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Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

Apr 26, 2010, 1:16 PM EDT

Rays high five.jpg1. Rays:  Ho-hum, another two of three in each of their series last week. It’s exactly that kind of tick-tock boredom that is the stuff of division titles.

2. Yankees:  If one bum starting pitcher is your biggest problem, you’re doing pretty well.

3. Twins: Beating up on the Indians and the Royals may not be all that impressive, but it’s not like the Twins made the schedule. They’re winning the games they’re supposed to be winning and are continuing to look strong. Their next several games are against the Tigers, Indians and Orioles, so it’s only getting moderately harder as the month wears on.

4. Phillies: Dropping two of three to the Dbacks are one of those things that make you go hmmm, but after dismantling the Braves in the final two games of that series and then hopping a cross-country flight before Friday’s game, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.  Now it’s three against the Giants. Anyone think Roy Halladay is going to have any problems against that offense tonight? Nah, me neither. The bigger question is whether the rest of the rotation can get anyone out who isn’t wearing a Braves uniform.

5. Cardinals: Three runs scored in their last three games. I’m tempted to say “Forget it Jake, it’s China Basin.”

6. Athletics: So far so good for an A’s team that is exceeding expectations, but one wonders if all the nagging injuries are going to catch up soon. You can’t get rich, after all, betting on things like “Eric Chavez is going to carry the offense.”

7. Padres: I still refuse to believe that they’re anywhere near as good as their record, but what happens on the field matters more than my beliefs.

8. Giants: Two out of three from the Cardinals is spiffy, but the return of the 2009 offense is not: 11 runs scored in their last seven games.

9. Angels: Series wins against Detroit and New York show that, slowly but surely, the Halos are righting the ship.

10. Tigers: The biggest question in Detroit: what’s wrong with Rick Porcello?

11. Rockies: Movin’ time: the Rockies being a stretch of 12
straight against the NL West.

12. Marlins: A nine-game
homestand awaits. Literally dozens of people will now get to see what
this team is made of.

13. Blue Jays: The concerns for this
team at this moment in time are more existential in nature than they
are competitive. Like, can they survive in Toronto. Interesting
. I’d be more sympathetic if the article wasn’t framed with
the plight of how hard it is to be a ticket scalper, because ticket
scalpers are a nothing but wretched hive of scum and villainy.

: As
Chris Needham notes
, you can squint a little bit at this team and
see a legitimately respectable bunch. It could all go sideways tomorrow,
but as I sit here right now I have no basis for saying that they’re
worse than any number of other teams.

15. White Sox: Columnist
writes obituary
, team sweeps weekend series. They need a few more
wins to start playing the “no one believes in us” card with gusto, but
it’s a start.

16. Mets: I can’t decide if they’ve really
turned the corner or if they just had the good fortune to play the Cubs
and Braves at their absolute worst. Let’s give them the benefit of the
doubt, though. They’ve gotten good starting pitching, Ike Davis has
given the fans something positive to talk about and the lineup shuffle
is working out. 

17. Cubs: It’ll take more than three
days of good baseball for me to give the “buy” recommendation on these
guys, but it was three days of good baseball. I missed Saturday’s game,
so I’m still waiting to see Zambrano come out of the pen.

: Adam
Morris at Lone Star Ball
pretty much sums up the feelings of fans
for every team not at the very top or the very bottom of this list when
he says “[w]hat is particularly annoying about being two games under
.500 is that
you can sit here and say, if we had just won this game, or this one,
we’d be at .500.  Just one loss that could have been a win.  And .500
feels a whole lot different than 2 games under.”  Ah, April.

Red Sox
: Two of three from Texas, two of three from Baltimore, more
chances per-week to see a knuckleballer pitch . . . baby steps.

: Cliff comes back this week. All other comments about this
team are on hold until we see how it goes.

21. Brewers:
Trevor Hoffman pitched in a game with a 20-run lead last week. He also
pitched in a game while behind by 10. Let’s hear it for the Brewers for
confounding our tired old expectations about how to use a bullpen.

: An 11 game road trip starts tonight. Why so long? Is
there a convention in town or something?

23. Braves:  The
only silver lining to their atrocious week is that, given how poorly
everyone is hitting the ball, the chance that hitting coach Terry
Pendleton will be given the manager’s job after the season is much, much
lower than it had been before. 

24. Dodgers: Dropping
series to the Reds and the Nats is not something a contender does, and
as I see this team right now, they’re not a contender.

: Lance Berkman coming back made this team look a lot more

26. Royals: I rip Dayton Moore a lot, but
this quote after the Royals cut Juan Cruz the other day actually made me
have sympathy for the guy: “We looked real smart and real aggressive
when we signed Juan Cruz. Now we look real stupid for signing
Juan Cruz.” Sometimes it just seems that everything turns to poop in
Kansas City.

27. Reds:
Lost in the talk of when Aroldis Chapman may come up is whose place he’d
take in the rotation. Homer Bailey is out of options and can’t be sent
down and Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake have actually pitched well. Do you
pull a Zambrano with Aaron Harang and make him a reliever?

