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Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

Aug 30, 2010, 1:00 PM EDT

Going two weeks between Power Rankings -- with one of those weeks consisting of casual (at best) following of baseball -- is discombobulating. Let's try to get through this together.

I ain’t gonna lie to you: I’ve probably messed some stuff up here, as I feel like I’m relying a bit too much on the standings this week and not capturing as much of the usual mojo, nuance, juju and other assorted intangibles which usually spice these things up. Vacations will do that to you.

Anyway, feel free to lodge your objections in the comments. But please, show your work and tell me why I’m wrong. Plain old “you suck” doesn’t help anyone.

1. Rays: Just lookin’ ahead: the Rays last ten games of the season break down like this: three against the Mariners, three against the Orioles and four against the Royals. Yeah, I know that all evens out with what the Yankees and Red Sox have done over the course of the season, but ending easy like that has to be a psychological boost for Tampa Bay.

2. Yankees: Can you guess which AL East team has the most losses in the month of August? If you guessed anyone other than “The Yankees” you probably need to see a doctor, because my asking this question in their entry was a pretty big hint, yo. And that’s not why the Yankees are number two instead of number one. At best it’s the third reason behind (a) the many Yankees injuries and/or ineffective starters; and (b) the Rays’ use of “Sweet Caroline” after beating the Red Sox last night which gives them bonus points for style.

3. Twins: Like I said, I’ve not really been following baseball the past several days, but I do get the impression that the Twins have picked up approximately 24 relief pitchers during that time. Am I far off?

4. Padres: The only downside to the Padres’ continued excellence
this year is that when the playoffs start we’ll be subjected to endless
talk about how surprising they’ve been, as if we all didn’t have ample
time over the previous six months to grok the concept.

5. Reds: I’m guessing this has been covered already, but barring Albert Pujols winning the Triple Crown, I’m having a hard time seeing how Joey Votto doesn’t win the MVP. Even if the Cardinals manage to win the division, the calculus on the part of the writers is going to be “Votto and Pujols had substantially similar seasons and we thought less of the Reds when the season began, thereby rendering his season more ‘valuable.'” And that’s before even figuring in the “we’re tired of giving the MVP to Pujols” thing.

6. Braves: Best part of my vacation: I was on a beach, drinking a coldie when that awful loss to the Rockies — after being up 10-1 — went down on Wednesday. Indeed, I wasn’t even aware of it until after the Phillies score came in, so I already had it in my mind that, hey, at least the Bravos didn’t lose any ground. ‘Course, had I been watching it I probably would’ve plotzed, live on the blog, as it was happening.

7. Phillies: Sweeping the Padres in Petco is impressive, but dropping four in a row to the Astros at home pretty much balances that out and prevented movement in both the standings that matter and these silly Power Rankings.

8. Rangers: That “playoff preview” against the Rays a couple of weeks ago didn’t go all that well for them, but the one against the Twins last week was nice.  They gotta go to Minnesota this weekend, though.

9. Red Sox: The Sox are 14-13 in John Lackey starts this year. Take that as evidence that the pickup wasn’t as successful if you will. Take that as mere coincidence if you will. I’ve just seen the stat written by a couple of Red Sox beat guys in the past few hours, so I figured it was worth parroting.

10. Cardinals: I (thankfully) missed the hubub over the Glenn Beck rally with Pujols and La Russa and everything, but did anyone ever ask Beck if his shoutout to the famous animal rights activist La Russa constituted Beck caving to the “radical anti-hunting, anti-gun, animal rights” crowd he warned us about just a couple of short years ago?

11. White Sox: Another thing I missed last week was Guillen’s son talking smack about Kenny Williams on Twitter. I kind of get Ozzie’s “hey, I can’t be responsible for what my kids says” stance. Indeed, the same day Oney Gullien was spouting off, my son was saying “hey, look at that fat kid” while standing approximately five feet away from the fat kid and his parents. Now, my son is five and Oney Guillen is 20, but other than that it’s a totally identical dynamic.

12. Giants: The Giants have had to worry about starting pitching of all things lately. Never saw that one coming.

13. Blue Jays: Nice series win against the Yankees last week. Toronto is 7-5 against New York this season.

14. Rockies: Ubaldo Jimenez — who launched a bunch of “can he win 30?” columns and blog posts earlier this season, has been stuck on 17 wins since August 4th and has only won two games since the All-Star break and has a 4.01 ERA since that time.

