Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings


Rays high five.jpg1. Rays: Having a perfect game thrown against them isn’t enough to knock ’em out of the top spot, but the Yankees had the better week and could have easily been ranked first here. If nothing changes next week I just might switch ’em anyway, because I’m tired of posting Rays pictures to the right.

2. Yankees: So why not rank them ahead of the Rays? Because while weekly records are important, big picture matters too. This big picture: (a) the Yankees’ bumps and bruises are troublesome; and (b) a week against the Orioles and the current iteration of the Red Sox does not exactly represent the largest challenge on the planet.

3. Phillies: Last week I said that the Cardinals series could be an NLCS preview. If so, it won’t be much of an NLCS. The Phillies are quite obviously the class of the National League at this moment.

4. Twins: Um, let’s just forget that I put them below the Tigers last week,

5. Cardinals: Dropping three of four to the Phillies wasn’t too fun, but getting fat on the Pirates and Astros takes the sting away.

6. Padres: I did not anticipate writing “the Padres face a big series this week which will determine first place in the NL West” at any point this season. That’s why they play the games.

7. Giants: Think they’ll make a play for Lance Berkman? Couldn’t hurt.

8. Tigers: The starting pitching is a cause for concern. Indeed, it has inspired me to poetry: “Verlander and Willis and hope the other guys don’t kill us . . .”

9. Rangers: David Murphy has exploded and Tommy Hunter and Derek Holland stand ready to contribute. You get the sense that, before now, the team has been playing with one hand tied behind its back. Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!

10. Nationals: And even if they win, if they win, HAH! Even if they win! Even if they play so
far above their heads that their noses bleed for a week to ten days; even if
God in Heaven above comes down and points his hand at the Nats side of the
field; even if every man woman and child held hands together and prayed
for them to win, it just wouldn’t matter because all the really good
looking girls would still go out with the guys from the Phillies because
they’ve got all the money! It just doesn’t matter . . . it just doesn’t matter . . .

11. Athletics: Philosophy 101: If a team was in a pennant race all
season and there was no one there to see it, would it still make some
trade deadline moves?

12. Blue Jays: For someone who was supposed to be a disinterested, lame
duck manager of a rebuilding team, Cito Gaston is doing quite a bit to
snag some manager of the year votes thus far, ain’t he?

13. Mets:  The fact that they’re playing the Nationals in a three-game
series that matters for both teams kind of boggles the mind. Oh, and
Jerry: now that this season is looking more promising than everyone
thought, kicking Oliver Perez to the curb is probably a more pressing
matter than you realize.

14. Reds: A very quiet 4-2 week.  They’re as close to first place as the
Tigers are.

15. Rockies: Evidence that your season isn’t going as well as you had
hoped: one
of your team’s most high-profile bloggers is waxing poetic about the
beauty of a day at the ballpark and how fun it is to watch baseball
regardless of who wins and who loses
. Contrary to what some of you
think, I’m not a Braves-specific blogger. I have been composing that
same sort of essay in mind for a couple of weeks now, however.

16. Red Sox: Evidence of a less-than-ideally-constructed team: when
Ellsbury and Cameron come off the DL, there’s a pretty excellent chance
that they’re going to lose one of their most important players thus far
— Darnell McDonald — to waivers.

17. Marlins: I think the NL wild card race is going to be wide open.
Mike Stanton is killing the ball down at AA. These two facts would
normally lead to a roster move that would benefit the team. But we’re talking about the Marlins here and they’re just not wired
that way. 

18. Brewers: This “score a whole bunch of runs, give up a whole bunch of
runs” Brewers remind me of the John Jaha/Jeff Cirillo Brewers teams.
Maybe a little of the Rob Deer-era too. And I’m not saying
it like that’s a bad thing.

19. Pirates: I stared at the Pirates for ten minutes, wondering if I was
going to do the emotionally-comforting thing and place them below the
Braves or the intellectually honest thing and place them above. Damn
intellectual honesty.

20. Cubs: I’d rather watch an interesting team lose 90 games than a
boring team lose 90 games, and at least Starlin Castro makes the team

21. Braves: The fact that a 20 year-old rookie’s absence is so
devastating to the Braves’ chances of winning is a damning indictment of
how everyone else is playing.

22. Dodgers: If they could just find some loophole in the rules that
allows them to bat Andre Either with men on base in all nine slots of
the order, the rest season would be cream cheese.

23. Diamondbacks: Justin Upton: .220/.309/.382.  Wowzers.

24. Angels: They’ve won two of their last ten, and those two came
against a punchless Mariners team. Their saving grace is that the AL
West remains eminently winnable this year.

25. White Sox: I am not making this up: when looking up info for this
team, I attempted to type in “White Sox schedule” in Google. Instead, I
typed in “Shite Sox schedule.” The first three results were two White
Sox blogs and the team’s official site.

