Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

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Since a whole lot hasn’t happened in the last week thanks to the All-Star Game, the comments accompanying the rankings this week focus less on the overall state-of-the-ballclub and more on what they need, both at the trade deadline or otherwise.

1. Yankees: The Bombers need A.J. Burnett to quit flaking out, Andy Pettitte to make a quick return and no one important to the organization to die for a little while.

2. Rays: A big bat at DH would be nice. B.J. Upton to remember that he used to be good would be useful as well.

3. Padres: A little offense wouldn’t hurt. The Padres could also do without the Boston media continuing to treat them like roadkill whose only purpose in life is to trade Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox.

4. Braves: An outfielder who can hit. And while they really don’t want it or need it, it would probably do the Braves some good as an organization to see Yunel Escobar thrive for Toronto in the second half. I mean, yeah, the corporate culture has usually worked for Atlanta, but Bobby Cox and his gravitas aren’t going to be around next year and eventually the team is going to have to figure out how to get the most out of talented but flawed players rather than ship them out at the first sign of trouble.

5. Rangers: An owner would be nice, but that’s crazy talk. Otherwise the Rangers have pretty much made their moves this year. Maybe they can shore up the bench a bit with a bat who could cover for Chris Davis in the event he goes into a deep slump. Mostly it’s time to think about playoff roster optimization, though, because I don’t see the Angels being able to mount a sustained threat.

6. White Sox: A DH and a starter. Though really, given that one of their most talked about trade chits — Gordon Beckham — is starting to heat up, does Chicago really have the ability to land one? Maybe if they can convince Roy Oswalt to come to Chicago and agree to pick up the bulk of his salary they could get him for a song in terms of players going south.

7. Rockies: The healthy return of Troy Tulowitzki is important, but if Brad Hawpe and/or Todd Helton can’t hack it going forward, they’re going to need a corner infielder. Oh, and they need someone to silence Jon Miller before he gets too close to the shocking truth!
 
8. Cardinals: A starter would be nice, as would a mild but temporarily debilitating case of food poisoning to circulate through the Reds’ clubhouse for a couple of weeks. Those guys are pesky.

9. Reds: Some help in the bullpen, mostly. And if they’re really auditioning Jason Isringhausen, they need some help with looking in the right places to look for such help.

10. Giants: Pablo Sandoval to remember that he knows how to hit. Short of that a big outfield or first base bat. For his part, umpire Phil Cuzzi needs the Giants to either make the playoffs or at least to finish more than one game out of the running, or else someone’s likely to put a bounty on him.

11. Red Sox: For like five minutes to pass without someone pulling, straining, breaking, tweaking or rupturing something. And they totally need the Padres to realize that they have no choice but to abort their own feeble playoff run and hand over Adrian Gonzalez as God and Nature intends them to.

12. Tigers: Some relief help. The ability to NOT go on a swoon at the same time either the White Sox or the Twins do. Really, it’s like they want to play in a game-163 again this year.

13. Twins: They need a starter. They also need Joe Mauer to repudiate the bargain he made with his mother, Lara, to have the rays from the red Kryptonian sun drain him of his powers to that he could be with the love of his life, Lois Lane. By the way, in this little flight of fancy, I envision Ozzie Guillen in the General Zod role, which I think he’d find hilarious.

14. Mets: Like everyone else, a starter. Though a long-lasting but ultimately non-violent kidnapping of Oliver Perez may be the most useful thing for roster management purposes.

15. Phillies: A time machine to undo the Cliff Lee trade. Chase Utley to accidentally stumble into the faith-healing tent at some country revival except, in his case, have it actually work.

16. Dodgers: Frank McCourt to loosen the purse strings and allow Ned Colletti to make a move for some pitching. Well, hell, maybe not. Last time he let Colletti go out and get a veteran he traded Carlos Santana away.