15. Athletics: I haven’t done the research, but I’m guessing a plurality of prognosticators picked the A’s to finish last in the AL West this year, so the fact that they’re looking pretty good to finish in second place is something. Not something particularly fulfilling and worthwhile, but not nothing.

16. Marlins: I should probably stick the Marlins in last place simply on the power of their greed and mendacity, but I’ll be fair and put them in a spot that is justified by their record. But seriously, screw Jeff Loria and David Samson.

17. Dodgers: The Dodgers’ most important battle of the season starts today, and it ain’t the three-game series against the Phillies.

18. Mets: Let’s see, look for a silver lining . . . look for a silver lining . . . OK: while there’s a decent chance the Mets will slide behind the A’s in runs scored this season, it’s not really likely that they’ll fall behind Houston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh or Seattle, so no worse than 26th in runs scored is probably clinched.

19. Tigers: Detroit takes two of three from the Royals and splits four with the Jays. That’s about right. 

20. Angels: Can you guess which AL West team has the most losses in the month of
August? If you guessed anyone other than “The Angels” you probably need
to see a doctor, because my asking this question in their entry was a
pretty big hint, yo. 

21. Brewers: Unless you take your Brewers baseball really, really seriously, an argument can be made that the entire season was worth it in light of the fact that it produced this.

22. Nationals: I’ve cited a number of reasons why I’m glad I was gone last week, but here’s a reason I wish I was blogging last week: In the wake of the Strasburg news, I would have been able to post this.

23. Astros: Houston has played spoiler for the Braves and Phillies in recent weeks. Now they get the Cardinals.

24. Cubs: There wasn’t a ton of baseball talk during my week in northern Michigan, but the topic that came up the most when chatting with random sunbathing and beer drinking Michiganders on holiday was Alan Trammell getting slighted by not being selected interim manager when Piniella stepped down. I don’t know that it was really a slight — the Cubs probably weren’t considering him for the full time job anyway — but Tigers fans of a certain age are rather protective of the guy.

25. Indians/Royals: The battle for fourth place in the AL Central has been neck and neck. Can’t say it’s been inspiring or exciting or anything, but it sure has been neck and neck! And yes, I know the Royals are up right now, but Cleveland has a much better run differential, so I feel pretty comfortable calling this a tie.

27. Orioles: Playing well, but the Orioles are the first team to be mathematically eliminated from the playoffs so I can only place them so high. I wonder how much money MLB made selling Orioles playoff ticket licenses?

28. Diamondbacks: The Diamondbacks are considering changing the
dimensions of Chase Field in order to make the park less hitter
friendly. I wonder if this option appeared above or below “get a decent
bullpen” on the list of run-suppression action items.

29. Mariners: I was trying to think of something good to say
about the Mariners and couldn’t come up with anything. Thank God, then,
for Carson Cistulli, who gives Mariners fans some reasons for optimism. [minutes pass]. OK, I just read that all the way through. I don’t think that was really meant to make anyone feel any better.

30. Pirates
: The Pirates have five starting pitchers with 10 or more losses this year. Don’t see that very often.

  1. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 30, 2010 at 1:29 PM

    “Just lookin’ ahead: the Rays last ten games of the season break down like this: three against the Mariners, three against the Orioles and three against the Royals.”
    3+3+3 = 10? I see why you worked in the law, Craig ;) By the way, Phillies lost 4 to the Astros and only lost a half-game to the Braves. If not for the lucky win handed to them by Gatpr’s Feesh yesterday, it would be a 1 game lead. Braves are getting tight.

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Aug 30, 2010 at 1:31 PM

    Um, yeah, I need to fix that math.
    You know, you could also say that the Braves have been playing like crap and the Phillies totally choked when given a chance to make up ground while playing a last place Astros team.

  3. Simon DelMonte - Aug 30, 2010 at 1:35 PM

    The Mets’ silver lining is pitching. Over the past month, I think there have been a lot of quality starts and I don’t remember more than a couple of total meltdowns. It really feels like the Mets have had a better time with starting pitching than the otherwise-much better Yankees (and the bullpen has been respectable). No, it’s not a complete rotation and Pelfrey is still leaving us scratching our heads and Santana is getting old and no one knows if Dickey has another year like this in him. But I like what I see in RA and Niese and Pelf and Johan.
    Too bad I can’t say that for the amazing anemia that has struck the batters.

