John Kruk, Darren Daulton

Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

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I’m gonna level with you: thanks to the vacation, I have no freakin’ idea what happened last week. Oh, I quickly glanced at scores most mornings, but I didn’t think hard about it or process any of it. I have a very weak grasp on who’s hot and who’s not. And, even if I can gain some insight into that from the standings and last week’s results, I really have no idea why they’re hot or not. Baseball is something with which you have to engage every day in order to really be on top of things, and I haven’t been doing that for a while.

So yeah, this week’s rankings are probably off by several degrees. Sue me. I’ll do my best to catch up this week and make the necessary adjustments for next week’s edition. In the meantime:

1. Phillies (1): Before Philly fans jump on my case for taking so long to rank them as the sole number one, know that if I would have done a ranking last week they would have been by themselves at the top then too.  That said, I presume some Philly fans will still got on my case for the above disclaimer about my vacation as evidence that I’ve slighted or disrespected them somehow. In other news, the best thing about my vacation was that I didn’t meet or interact with a single Phillies fan.

2. Red Sox (1): Stolen factoid from Gleeman’s Twitter feed yesterday morning: “There are only 25 non-Red Sox hitters in the AL with a higher OPS than the Red Sox have as a team.”  If Gleeman stole it from someone else, apologies to the whoever else it was who first observed it.  But hey, finders keepers.

3. Yankees (3): This has to go in a bathroom, right? I mean, is there anyplace else it can go apart from a largish guest bathroom? And that’s not a slam. Kate Winslet keeps her Oscars in her bathroom, and she’s pure class.

4. Brewers (7): A lot of their recent wins have come against the Astros which should barely count, but a lot of them have come against the Cardinals too, which means everything in this division at the moment. Milwaukee is getting the job done when given the opportunity.

5. Braves (4): I’m pretty sure that last week was the longest I’ve gone without watching a Braves game during the season in, like, a decade. Even on past vacations I’ve caught one or two randomly. I see they took to my neglect quite nicely. Must process this.

6. Rangers (5): Big four game set against the Halos starts tonight. Can they put the division away?

7. Diamondbacks (8): Next six games come against Philly and Atlanta. If they come through that and they’re still in first place, San Francisco — and maybe Philly and Atlanta — have a lot to think about in terms of the postseason implications.

8. Angels (10): Big four game set against the Rangers starts tonight. Can they keep the division in play?

9. Rays (11): Desmond Jennings must be all smoke and mirrors. I mean, in the past three weeks his OPS has plummeted by over 50%!  Oh, wait. It started up above 2.400?  Never mind then.

10. Giants (6): A tough series against the Braves to start the week off, but then they get 12 games against the Astros, Cubs and Padres. Seven of those 12 against the Astros, actually. Then they meet Arizona. Now would be a good time for San Francisco to win some baseball games.

11. Tigers (12): I was in northern Michigan for my vacation.  You see a lot of Tigers gear up there, worn by vacationing Detroiters. Everyone under 12 or so wears Justin Verlander stuff. Everyone over 30 wears stuff with Trammell and all of those old guys on it. I have no data, but I have a hunch that Tigers fans are a more nostalgic group than most fans.

12. Cardinals (9): Just as an FYI, they were a half game back in the standings when they traded Colby Rasmus, acquired Edwin Jackson and generally re-shuffled. Now they’re … not.

13. Reds (17): I am really sad that I missed the Yonder Alonso follies last week.

14. Indians (15): Another team taking care of divisional business when they can. And save it: while it was admirable that they took two of three from Detroit last week, I don’t think that makes them a better team overall.

15. Blue Jays (13): Unlike the Cardinals, the Jays have more or less stayed steady, at least in the standings, since the Rasmus trade. This is no sharp commentary on the trade, though. Just observin’.

16. White Sox (18): Winners of eight of ten and a series against the Tribe starting tomorrow night. Can they leapfrog into second? Is my preseason pick for the AL Central gonna actually pan out?

17. Mets (13): Let’s find a silver lining. How about this: there are two third place teams in baseball with worse records than the Mets, and both of them — the A’s and Rockies — were considered by many to be contenders this year. Does that make anyone feel better?

18. Nationals (22): I don’t think there has been a team that has had a higher ratio of interesting minor league news to interesting major league news than the 2011 Nationals in many years.

19. Pirates (16): Remember when everyone was on that Pirates bandwagon? Seems like a million years ago.

20. Rockies (20): Random: their first game against a divisional opponent in the month of August doesn’t come until this Friday.

21. Dodgers (24): I swear, with the exception of Philly, every single time I’ve seen a National League team on a modest win streak this season, I look up and see that they just got done playing the Astros. It’s uncanny.

22. Marlins (19): Lost in all of the Logan Morrison stuff was the fact that the Feesh also released Wes Helms.  Common denominator: Helms has also called out Hanley Ramirez in the past.  Was Ramirez somehow settling all family business last weekend?

23. Cubs (29): The funniest thing about the Zambrano stuff is that it came during a stretch of nice play by the Cubs. They had won 9 of 11 at the time of his blow up. I’ve defended Zambrano more than some folks have in the past, but really, I can’t think of anyone who is more detached from his teammates and the general vibe of the world than he is. He’s just not cut out for this whole team sports thing. His temperament is like some second-tier tennis bad boy of the late 70s.

24. Athletics (21): Apropos of nothing, Brandon McCarthy has great taste.

25. Padres (25): A 6-4 road trip ain’t bad.

26. Mariners (27): Two out of three from the Bosox ain’t bad either.

27. Twins (23): People I talked to continued to say that we gotta watch out for the Twins as recently as two weeks ago. Whatever. The Twins gotta watch out for Kansas City.

28. Royals (26): A 1-6 week. Ick.

29. Orioles (28): Sign this guy!

30. Astros (30): Seriously: how many bona fide major leaguers are on this roster right now?  I’ve seen expansion teams with more red meat.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

Screenshot 2016-02-07 at 10.16.43 AM
Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.