Chicago Cubs v Colorado Rockies

Your Monday Morning Power Rankings


Still lots of random shifting around given that the first batch of rankings were based on early season weirdness. I figure that from here on out we’ll see things start to stabilize a bit more. Well, except for maybe the Royals/Indians thing, because that can’t hold. Um, can it?  As usual, last week’s rankings in parenthesis.

1. Rockies (3): It’s not just the Tulo-Gonzalez show. The Rockies are getting contributions from lots of dudes.

2. Phillies (2): The four aces have them winning. They also have them winning quickly. In fact, Philly hasn’t played a three-hour game yet.

3. Rangers (1): The bats cooled down a bit last week, but I suppose they’d have to given how hot they started out.

4. Indians (6)-Royals (11):  A tie for the teams who are playing the biggest series in baseball in the early part of the week. How about them apples?

6. Yankees (8): The rotation may be a source of stress, but it’s nice that no one in the East is en fuego while they struggle through it.

7. Reds (5): It was a loss, but Jay Bruce had a big game yesterday following a dreadful start. If he gets hot, the Reds may be damn nigh unstoppable on offense. The rotation, however, is a cause for concern.

8. Angels (12): Hank Conger is getting more playing time and is tattooing the ball. And of course, Jered Weaver and Dan Haren continue to dominate. Not many people saw a hot start in Anaheim in the cards, but they’re lookin’ pretty good right now.

9. Marlins (17): The only team in the NL with a negative run differential but a winning record. Are they doing it with mirrors? Nah, a good bullpen, mostly, and some good luck in close games. For approximately the 12th time in their 18 years of existence, we find ourselves asking if the Marlins are the real deal.

10. Cardinals (25): A much better week from the offense has things looking up, but Ryan Franklin’s struggles present another nagging problem that Tony La Russa probably doesn’t want to talk about. Quick: someone ask him about it.

11. Giants (15): Barry Zito’s trip to the DL may not be a gigantic issue from a competitive standpoint — he’s Barry Zito after all — but there is something sad about his 356-game consecutive start streak ending. He has never missed a start due to injury in his 11-year career, and that’s pretty impressive given how fragile pitchers can be.

12. Brewers (14): Shifty bunch, these Brewers.

13. Blue Jays (9): Bunch of thieves, these Blue Jays.

14. White Sox (4): Ugly series against the Halos. Ozzie Guillen probably would have preferred a few blown games by the bullpen rather than just have their clock cleaned like they did.

15. Athletics (16): There could be some serious issues for Dallas Braden’s shoulder.

16. Cubs: With the injuries to the starters, Mike Quade continues to have to make choices like whether he’d prefer to pitch  Jeff Samardzija or James Russell. Which is sort of like deciding between a root canal and a colonoscopy.

17. Braves (18): The sweep of the Saturday double header against the Mets was nice, but this is still a team that is seriously out of synch.

18. Rays (30): A couple of dramatic come-from-behind wins against the Twins breathed some life into them.

19. Tigers (26): Two out of three from Texas and a split from Oakland isn’t anything to sneeze at, but the offense is MIA.

20. Orioles (7): I actually figured that the O’s would be the last of the three early-season surprises to come back to Earth, but they ran into a buzz saw in Cleveland.

21. Nationals (23): I’m still kind of reeling from seeing Jason Marquis and Livan Hernandez nail down both ends of the doubleheader yesterday.

22. Pirates (21): Four teams in the NL Central have eight losses, including the Pirates.

23. Padres (19): Orlando Hudson has reached base in all 15 Padres games this year.

24. Dodgers (10): Attendance has been terrible compared to what they’re used to. Is this Bryan Stow-related? Bad baseball? McCourt fatigue?

25. Diamondbacks (20): Kelly Johnson, who was so good last year, is .158/.238/.263 to start the season.

26. Astros (28): Apropos of nothing, but in both the spring and in the early going, I don’t think there is a bad team who has had more chatter about it as if it weren’t a bad team than the Astros. Which leads to stuff like this in which people come to grips with the bad team being bad, even though it seemed fairly obvious that they’d be bad.

27. Mets (24): I think the Mets will be a lot better off if they could avoid any doubleheaders this week.

28. Twins (27): They traded a prospect catcher to bolster their bullpen and now their catcher is hurt and their bullpen sucks. It’s like “The Gift of the Magi.” But different.

29. Red Sox (13): Two wins in a row? Eh. After a second straight bad week, they’ve reached the point where they need to be ranked where their record has them. If they’re as good as we all think they are, they can win their way out of the bottom of the Power Rankings.

30. Mariners (29): I don’t care if they won every game they played this past week. They played a game the other night in which Adam Kennedy was the DH and batted cleanup. That deserves the 30-slot regardless of whatever else transpired.

