has come and gone. By virtually all accounts, it was an excellent Midsummer Classic, highlighted by the appearance of the game’s MVP, Mariano Rivera. With tears and cheers, the universal respect shown to the greatest of all relief pitchers has thrust this game into a special category.
With the season nearly two-thirds completed, teams are now focusing their attention on the future. Some of the specific factors/questions to be considered are:
1. There are, of course, two Wild Card berths for each league, bringing the total number of postseason teams to 10. That’s one-third of the clubs in MLB.
2. July 31 marks the end of “free trading.” After that, having players go from one team to another is a much more complicated affair.
3. Will teams like the Blue Jays, White Sox, Twins and Astros in the American League, and the Marlins, Brewers and Padres in the National League, cut their losses for this year and enter into heavy trading with contenders with the goal of easing their own financial pressures?
4. On the other hand, will clubs like the Yankees, Rays, Orioles, Indians and Rangers in the American League, and the Nationals, Phillies, Pirates, Reds, Rockies and Dodgers of the National League, take financial and trading risks in order to get into the postseason mix?
5. Regarding the local teams, how about the Mets? As of this writing, they are eight games under .500 and 10 games behind in the Wild Card race (with seven teams ahead of them). And yet, they seem like an exciting and scrappy team as of late. Everyone is talking about Matt Harvey. With 68 games remaining, they may still make a run for it. Stranger things have happened!
6. The Yankees? For all the injuries and with the most anemic of offenses, they are still in the running. Skipper Joe Girardi is doing it with mirrors. The Bombers are seven games off of the pace in their division, but only 3.5 games behind in the Wild Card standings. Some specific questions that both Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman are dealing with are:
- Will Derek Jeter be physically able to return sometime this year? If so, can he play shortstop?
- When will outfielder Curtis Granderson be ready to play?
- Will Alex Rodriguez’s problems — medical and legal — ever go away?
- Can the starting pitching hold up?
- Will the relievers be able to sustain this year’s remarkable performance for two more months?
- Where — oh where! — has the hitting gone?
Anyway, August is coming. The weather will be hot.
Which teams will also be hot?
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