26. Indians: I actually overheard this conversation between a father and
his ~10 year-old son as I stood in the raised viewing area above the
left field fence at Progressive Field on Friday evening: “This area is
called the home run porch.”  “Think we’ll get a ball, dad?”  “Well, the
Indians won’t hit it out here, but the Tigers might.”

27. Mariners: Twitter is messed up right now so I can’t find the exact
quote, but Sabernomics’
J.C. Bradbury said this morning — presumably in response to the
Mariners firing their hitting coach — that teams fire coaches to make
fans think that there’s order and reason in the universe and to shield
them from the fact that so much of what goes on in baseball is random. 
Now, I think that overstates the case — the fact that this M’s offense
sucks isn’t random, it was practically pre-ordained — but the point is a
good one.

28. Royals: Oh look! It’s the first “Zack Greinke just doesn’t know
how to win and all of you statsboys who love him can suck an egg

article of the season!  How anyone can misunderstand how bad this Royals
team is apart from Greinke is a mystery to me.

29. Astros: Richard Justice watches this team every day and he says that effort
isn’t the problem
. Just talent. Cold comfort when you’re as bad as
the Astros are, but I guess it’s enough to keep them out of the bottom
slot for this week.

30. Orioles: Hey! Three-game, midweek set against the Mariners! This
should be enjoyed by literally tens of people.

Mariners interested in free agent outfielder Nori Aoki

AP Photo/Ben Margot
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New Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto has kept pretty busy in his short time on the job and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports that free agent outfielder Nori Aoki could be his next target. The club recently pursued a trade for Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna, but the asking price has them looking at alternatives.

Aoki, who turns 34 in January, has hit .287 with a .353 on-base percentage over four seasons since coming over from Japan. He was having a fine season with the Giants this year prior to being shut down in September with lingering concussion symptoms.

The Giants decided against picking up Aoki’s $5.5 million club option for 2016 earlier this month, but he should still do pretty well for himself this winter assuming he’s feeling good.

Report: Johnny Cueto is believed to be looking for a $140-160 million deal

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It was reported Sunday that free agent right-hander Johnny Cueto had turned down a six-year, $120 million contract from the Diamondbacks. He’s hoping to land a bigger deal this winter and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick has heard some chatter about what he’s looking for.

Jordan Zimmermann finalized a five-year, $110 million contract with the Tigers today, which works out to $22 million per season. Arizona’s offer to Cueto checked in at $20 million per season. A six-year offer to Cueto at the same AAV (average annual value) as Zimmermann would put him at $132 million, which is still a little shy of the figure stated by Crasnick. Of course, Cueto owns a 2.71 ERA (145 ERA+) over the last five seasons compared to a 3.14 ERA (123 ERA+) by Zimmermann during that same timespan, so there’s a case to be made that he should get more. Still, he’s the clear No. 3 starter on the market behind David Price and Zack Greinke.

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that the Dodgers, Giants, Red Sox, and Cubs are among the other teams who have interest in Cueto. One variable in his favor is that he is not attached to draft pick compensation, as he was traded from the Reds to the Royals during the 2015 season.

Report: Around 20 teams have contacted the Braves about Shelby Miller

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The rebuilding Braves have already been active on the trade market and they might not be done, as CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports that right-hander Shelby Miller has been a very popular name. In fact, around 20 teams have checked in.

Nothing is considered close and the Braves have set a very high asking price, mostly centered around offense. They asked for right-hander Luis Severino in talks with the Yankees and would expect outfielder Marcell Ozuna among other pieces from the Marlins. The Diamondbacks and Giants are among the other interested clubs.

Miller is under team control through 2018, so there’s not necessarily a sense of urgency to move him, but anything is possible with the way the Braves are doing things right now. The 25-year-old is coming off a year where he went 6-17, but that was about really rotten luck more than anything else, as he had a fine 3.02 ERA and 171/73 K/BB ratio over 205 1/3 innings. The Braves gave him the worst run support of any starter in the majors.

Mets expected to tender a contract to Jenrry Mejia

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 12:  Jenrry Mejia #58 of the New York Mets reacts as he walks off the field after getting the final out of the seventh inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Citi Field on July 12, 2015 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jenrry Mejia appeared in just seven games this past season due to a pair of suspensions for performance-enhancing drugs, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that the Mets are expected to tender him a contract for 2016.

While the Mets were vocal about their disappointment in Mejia’s actions, it makes sense to keep him around as an option. Had he played a full season in 2015, he would have earned $2.595 million. He’s arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and figures to receive a contract similar to his 2015 figure, but he’ll only be paid for the games he plays. He still has 100 games to serve on his second PED suspension, which means that he’ll only be paid for 62 games in 2016. This likely puts his salary closer to $1 million, which is a small price to pay for someone who could prove useful during the second half and beyond. He also won’t count toward the team’s 40-man roster until he’s active.

Mejia, who turned 26 in October, owns a 3.68 ERA in the majors and saved 28 games for the Mets in 2014. He’s currently pitching as a starter in the Dominican Winter League.