17. Angels: A rent-a-first baseman. An exorcist who specializes in Scott Kazmirs.

18. Blue Jays: Another team to unload a “problem” player as good as Yunel Escobar.

19. Athletics: Bud Selig to get off the pot on the whole Oakland/San Jose thing. I mean, the A’s are almost certain to continue alienating the current Oakland fans, but it would at least be nice if they could start to woo the future San Jose fans to make up for it.

20. Marlins: For Selig and MLBPA head Mike Weiner to accidentally knock heads and suffer amnesia long enough so that Larry Beinfest can trade away all of the players who make money before anyone remembers that the Marlins agreed to keep payroll up.

21. Cubs: Derrek Lee to get cool with the idea of going to Anaheim. Ted Lilly giving them the go-ahead-and-trade-me-but-don’t-worry-I’ll-come-back-to-Chicago-in-free-agency-this-winter wink in return.

22. Brewers: Prince Fielder to go on on 20 for 30, 12 home run tear, thereby convincing someone that, price aside, THEY MUST HAVE HIM.

23. Nationals: The Nats need everyone who can’t get in on Prince Fielder to realize that Adam Dunn is a better option.

24. Royals: Kansas City needs everyone who can’t get in on Prince Fielder and Dunn to realize that David DeJesus, while not as good as either of those two, is a hell of a lot cheaper and is probably way more useful in the very short term.

25. Indians: The Tribe needs all of those teams who claim they need pitching to at least pretend to be interested in Jake Westbrook. Because really, I can’t think of an obviously available starter who has had less chatter about him these past few weeks than Westbrook.

26. Astros: Houston needs Roy Oswalt to broaden his horizons a bit in terms of where he’d agree to go, but more than that they need to realize that Oswalt makes way too much for most teams to stomach and consider kicking in more cash in order to get a deal done.

27. Mariners: With Lee gone they don’t have much to sell, and they sure as heck aren’t buyers. I think, more than anyone, they need to simply close their eyes and pray for October to come as quickly as possible.

28. Diamondbacks: Arizona needs yet another team to talk themselves into the whole “Adam LaRoche is a second half god” thing. And having Edwin Jackson shape up a bit so they can shop him without people thinking that A.J. Hinch killed his arm in that no-hitter would be nice too.

29. Orioles: For the “Ty Wigginton is everything you could possibly need” meme that has been circulating lately to last for another ten or eleven days before everyone comes to their senses.

30. Pirates: Steelers camp to open.

MRI reveals minor right ankle sprain for Cubs’ Kris Bryant

Chicago Cubs' Kris Bryant warms up before Game 3 of the National League baseball championship series against the New York Mets Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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CHICAGO (AP) An MRI has confirmed that Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs has a minor right ankle sprain.

The 2015 NL Rookie of the Year wasn’t in the lineup Friday against the Atlanta Braves, but manager Joe Maddon said he might be available off the bench late in the game.

Bryant was injured running the bases in the third inning Thursday of Chicago’s 7-2 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers. He was replaced in left field two innings later.

The Cubs avoided putting another starter on the disabled list. Catcher Miguel Montero was placed on the 15-day DL on Thursday with a sore back. Chicago lost slugger Kyle Schwarber for the season when he tore two knee ligaments three weeks ago in Arizona.

Yasiel Puig welcomes Jared Goff to Los Angeles

Los Angeles Dodgers' Yasiel Puig smiles as he warms up throwing the baseball during a spring training baseball workout Friday, Feb. 26, 2016, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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Jared Goff, the University of California Quarterback, was selected by the Los Angeles Rams as the first overall pick of last night’s draft. Not a bad thing to happen, to the man. He’s going to be rich! He’s going to be even more famous! He’s going to be the face of the NFL’s move back into the nation’s second largest city!

The only problem is that he’s not always been a fan of all things Los Angeles. For example, three years ago he took issue with Yasiel Puig for reasons that I’m guessing everyone has forgotten:

But no worries. Puig has both forgotten and forgiven. He even sent out a warm welcome to the new Angelino this afternoon:

#PuigYourFriend has to the best hashtag in the history of Twitter.

