Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

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1. Phillies (1): In case you missed this little factoid from Gleeman, the Phillies will be able to start one of their big three of Halladay, Hamels and Oswalt in 17 of 19 potential playoff games. Yikes.

2. Twins (2): Just because they clinched doesn’t mean they don’t have something to play for, as you can bet that they’d love to pass up the Rays for the best record on the AL to get a little more home-cookin’ if they make it to the ALCS.

3. Rays (4): Although, it’s gonna be hard for the Twins to snag that best record given how the Rays are ending the season with the Mariners, Orioles and Royals.

4. Yankees (3): There’s no panic like Yankees fan panic.

5. Padres (8): They bounced back nicely following last weekend’s ugly series against the Cardinals. But unless the Braves completely crater — which it totally possible! — this weekend’s series against the Giants will be the biggest series they’ve played since the 2006 NLDS.

6. Giants (7): They’ve taken the schizo crown from the Cardinals: They either score like nuts or get shut down. Yesterday was a rare four-spot from them.

7. Rangers (6): The only thing they have to play for this week is health and happiness. And maybe pride, as they’re probably getting really damn tired of hearing how the Rays and Yankees would rather play them than Minnesota in the first round.

8. Braves (5): There’s probably something seriously wrong with your roster construction or your luck or both when you’re playing must-win games with Brandon Beachy and Mike Minor making starts.  Fact is that they’re just not a good team right now, and even if they hang on for the wild card, it’s hard to see them giving either the Reds or the NL West champ much of a battle, let alone taking down the Phillies.

9. Reds (10): Not that they’re any great shakes themselves these days. September has been the Reds’ worst month by far, and they’re not carrying a ton of momentum into the playoffs. Not that I’m sure momentum matters, but it certainly makes it hard to be terribly optimistic about them at the moment. Still: I’d like to see them play the Phillies. I’m curious how Aroldis Chapman matches up with the Phillies’ lefty bats.

10. Red Sox (11): There is probably a German word that perfectly captures the concept of “that feeling of disappointment one experiences when lamenting a loss that seemingly knocks you out of playoff contention despite the fact that you really didn’t have any chance of making the playoffs to begin with.” I probably couldn’t pronounce it, but that’s what a lot of Red Sox fans are feeling today.

11. Rockies (9): That Diamondbacks series was pretty much their Waterloo. The pitching, she just didn’t hold up. They now need to win like crazy, hope the Padres and Giants quit see-sawing and one of them just buries the other next weekend and hope that the Braves continue their swoon. All of those things are possible, but it’s looking close to over.

12. Tigers (15): Detroit finished its home schedule 52-29. Too bad they couldn’t play them all at home.

13. White Sox (13): I love how Ozzie Guillen has continued to ratchet up his “the White Sox don’t want me no more” rhetoric in the past week. This despite the fact that the Sox continually say that they want him. I haven’t seen someone work so hard to bring about their own end since Godric greeted the sunrise on the roof of the Hotel Carmilla. Look, I’m not exactly proud of that reference either, but my wife likes the show so I started watching it and it’s grown on me, OK?  I’ve only finished seasons one and two, though, so don’t spoil anything for me after that. 

14. Blue Jays (16): Deep thought: how come all the people who think it’s fair to question Jose Bautista’s professional integrity for hitting 50+ home runs don’t think of questioning Aroldis Chapman for throwing 105 miles per hour? At least there’s precedent for someone hitting 50. No, this doesn’t mean that I think it’s fair to question Chapman. It just means that PED-hysterics are still hung up on home run totals despite the fact that everything we know about PEDs suggests that the ‘roids=dingers calculus is facile and reductionist.

15. Cardinals (12): Has any team been less fun than the 2010 Cardinals? They just seem miserable.

16. Athletics (14): Clearly not ready for prime time, as the series with the Rangers showed, but I remain convinced that if they actually try to get a bat that helps them — as opposed to signing someone Beane thinks he could flip in the middle of next season — they could make serious noise in the west next year.

17. Mets (18): Taking two of three from the Phillies is a nice way to spend the season’s penultimate weekend. And they even performed a valuable service yesterday: showing the National League that Cole Hamels can be hit.

