Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees

Your Monday Morning Power Rankings

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It’s the last Power Rankings of the season. In some ways it’s rather pointless, what with the season being effectively over for the majority of teams. To what end power, if there is no manner in which to exert it?  An interesting ettickal question.

Indeed, I was just gonna not do a Power Rankings. But then I realized I had a legitimate reason to not make Philly number one, and I figured that would cheese off a bunch of ya, so why not?

1. Yankees: Winning most of the games they’re supposed to win, worrying more about whether marginal dudes will make the postseason roster than they’re worrying about the big existential questions that vex a team at this time of year. Yeah, I think that earns them the number one slot.

2. Phillies: I mean sure, on some level this is unfair inasmuch as, if you put a gun to my head, I still say that Philly has the best shot of anyone once the playoffs start. But sorry guys. You don’t lose eight in a row and not suffer some sort of Power Rankings penalty for it.

3. Rangers: Quietly rolling. It’s amazing how little anyone talks about these guys.

4. Diamondbacks: Everyone’s going to call them the Cinderella story of the playoffs, but they haven’t really fit that mold. They’ve carried themselves like a team that knows it belongs. Never going on bad skids, not relying on unsustainable streaks.  Just doing their work. I think they could cause a lot of trouble for whoever they face in the first round.

5. Tigers: I predict there will be 15 stories written in the next five days asking whether the Tigers “peaked too soon” with their hot streak in early September. I think that kind of thing is hogwash. They have the best pitcher in the AL, one of the best hitters and no glaring weaknesses. They’re fine, even if they’re not as hot right now as they were a couple of weeks ago.

6. Brewers:  They haven’t played a team with a winning record since September 11th, so you have to wonder if they’re honed as sharply as they could be.

7. Cardinals: They’re not yet in playoff position, but they still have a hell of a lot more mojo working than that team in Atlanta they’re chasing. And finishing the season with three in Houston? You couldn’t have set that up any better.

8. Rays: Three against the Yankees to close it out. If they make it, they will have freakin’ earned it.

9. Braves: Three against the Phillies to close it out. Call me crazy, but I’m not exactly optimistic.

10. Red Sox: Three against the Orioles to close it out. AHHHHHH!!!! PANIC!!! YYEEEAAAAHGGGGG!!!

11. Angels: Still technically alive, but they need a miracle. And I don’t know if you’ve looked around much lately, bub, but miracles don’t come easy these days.

Those out of the playoff conversation simply get a ranking this week. Sorry, but there are only so many ways you can say that their season is over, and I’ve been doing that for several weeks now.

12. Giants

13. Dodgers

14. Blue Jays

15. Indians

16. Nationals

17. Reds 

18. White Sox

19. Mets

20. Athletics

21. Rockies

22. Marlins

23. Pirates

24. Royals

25. Cubs

26. Padres

27. Orioles

28. Mariners

29. Twins

30. Astros

Gerrit Cole set to begin throwing program

PITTSBURGH, PA - AUGUST 24:  Gerrit Cole #45 of the Pittsburgh Pirates sits in the dugout in the second inning during the game against the Houston Astros at PNC Park on August 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
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During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.

The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.

The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.

The White Sox wanted Astros’ top prospects for Jose Quintana

CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 27:  Jose Quintana #62 of the Chicago White Sox pitches against the Seattle Mariners during the first inning at U.S. Cellular Field on August 27, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
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The Astros, Braves and Nationals came sniffing around White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana during the Winter Meetings, but each appeared to find the Sox’ asking price well beyond what they were willing to give up for the starter. On Saturday, Peter Gammons revealed that the White Sox had floated Francis Martes, Kyle Tucker and Joe Musgrove as a possible return for Quintana.

It’s a strategy that worked well for Chicago in the past, most recently when they dealt Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech, among others, and flipped Adam Eaton to the Nationals for a trio of pitching prospects. Astros’ GM Jeff Luhnow didn’t appear eager to sacrifice some of his core talent to net a high-end starter, however, and told the Houston Chronicle’s Jake Kaplan as much on Wednesday:

We’re prepared to trade players to improve our club right now. […] We’re just not prepared to trade away players that are core to our production in 2017, and those are sometimes the players that are required to get these deals done.

While Lunhow was speaking specifically to the inclusion of third baseman Alex Bregman in future deals, it’s not unrealistic to think that top prospects Francis Martes and Kyle Tucker would also be considered instrumental to the Astros’ plans for the next few seasons.

Martes, 21, currently sits atop the team’s top prospect list on MLB.com. The right-hander blazed through his first full season in Double-A Corpus Christi, posting a 3.30 ERA and career-best 9.4 K/9 over 125 1/3 innings in 2016. Tucker, meanwhile, profiles as the Astros’ second-best prospect and made a successful jump to High-A Lancaster last season, slashing .339/.435/.661 in 69 PA. Rookie right-hander Joe Musgrove is the only player left off the top prospect list, but he got off to a decent start with the club in 2016 as well, going 4-4 with a 4.06 ERA and 3.44 K/BB rate in 62 innings during his first major league season.