Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

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As always, the number in parenthesis was where they stood in last week’s — or two weeks’ ago’s — Power Rankings.

1. Indians (6): Why not? They’ve got the same record as Philly and a better run differential in a harder league.

2. Phillies (1): Brutal May schedule for Philly. Just finished with the Braves, then the Marlins, Braves, Cardinals, Rockies, Rangers, and Reds. If they come through that OK, well, they’re definitely OK.

3. Yankees (3): Starting this weekend they have three against the Red Sox and then two against the Rays, but they would be foolish to look past the three against the Royals starting tomorrow.

4. Rays (14): A 5-1 week, a tie for first place and Evan Longoria is back in the fold. Everything is coming up Ray-y.

5. Marlins (5): A huge series against the Phillies starting tonight after which they could leave Citizens Bank Park they could wind up in first place (note to self: look at schedule first before naming ballparks; the games are in Florida).  Hold your nose for Javier Vazquez vs. Joe Blanton tonight but do whatever you have to in order to see Josh Johnson vs Roy Halladay tomorrow.

6. Cardinals (9): They just keep winning series.

7. Braves (19): The hottest team in baseball. And — with all apologies to Phillies fans — the team with the best rotation in the National League at the moment.

8. Angels (8): After three with Chicago, they get back-to-back-to-back road series with Texas, Oakland and Seattle. By the time that’s over, we’ll know a hell of a lot more about the AL West.

9. Rockies (2): Since his high water mark on April 24th, Troy Tulowitzki has seen his average drop 85 points, his OBP drop 97 points and his slugging drop 184 points.  In that time the Rockies have gone 4-7. As goes Tulo, so go the Rockies.

10. Reds (11): Having Cueto and Bailey return in strong form is huge for them.

11. Royals (7): Here’s what I wrote for the Royals’ entry a couple of weeks ago: “Kila Ka’aihue is struggling. Meanwhile, Eric Hosmer is hitting .380 as a 21 year-old in his first go-around at AAA.  You don’t need to be a MacArthur Grant recipient in order to have the sort of creativity required to solve this predicament.” — I’d congratulate myself for my prescience, but I suppose I discounted the value of such prescience in that very comment. Hurm.

12. Giants (13): If they could only play the Rockies all the time.

13. Athletics (17): They took three of four from Texas last weekend. Now they have three on the road against the Rangers starting tonight.

14. Rangers (4): Evan Grant paints a dire picture of the Rangers in the post-Josh Hamilton injury world. They’ve lost six of their last seven series.

15. Pirates (22): It’s nice that they’re at .500, but I bet they get a little tired of getting huzzahs and kudos for merely being adequate.

16. Tigers (12): Two three-hit games in a row for Austin Jackson. If he can figure it out it would definitely help.

17. Red Sox (18): As Pete Abraham notes, Adrian Gonzalez is heating up in a major way. It sort of seems like the Sox are sluggish, but they’re only four back in the East, and the Rays, while impressive, have only played a few games against winning teams.

18. Mariners (30): When last we did a Power Rankings, the M’s were dead last. Then they went on a nice run that would have been better-reflected in their ranking last week, had there been one. Dropping two of three to the White Sox, however, takes the luster off a bit. Sorry for costing you your moment, M’s.

19. Nationals (21): Two of three from the world champs, two of three from the frisky Marlins and three in the toilet against Philly in between. I have a hard time getting a read on this team. Whenever I pay close attention they seem to be a pretty basic last place team. And then, when I’m not really looking, they put together a nice couple of games.

20. Diamondbacks (24): They’re on a string of 14 straight games against the NL West. I’m not saying I’m dying for more Dback games in the early evening back east, but really, I don’t like the unbalanced schedule that much.

21. Blue Jays (15): They’re not playing particularly well, but they are getting healthier.

22. Cubs (20): Two separate stories on the Chicago Tribune’s Cubs page right now describe Mike Quade as “bewildered” and “frustrated.” I love out-of-context stuff that nonetheless explains a lot.

23. Mets (23): They’re on a string of nine straight against the NL West.  Maybe they’ll beat out the Diamondbacks for the early-season division lead.

24. Dodgers (16): A pretty bad week, but with all of the ownership crap floating around it seems like no one is noticing.

25. Brewers (10): The Brewers just finished a 10-game road trip in which they scored 17 runs.

26. Padres (28): To put that Brewers number in perspective, the Padres — one of the worst offensive teams in the game — scored 35 in their last ten.

27. Orioles (25): Is it time for a shakeup? Jeff Zrebiec seems to think so.

28. Astros (27): The Astros rank dead last in all of baseball in 11 pitching categories.

29. Twins (26): To be honest, the Twins seem like the worst overall team, but (a) they beat the White Sox both times they faced them last week; and (b) the Francisco Liriano no-hitter gives them warm-fuzzy points.

30: White Sox (29): Between this past Friday and June 3rd, the Sox will have two games against the division. Just two. That makes it a bit harder to make up a ten game deficit. Then again, so does playing like butt, so maybe it doesn’t matter.

Javier Baez: “This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it.”

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Infielder Javier Baez is back in camp with the Cubs after helping Puerto Rico to a second-place finish in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He was the focal point of what was, to many, the most memorable play of the entire tournament: Baez pointed at catcher Yadier Molina, who was attempting to throw out a would-be base-stealer, before applying the tag for the final out of the eighth inning.

While Baez didn’t receive much criticism for his theatrics, aside from an insignificant handful of spoilsports, he is one of the players who most exemplifies the emotional, celebratory culture that foreign players bring to Major League Baseball. U.S. (and Tigers) second baseman Ian Kinsler is on the other side of that spectrum, as he said prior to the WBC final that he hopes kids mimic the solemn way U.S. players play the game rather than the emotional, passionate way players from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic play the game.

Baez isn’t about to apologize for the way he and his teammates play the game. Via CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney, Baez said, “We do a great job playing and having fun out there. That’s what it’s all about. This is a game. It’s not as serious as a lot of people take it. but, you know, everybody’s got their style and their talent. I have a lot of fun.”

He continued, “It’s their choice to look at how we play, how excited we get. To us, it’s really huge what we did, even though we didn’t win. All of Puerto Rico got really together. We were going through a hard time over there and everything got fixed up for at least three weeks. Hopefully, they keep it like that.”

Mike Trout proposes change to spring training umpiring

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Angels outfielder Mike Trout came up with an idea that would allow less experienced umpires an opportunity to call some major league spring training action. As ESPN’s Buster Olney reports, Trout thinks the veteran umpires should only call five or six innings as they get back into regular season shape. The rest of the innings could be called by minor league umpires.

According to Olney, baseball officials loved Trout’s idea when they heard about it last week. One official said, “It makes a lot of sense for a lot of different reasons.” Another said, “That’s Trout — he’s always paying attention to stuff beyond what he’s doing.”

Of course, I have to agree that the suggestion is a great one. As Olney notes, the turnover rate for umpires every year is relatively low, so younger, less-experienced umpires have few opportunities to get a feel for what it’s like calling major league action. Even beyond the actual interpretation of the rules, interacting with big league personalities would also be helpful for minor league umpires.