Phillies' Halladay throws in the fourth inning during their MLB Interleague baseball game with the Athletics in Philadelphia

Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

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Some people didn’t like my little tour of the cities thing last week and said that you’d prefer it if I just stuck to the “Team X has won Y of Z games, so look out for Team X!” blather.  I can’t tell if those people are merely trolls or if there is a genuine thirst for said blather. I was going to test it this week by doing something loony, but loony takes a lot of time, so we’re leaning more toward the blather

But know this: last week wasn’t the last time I’ll get loony with the rankings. I can feel a “most famous ‘Love Boat’ guest star from each team’s city” Power Rankings working its way into creation soon, so be on the lookout.

As usual, last week’s ranking is in parenthesis.

1. Phillies (2): Passing Boston for the top spot. Now they get to play a series against those Red Sox. This shall be good from both a baseball perspective and from a Power-Rankings-Clarification perspective.

2. Yankees (3): Every day it seems like they’re losing someone else to an injury or at least have someone suffering from an ache or a pain. Yet they just keep racking up victories.

3. Red Sox (1): I don’t care if the Pirates are better and the Padres are playing decent baseball lately. Losing back-to-back series to those guys is not something the number one team in the Power Rankings does. Of course, if they beat the hell out of Philly this week, all is forgiven.

4. Brewers (5): Dropped two of three to the Rays, but came back strong by sweeping the Twins.  Braun and Fielder are pulling an Aaron-Matthews act.

5. Rays (8): Hanging tough, but is B.J. Upton on the block?

6. Giants (10): Bumgarner and Lincecum bounce back. Sanchez to the DL. That’s a net gain.

7. Braves (7): If you had no idea what their record was and just watched some random games, you’d conclude that they were in last place. As a fan, those two-hit games are so damn frustrating. And unlike previous Braves teams that were all pitching — which there were many — I’m just not getting the satisfaction out of those good outings from Jurrjens and Beachy and whoever.  Easily the biggest detachment I’ve felt between team quality and game enjoyment since I’ve been watching the Braves.

8. Tigers (8): Back in sole possession of first place. In Verlander We Trust.

9. Diamondbacks (12)Kirk Gibson says this bunch reminds him of the ’84 Tigers.  Which one is Rusty Kuntz?

10. Indians (4):  I think I rank them too high when they have a good week and too low when they have a bad one. I think it’s a smaller battle in the overall war pitting optimism against pessimism.

11. Rangers (13): Texas’ schedule leading up to the All-Star break: Astros, Marlins, Orioles and Athletics.  Time to create some space or else be stuck in a dogfight all season, no?

12. Cardinals (6): They’ve scored 21 runs in the six post-Pujols-injury games, but 12 of those runs came in one game.

13. Nationals (16): I’m torn: I love Davey Johnson and want him to excel, but the Nats are only 3.5 behind my rooting interest for the Wild Card in a division in which it looks like the Wild Card is the only option for the non-Philly teams. Hurm.

14. Reds (11): After series against Tampa Bay and Cleveland, their last seven games before the break are against St. Louis and Milwaukee. Moving time for Cincy, too.

15. Blue Jays (17): I think it has less serious implications than the schedules of the Reds and Rangers — ya think the Jays are contending in the East? — but it is worth noting that they are in the middle of an outrageously brutal stretch of the schedule. Series against the Reds, Braves and Cardinals — a makeup game against Detroit tonight on what should have been an off day — and then series against the better-than-we-thought Pirates, the Phillies, the Red Sox and then the better-than-we-thought Indians.

WARNING: CLUSTERF*** AHEAD. The next six teams are all roughly at around the same record. They’re all in the same general ballpark in terms of run differential. Seattle had the worst week among them so I dropped them the most from last week, but it wasn’t horror-show bad. All of the others were respectable enough on the week. It was hard to rank them, because I’ve been hot and cold on each of them at times and still don’t really know what kind of team they really are. So what I’m saying is, don’t complain about the specific order of the next six, because I could go in any direction, really.

16. Rockies (15): Colorado has a makeup game today too, on what should have been their last offday before the All-Star break. In this case, however, the rainout that is being made up had no rain.

17. Mets (18): I guess you don’t want to see your old manager succeed with a division rival, but really folks, Davey Johnson hasn’t worked for the Mets since a couple of months before the song “Ice Ice Baby” was released as a single. Time to let it go, ya know?

18. Pirates (20): Tied with the Reds in the standings, 48 runs behind them in run differential.

19. White Sox (19): The race in the Central would be more interesting if Adam Dunn hadn’t been a complete bust so far. I still figure that he has to turn it around, right? The Sox are only 4.5 out, so if he does, it could make things interesting.

20. Angels (23): Winners of five of seven and only two back. Someone’s gotta win the AL West, right?

21. Mariners (14): Still the best pitching in the American League, and series against a bunch of offensively-challenged teams between now and the break.

22. Orioles (24): Signs of life from Derrek Lee. For whatever that’s worth.

23. Padres (28): I still don’t think they’re any good, but two of three from both Boston and Atlanta is a damn fine week, and is deserving of a few-notch bump.

24. Dodgers (25): All comments on this team are pending approval of the bankruptcy trustee.

25. Athletics (22): They went 2-4 on the road trip against the Mets and Phillies, but they were close games. I dunno, it’s something.

26. Marlins (27): Small bright spot in an otherwise dismal month? Hanley Ramirez seems to be waking up a bit in the past few games, going 6 for his last 17. Small, but maybe something to cling to.

27. Royals (26): Mike Moustakas (12 for 50, 1 HR) is not quite taking the bigs as well as Eric Hosmer has. And Hosmer has cooled down a bit.

28. Twins (21): Reports of their resurgence were apparently exaggerated.

29. Cubs (29): I get this sense that people aren’t appreciating how bad they are by virtue of the fact that Houston is even worse. But really, they’re terrible.

30. Astros (30): The thing about the Astros is that they can lose any number of ways. They can lose the high scoring games, they can lose the low scoring games. Just a really, really versatile crappy team.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.