First 20 games.....Grade your team

So April is almost over, what do you guys think of your team's chances so far?

Houston Astros

Starting Pitching: B+ Oswalt and Clemens have been superb for the most part. Miller has had some very good games, some okay ones. Redding has struggled in two starts and got almost no help in the third one. Should Oswalt and Clemens continue to succeed, this could be an "A" if Pettitte comes back throwing well and Miller keeps going late into games.

Relief Pitching: B This was a big question mark going in, with the Wagner trade. Duckworth has had a couple very good games in long relief. Brandon Backe, Chad Harville, Dan Miceli, and Mike Gallo have all been average or better. Lidge has been a beast, and Dotel seems to finally be getting his velocity up and his wicked curveball under control. This category has the potential to slip down to "B-" or "C+" range however, if the middle four don't do well.

Offense: B+ Given that Houston is 3rd in the NL in team AVG, 2nd in runs scored and OBP, 1st in RBI's, and 4th in SLG%, it would be easy to look at them and say "They have 6 guys who have driven in at least 11 runs each so far, this must be an "A". But consistency has been a problem, IMO. They have scored 10+ runs in six games, but have scored 2 runs or fewer 5 times. There's no excuse for this lineup not being able to score more than 1 or 2 runs. Good hitters top to bottom, they should be able to get it done more than half the time.

Team Defense: C And this is being generous. The infield is fairly sure-handed, but lacks range on the right side since Bagwell and Kent are getting old. The outfield lacks range altogether. Biggio can still move, but not "centerfielder fast". Hidalgo can still throw it through a brick wall, but nobody will run on him. Berkman has trouble reading fly balls that aren't hit a mile high. Any liner to left field is an adventure. Brad Ausmus has thrown out only one runner so far, out of (I think) 8. Some of that has to do with slow deliveries of the pitchers, but two have come on pitchouts. He's also had a couple passed balls that advanced runners in close games.

Overall: B Which is about what an 11-8 team in third place (although only a half game out) should be I guess. Some pleasant surprises (Biggio, Everett, the Bullpen), some not-so pleasant (Ensberg, Redding).

Yankees:


Starting Pitching: D Moose has been horrible, Kevin Brown has been terrific, Javier Vazquez has been up and down, Contreras has been garbage and the 5th starter has varied because Leiber is hurt.


Relief Pitching: C Rivera is the only relief pitcher I trust. Gordon, Quantrill hopefully will pitch up to their abilities.


Offense: F they have one of the worst team batting averages in the majors and dont play small ball they just swing for the fences and right now nobody is connecting but Posada.


Defense: C very mediocre defensively. Jeter is making errors and arod is still trying to learn the position. Matsui, Loften and Sheffield are very average at best in the outfield.


Overall: F its still early and Im not worried at all they will still be there in the end fighting the Redsox to see who is going to the world series, hopefully they turn it around soon. After last nights game I think they are on their way

pirates

starting pitching C- some amazing pitching but some very inconsistant pitching too...Fogg and Vogelsong won't be in the starting lineup by august and vogelsong will be in the pen so it's only gonna get better

relief pitching B- what was supposed to be the strength in the team last year ended up losing about 30 games themselvs has been a very pleasant surprise this season

Offense A- Redman needs to start getting on base or he wwill find himself hitting eigth and once Bay gets back and wilson is playing 1st base everyday the offense will even get better

Defense c- some great some horrible...

overall B- i'm expecting more...but i think i'm the only one.... but for a team (as shadtree tried to point out) was picked to be dead last this year, by the so called experts) they are doing well

Red Sox:

Starting Pitching: B+ Schilling, Pedro, D Lowe, and Wakefield have been pretty good despite a few stumbles

Relief Pitching: A I don't know if it's still going, but 20+ straight innings of scoreless releif...

Offense: C Manny is carrying this team right now. Damon, Ortiz, and Tek are doing well, but they really need Nomar and Trot back.

Defense: C+ Bleh

Overall: B Once the starters start grooving it and the lineup is healthy, I predict big things.

White Sox offense an A+? Wow. They are 14th in runs scored, 6th in OPS, and 11th in Avg. Is that what the Sox call an A+?

My take on the Cubs:

Starters - Wood has been very good, Zambrano was great until his last start, Maddux started poorly but his last 2 starts have been very good, Clement sucked his first start and has been very good since, and Mitre has done pretty well for a rookie taking Prior's place. Grade - B-

Relief - Mercker, Hawkins & Wellemeyer all have ERA's below 3.12. Farnsworth, Beltran & Wuertz have been hit pretty hard, but a lot of that came the week the wind was blowing out at 40 mph. Borowski has converted all of his saves, even though he makes them a little too exciting. Grade - B

Offense - Well, they should be an A+++ because they lead the Sox in runs, OPS, HR, & SLG. but I'll be a little more subjective. Walker has been great. Patterson is showing he is totally healthy. Sosa hasn't gotten hot yet, but summer is coming, Alou has been outstanding, Ramirez has been outstanding, Lee has been a bit disappointing but I have to believe he'll settle down, Gonzalez has been Gonzalez, Barrett has been very good. The bench has been great hitting - Hollandsworth has 2 pinch hit HR already. As a team they seem to either all hit or nobody hits. Grade - A-

Defense - They are 2nd in fielding % and this is their best area thus far. Lee is a brilliant 1B and really gives the other infielders confidence to throw the ball. Aramis Ramirez has been extremely good at 3B, believe it or not. Gonzalez is Gonzalez. Barrett is okay, Walker makes the plays he should. Patterson is an excellent CF and Alou & Sammy have actually been getting good jumps and making plays. Grade - A+

Overall - B+ IMO if the Cubs can keep up with the Astros until they get Prior back in gear they are in great shape for the post season. I can see Sammy getting on a month long hot streak and lifting the team even more. Lee will hit. Thus far they have at least met and probably exceeded my expectations, especially with their best player on the shelf.

I'm bumping the Astros' starting pitching up to a solid "A" after Pettitte's performances since coming off the DL and Clemens' dominance thus far. Redding has settled in a little bit, and Oswalt and Miller continue to be good.

The bullpen, however, gets demoted to a "C-". Harville is hurt, Ricky Stone has this urge to give up a long ball every appearance, and Dotel has blown two saves in the last week. Backe and Miceli haven't been QUITE as effective the last couple weeks. Lidge is still a beast though.

Offense and Defense stay the same, however.

Overall grade goes up to a B+. Had they not dropped 4 of their last 5, I'd give them an A-.

^agree. But, I am a little scared about Oswalt's demeanor. After his tantrum with the officials the other day, his pitching style seems different. I know the kid has great control, but I am afraid that Clemens and Pettitte media appeal has had a jealous effect on Roy's ego.

Cardinals- Overall grade C

Pitching is improving week by week, which is very positive.

Defense is getting back to where it should be.

Offense has done a pretty good job, but can do better. Pujols seems to be comming around, which is also a positive sign.

With all that said the cardinals are only 2 1/2 games out of first and better than the so called experts thought.

Dodgers

Starting Pitching: C+

Relief Pitching: A

Offense: B+

Defense: A+

Overall: 88%