MLB's biggest early season disappointments

MLB's biggest early season disappointments

MLB's biggest early season disappointments
By David Jones

The season still has a long, long way to go but it’s never too early to start pinpointing cash-burning clubs. Here’s a peek at the three biggest disappointments this season:

Arizona Diamondbacks (13-19, -7.65 units)

It’s been a little hard to judge the real value of this club since Arizona led the National League with 90 wins in 2007. The 2007 squad was actually outscored by 20 runs which usually projects to a record of about 79-83. But the young lineup figured to make progress over the next few years to support the strong starting pitching tandem of Brandon Webb and Dan Haren.

A late collapse to conclude 2008 combined with a slow start this season has led to the firing of manager Bob Melvin. With Webb (9-0 to begin 2008 season) on the disabled list since the season’s first week, Melvin's fate became somewhat predictable. The Diamondbacks have gone 0-5 in games pitched by fill-in starter Yusmeiro Petit. The rest of the rotation has held up but the real struggles have been on offense.

The Diamondbacks are last in the league in batting average and next to last in runs scored. The inability to make consistent contact (third in the NL in strikeouts) makes it difficult to manufacture runs. Chris Young, Eric Byrnes and Connor Jackson are all hitting under .200 for the season.

Interim manager A.J. Hinch will have to make due without Webb for at least another month but a favorable upcoming schedule (Reds, Braves, Marlins, Athletics, Padres and Braves) should help this team gain some confidence before its ace returns to the fold.

New York Yankees (15-16, -7.70 units)

Injuries have obviously played a role in the team's mediocre start. However, the health woes could be a constant problem for this veteran group to deal with over a long season.

There have been the notable DL stints for Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Chien-Ming Wang. The bullpen depth is trying to carry on without the services of setup men Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte.

New York is next to last in the AL in ERA and stolen bases allowed. The cheap home runs at new Yankee Stadium plus the injuries make it difficult to project the real quality of this staff. Even with prized free agent Mark Teixeira hitting under .200, the offense isn't a big concern.

The lack of chemistry continues to be a major question surrounding this club. Even with CC Sabathia and Teixeira on board, there is still plenty of doubt about New York's ability to buy a championship. The next two weeks could provide a few down the road answers. After a tough three-game series in Toronto, the Yankees will begin a 10-game homestand against Minnesota, Baltimore and Philadelphia.

Cleveland Indians (11-21, -11.33 units)

The panic button is pushed in Cleveland. The Indians held a players-only meeting following a consecutive shutout loss to Detroit on Saturday.

"If we wanted you guys to know [what was said], we would have invited you in," Cleveland closer Kerry Wood said of the meeting. "It's not because we're playing well.”

The pitching woes of this club (last in AL in ERA) have been well documented but few expected problems with the Cleveland bats. The Tribe have been held to only six runs during their current four-game losing skid.

While Victor Martinez has stormed back from last year's injuries (hitting .376), Grady Sizemore, Johnny Peralta and Mark DeRosa are all batting under .240. The inconsistency of the offense has been baffling to the players and fans of the Indians.

The squad appears to be snake bit in 2009. Despite posting a 1.70 ERA in his last five starts, reigning Cy Young winner Cliff Lee has pitched in only one team win during this period. The overworked bullpen has blown seven saves to add gasoline to the fire.

While the Indians rallied to finish 81-81 in 2008 despite being 15 games under .500 in early August, the road back to respectability could be more difficult this time around in a competitive AL Central division. After a three-game home series against the White Sox, the Tribe will embark on a difficult 10-game road swing through Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Cincinnati.

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