Rosenthal's radical realignment proposal

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US Map.gifFOX’s Ken Rosenthal thinks it’s time to realign the divisions to break up the Red Sox-Yankees hegemony.  You gotta go to the interactive map in the middle to see his actual idea for radical realignment, but it breaks down like this:

AL Atlantic:  Yankees, Mets, Nationals, Orioles, Blue Jays;

AL Great Lakes: Reds, Indians, Tigers, Pirates, Twins;

AL Pacific: Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Athletics, Mariners;

NL East: Red Sox, Phillies, Braves, Rays, Marlins;

NL Midwest: Royals, Cubs, Cardinals, White Sox Brewers;

NL Southwest: Astros, Rangers, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Padres.

Initial thoughts:

  • This scheme makes the Yankees’ path to the playoffs easier, not harder, replacing the Red Sox and Rays — tough competition — with the Mets and Nationals — less tough;
  • The AL Great Lakes would never get a game on national television;
  • I gotta admit, the AL Pacific is a pretty sweet division;
  • The NL East suddenly becomes an impossibly difficult division;
  • The new NL Midwest gives the Royals even less of a chance than they have now; and
  • The Padres probably won’t care much for being disassociated from the west coast and forced to play so many games far from home. Otherwise I don’t have any strong feelings about the NL Southwest.

Of course radical realignment like this just isn’t going to happen. Nor should it. Yes, right now the AL East seems a little unfair, but but baseball has always done well by practicing small-c conservatism with respect to this kind of thing and not allowing temporary problems dictate long-term planning. 

If the AL East is a joke for another 5-10 years call me, but right now this sort of thing is best left as an intellectual exercise, not a serious proposal.

The Giants are winning but they’re still gonna sell

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The state of baseball in general, the state of the National League in particular and the state of the San Francisco Giants as a competitor are conspiring to create what seems like at least a mildly absurd situation.

The Giants, a veteran-laden team that, as recently as this past offseason but definitely within the past couple of years, were at least talking about being on a win-now footing, just swept a four-game series, have won five straight games and have won 12 of 14 to pull themselves to within two and a half games of a playoff spot.

Yet, that’s all for temporary show, because they’re about to sell off. At least according to Jeff Passan at ESPN. Giants president Farhan Zaidi tried to push back on that in a radio interview yesterday, denying that the club has foreclosed the possibility of a postseason push, but I’m not really buying that and I don’t think most people are.

On one level it makes sense to ignore the recent surge and forge on with a rebuild. Sure, the Giants are winning but they’re not exactly good. They’re two and a half out of the Wild Card, but there are many teams ahead of them. There’s a lot of reason to think that they’re playing in good fortune right now and that that, rather than finding some extra gear of sustainable better play, is what’s to credit. Hot streaks can happen at any time but the trade deadline only comes once a year. When you have the best starter available in Madison Bumgarner and the best reliever available in Will Smith, you gotta make those deals. That’s what I’d probably do if I ran the Giants and I think that that’s, wisely, what Zaidi will do.

Still, it’s an odd look, less for the Giants specifically than for baseball as a whole. We may in an era of cheap front offices who don’t like to contend if it means spending money, but it’s unfair to paint the Giants with that brush. They’ve spent money and acquired talent and have done whatever they can to extend their 2010-2014 mini-dynasty a few more years and in doing so they’ve made a lot of fans happy. That team has pretty much reached the end and, even in an earlier, more competitive era, they’d not be properly criticized for starting in on a rebuild. Heck, they’d be excused if they had done it a year or two earlier, frankly.

But, because so many teams have punted on improving themselves, these aging Giants are at least superficially competitive. As such, when they do sell off in the coming days, it’ll look to some like they’re waving a white flag or something when they’re not really doing that. I mean, the Rockies and the Pirates, among other teams, should be much better than they are but didn’t seem all that interested in improving, thereby helping the Giants look better, right? It’s less a knock on the Giants for rebuilding when they’re within striking distance of the playoffs than it is on the rest of the league for allowing a team like the Giants to be within striking distance of a playoff spot.

But that’s where we are right now. An insanely competitive Wild Card race from teams that, on the whole, are rather unconcerned with being competitive. What a time to be a baseball fan.