The (unofficial) second half of the baseball season starts tonight with four of the six divisions up for grabs and could also come down to the wire – including second-wild-card-spots. The trade deadline is July 31 (non-waiver) and August 31 (waiver) providing plenty of rumors for the next couple of weeks. So, here are some compelling story-lines to follow during the second-half.
- Where does Cole Hamels go – again?
- It is likely that this time, Cole Hamels may not tip the scales on a playoff race but could strengthen a contender even further. Cole is the only bargaining the Phillies have and it would be crazy if they didnt move him for more young talent for their $85m remaining investment. Philly will likely have to pay some of that remaining salary for the top-tier talent they’ll want in return. It would seem the Dodgers or the Cardinals would be the best place for him.
- What Division does Johnny Cueto decide?
- Johnny Cueto could be the tipping point in a number of playoff races. However, because he will be a free-agent next year, the Reds will not be able to ask for what Cueto is worth. Think about how much influence Cueto could have if he was traded to the AL East, AL West or anyone one of the contenders in the NL.
- Houston, do we have a problem?
- The team that surprised everyone in the first half is no longer in first. At one point they had the best record in baseball and then July came and they have gone 3-8 so far. George Springer broke his right wrist and Chris Carter is still hitting below .200. This is the team that needs another starter to contend down the stretch – but you wonder if that is worth giving away prospects to try and win something that you are not ready for now. I’d expect the Astros will not do anything drastic and maybe trade for mid-level value type guys that do not impact their farm-system or current roster – unless it’s Chris Carter.
Paul Azinger does have a history of criticizing Tiger, like when he went off on Tiger back in 2012 for kicking a club on the 16th hole during the Masters – “Tiger’s antics this week were an embarrassment to the game, to the membership at Augusta,” – “I was really disappointed to see him carry on that way. He’s not trying to endear himself to anybody. And after he won Bay Hill I thought, ‘here we go again, this is going to be Tiger just kicking butt and taking names.’ I don’t know. I thought he acted like the south end of a northbound mule.”
So, as history repeats itself and Tiger may have already played himself out of contention from the British Open ,like he did at the U.S., Azinger calls him a “middle-of-the-pack-hack”. Tiger is 21 over par in his last 45 holes at major championships – so the assessment is not far off. On the front-nine yesterday Tiger was 4-over-40 and later in the day chunked a chip shot.
You’d have thought Tiger showed some signs of life recently, when he shot a 7-under for the tournament at the Greenbriar Classic. Now, it just seems like he is lost in his own head. Maybe the booze, women-chasing, bad swing and all, has kidnapped the once and future king of golf – not that we care anymore because we are doing just fine playing DraftKings Fantasy Golf Millionaire Maker – how about Jordan Speith?!
Doc Rivers the GM is crazy. The Clippers lose Matt Barnes, Spencer Hawes and Hedo Turkoglu, but gain Lance Stephenson, Paul Pierce and Josh Smith. You know Kendrick Perkins is waiting for that phone call to join this insane asylum. We might be the closest we have ever been to someone being murdered on the court. At any moment someone could implode, explode or just go off the rails – this team was already combustible, averaging two technicals every 3 games and now you have Josh Smith and Lance Stephenson? CP3 was so hard on DJ that he considered playing for Dallas for 96 hours. The team has talent but no front-court depth – right now there is no back-up for DJ or Blake. This disfunction junction is going to be awesome to watch next year and I cannot wait to see the over/under on CP3 meltdowns.