Howard Ortiz

Your Monday Morning Power Rankings


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.

The Yankees were booed last night. Did they deserve it?

Masahiro Tanaka

The boos came raining down from the Yankee Stadium faithful last night. They started when Brett Gardner grounded out in the eighth inning. More came later. A lot of it was, no doubt, based on Gardner’s disappointing performance late in the season. A lot of it was because, around that time, it seemed like the Yankees had zero shot whatsoever to mount a comeback. Which, in fact, they didn’t. A lot of it was pent-up frustration, I assume, from a late season skid which saw the Yankees lose their lead in the AL East and wind up in the Wild Card Game in the first place.

Anyone who buys a ticket has a right to boo. Especially when they buy a ticket as expensive as Yankees tickets are. It’s obviously understandable to be disappointed when your team loses. Especially when your team is eliminated like the Yankees were. And last night’s game was particularly deflating, with that 3-0 Astros lead feeling more like 10-0 given how things were going.

But isn’t booing something more than a mere manifestation of disappointment? Isn’t a step beyond? Booing isn’t saying “I’m sad.” It’s saying “you suck!” It’s not saying “I’m disappointed,” it’s saying “you should be ashamed of yourselves!” And with all respect to Yankees fans, the 2015 Yankees have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.

This was a club expected to miss the playoffs, full stop. Maybe some people allowed for an if-everything-breaks-right flight of fancy, but hardly anyone expected them to play meaningful games late in the year, let alone a playoff game. They were too old. Too injured. There weren’t enough young reinforcements to fill the gaps. Some even went so far as to claim that they were about to spend years in the wilderness.

But then A-Rod broke out of the gate strong. And Michael Pineda had a really nice first couple of months. And Mark Teixeira put up numbers that wouldn’t have been out of place for him several years ago. The bullpen did what it was supposed to do and more, Masahiro Tanaka held together somehow and, eventually, a couple of young players like Greg Bird and Luis Severino came in to reinforce things. The not-going-anywhere Yankees were contenders. And they led the division for a good while. Of course they stumbled late. And of course they lost last night, but by just about any reasonable measure, this was a good team — better than expected — and, unlike a lot of Yankees teams in the past, was pretty darn enjoyable to watch.

Then the boos. I just can’t see how this Yankees team deserved that.

I realize a lot of people in the media have duped a lot of people into thinking that a team with a high payroll is supposed to be dominant. And I realize George Steinbrenner duped a whole lot of people into thinking that anything less than a World Series championship for the New York Yankees is failure. But that’s rhetoric and branding, not reason. In the real world where baseball players play baseball games World Series titles are rare, even for the Yankees. At the end of the season all but one of 30 teams are either at home for the playoffs or went home after suffering a gut-wrenching playoff loss. The Yankees are the most dominant franchise in the history of American professional sports yet they still have finished their year without a title over 75% of the time.

With that as a given, fans are left to judge their team’s performance based on its talent, its health, its heart, its entertainment value and the strength of the opposition which ultimately vanquished it. The Yankees weren’t nearly as talented as many, yet made the playoffs anyway. They were a walking hospital ward, let limped on. They never quit and never got pulled down into the sort of muck a lot of New York teams find themselves in when things start to go sideways. And, ultimately, they were simply beat by a better team. By any reasonable measure the 2015 Yankees were a good story, a successful enterprise, a resilient bunch and no small amount of fun.

It’s OK to be sad that it ended as it did. But that doesn’t deserve to be booed. Not by a long shot.

Collin McHugh will start Game 1 of the ALDS for the Astros

Collin McHugh Astros
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After using ace left-hander Dallas Keuchel to get past the Yankees in the Wild Card game the Astros will turn to right-hander Collin McHugh in Game 1 of the ALDS versus the Royals.

McHugh had an up-and-down year, posting a 3.89 ERA compared to his 2.73 mark last season, but thanks to good teammate support he had a 19-7 record and his 171/53 K/BB ratio in 204 innings was solid. He was particularly good down the stretch, posting a 2.89 ERA and 69/20 K/BB ratio in 72 innings after August 1.

McHugh will match up against Royals right-hander Yordano Ventura in Game 1. Houston hasn’t named a starter for Game 2 yet, while Kansas City is going with Johnny Cueto. And then the Game 3 matchup figures to be Dallas Keuchel versus Edinson Volquez.