Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, July 7, 2017 at 11:56 AM
THE BASEBALL REPORT: IT'S TIME FOR OUR NATIONAL LEAGUE MID-TERM REPORT CARD GRADES ...
PLUS MORE NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM LOOKS - WE CHECK OUT THE PACKERS AND THE G-MEN
The Baseball All-Star Game break is now - finally - right 'round the corner and that means it's high time we get you the Jim Sez National League Mid-Term Report Card Grades with the junior circuit getting our attention in tomorrow's column space ... okay?
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do is check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 plus the Football Season isn't far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear on Thursday, August 3rd with the NFL Hall of Fame Game between the Dallas Cowboys versus the Arizona Cardinals.
NL MID-TERM GRADES
MILWAUKEE (48-40) -- Talk about a team being "way ahead" of schedule! This Brewers team is just 10-11 in one-run games and a rotten 3-7 in extra-inning affairs and yet they've charged out to a 4.5-game lead against the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central when most folks in the organization didn't think Milwaukee would be a "player" till next year or even 2019. Lefty stick Eric Thames (23 dingers) hears about getting "tested" every other day but dude plays with an attitude and has been key addition to this lineup.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS (57-29) - The real head-and-shoulders class of the senior circuit so far sport lefty starters Clayton Kershaw and Alex Wood who have a combined won/loss mark of 23-2 ... egads! Toss into the mix the fact that manager Dave Roberts has been brilliant in moving his pieces around with rookie sensation 1B Cody Bellinger (24 HR, 56 RBI) making the long absence of Adrian Gonzalez a real non-story in Hollywood.
ARIZONA (52-33) - Unlike the above-mentioned Brewers, this here-and-now Diamondbacks team has thrived in one-run games (18-10) and in extra-inning tilts too (7-1) and so the off-season managerial switch to Torey Luvollo has been an absolute home run. No breaking news that 1B Paul Goldschmidt (19 HR, 66 RBI, 72 runs - all team highs) is playing to an MVP level once again.
WASHINGTON (50-34) - At last check the Nationals were + 100 in the runs differential category and sporting the NL's biggest lead as a division front-runner with RHP Max Scherzer (10 wins and an 0.77 WHIP) and RF Bryce Harper (20 HR, 64 RBI) the main stars of the show; can you imagine where the Nats would be if this much-maligned bullpen could finish off some opponents?
COLORADO (50-38) - Great start by the Rockies had everyone in the mountain time zone geeked but recent falloff means we drop Bud Black's club from a possible "A+" down a peg ... is this young starting staff getting gassed by now?
ATLANTA (40-43) - Hats off to the Bravos who have surely overachieved so far despite the fact they're near the bottom in runs scored and team ERA. Righty Mike Foltynewicz is the best pitcher nobody talks about in the NL East.
CINCINNATI (37-48) - Take note that "over" wins total for the Reds was just 69.5, so not much was expected but Cincy kids get a grade boost by going 19-17 inside the NL Central so far.
SAN DIEGO (36-49) - The Pods' story much like above-mentioned Reds as SD has been more competitive than forecast and like the fact manager Andy Green has some fire in his belly.
ST. LOUIS (41-44) - Truth is most folks in MLB thought the Cardinals would "come back to the pack" but the defense is still bad, the offense has trouble finishing rallies and RHP Mike Leake even is starting to hit the skids. P.S., grade could have been worse.
PITTSBURGH (40-46) - The Buccos rank near the bottom of the league in runs scored/home runs and that's with OF Andrew McCutchen coming off Player of the Month honors.
MIAMI (38-46) - Not sure how a team that sports the league's best outfield (two All-Stars in Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna) plus star-in-the-making Christian Yelich can rank in the middle of the offensive pack in runs scored/home runs.
CHICAGO CUBS (42-43) - Talk all you want about there being a post-World Series hangover but the fact is the pitching staff doesn't real have a stopper these days and this Chitown lineup is just 28-37 versus righty starters. Putting 1B Anthony Rizzo in leadoff spot was a nice jolt at first but Cubbies have been floundering for weeks now.
NEW YORK METS (38-45) - No doubt there's been a batch of injuries (so what else is new in Mets-land?) but the pitching staff walks way too many batters and the bullpen's been running on fumes for weeks.
SAN FRANCISCO (34-53) - The absolute biggest flop in the NL this year but at least three-time World Series-winning manager Bruce Bochy gets a mulligan.
PHILADELPHIA (28-56) - Major disgrace in the City of Brotherly Love as the floppin' Phils are a league-worst -93 runs with a team ERA of 4.70 ... why did manager Pete Mackanin get that contract extension?
NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM GLANCES
It is summertime and that means the annual Jim Sez report on all 32 NFL teams with our quick-hitter looks continuing today with the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants ... and do check out our quickie pointspread ditties too. Last year's SU (straight-up) records appear next to the team name below:
GREEN BAY (12-7) - Is it possible the Packers will pass the ball even more in 2017? It sure appears that QB Aaron Rodgers (4,428 yards passing with 40 TDs and 7 INTs last regular season) wants to make jack-of-all-trades WR Randall Cobb a bigger part of this year's offense after various injuries (back, neck, ankle and hamstring) held him back in '16. Cobb did catch 18 balls for 260 yards and three TDs in Green Bay's three playoff games.
Pointspread Notes - Gotta remember that last year's Packers closed out the season in a pointspread flourish with seven covers in GB's final nine gams including post-season wins/covers versus the NY Giants and at Dallas (and then that humbling 44-21 loss at 6-point fav Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game). Overall, the Pack is a more-than-respectable 32-21-2 ATS (against the spread) since the start of the 2014 season.
NEW YORK GIANTS (11-6) - True, there were a few folks 'round the NFL scratching their heads on Draft Night when the Giants nabbed Ole Miss TE Evan Engram with the #23 overall pick but consider that NYG tight ends contributed only 609 receiving yards and just three TDs and you see there was indeed a "need" at the position. Engram sports 4.42 speed and can be a real field-stretching target for QB Eli Manning this year but don't be shocked if his blocking "skills" get called into question by the media lads/gals this summer.
Pointspread Notes - If you have the feeling that the Giants have been merely average versus the vig the past few years ... you're correct! In fact, this NFC East crew is a collective 37-39-5 spreadwise ever since winning that Super Bowl in the 2011 campaign (last year the Jints finished 8-7-2 against the odds).
NOTE: Remember to get our American League Report Grades in the next edition of Jim Sez plus there'll be more NFL team-by-team reports too!