Look out, here come the Baltimore Orioles. New manager Buck Showalter has his O's flying high winning 6 of 7 since he took over for a very ineffective David Trombley (187-283). Buck's club has quickly become a spoiler favorite beating up on AL playoff hopeful Angels and White Sox. This is a relatively young team suddenly believing they can win. Look out unsuspecting foes.
Random thoughts leads to wondering which Major League manager has done the best job so far in 2010. There's no clear cut winner but a few certainly stand out above the rest.
- Bobby Cox has his team where no one thought they'd be... in 1st place. Hitters and pitchers performing in most key situations while Bobby's substitutions keep coming through. It's been a complete team effort so far from the players to coaches right on up to front office. Philadelphia became much stronger with two big pitching guns (Halladay & Oswalt) so look for the fiercy Cox to keep Atlanta focused and motivated.
- Dusty Baker's Reds are clinging to a slim lead over the Cardinals. He's getting the most from his players but everyone knows this pitching staff is about to break down. Or, is it?
- Buddy Black has made Padres players believers. SD's pitching staff is nothing short of sensational from starters to relievers. Lineup had centered around Gonzalez with little but timely production from all others. Padres stunned many by making deadline deal trades for Ludwick and Tejada proving they're focused on winning now.
- Terry Francona continues to deal with crippling injuries. Boston is lurking in the playoff picture when most teams would have imploded. Martinez, Beckett, Pedroia, Lowell, Youkilis, Cameron and Varitek have all missed considerable time. Rookie fill-ins and aggressive play has kept the Sox from fading in the standings. 2010 might be one of Francona's best managing seasons.
- Ron Gardenhire's in the same boat as Francona. Multiple players lost to multiple injuries. Nathan, Morneau, Thome, Mauer, Hudson etc. It's been the walking wounded. RG has kept Minnesota close. Don't be surprised if AL Central goes down to the wire once again.
- Cito Gaston is being over looked because his team is in 4th place. I guess it goes with the territory. Don't turn your back on Toronto (59-52). They're 10 behind division leading New York and 8.5 behind wild card leading Tampa. Lineup crushing long balls at will except for slumping 2B Hill. If Hill's bat comes alive then these guys might start creeping closer. Either way, Gaston has been making all the right moves.
Is it time to turn on the Triple Crown watch? There hasn't been much of a challenge by anyone to pull off a triple crown feat in many years. Here comes Albert Pujols. Pujols has emerged from a mid-season mini-slump and is tearing it up at a fevered pace. He's begun August smashing 4 home runs, 10 RBI at a .481 clip. His season totals are .313 (5th), 28 HR (2nd) & 83 RBI (1st). If ever there was a player to pull it off it's Albert Pujols. Just in case you haven't already figured it out a baseball triple crown is when a player leads his lead in all three categories of HR, RBI & BA. Something tells me NL MVP to be Pujols will do it... especially if he continues on an August power surge.
Cubs hot headed Carlos Zambrano is back starting games for the beleaguered Cubbies. Poor Lou Piniella. This is no way to retire as Chicago is on a collision course for 90 losses. Cubs have been terrible all season. The good news is whoever steps in next does have a talented crew and you can bet on plenty of off season moves. Who will manage next is the million dollar question. Joe Girardi is from the area and refused to feed into any rumors via New York media. Perhaps someone from within the organization? Or, another big name? Too many "what if's" in Cubs heart breaking history.