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.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.