  4. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 30, 2010 at 1:41 PM

    I’m just trying to be that one “glass is half full” Phillies fan. There’s not alot of them out there, so I’m trying my best, but of course I know that “WE SHOULD BE IN FIRST F’ING PLACE IF WE COULD HAVE JUST WON 3 of 4 FROM THE STINKING ASTROS AT HOME!!!!”

  5. bbeer - Aug 30, 2010 at 1:46 PM

    You know, I take my Brew Crew really really really seriously. And god damn I hate Macha. At least he got a Rhapsody…

  6. Utley's hair - Aug 30, 2010 at 1:49 PM

    Nope…the Phightins are tired of the easy wins. They’re just stringing the Bravos along until we get Greg Dobbs and John Mayberry back.

  7. Utley's hair - Aug 30, 2010 at 1:54 PM

    The debacles with the scrub umpires should count for at least one win, albeit a moral one. But still, dropping all but Kendrick’s turd is ridiculous.

  8. Kelly - Aug 30, 2010 at 1:55 PM

    The Twins did pick up about 22 relief pitchers. More importantly, Blackburn has pitched like the old Blackburn, the one who didn’t look like a pile of poo wearing a glove. They said his wife gave birth to their first child a couple of weeks ago. Now, I’m not a mother, but I’m assuming that the first pregnancy/birth could be quite distracting for a young man. So that’s what I’m sticking to, this thought that the rotation may be back to five man instead of Baker-Pavano-Liriano-Duensing-Thank god we have an outdoor ballpark cuz now it can rain. Morneau can continue to rest because I’m also choosing to believe he is fine and they are simply saving him for later in September and not that he may possibly be done for the rest of the year. Positive thinking – We Minnesotans have it down.

  9. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 30, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    Where’s the WAR guy at? The Phillies starters have 3 of the top 13 WAR pitchers in the NL right now…Halladay 6.5, Oswalt 3.9 and Hamels 3.6. The Braves have Hudson at 5.9 and no other starter is above 1.1. This is using Baseball Reference WAR. I don’t subscribe to WAR being the be-all end-all, but it is funny how he isn’t around now to tell us all how great the Braves starting pitching is, with regards to WAR. Braves will be caught…it’s not a matter of if, but when.

  10. Jonny5 - Aug 30, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    Craig, I think you MIGHT be confused with the power rankings. Phills and Braves should be above the Reds and Padres imo. I think these two from the NL east, with worse record and all own the other Leagues in the NL. What’s your take? Has anyone checked the NL records such as east vs. west/ central? Or better yet phills vs central- west and braves vs central-west.

  11. Jonny5 - Aug 30, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    Craig, I think you MIGHT be confused with the power rankings. Phills and Braves should be above the Reds and Padres imo. I think these two from the NL east, with worse record and all own the other Leagues in the NL. What’s your take? Has anyone checked the NL records such as east vs. west/ central? Or better yet phills vs central- west and braves vs central-west.

  12. Lou Stools - Aug 30, 2010 at 2:38 PM

    I’ve given up on baseball this year – I’m a Red Sox fan – and am waiting for the intensity and drama of Syracuse University football.

  13. Giant Space Ants - Aug 30, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    Your comment on the Cards has nothing to do with baseball, Craig. I don’t personally care for Beck much either, but there’s no need to sully baseball with the ilk that is politics in general. And it seems pretty clear you’re doing this on purpose. I don’t want to tell you how to run this blog- it’s plenty good already, and I’m not exactly the brightest guy in that building thingy where our bed and TV is- but dragging political stuff here brings down the overall enjoyment I get from reading this otherwise fine blog.

  14. nps6724 - Aug 30, 2010 at 3:05 PM

    That balances out that Marlin game from a few weeks ago then.

  15. nps6724 - Aug 30, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    I go by Fangraphs personally. I’ve seen B-R.com’s be off before so I stay away from theirs.

    Braves top 3 starters: Hanson (3.3), Hudson (3.1), Lowe (1.7) with Jurrjens at 1.3 on only 16 starts.

    Phillies top 3 starters: Halladay (6.5), Oswalt (3.8), and Hamels (3.0) and with Blanton at 1.8.

    Philly still has the advantage, but what has hurt the Braves are injuries to Medlen and Jurrjens.