18. Angels (19): Dropping three at home to a reeling White Sox team ain’t exactly uplifting. And it all but assured the Angels’ first sub-.500 season since 2003.

19. Dodgers (20): Kevin Baxter of the L.A. Times wrote an article over the weekend about how the example of the Rangers and Padres might make Dodgers fans feel better, what with going from owner-induced financial dire straits to playoff team in relatively short order. The difference, I guess, is that neither of those teams decided to punt player development during their dark days like that Dodgers have. And of course, each of those teams got new owners at the end of the road. There’s a pretty decent chance that L.A. is stuck with Frank McCourt for a long time.

20. Marlins (23): For a guy who watches baseball every single day and writes little recaps of nearly every game, I probably shouldn’t be surprised that the Marlins have a good chance of finishing above .500, but I am.

21. Astros (17): Houston extended all of their coaches’ contracts through 2012 over the weekend (they offered Jeff Bagwell the same two years, but he hasn’t decided if he’s going to come back yet). Brad Mills is under contract through 2011 with a team option for 2012. It’s been some time since there was this kind of stability in the dugout for the Astros.

22. Brewers (22): Only seven more games until the Brewers can fire their manager and trade their big star! Feel the excitement, Milwaukee!

23. Cubs (21): Mike Quade is 19-11 as the Cubs’ skipper. I get the feeling like the Cubs’ decision about the manager’s job is less about who to hire as much as it’s about how to deal with Ryne Sandberg if he’s not the choice.

24. Orioles (24): After taking two of three in Boston, the O’s get swept in Toronto. It was their 12th, 13th and 14th straight loss north of the border. No one has had this much trouble in Toronto since Keith Richards got busted by the Mounties at the Harbour Castle Hotel back in ’77.

25. Nationals (27): Hey, they got Nyjer Morgan back! That’s good news. For bloggers and stenographers at disciplinary hearings and stuff anyway.

26. Indians (25): Paul Cousineau at The DiaTribe tries to be optimistic as the season winds down, noting that Fausto Carmona, Carlos Carrasco and Justin Masterson have combined for a 2.35 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 63 K and 21 BB in 80 1/3 IP this month. But then doesn’t it seem like something happens with the Indians late each season that causes some people to think that they may sneak up on people and surprise next year? Only for things to stink again? I hope not, because I get a ton of Indians games where I live an I can
go to Indians games more ea
sily than I can go to any other team’s games, so even if I don’t root for them, better Indians baseball makes my summers more enjoyable. I’m just not optimistic, that’s all.

27. Royals (26): I’m rather excited about the Royals’ offseason. There’s a ton of talent down on the farm and it will be interesting to see if Dayton Moore eschews his past habits — inexplicably signing veterans that superficially fill holes but actually solve no problems — and allows the youngins to come up and develop without the Jose Guillens of the world blocking their way.

28. Diamondbacks (30): Dbacks hitters passed 1,400 strikeouts last week, setting a new record. That’s fun.

29. Mariners (28): I like stuff like this article from Larry Stone: comparing the Blue Jays and Mariners since they debuted in 1977. They’ve each played 5,376 games as yesterday. By way of comparison, both the Cubs and the Braves surpassed the 20,000 game mark this season.

30. Pirates (29): The Pirates notched their 100th loss over the weekend. Baltimore and Seattle could still join them, but there’s a good chance that the Bucs will be alone in the century club this year.

2016 Winter Meetings Preview

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD - FEBRUARY 26: The Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center is seen along the Potomac River February 26, 2014 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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The baseball world will descend on Washington D.C. — well, the Maryland suburbs of Washington, at the Gaylord Resort at National Harbor — this weekend for the 2016 Winter Meetings. There’s a lot of work to be done.

Twenty free agents from a class of 191 have signed thus far. Among the notable: Yoenis Cespedes, Edinson Volquez, Neil Walker, Josh Reddick, Bartolo Colon, and R.A. Dickey. That, of course, leaves a ton of notables left, including Edwin Encarnacion, Justin Turner, Jose Bautista, Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, Mark Trumbo, Mark Melancon, Rich Hill and a host of others. Here is our rundown of this offseason’s top free agents if you’re curious. As you have come to expect from us, we’ll have a writeup of everyone who signs, faster than almost anyone else will.

