Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

4 Comments

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
.

Athletics trade Billy Burns to the Royals for Brett Eibner

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MAY 13: Billy Burns #1 of the Oakland Athletics waits on deck to bat during the fourth inning of a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 13, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Brian Blanco/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.

Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.

Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.

Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.

Nationals acquire closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 20:  Mark Melancon #35 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches during the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies on May 20, 2016 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Joe Sargent/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Nationals announced on Saturday afternoon that the club acquired closer Mark Melancon from the Pirates in exchange for reliever Felipe Rivero and minor league pitcher Taylor Hearn.

Melancon, 31, put together another solid season for the Pirates, leaving the club with 30 saves, a 1.51 ERA, and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 41 2/3 innings. He led the majors last season with 51 saves and has a 1.80 ERA since joining the Pirates in 2013. Melancon is earning $9.65 million this season and can become eligible for free agency after the season.

With Melancon out of the picture, the Pirates intend to have Tony Watson take over the closer’s role.

Rivero, 25, has handled the seventh and eighth innings for the Nationals this season, compiling a 4.53 ERA and a 53/15 K/BB ratio in 49 2/3 innings. He’s just shy of one year of service time, so the Pirates will have control of him for a long time.

Hearn, 21, was rated the Nationals’ 27th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline. He was originally drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round of the 2012 draft but he didn’t sign and ended up going back to college. The Nationals took him in the fifth round of last year’s draft. This season, between rookie ball and Single-A Hagerstown, Hearn put up a 2.79 ERA and a 39/13 K/BB ratio in 29 innings. He’s a long way away from the majors, so he’s essentially a lottery ticket for the Pirates.

The Nationals needed an upgrade at closer as Jonathan Papelbon has struggled this season. The right-hander has allowed runs in each of his last three appearances, ballooning his ERA up to 4.41 with a 30/13 K/BB ratio in 32 2/3 innings. It will be interesting to see how Papelbon, who has never made a habit of letting his feelings go unspoken, handles a demotion to the eighth inning.