John Kruk, Darren Daulton

Your Monday Morning Power Rankings


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.

Orioles interested in Denard Span

Denard Span
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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MASN’s Roch Kubatko is reporting that the Orioles have “some level” of interest in free agent outfielder Denard Span. The Nationals did not make a $15.8 million qualifying offer to Span, which means he doesn’t come attached with draft pick compensation unlike other free agents such as Alex Gordon and Dexter Fowler.

Span, who turns 32 in February, hit a solid .301/.365/.431 with five home runs, 22 RBI, 38 runs scored, and 11 stolen bases, but took only 275 plate appearances due to back and hip injuries. He underwent season-ending hip surgery in September but is expected to be ready to participate in spring training.

The Mets and Royals have also reportedly shown interest in Span’s services.

Blue Jays showing interest in Ryan Madson

Ryan Madson
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Blue Jays are on the prowl for relievers with closing experience. Ryan Madson is one of the names on their list.

Madson, 35, had a career rebirth with the Royals in 2015. He signed a minor league deal with the club that paid him a salary of $850,000 if he made it back to the majors. Due to a plethora of arm injuries, Madson hadn’t pitched in the majors since Game 5 of the 2011 NLDS against the Cardinals as a member of the Phillies. For the Royals, he wound up becoming a crucial member of the bullpen, finishing with a 2.13 ERA and a 58/14 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings.

While Madson allowed five runs in 8 1/3 post-season innings, he pitched well when it mattered most, as he hurled three scoreless frames in three appearances in the World Series against the Mets.

Madson has closing experience, with 55 career saves. 32 of them came in 2011 when he took over the closer’s role from Brad Lidge.

After signing Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ, and trading for Jesse Chavez, the Jays have bolstered their rotation but it was reported on Saturday that interim GM Tony LaCava is still focused on upgrading the pitching staff.

Trevor Cahill considering the Pirates as a potential destination

Trevor Cahill
AP Photo/Paul Beaty

ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent pitcher Trevor Cahill is looking for a one-year, bounce-back deal. The Pirates are one of the potential teams he is considering.

It’s no surprise that the Pirates are on Cahill’s list. Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage has garnered a reputation as a miracle worker after turning around the careers of a handful of pitchers, including Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, and J.A. Happ. Volquez parlayed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Pirates into a two-year, $20 million deal with the Royals last December. Liriano signed with the Pirates on a one-year, $1 million contract and turned that into a three-year, $39 million deal. Happ, dealt to the Pirates from the Mariners at the most recent trade deadline, just signed a three-year, $39 million contract with the Blue Jays.

Cahill, once a highly-regarded pitching prospect, has scuffled over parts of seven seasons in the majors. The 27-year-old owns a career 4.13 ERA with a 754/427 K/BB ratio in 1,083 2/3 innings. Cahill had some brief success after signing with the Cubs as a free agent in mid-August, compiling a 2.12 ERA in 11 appearances out of the bullpen.

Blue Jays narrow GM search to two candidates: Tony LaCava and Ross Atkins

Tony LaCava
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Blue Jays have narrowed their search for a new general manager down to two candidates: current interim GM Tony LaCava, and Indians vice president of player personnel Ross Atkins. Former Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos resigned last month.

LaCava was promoted to interim GM on November 2 and has already made a handful of moves along with new president Mark Shapiro. The club acquired Jesse Chavez in a trade and signed pitchers Marco Estrada and J.A. Happ to multi-year deals.

Atkins worked under Shapiro in the Indians organization for 15 seasons, so it is no surprise that he is a finalist for the open GM position.