Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

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These are last week’s. These are this week’s:

1. Yankees: The bullpen is kind of scary right now, but if there was ever a time for the Yankees to have to go through that it’s when the Red Sox are banged up and the Rays floundering.

2. Padres: Lots of people are agitating for Mat Latos to make the All-Star team. I’m guessing the Padres are just fine with the snub, though, given that he’s on an innings limit this year and probably could use the rest. Oh, and may the Force be with them.

3. Red Sox: Banged up, yes, but it’s cute how some people are pretending like there’s not enough talent in Boston to be able to ride out some injuries.

4. Rangers: If it turns out that Bengie Molina was the final piece to the World Series puzzle I’m probably just going to give up trying to understand baseball.

5. Braves: The Braves loss yesterday was no doubt a function of them not starting All-Star infielder Omar Infante. What on Earth were they thinking?

6. Reds: I got the feeling over the offseason that the Reds’ brass was looking forward to Dusty Baker’s lame duck status and ultimate departure. Now they’re going to have to figure out if they want to give him a contract extension. I bet they go ahead and give him one because they’ll think, hey, how can we not? Never mind that this would be a great opportunity to pull a Showalter-Torre kind of move.  I mean, just because things are going well doesn’t mean they couldn’t go better.

7. Rays: Why do I get the feeling that if the Rays don’t take this week’s series against the Red Sox that they’ll just fall out of it? I mean, I hate to subscribe to the whole “momentum” and “make a statement” school of thinking because it’s, like, 95% baloney, but it just feels like one of those series.

8. Mets: Jerry Manuel may very well have some hidden strengths as a manager. Managing the bullpen is not one of them. 

9. Tigers: The Tigers have pussy-footed into first place a couple of times recently, but with a three-game set against the Orioles and then their current co-leader Twins at home heading into the break, anything less than an outright division lead this time next week will have to stand as a disappointment.

10. Twins: Omar Infante and some other guys are pulling hard for Delmon Young to make the All-Star Game with that final vote thing so they don’t stick out so badly.

11. Dodgers: If last week’s news is true, this is basically the team Dodgers fans are stuck with. They’ve played pretty decent baseball recently, but I don’t think they have enough to hold off the Rockies, let alone catch the Padres.

12. Angels: They had better make some tracks in the next week or so, because they end July with 12 straight games against the Yankees, Red Sox and Rangers.

13. Rockies: Someone on the radio said this morning that the Rockies were looking like they about to go on another one of their patented runs. And I’ll grant that they’re looking better than they did earlier in the season. But they’re five games out right now. They’ve only been more than five games out on three days all year.  The fact is, the Rockies are chasing a much better Padres team than anyone they had to chase in the West during their runs of 2007 and 2009.

14. White Sox: It still blows my mind that one month ago today this team was 9.5 games out.

15. Cardinals: They were 13-13 in June. They’re 15 out of 30 in this week’s rankings. Just feels about right for them.

16. Phillies: When I started this feature back in April I gave a thought to making 30th place the “loser of the week” slot or the place for otherwise decent teams with dubious accomplishments. I decided against it, but if I hand’t the Phillies would be there for having dropped three of four to the Pirates.

17. Athletics: Attention everyone who just got excited about the A’s little run: it came against the Pirates, Orioles and Indians. They should have won those games. Call me when they beat someone who’s worth a damn.

18. Giants: The wheels are coming off. Low point of yesterday’s awful, 15-inning loss to the Rockies: Bruce Bochy pinch-running Eli Whiteside for Buster Posey late in regulation. Like Whiteside is faster or something. Then Whiteside — who has to remain in the game because the Giants have a 13-man pen despite having a great rotation and thus don’t have a full bench — makes an error and then struck out a couple of times before the game was over.

19. Blue Jays: The Jays are skidding too. But hey, at least the Halladay trade is starting to look better.

20. Brewers: Yovani Gallardo’s injury — assuming he’s out for any real time — is kind of like the knockout punch to a team that was already on the ropes. Now’s the time to think of who you can deal, Mr. Melvin.

21. Royals: For a team that sucks every year it’s amazing how they are always in the middle of trade conversations heading into the deadline. If they have that many valuable players why the hell don’t they ever win?