Despite the sheer number of available free agents, this is an historically thin free agent class in terms of talent. That means that, for a team to improve significantly, they may be better served by making a trade. We’ve seen a couple already, most notably the deals which sent Taijuan Walker to the Diamondbacks, Jaime Garcia to the Braves and Brian McCann to the Astros. Most experts believe there will be plenty more this winter, and the ball could really get rolling on that in the next week with guys like Andrew McCutchen, Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Jay Bruce, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Phillips on the block.

Another major activity of the Winter Meetings is the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee vote. Except, this year, there is no Veterans Committee, at least in name. It’s now the “Today’s Game” committee. Here are links to breakdowns of the candidacies of all ten men on the ballot the new committee will consider:

Harold Baines
Albert Belle
Will Clark
Orel Hershiser
Mark McGwire
George Steinbrenner
Davey Johnson
Lou Piniella
John Shuerholz
Bud Selig

Trade deals, free agent negotiations and Hall of Fame votes take place behind closed doors at the Gaylord Resort. One of the major public activities of the Winter Meetings is when all 30 of the managers meet and greet the press. This year’s new faces are Torey Lovullo with the Diamondbacks, Rick Renteria with the White Sox and Bud Black with the Rockies. Brian Snitker, now the permanent manager of the Braves, will get his first go-around at the managerial cattle call. I’ll be in the scrum for a lot of these guys — they do them two at a time so I can’t see everyone — and will let you know if they say anything fun.

Outside of the transactions and the Hall of Fame stuff, we have the more mundane Winter Meetings business. And a lot of it. Indeed, the vast majority of the people at the Meetings aren’t there for transactions. They’re there to network, seek jobs and discuss the business of baseball like any other industry convention. Ever year we hear about a rule change or a proposal for future rule changes at the Meetings, though this year’s brand new Collective Bargaining Agreement should overshadow that. We’ve already discussed the major points of that and, yesterday, I speculated that, as time goes on, the way this agreement was reached could lead to some serious strife going forward, particularly on the union side. Expect to hear some anonymous rumblings about all of that in the next few days, from players, agents and other interested parties who may not be all that pleased with how it goes.

The final event of the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft, which will take place at 8am on Thursday morning. You likely have no idea who most of the players who will be selected are, but here’s a good place to start your research on that. If your team takes someone in the draft, the most important thing to know is that he’ll either be on the big league roster all year or he’ll have to be returned to his original team. Well, they could be stashed on the disabled list with phantom injuries so they won’t have to be returned, but no team would ever do that, would they? Perish the thought.

So, yes, there’s a lot to be done. I’ll be on the scene at National Harbor, bringing you all the best hot stove business we have to offer and, as usual, some more fun odds and ends from baseball’s biggest offseason event. As they used to say in radio, tune in to us and rip off the dial. Or, at the very least, keep a tab open to us and refresh a lot.

The Padres non-tendered RHP Tyson Ross

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 04:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres walks off the field as he's taken out of the game in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers on opening day at PETCO Park on April 4, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Per a report by MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, the Padres non-tendered right-handed starter Tyson Ross on Friday, cutting loose their top ace after three seasons with the club.

Ross, 29, was sidelined for the bulk of the season with inflammation in his right shoulder and underwent thoracic outlet surgery in October. His injuries limited him to only 5 1/3 innings in 2016, during which he gave up seven runs and struck out five in a 15-0 blowout against the Dodgers.

Prior to his lengthy stint on the disabled list, the right-hander earned 9.5 fWAR and pitched to a 3.07 ERA and 9.2 K/9 rate in three full seasons with the Padres. He avoided arbitration with a one-year, $9.625 million deal prior to the 2016 season after leading the league with 33 starts and delivering a 3.26 ERA and career-best 4.4 WARP over 196 innings in 2015.

The Padres appear open to bringing Ross back to San Diego, reported Cassavell, albeit not at such a steep cost. Cassavell quoted Padres’ GM A.J. Preller, who was reportedly in trade talks involving Ross but unable to strike a deal, likely due to the right-hander’s recent health issues. Preller denied that those same health issues factored into the club’s decision to non-tender their ace.

With the move, Ross became one of 35 major leaguers to enter free agency on Friday.