Hope in Baltimore (less in D.C.) and the game's best farm systems
In the nation's capital these days there's plenty of impatience and lots of talk about when things will finally turn around. The economy? Oh yeah, that too. The state of the area's two major league teams is almost as sad as the state of the economy. In Baltimore, the Orioles started well but have fallen back to a more familiar fourth place in the AL East. Meanwhile in D.C., the Nationals have the worst record in the majors (3-10).
There is no postseason in the Orioles' immediate future, and as long as the Nationals are sending their teams on the field in
What's even more heartening for Baltimore fans is that Bergesen may not even be the third-best pitching prospect in the organization.
The position with the fewest Hall of Famers is third base. Only 13 have been enshrined in Cooperstown, so picking the five best ever at that position is easier than it would be at any other spot. I think the case can be made that Jones, a slam-dunk Hall of Fame choice, is already in the top five. Among players whose primary career position was third base, Jones, who turns 37 this week, ranks in the top 10 all-time in runs (sixth), hits (eighth), doubles (fifth), home runs (fourth), RBIs (fourth) and walks (sixth). All of those are categories in which he will only improve. He also ranks in the top 10 in the key hitting averages (seventh in batting, fifth in on-base percentage and first in slugging percentage). If Jones keeps that up, he would have a very good chance to pass Brett, who leads all-time among third basemen in runs, hits, doubles and RBIs and ranks second in games, at-bats and triples.
Right now I'd rank the top five as follows: Schmidt, Brett, Robinson (hard to ignore 16 Gold Gloves when Chipper hasn't won any), Jones and former Pittsburgh Pirates great
There's no real way to determine which team has the absolute best system, and it's worth pointing out that as often as not top prospects don't translate into top big league players. That said, the Rangers, A's, Rays, Marlins and Braves are consistently regarded as having the best systems right now. The trick will be maintaining those rankings once the players who are so highly touted right now head to the major leagues, either this season or next. Having top-to-bottom organizational depth is a true sign of a team on the rise, so it's interesting to see that a team such as the Rays, that has already promoted a lot of great young talent to the majors (
Yes, they do, if for no other reason than they play in the AL Central, which has started the season as the most congested division in baseball (three teams tied for first entering Wednesday and a fourth team a half-game out) and could finish it that way, too. There are no elite teams in the Central this year, which means there are a lot of wins to be had. It would be a mistake to write off any team that's good enough to go into Yankee Stadium and open a can on the Bronx Bombers not once but twice, as the Tribe did in 10-2 and 22-4 routs last weekend. Once
I'd argue that the fact that Rose broke that rule as a manager is even worse than if he had done so as a player. For one, he'd already been in the major leagues for more than two decades, so he was more than familiar with the game's ban on gambling of any kind. For another, managers can influence the game in more direct ways, with greater consistency than any single player can. From which players are in the lineup every day, to which pitchers to use, to what pitches to call and what plays to put on, managers can subtly -- or not so subtly -- influence what happens before, during and after every pitch of a game. The fact that he lied about it for 15 years until he had a book to sell isn't helping him. I'd be shocked if he ever got into the Hall of Fame at this point.