22. Marlins: My interest in the Marlins for the rest of the season is in their ability to serve as a barometer. They dropped two of three to the Braves last week and beat the Mets two of three. Once they play Philly again I should have a good read on how the East will play out for the rest of the season. It’s science, dudes.

23. Cubs: Never have I seen a team that had aspirations of being good before the season started look as bad as the Cubs looked losing to the Reds yesterday.

24. Nationals: Last week I made a joke that basically went “who’s gonna be their All-Star if Strasburg doesn’t make it? Matt Capps?!”  Well I’ll be damned.

25. Mariners: Yesterday may have been Cliff Lee’s last start as a Mariner. That was his last last start as a Mariner since his last start as a Mariner. His next last start as a Mariner should come this Friday.

26. Indians: Shin-Soo Choo was one of the few Indians doing a thing this year and now he’s on the DL, possibly for the year.  That means that the offensive core of this team is Matt Laporta, Carlos Santana and, like, Michael Brantley.  All three of those guys have way more at bats in Columbus this year than Cleveland.  Should make the dog days particularly doggy this year.

27. Orioles and Pirates: Know what? Both of these teams had a good week or so, and I don’t think it’s fair to put one below the other. They’ve both been on the bottom this year and both likely will be again, but dammit, for this week they can share the relatively lofty heights of 27th place.

29. Astros: Houston has called up a couple of young guys in Chris Johnson and Jason Castro and have played fairly decently since then, but as long as Carlos Lee and Lance Berkman are hanging around this is a team that’s just going to depress Astros fans.

30. Diamondbacks: Fired manager, fired GM, a depressing DFA if Dontrelle Willis, and most of the good players will be traded in the next three weeks. But hey: racing giant-he
aded Mark Grace, Randy Johns
on, Matt Williams and Luis Gonzalez
.

The Braves and Fulton County are fighting over a Hank Aaron statue

FILE- In this Nov. 12, 2013 file photo, a statue of Hall of Fame baseball player Hank Aaron stands outside Turner Field, the home of the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta. The Atlanta Braves pulled perhaps the most surprising move of the year. They announced after months of secret talks with Cobb County leaders plans to move to a suburban stadium and leave downtown where they’ve played since moving from Milwaukee in 1966. The impending Braves’ departure aside, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed managed to keep the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons happy. He agreed for the city to cover part of the construction costs for a new retractable-roof stadium to replace the Georgia Dome downtown. Both new stadiums are projected to open in 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman, File)
Associated Press
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Divorce is hard. It’s hard on the kids and hard on your own emotions. Then, of course, there’s the fighting over money. Eventually you sort that stuff out too, but at some point you’ll come across something that cannot be divided between you and for which visitation schedules simply aren’t suitable.

Maybe it’s the family photo album. Maybe it’s that 60-year-old cast iron skillet which you got at that estate sale and which is perfectly seasoned and, oh God, you can’t imagine making fried chicken in anything else YOU GOT THE HOUSE, JENNY, MY GOD I GET TO KEEP THE SKILLET!!!

Um. Sorry. Got carried away there for a second. Where was I? Oh yes. Maybe it’s that statue you and your ex both love. You know, that one of the guy who hit 755 home runs and who has served as the face of your franchise for over 60 years:

For about three hours Wednesday, it looked like the statue of baseball hall of famer Hank Aaron would be staying in Atlanta.

The agency that owns Turner Field proudly announced it holds documents showing “the people of Atlanta and Fulton County” own the bronze, and that a deal had been struck with the Braves to keep the statue at Turner Field.

Then came a statement from the Braves saying, in effect: nuh huh. The statue, the team said, should go wherever the Hammer wants it.

And with those dueling press statements, the fate over one of Atlanta’s treasured sports landmarks remained in limbo, just as it has been since the day the Braves announced plans in late 2013 to move from downtown to Cobb County after the 2016 season.