    You’ve been saying Philly was gonna catch Atlanta for how long now? 3 months? We’re still waiting. And you Philly fans have no room to talk about lucky wins, not when an umpire takes away a game-winning hit from the opposition. And I’m sure Philly has never won a game due to unearned runs, huh? Man, being in 2nd place for ya’ll must be like being on mushrooms.

  16. Utley's hair - Aug 30, 2010 at 3:18 PM

    Not at all. A botched call does not trump obvious and outright umpire chest thumping.

  17. APBA Guy - Aug 30, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    The A’s pitchers definitely have taken a step forward as a group this year, although Anderson’s injury situation is troubling. Still, when, not if, he goes down to visit Dr. Yocum for the dreaded “second opinion” on his next “forearm strain” the season will be over and Josh Outman will be back, so there will still be 5 young starters. Now, if somebody in green and gold could just hit the baseball regularly.

  18. nps6724 - Aug 30, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    One stole a win from an opponent while the other just removed a player from the game (a player who hadn’t done anything all game). A missed call certainly trumps an ump making an ass of himself if the call directly takes a win from another team.

  19. Utley's hair - Aug 30, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    Howard being tossed for nothing had a direct impact on the outcome of that game, since Ibanez had to be moved to first base, and missed a play that Howard would not have, which led to a run. And a pitcher in his spot in the order, which just so happens to be the final out in the game? There is no way that your assertion holds water.

  20. Jonny5 - Aug 30, 2010 at 3:41 PM

    LMAO!! Short memory huh? The Phills fans have endured much worse than 2nd place before. Anyway, I think the Phills will catch the lead though as well. If I didn’t at 2 games back? Well let’s just say I wouldn’t be much of a fan then would I?

  21. YANKEES1996 - Aug 30, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    A couple of weeks ago you said that even though you would like to have put the Rays on top then you could not because in order to be put ahead of the Yanks they needed to beat the Yanks. Now you turn around and put them at the top of the list because of “style points”, be careful Craig your logic is breaking down. I submit this to you, I believe the Yankees should still be first because even though they are struggling mightly (mostly because of injury and Burnett) the Rays have failed to capitalize and take control of the AL East even though they have been granted a large gift in the form of the Yankee injuries and struggles. Let me know if my logic is errant.

  22. nps6724 - Aug 30, 2010 at 4:05 PM

    That is indirect; I also question whether Howard would’ve made the play since he’s notoriously a bad 1B. OTOH, the missed call DIRECTLY led to the Marlins not winning a game they should’ve won due to a bad call. If that call is made correctly, Marlins win. If Howard isn’t tossed, no telling what the outcome would’ve been. That’s a big difference.

  23. nps6724 - Aug 30, 2010 at 4:08 PM

    Being a fan doesn’t deny you the ability to think objectively. As big a Braves fan as I am, I didn’t think we had any chance of winning the division in ’06, ’07, ’08, or ’09, despite being close in some of those years. I still cheered and I didn’t give up, but I didn’t let my love for them overcome rational thought.

    I still think Philly will make some noise and challenge the Braves down the stretch, but I don’t think they’ll overtake them.

  24. Utley's hair - Aug 30, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    A “notoriously bad 1B?” You might want to watch a few games before you make statements like that. He’s been much better this season.

    But you’re still equating a mistake to misplaced machismo by a couple of umps who obviously have axes to grind.

  25. char in miami - Aug 30, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    i’m sorry to say that the rays are looking better than my yankees at the moment. the rays though seem not to always have the offense going though they certainly did last night against boston. the rays pitching is holding reasonably firm and looks to be head and shoulders better than the yankees.
    from my perspective – the yankees relief pitching is what is at the heart of their problems. that and the fact that burnett is playing for all teams BUT the yankees. he is a piece of crap and a definite black cloud on the team. and then when you factor in the crappy relief efforts of chamberlain – mitre – robertson – logan – vazquez (who i thought i heard was OUT of the rotation now) – it’s obvious they need to get on the stick and bring up someone from the farm system if they can’t trade for pitching at this late stage. i know pettitte wants to get back on the mound and i want him there too – after all, a pettitte at 50-60% is better than the jerk burnett at 10%.
    one more gripe – what is the problem with gardner? i’m really ticked that he can’t swing that bat and just stands there taking strike after strike after strike. if he can’t TAKE A SWING AT THE BALL – step in front of the ball and take one for the team. does anyone keep stats on called third strikes?
    lastly – how about passing on joe girardi’s email address.

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