82nd MLB All-Star Game

Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

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I didn’t have any get-up-and-go last Monday, so I gave the Power Rankings a miss.  Back at it today, where we find greater separation than we’ve seen so far this year. Which is to be expected. I mean, by late July you are who you are.

As always, the last ranking is in parenthesis. As are parentheticals serving other purposes, but I trust you can figure it out.

1. Red Sox/Phillies (tie; and don’t ready anything into the order; that’s just how I wrote them) (2, 1):  Kind of a cop out, I’ll admit.  Both have been great since the break, but both have done it against a bunch of tomato cans like the Orioles, Cubs, Mariners and Padres. Philly has the better record, Boston the better run differential. Mostly, though, after a week off the ranking plus the All-Star break, I just want to hit reset and go forward from here. Now watch as both Boston and Philly fans tear me a new one in the comments!

3. Yankees (3): Fresh off the A’s, the Yankees now get series against the Mariners and Orioles. Time to make a move on them Sox, gents.

4. Rangers (5): Do they make a deal of some kind?  After that white-hot streak they now sit with a four-game lead over Anaheim.  I’d be content to stand pat rather than chase Heath Bell or Carlos Beltran or whoever, but no one really asked me.

5. Braves/Giants (4, 6): Yeah, another tie, another copout. I think the Braves are better. I don’t feel it, though. Not that I’m objective. I always go for the doom first, warranted or not, when it comes to the Bravos.

7. Diamondbacks (10): They’re dropping like flies due to injuries, but Kirk Gibson keeps them chugging.

8. Angels (7): Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells are all on pace for career-worst seasons, yet the Angels are still more competitive than a lot of folks thought they’d be. Viva pitching: the Halos have the lowest ERA in the American League.

9. Tigers (13): A two-game lead in the AL Central? That’s gigantic! OK, maybe not, but it seems it. The Tigers are a notoriously bad second half team, but they’ve started out 5-4 after the break. Which in the Central is like .750 ball.  OK, maybe not that either, but it seems it.

10. Rays (8): Boston and New York beating them up since the break isn’t terribly surprising. Dropping two of three to Kansas City wasn’t expected, however.

11. Cardinals (9): I don’t get the Colby Rasmus trade talk. He’s at his absolute lowest point as a major leaguer right now.  Even if the Cards want him gone, isn’t it highly likely that he’ll pick it up going forward and thus look way more appealing to other teams this winter, for example?  Dealing him now is the functional equivalent of the Cardinals telling the rest of baseball that he’s worthless.

12. Pirates (12): Nice story notwithstanding, I still think this is smoke and mirrors. The offense is insufficient and the pitching has experienced a lot of good luck.  Let us not mistake a pleasant surprise for a legitimately competitive force.

13. Brewers (11): Did not know this: the Brewers are the worst baserunning team in the game.

14. Indians (13): Four losses in a row to division rivals.

15. Reds (18): Yesterday was the first time in over a month that they won back-to-back games. And yet they’re only three games out. They’ve underperformed their run differential pretty dramatically. I wouldn’t be at all shocked to see them get on a roll soon.

16. Blue Jays (17): Six of their next 12 are against Baltimore, and then they get three against the A’s.  That’s good for them, but just be sure to temper your “hey, look what the Jays are doin’!” talk during that period.

17. Mets (15): They don’t play baseball anymore. They exist solely as the vehicle for Carlos Beltran trade rumors. It’s true!

18. White Sox (20): They begin a stretch against Detroit, Boston, New York and Minnesota. If they survive that, look out. If not: deader than vaudeville.

19. Nationals (16):  2011 Nationals under Jim Riggleman: 38-37 (.507); 2011 Nationals under Davey Johnson: 9-14 (.391).

20. Rockies (21): It’s like a 1967 Camaro that hasn’t left the driveway in a long time. You know it would be awesome if it would ever get running, but the odds of that ever happening grow longer every day it stays up on blocks.

21. Marlins (19): 2011 Marlins under Edwin Rodriguez: 32-39 (.451 ); 2011 Marlins under Jack McKeon: 17-13 (.567).

22. Twins (22): I outsource this one to Gleeman, who writes over at his personal blog:

Yesterday marked the two-thirds point of the 18-day, 19-game stretch that figured to define the Twins’ season leading right up to the July 31 trade deadline. So far they’re 6-6 and seven games out of first place, which is a half-game further back than the start of the stretch and the same deficit as a month ago. For all their getting healthy and turning things around the Twins have basically tread water for a month, leaving only 61 games to close a seven-game gap.

23. Dodgers (24): Does any manager have a tougher gig than Don Mattingly this year?

24. Athletics (25): They’re scoring over five runs a game since the break. That’s somethin’.

25. Padres (26): They’re scoring exactly five runs a game since the break. That’s somethin’.

26. Royals (27): Mike Moustakas is coming around.

27. Cubs (28): The Cubs are going to lead the charge in lobbying against the Astros moving to the American League.

28. Orioles (29): From Jeff Zrebiec’s notes column:

Things could obviously change if the Orioles make a couple of trades before the July 31 deadline, but as things stand, the club may need two starting pitchers, a couple of late-game relievers (assuming Jim Johnson is put in the rotation and Koji Uehara does not return), a power-hitting first baseman, a second baseman (it would be a stretch to count on Brian Roberts right now), a left fielder (Nolan Reimold could have something to say about this) and possibly a DH (Luke Scott is a prime non-tender candidate).

Orioles, you keep saying that word, “rebuilding.” I do not think it means what you think it means.

29. Astros (30): They looked gross against the Cubs and probably are the worst team in baseball but …

30. Mariners (23): … I don’t care what your overall record is. You drop 15 straight, you’re at the bottom of the list. That’s one of my rules. I’m a baaaaad man.

Shapiro, Murray defend Dellin Betances after arbitration feud

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Dellin Betances #68 of the New York Yankees and the American League pitches against the National League during the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.

Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”

Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”

Royals will experiment with Alex Gordon in all three outfield spots this year

CLEVELAND, OH -  MAY 7: Alex Gordon #4 of the Kansas City Royals reacts to a fan while on first base during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field on May 7, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.

Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.

According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.

While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.