Despite the fact that not many of the actors have changed, this is a different team this year. In comparing the two teams, my perception is that there are several meaningful differences, and it's not too early to say they aren't fundamental in nature. Young players emerging, team defense, a stronger and deeper bullpen, a better hitting coach, an improved manager. BUT...the one area I'm skeptical about, where we may not be seeing a sustainable and fundamental upgrade in the works, is the rotation.
I'm a big Tom Kelly disciple that a team goes as their rotation goes. Last year I was pessimistic about them advancing further along because I felt they had a hodgepodge of mediocrity and no ace. We got awful instead of mediocre, and no ace. A true #1-2 guy impacts a team psychologically as well as by increasing the team's chances dramatically every fifth game. This year, other than Gibson, we have true mediocrity. What a relief, right? And of course Ervin is acting the part of a #1-2 starter. For now. If this keeps up, the wild card is not out of the question. I'm not optimistic about this however. I expect to see a decline in performance from one or more, an injury to one or more, and I'm not as optimistic about getting mediocrity immediately from anyone in AAA, including Berrios.
I see this team flirting with .500. I'll take it.