 

Someone stole a 14-foot tall Kansas City Royals Player

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Not a real one. If there was a real 14-foot tall baseball player we would’ve heard more about him, I presume. Also, since he’s 14-feet tall and only weighs 150 pounds, he’d probably be in the hospital hooked up to IVs and things because that’s just not healthy.

This is a fake one — a 3D figure — for use on a billboard in Kansas City off of I-435. Thieves came in the night and took him off the sign on Wednesday night. This morning, however, he was found:

And he is home:

Kansas City’s long, little-over-a-day nightmare is over.

(h/t to SB Nation who has a lot more on this)

People are getting hysterical over Dee Gordon’s positive test

FILE - This April 3, 1972 file photo shows Marvin Miller, executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association, talking to reporters in New York. Miller, the union leader who created free agency for baseball players and revolutionized professional sports with multimillion dollar contracts, died Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012 in New York. He was 95. (AP Photo/File)
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A dude testing positive for PEDs and getting suspended for 80 games should, actually, be taken as a sign that the system, however imperfect, still largely works. But the world of baseball can’t stop to acknowledge that. No, this is apparently a crisis. A crisis so dire that decades of labor developments apparently need to be scuttled.

That’s the message I’m getting from some folks in baseball media, anyway. Take this for example:

There’s a LOT going on there. For one thing, a casual dismissal of just how massively significant the concept of the guaranteed contract is in baseball. Marvin Miller is always cited as the man who brought the players free agency, but free agency would not have been valuable at all if teams could just void contracts. Just look at how the NFL and its phony salary numbers work. Miller and the MLBPA worked insanely hard to put that system in place and it’s insanely valuable to union membership. It’s not hyperbole to say that any movement on the part of the union to compromise the notion of guaranteed contracts would represent a complete and total repudiation of decades of its own work, and suggesting that it do so because we still get 5-7 PED suspensions a year is preposterous.

Then look at the word “option” there. Abraham wouldn’t have contracts be automatically voided. He’d only have them be voided at the option of an owner. This would give teams tremendous power to get out of bad deals and would give them no risk with respect to PED guys who happen to be on team friendly deals. If contracts were automatically void, underpaid players like Madison Bumgarner would have MASSIVE incentives to use PEDs. If they were merely voidable at the whim of the owner, the owners would have incentives with respect to drug testing other than making the game a clean one.

Finally, note how Abraham puts this all on the MLBPA. He’s not alone in this, as Buster Olney has been tweeting and writing all morning about what the union should and should not be doing to solve this problem. Obviously the union has a huge role as its players are the ones taking drugs, but to suggest that the union be the police force here and that it’s wholly incumbent upon it to solve this problem is silly.

For one thing, as I noted earlier today, a union’s purpose is to protect its members, not police them. To demand that they police them, to the point of undercutting some of their most important protections due to a disciplinary matter, is to turn the concept of a union on its head.

For another thing, as we learned throughout the height of the PED Era, ownership is not totally innocent when it comes to the permeation of PEDs in the game. The people who run baseball play a huge role in shaping the incentive structure of the game which causes some players to cheat. They are thus just as invested in and in just as good a position to help solve the problem at hand as the players are. They cannot, as these reporters would have them, sit back and demand that the MLBPA disembowel itself in order to eliminate PEDs from the game. It has to be a joint effort. Indeed, the drug rules in baseball have the word “JOINT” in the very title. It ain’t a Cheech and Chong reference, I can tell you that.

All of this reveals a certain hysteria that has always permeated the PED discussion in baseball coming to the fore once again. While they once ruled the game, PEDs are a relatively small problem now, comparatively speaking (note: neither Abraham nor Olney bother to establish that they’re actually a big problem or that things are getting worse; they merely assert it and assume it). A problem which, like drugs and cheating in every other walk of life, cannot be wholly eliminated and should not be ignored, but which can be and generally is effectively managed.

Yet here we are with two of the more influential voices in the game — and many others I’ve seen already today but didn’t bother to link here — pushing the panic button and demanding the ridiculous with no basis whatsoever. What is it about this subject, in this sport only, of course, that makes people lose their frickin’ minds?