Howard Ortiz

Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

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A lot of movement by default this week, it seems. No one except the Brewers really made a big impression, and as I mention in their comment, it wasn’t that big. Perhaps all of the trades that went down over the past few days will shake things up between now and our next Power Rankings which — because I’m going on vacation next week — will be two weeks from today.

For now, though, this is what we have. Most of the comments are about trade deadline stuff because that’s what’s on my mind right now.

1. Red Sox/Phillies (1):  If anyone can point to a way in which one of these teams separated from the other last week, be my guest.

3. Yankees (3): People are complaining about the lack of upgrades to the rotation, but most of those people are unaware of the fact that the Yankees’ starting rotation’s xFIP is 3.79, 2nd-best in the AL after the Mariners. (factoid from Larry Koestler on Twitter)

4.  Braves (5): Center fielders who have started for the Braves since Andruw Jones left town and prior to the dawning of the Michael Bourn era include Gregor Blanco, Mark Kotsay, Jordan Schafer and Nate McLouth. And those are the highlights.  They didn’t change the balance of power in the NL East with that move, but they definitely improved.

5. Rangers (4): The addition of Koji Uehara and Mike Adams to join Neftali Feliz means that a lot of teams are going to have to get their work done against the Rangers in the first six innings or not at all.

6. Giants (5): Rough series against the Reds. Back home to lick their wounds and, they hope, to fend off the Dbacks, who come to town tonight.

7. Brewers (13): Winners of six in a row, but those six came against the Cubs and the Astros, so let’s not throw any ticker tape parades for ’em just yet.

8. Diamondbacks (7): Definitely improved themselves at the deadline, and are calling up slugger Paul Goldschmidt to boot.  Big series for them kicking off tonight in San Francisco.

9. Cardinals (11): Like the Brewers, they got a bunch of games against the Cubs and Astros. Unlike the Brewers, they didn’t take great advantage of it, going 4-3 against two of the worst teams in the game.

10. Angels (8): They did nothing at the deadline, which was a bit surprising, but then again, given how much they committed to Vernon Wells last winter, perhaps their hands were tied. Which is quite depressing when you think about it.

11. Rays (10): Also a stand-pat team, although it makes more sense for them given that catching the Yankees and/or Red Sox seems like a pipe dream.

12. Tigers (9): Look, it’s Carlos Guillen’s home run trot!

13. Mets/Blue Jays (17, 16): Both teams who (a) have no real shot this year; but (b) are really dangerous and interesting all the same; and (c) had good trade deadlines.  About as well as you can do for your fans without actually contending.

15. Indians (14): Still can’t believe they got Ubaldo Jimenez.  Even if he doesn’t revert back to 2010 form and stays in the same “what the heck is wrong with Ubaldo Jimenez” place he is right now, he’s going to more than earn his money for the Tribe.

16. Pirates (12): Derrick Lee and Ryan Ludwick are improvements, but not game-changers.  I feel like they’re gonna slide out of it slowly but surely.

17. Reds (15): Most confounding team in baseball right now. Looked awful getting swept by the Mets, looked great sweeping the Giants. We’re going to need a team of scientists for the post mortem on this season.

18. White Sox (18): Kenny Williams’ threats to turn over the whole roster were empty. Probably for the best. They’re four games out in a division in which anything can happen.

19. Marlins (21): No trade activity here either, but they didn’t have anything they really needed to do. No muy expensive players to ship out, nothing they could reasonably add that would make a difference. Although they did play a fun prank on Leo Nunez at the Cubs’ expense.

20. Rockies (20): Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Matt McBride and Joe Gardner is a nice haul for Ubaldo Jimenez.  Do Indians fans wonder and/or worry why the Rockies felt the need to trade him in the first place?

21. Athletics (24): They continue to score runs in bunches. Too late to matter, but nice to see.

22. Nationals (19): The Nats are turning the rest of their season into extended spring training, it seems.

23. Twins (22): The Nats also saved the Twins from themselves, I think, in that called-off Denard Span deal.  You just can’t be in the business of trading players who man valuable defensive positions for relief pitchers. Especially Washington Nationals’ relief pitchers.

24. Dodgers (23): Here’s the conversation I imagine happening before that Erik Bedard trade yesterday in which the Dodgers sent their most promising offensive prospect, Trayvon Robinson, to Seattle:

Theo Epstein: Hey Jack, it’s Theo. I want Erik Bedard, and you want a top prospect for him, which I won’t give up. What’s say you and I call Ned Colletti and see if we can’t rip him off?

Jack Zduriencik:  No way he falls for that, is there?

Theo: Hey, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know.  I’m patching him in.

Ned Colletti: Hello?

Theo:  Hey Ned, Theo.  I could really use your help. I have three nickel prospects that I’d like to give you if you send that one measly quarter you have in Trayvon Robinson up to Jack in Seattle. Three is more than one, so you gotta be down with that, right? And you know I’m not trying to rip you off here, because I’m not even the one getting Robinson!

Ned: Um, OK.  But hey: you suppose you could give me a job next year?

Theo: Nah.

Ned: Well, OK.

25. Padres (25): I like the arms — Joe Wieland and Robert Erlin — that they got back from Texas in the Mike Adams trade.

26. Royals (26): Francoeur remains. Whew!

27. Mariners (30): Even if that little one act play I wrote in the Dodgers blurb didn’t happen, you have to like that they turned Erik Bedard into a top prospect.

28. Orioles (28): The bright side of the trade deadline: everyone can recycle their Jeremy Guthrie articles this winter and then, possibly, again at next year’s trade deadline.  Of course at that point they’ll be two-years-old, but who cares? They’re still current.

29. Cubs (27): The most inexplicable trade deadline ever. Nothing but veterans and despair on this team, and no one got moved.  If you can find me one person who is happy with the makeup of this Cubs team besides Jim Hendry, please, let me know.

30. Astros (29): They got a lot of useful parts in the Bourn and Pence trades, but there is absolutely no reason to watch the rest of the Astros’ season. Really, I think the Columbus Clippers could beat them in a seven game series right now.

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.