: They won some games and lost some games last week, but all
were lopsided affairs. The Pirates did that too, just before going into
the tank.

29. Orioles: It’s around 1PM on Monday as I
write this and, contrary to my prediction, Dave Trembley hasn’t been
fired yet. Does one win against the Red Sox really count for that much?

:  One of the ugliest weeks of baseball I’ve seen from a
team in a long, long time.

  1. Jeff V. - Apr 26, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    “It’s around 1PM on Monday as I write this and, contrary to my prediction, Dave Trembley hasn’t been fired yet. Does one win against the Red Sox really count for that much?”
    Nope, in fact DT made some rather questionable moves in the win (pulling Reimold for defense and sending JJ out in the 9th). AM just isn’t going to replace him before this current stretch of Yankee/Red Sox games are over. Why bring in a new guy for that?
    I also hope he has someone digging up dirt on Sandberg, to help persuade him to jump ship.

  2. raysfan38 - Apr 26, 2010 at 1:52 PM

    Unfortunately, a good part of Tampa Bay seems pretty bored with the Rays too, judging by the attendance this last weekend. I was at last Friday’s game. Our first place team just went 9 and 1 on the road, and only 22k of us came out to welcome them home. If a team wins two out of three and there is no one there to see them, did it really happen? We’re bleeping Tampa Bay. What else do we have to get excited about? Raheem’s Bucs? The Lightning? We should be worshipping this baseball team. My sole consolation is that we outsell the Marlins. Big whoop.

  3. gumbercules - Apr 26, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    A note: The Angles split their series with the Tigers, as it was a 4-gamer. I know you tend to lose track with these West Coast start times and all…

  4. okobojicat - Apr 26, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    a defense of ticket scalpers…
    No really.
    Ticket scalpers are actually a good thing for sports teams, fans, and most importantly, a bad thing for Ticketmaster (probably the most important thing).
    I regularly scalp tickets, and even accidentally got one scalper arrested when I bargained too loudly too close to some cops. But scalpers purchase a bulk set or season tickets and try to sell them at or above single-game prices. Because scalpers get their purchases in early, they provide the team a known quantity: cashflow and budgetary projections.
    Moreover, scalpers are like financial clearing houses in that they provide liquidity to markets where liquidity is often lacking. Take your average Pirates-Nationals game. Now, there are 35000 tickets to be sold to that game, but only about 12000 people really want to see those two teams play. About 5000 people want to see “a baseball game” so they might go, and there is some crossover between those two categories. But, because the scalpers purchase 81 games, they have those tickets and they have to try to sell them. Suddenly, our audience increases from a possible 17k to 22k. So, the team gets more $ than it would if they only sold walk-up tickets. Also, fans who normally wouldn’t pay $40 for box seats, will pay $15 so they will go to the game. There, they might buy a dog and a beer, and maybe their kid will get a t-shirt (or if its a cold night), a sweatshirt. The Nationals (who are hosting the game in this scenario) actually see an increase in cash because of the existence of the scalper.
    The fan is better off because he got more product (game + beer + dog + sweatshirt + happy kid) vs (game + somewhat cold kid with runny nose) for the same price.
    Because the market (in a non-scalping world) is so constrained for purchasing tickets – you can only purchase tickets at the stadium, ticketmaster or in team stores we have inefficient markets where customers are forced to pay full price (or MORE than full price @ ticketmaster) for something they don’t have to. A scalper (and a fan) value a Pirates-Nationals game different than the team – so that the user of the product the fan, gets their value out of the product.
    I know that the financial system has received a lot of criticism lately, but scalpers do have some similarities in a good way. Scalpers do provide liquidity because we can purchase off ebay, or craigslist, or the guy on the corner with the stupid cardboard sign we the fan have greater access and greater ease of using a product. Greater liquidity is generally a good thing – the ability to sell something creates more efficient prices and less of a monopoly effect.
    I made the mistake this past weekend of buying my Twins-Royals tickets Saturday from Ticketmaster. Sunday, we did the Stubhub, got better seats, and we paid 1/3 the price.

  5. APBA Guy - Apr 26, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    The Beloved A’s ahead of the Angels, Red Sox, and Rangers. I have printed this and framed it, with the heading “High point of 2010”.

  6. Alex Poterack - Apr 26, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    This. Excellent summary of how scalping helps to smooth the friction in the ticket market.

  7. Kenny from Pikesville - Apr 26, 2010 at 3:37 PM

    Great to see the O’s not in last place at something.
    There’s always the perennial futility of Pittsburgh!!
    Kenny from Pikesville
    “The Curse of Davey Johnson”

  8. JGS - Apr 26, 2010 at 4:07 PM

    Adding up their opponents’ 2009 W-L records, Tampa’s foes this year are 8 games under .500. Yankees’ opponents are 294 games over.
    New York’s 12-6 >>> Tampa’s 14-5

  9. YankeesfanLen - Apr 26, 2010 at 4:23 PM

    Thanks for that stat, JGS. Didn’t realize the schedule strength was that different. Anyway, we’re beyond almost all the Angels matchups at this point.

