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.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.