The latest: Hank Aaron says he wants no part of the dispute and that the club and the city should solve it themselves. Which is absolutely the right move. And, frankly, kind of crappy of the Braves to throw it in Aaron’s lap in the first place. They’re the ones who, figuratively speaking, broke up the marriage by messing around with that younger, richer suitor after all. Now they’re trying to make Aaron either be a bad guy to Braves fans who attend games after 2016 and don’t get to see the statue or the city of Atlanta who would have yet another piece of their baseball history transplanted to the burbs? Forget that.

If I were Aaron I’d propose that we saw the thing in half. Then we’d see who values it more. I heard that approach has worked before.

Tim Lincecum is working out in an “secret location”

Tim Lincecum
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A free agent pitcher on the decline coming off of major surgery and still looking for work on February 12 isn’t exactly the definition of Big News. But as newspaper men have known for ages, if you make a bit of information sound cool enough, it becomes news.

Or, in some cases, you can make a lack of information sound cool. If you hear about a trade rumor but aren’t able to actually find out the identity of one of the teams, call it a “mystery team.” Oooh, isn’t that dramatic? Aren’t you privy to all kinds of intrigue! Or, how about this: that free agent on the decline is doing what scores of other ballplayers looking for work are doing and is working out in the Phoenix area, trying to catch on someplace. That’s kind of boring. And you don’t even know who he’s auditioning for or where to boot. Man, that’s not the sort of information that’s gonna be fun or interesting to report.

Wait!

Screen Shot 2016-02-12 at 7.44.02 AM

There. “Secret location.” THAT sounds exciting. THAT separates this bit of news from the dog-bites-man “baseball player playing baseball” non-story. *reporter cracks knuckles* “Now to sit back and wait for the plaudits for my amazing reporting skills to come rolling in.”

CC Sabathia: getting in shape and ready for baseball

sabathia getty
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CC Sabatha made headlines in October when he abruptly left the Yankees to go into alcohol rehab. After a month there he came back and gave interviews about his decision and his battle with the bottle and then disappeared into the offseason the way most players do.

He emerged the other day and spoke with the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand and says that he’s ready for baseball once again. Indeed, in some ways he’s more ready now than he usually is by mid February. He’s been throwing bullpen sessions for the past three weeks — he normally waits until he gets to Tamps — and he says his troublesome knee is feeling good.

 

Sabathia will turn 36 during the season. In 2015 he was 6-10 with a 4.73 ERA in 29 starts and posted his lowest strikeout rate in a decade. Late in the season, however, with the help of a knee brace, he was at his most effective in some time. He won’t need to return to 2008 form in order to help the Yankees this season, but he will need to look more like he did in September if he is to help the Yankees to the playoffs.

Jacob deGrom open to extension with Mets

New York Mets starting pitcher Jacob deGrom talks during media day for the Major League Baseball World Series against the Kansas City Royals Monday, Oct. 26, 2015, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
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The Mets are currently enjoying the spoils of the best young rotation in the game, but the big question is whether this is just a brief window or the start of sustained success. Given the huge prices on the free agent market, it’s going to be next to impossible to keep the band together, but at least one member of the rotation is open to sticking around for the long-term.

While there haven’t been any talks yet, All-Star right-hander Jacob deGrom told Kevin Kernan of the New York Post that he could see himself discussing an extension with the Mets.

“I’m a little bit older, so I might be more willing to do something like that,’’ deGrom told The Post at Mets pre-camp. “You just have to look at what is fair so both sides get a decent deal. It’s something I’d have to look into and make sure I agree with it.’’

It makes sense from deGrom’s perspective. He broke into the majors later than most prospects, so he’ll be 28 this June. Depending on whether he qualifies as a Super Two, he’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time after either 2016 or 2017. Either way, he’s under team control through 2020, which means that he’s currently on track to hit free agency after his age-32 season. The market might not be kind to him even if he manages to stay healthy, so it could behoove him to get as much guaranteed money as possible right now. The Mets could always decide to play things year-to-year, but perhaps deGrom would be willing to settle for a discount in order to get them to buy out a free agent year or two. It’s a really interesting situation to think about, but odds are the two sides will wait on contract talks until he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time.

DeGrom owns a 2.61 ERA in 52 starts over his first two seasons in the majors. Among starters, only Zack Greinke, Jake Arrieta, and Clayton Kershaw have a lower ERA since the start of 2014.