Monday, April 27, 2009

MLB Power Rankings Week Three

So of course I hope you all understand why I didn't get to these last week, but hopefully, now, they are back on track!

We didn't learn a whole lot this week, except that the Florida Marlins early success was probably more of a reflection on the pitiful Nationals, and the Toronto Blue Jays are starting to turn heads.

30. Washington Nationals: Yesterday was their first road win since last season. I don't know if any of you caught Saturday's game, but watching Elijah Dukes play CF in the bright sun with the glasses on his cap, instead of on his face, kind of says it all.

29. Arizona Diamondbacks: What happens when you're second to last in the league in the 'runs scored' category and dead last in run differential? You have a 7-11 record, and are really, really lucky it's not any worse.

28. Colorado Rockies: Right now the only other team besides Washington without at least seven wins. Having just played the Dodgers probably didn't help matters, but their run differential is only -6, so the record is perhaps worse than the team is playing.

27. San Francisco Giants: Raise your hand if you're surprised that, at having scored 60 runs, this team is dead last in runs scored. Yeah, me neither. However, some sort of pitching thing (I'm a Yankee fan, I don't understand what this pitching is all about) means that they've only allowed 67 run. If the offense can figure out even a mild hot streak, this team could shoot up the rankings. It's a huge if.

26. Houston Astros: This team just isn't very good. They are third to last in runs scored and have a can't-ignore-it run differential of -19. They're better than they were last week, but this far down the rankings such things are moral victories, only.

25. Cleveland Indians: The offense woke up against the Yankees, and I'm not sure anyone really doubted this team's ability to hit (although, face it, even the Giants would have been teeing off of Chien Ming Wang). However, the pitching is still shallow-and as long as Carl Pavano has a job it'll be hard to get me to say otherwise.

24. Anaheim Angels: Angels fans must be so amused at the cute little Yankee fans talking about being bitten by the injury bug. The Angels haven't just been bitten; they've been mauled by a white tiger, torn to shreds and spit back out again. If I didn't have a deep, ingrained hatred for a team that always beats the Yankees and never beats the Sox when it matters, I'd feel bad for these guys.

23. Oakland Athletics: Chicks dig the long ball. Oakland ain't hitting any long balls. Thus, I do not dig Oakland. Jason Giambi got a very nice reception when he returned to Yankee Stadium, however.

22. Tampa Bay Rays: It's not so much that Tampa Bay is necessarily playing poorly as it is that everything went right last year. Even when things didn't go right-like Crawford getting hurt-they went right, and Tampa didn't suffer at all. Thus far, the bullpen has come back to earth, and trading Edwin Jackson looks like it may have been a mistake.

21. Milwaukee Brewers: It's tempting to say that this is a better team than their record indicates, but with no Ben Sheets and no CC Sabathia, and Jeff Suppan still pitching, I'm not quite so sure that's the case. They're still a ton of fun to watch, however.

20. New York Mets: There's Johan Santana, now with bullpen-proof guarantee (tm), and then there's everyone else. If the team could have Santana pitching every three days instead of every five, this team would do it and I can't really blame them. David Wright is a defensive stud at third. Then again, compared to Angel Berroa...

19. Texas Rangers: Nothing new here-all hitting, no pitching. The Yankees could probably take a real good lesson from the people deep in the heart of Texas. You don't pitch, you won't win.

18. Baltimore Orioles: When the O's decide they want to figure out where it all went wrong, they only have to look to blowing a 7-0 lead at Fenway. Even Matt Wieters can't pitch.

17. Atlanta Braves: Are here because while Minnesota is about to get their superstar back and the Yankees not too far away either, the Braves just lost theirs, and I just lost the starting catcher on two of my fantasy teams. I swear I'm cursed when it comes to fantasy baseball. Really.

16. Minnesota Twins: Here's an analogy for you: Joe Mauer : Minnesota :: Martin Brodeur : New Jersey Devils. They really can't wait to get Mauer back, but they shouldn't have to wait much longer.

15. New York Yankees: The offense is mostly fine--they've scored less than four runs only twice--but the pitching...

It's not so much as that they're pitching as that they're trying to toss the ball somewhere in the basic vicinity of home plate and praying the umpire is kind. Nick Swisher's leading the team in ERA (okay, okay...), but on a more serious note, the best pitching effort this weekend came from Mark Melancon, who, stud or not, was making his MLB Fenway Park.

14. Chicago White Sox: Are here because they are the last team left on my list. Talk about being (relatively) non-descript, huh?

13. Kansas City Royals: Zach Grienke is a stud, and now 29 other teams all wish they had traded for him in the off season, when the price was still low. He allowed a run on Friday, but it was unearned, so his 0.00 ERA remains in tact. Even Cliff Lee wasn't this good last season.

12. Chicago Cubs: Don't really belong this far down, but they didn't show up in St. Louis until the last game of that series. They're a better team than that, however, so I imagine the double-digit stay is only a temporary thing.

11. Philadelphia Phillies: They've finally seemed to find the stroke they had last season, although Jaime Moyer is still not being Jaime Moyer. Still, while the Mets are struggling, the Braves hobbled by injuries and the Marlins reeling, it's not quite the end of the world if the Phils struggle for a game or two.

10. San Diego Padres: No, I don't know how they're 10-8 either, but they're the only other team with double-digit wins. It still counts. I still wouldn't expect it to last, however.

9. Cincinnati Reds: Hey, well, they are 10-8, and getting great pitching from Johnny Cueto, while Aaron Harang is back to his old self. It still remains to be seen, however, if they'll be able to compete with the Cubs and Cardinals once August rolls around.

8. Florida Marlins: They've come back to earth, gotten swept by the Pirates and lost big to the Phillies yesterday. It's too early to tell which version of the Marlins is more representative, but given how bad the Nationals are, it's more likely the post 8-1 start Marlins that we'll see for the rest of the season.

7. Pittsburgh Pirates: Yeah, you read that right. This team is getting beyond stellar pitching. Everyone's waiting for them to come crashing back to earth, like Toronto, but it hasn't happened yet. How much longer do we wait?

6. Detroit Tigers: Looks like the offense that was supposed to score 1,000 runs last year finally showed up. Armando Gallaraga seems to have been quite the find, that move that's supposed to yield nothing and instead means everything. He must be having the time of his life.

5. Seattle Mariners: Seattle is playing now like everyone thought they would last year, like they do have a $100 million+ payroll. It probably helps that the rest of the division is struggling, leaving room wide open for the Mariners to sneak through, and they are taking all sorts of advantage.

4. St. Louis Cardinals: Two words: Albert Pujols. Last night I suggested that watching Melky Cabrera hit was like watching a rat-infested ship head to Sicily in 1347 (extra points if you get the reference). Watching Pujols is like watching Michaelangelo on his back painting the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel.

3. LA Dodgers: The most impressive thing about the Dodgers is that they are more or less doing this without much help from Manny. Joe Torre, for once, is trusting his young players, and the payoff is an early season division lead.

2. Boston Red Sox: Boston makes quite the jump this week, but that's what happens when you win ten straight games. They should probably not have won Saturday and definitely should not have won Friday, but when a team is on a roll, it's on a roll. Kevin Youkilis and Jason Bay are Yankee Killers, apparently. Jacoby Ellsbury's steal of home yesterday says it all, really.

1. Toronto Blue Jays: This team won't stop winning. April's still too early to ask if a team's 'for real' -look at what happened to Arizona last season-but the fact is they're doing all this while their starting pitching has been devastated by injuries. Which begs the question, of course, if these guys are this good now, what happens when their starting pitching comes back?