  10. scatterbrian - Apr 26, 2010 at 7:44 PM

    Obi-Wan’s full quote: “Mos Eisley Spaceport. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy. We must be cautious.” Mos Eisley is the wretched hive, ticket scalpers just the denizen. But you know I love the effort Craig….

  11. Old Gator - Apr 26, 2010 at 8:14 PM

    I’m glad you realize that outselling the Feesh is no accomplishment. But my dear fellow, a 22,000 house here at Joeprodolsharklife Stadium? Surely some revelation is at hand! Surely the second coming is at hand! At least pray that your ownership steers the course they’ve set and keep at it long enough for the team’s success to thicken into a tradition. Feesh ownerships have reverted to pennypinching the team itself – they even fired the original Billy mascot and hired a cheaper guy – and nickel and diming the fan base at the same time, not to mention effectively screwing over their fellow owners by pocketing the luxury tax instead of investing it in the team.
    But you know all this. What troubles me is that the other MLB owners know this, and unless they’re grumbling into their rare double malt snifters when I’m not listening, with the exception of the Borg – which figures – they’re putting up with it.

  12. Tony - Apr 27, 2010 at 11:59 AM

    At least the Marlins can win it all in the World Series. The Rays are a bunch of choke artists.

  13. Rob - Apr 27, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    Hmmm, Roy Halladay tripped over a speed bump by the bay. Didn’t see that coming, did we? Those Giants are so pesky!

  14. Nick - Apr 27, 2010 at 2:27 PM

    Maybe you should written you picks on Tuesday so you would have
    known that Halladay DID have a little problem with THAT Giants
    offense. Go Giants

  15. gabbo - Apr 27, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    Scalpers are a scourge for higher demand items. It’s basic economics that when the supply is decreased, the price increases. What you are saying is true for Nats/Pirates because they will always have a ton of seats available for any game they play. It’s a buyer’s market. But let’s say Yanks/Red Sox, you see inflated prices 2-3 times more than face value. Look at concert tickets in major cities for even half decent bands these days. They sell out, but there’s tons of inflated tickets all across secondary markets, ebay, stubhub. Check out the lower wattage basketball playoff games. All those seats are sold out, but there are huge swaths of empty seats blighting my tv screen.

  16. Zekemob - Apr 27, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    Ahhahaha Nick, I was just about to write the same thing you said.

  17. Jimmy Marlins Fan - Apr 27, 2010 at 3:35 PM

    another day, another shot at the marlins attendence…whatever will you experts write about when the new place is full and the marlins are in 1st?
    my guess is that you will all re-hash old loria stories to add in with pock shots at tiger, big ben, and xyz reality tv star that just died because their attention whore status was revoked
    but hey…dead horses are easy to beat on, right guys?

  18. A Fan - Apr 27, 2010 at 4:45 PM

    Could that fact that Tampa’s foes are under .500 because Tampa beat them all?

  19. Harris - Apr 27, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    Today’s lesson: Third-grade English grammar:
    Dropping two of three to the Dbacks are one of those things …
    Dropping series to the Reds and the Nats is not something a contender does,
    How does a subject–dropping–go from plural in one sentence and take the verb “are” to singular in another sentence in the same usage, and take the singular verb “is”? Because we’ve allowed illiterates to take the job of professional communicators, that’s how.

  20. Mark - Apr 27, 2010 at 6:48 PM

    So, how did lst night’s Roy Halladay vs. the Giants prediction work out for you, Craig? To wit: “Anyone think Roy Halladay is going to have any problems against that offense tonight? Nah, me neither.”
    Not only did they score five runs and beat him, but the Giants have now faced Halladay three times, and each time they’ve scored five earned runs off him.

  21. jose - Apr 27, 2010 at 7:14 PM

    craig calcaterra and other east coast sports writers need to stay up a little later in the night and try to catch some west coast games before typing their opinions. As and oakland fan i feel we should be considered as a top ten team but if you really pay attention you will see that you may not be able to bet on Eric Chavez but you can bet on 2.93 ERA(1), .229 BAA(2), and .647 OPS(1). Write about that east coast writer. I am done with lisening to peoples opinion who don’t make a good argument basted on facts.

  22. sam - Apr 28, 2010 at 4:05 AM

    Maybe JGS is using the new math? So far this season the Yankees have played a tougher schedule than the Rays but it’s nothing close to what JGS claims. The over/under .500 difference in 2010 opponents based on their 2009 season is . . . Yanks opponents 32 games over .500 and Rays opponents 10 games over .500!

  23. sam - Apr 28, 2010 at 4:21 AM

    It’s impossible to predict the World Series in April and we can all cite some stat in defense of any team but maybe the Rays bashers need to consider this . . . considering Rays, Yankees, Red Sox head to head match ups so far this season the Rays are 5 and 2, the Yankess are 4 and 2 and the Red Sox are 1 and 6. Like it or not the Rays are a force that can’t and shouldn’t be ignored in the AL East!

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