Erik Johnson likely to open 2016 in the White Sox rotation

DENVER, CO - APRIL 09:  Starting pitcher Erik Johnson #45 of the Chicago White Sox delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague play at Coors Field on April 9, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. The Rockies defeated the White Sox 10-4.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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With the White Sox losing Jeff Samardzija to free agency, Erik Johnson will likely get a shot to contribute out of the rotation to open up the 2016 season, GM Rick Hahn said in a conference call on Wednesday, per a report from’s Scott Merkin.

“As we sit here today, I think it will be an opportunity for Erik Johnson to convert on sort of the return to form he showed back in 2015 when he was International League pitcher of the year for [Triple-A] Charlotte,” Hahn said. “Obviously, he got some starts in September and continued to show the progress in Chicago he had shown in the Minor Leagues over the course of the last season.

“So if Opening Day were today, then I think Johnson is penciled in to that spot in the rotation right now. In all probability, once we get closer to spring, there will be some competition for him to earn that spot. But if we were strictly looking at today, then I would think Johnson has the inside track on filling Samardzija’s innings.”

Johnson was called up from Triple-A Charlotte in September and made six starts, allowing 14 runs (13 earned) on 32 hits and 17 walks with 30 strikeouts in 35 innings. That followed up an impressive five months in the minors where he compiled a 2.37 ERA and a 136/41 K/BB ratio across 132 2/3 innings.

Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and each included Johnson on their top-100 prospect lists, ranking him 63rd, 67th, and 70th, respectively. The right-hander was selected by the White Sox in the second round of the 2011 draft.

Major League Baseball will investigate Yasiel Puig for his role in Miami nightclub brawl

Yasiel Puig
AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi

It was reported on Friday afternoon that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig was involved in a brawl at a Miami nightclub. Details were scant at the time, but he reportedly left with a bruise on his face.

Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times reports that Major League Baseball plans to investigate Puig under the league’s new domestic violence policy for his role in the brawl. Citing a report from TMZ, Hernandez notes that Puig shoved his sister, “brutally sucker-punched” the manager of the bar, and instigated the brawl.

The Dodgers and Puig’s agent have thus far refused to comment on the situation.

Rockies shortstop Jose Reyes was the first player to be investigated under the league’s new domestic violence policy earlier this month, as he allegedly assaulted his wife. Reyes has pleaded not guilty after he was charged with domestic abuse in Hawaii.

As our own Craig Calcaterra pointed out, commissioner Rob Manfred does not need to wait for Puig to plead guilty or to be found guilty to levy a punishment.

Dayan Viciedo close to signing with Japan’s Chunichi Dragons

Dayan Viciedo
AP Photo/Carlos Osorio
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Patrick Newman is reporting that the Chunichi Dragons of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and outfielder Dayan Viciedo are close to an agreement on a contract. Newman notes that the Dragons are close to signing pitcher Jordan Norberto as well.

Viciedo, 26, has struggled since making his major league debut in 2010 with the White Sox, batting an aggregate .254/.298/.424 with 66 home runs and 211 RBI in 1,798 plate appearances. He spent the 2015 season with Triple-A Charlotte (White Sox) and Nashville (Athletics), hitting a composite .287/.348/.450. While Viciedo can hit the occasional home run, he hasn’t shown the ability to do much else at the big league level. Given his age, he could prove himself in Japan and parlay that into a renewed shot in the majors in the future.

The White Sox signed Viciedo out of Cuba in December 2008, agreeing to a four-year, $10 million deal. The club re-signed him to one-year deals in 2013 and ’14 for $2.8 million each and $4.4 million ahead of the 2015 season.

Blue Jays sign J.A. Happ to a three-year, $36 million contract

J.A. Happ
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Update (8:45 PM EST): Per Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi, Happ will get $10 million in 2016 and $13 million each in 2017 and ’18.

*’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the Blue Jays have signed lefty J.A. Happ to a three-year deal worth $36 million.

Happ, 33, had a rebirth as a member of the Pirates last season after starting the season with 20 subpar starts with the Mariners. He made 11 starts for the Buccos, boasting a 1.85 ERA with a 69/13 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported this past August that Happ’s newfound success had to do with a delivery tweak suggested by Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage. The Blue Jays are certainly hoping that adjustment is the full explanation for his success.

The Jays’ signing of Happ most likely signifies they won’t be pursuing free agent lefty David Price.

This will be Happ’s second stint with the Blue Jays. The Astros dealt him to Toronto in a July 2012 trade. He posted a 4.39 ERA with a 256/113 K/BB ratio in 291 innings with the Jays, then went to the Mariners in a trade this past December that brought outfielder Michael Saunders to the Jays.