Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

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1. Yankees:  If they’re at the top of baseball with a half dozen problems at any given time, how good will they be when things really start clicking? I just feel like they’ve been playing the season with one hand tied behind their back and that pretty soon they’ll rip off like 14 wins in a row or something crazy.

2. Rangers: I was tempted to move them to the top slot for a minute, but the big recent push has come mostly against cupcakes. Not that it hasn’t been a nice push.

3. Red Sox: Banged up as all hell, but they have been all year, right?

4. Padres:  We’ve waited for them to turn into a pumpkin all year, and they just won’t. They’ve been the most consistent team in baseball. In this they remind me a lot of the 1991 Braves. A lot of people are gonna wake up in September and say “Jesus, the Padres clinched?”

5. Braves: No shame in getting beat up by the White Sox, but let’s be clear: they’re not playing great baseball at the moment. Heyward’s injury is bothersome, but let’s be honest: he has been only moderately effective for the bulk of the team’s turnaround. The real concern has been Troy Glaus’ recent slump and the sudden ineffectiveness of Tommy Hanson.

6. Mets: Every day they don’t trade for Cliff Lee is a day the Braves and Phillies breathe a bit easier. If and when they do pull that trigger, Phillies and Braves fans will freak the hell out.
 
7. Rays: They were bound to come down from their early season highs, but I wasn’t guessing it would be this far down.  Nothin’ is working right at the moment.

8. Reds: The Reds sign Gary Matthews Jr. and then surge back into first place. Coincidence? Why yes, yes it is.

9. White Sox: I try to keep some sort of connection to the reality of the standings, but I’m sorry, just because they’re a game and a half behind the Twins doesn’t mean I can’t put the White Sox here. They’re surging right now and it just feels right.

10. Phillies: Their recent bounceback has them looking a lot like the beast that roamed near the top of the Power Rankings earlier in the season.

11. Cardinals: The reason they can’t hold on to first place? Too many holes in the lineup.

12. Twins: Gleeman’s take on the current blah of the Twins: “Had the timing of the good and bad stretches been flipped, with the
Twins starting 10-14 and then playing well for two months, the
perception of their current situation would be different.” And if wishes were fishes we’d all have a fry. Not that Aaron’s wrong or anything. I mean, we can’t expect that the White Sox will continue to win just about every game they play, right?

13. Tigers: How Miguel Cabrera isn’t leading the league in All-Star voting at first base is beyond me.  Well, it’s not totally beyond me — I get that there are more Yankees fans than Tigers fans — but it’s pretty telling all the same.

14. Angels: The pitching has come around nicely. If they pick up a bat and the Rangers fall back to Earth as they must, we’re gonna have a good race.

15. Giants: Pablo Sandoval: .273/.331/.415. Vald Guerrero can get away with swinging at everything. Panda can’t.  I’d hate to see him not learn that lesson the way Jeff Francoeur didn’t learn that lesson.

16. Blue Jays: Time to think about dealing. Bautista? Overbay? Five years ago teams would jump at guys like that. Now I’m having a hard time seeing them bring back any value.

17. Rockies: They ought to do something with Manny Corpas, what with the laws against keeping dead bodies lying around and everything.

18. Dodgers: There were a lot of storms in the Midwest this past week. Must have blocked the V Energy from flowing from Boston.

19. Brewers: Nice week for the Brewers. I doubt they’ll be doing more this year than fighting the Cubs for third place, but unlike the Cubs, they’re approaching what has turned into a bummer of a season with dignity and some fight.

20. Athletics: If it makes anyone feel better, there were way more votes for contracting the Yankees than contracting the A’s in my little contraction post this morning.

21. Marlins: This ranking reflects the on-the-field product. If it reflected front office chaos, they’d be at 156.

22. Cubs: The only silver lining of the Carlos Zambrano insanity is that between his past history and their year of living with Milton Bradley, the Cubs have a handbook on how to deal with this kind of jazz.

23. Royals: Outside of the 1985 World Series it probably hasn’t ever counted as a true rivalry, but the Royals have to have enjoyed taking two of three from the Cardinals.

24. Nationals: I predict the Nats will score a half run in support of Stephen Strasburg tonight. Difficult, I know, but I think they have it in them.

25. Mariners: I may have lost count, but I think this marks the 23rd straight season in which a team has started the year thinking “sure, Casey Kotchman can handle first base for us,” only to cut bait before the trading deadline.

26. Diamondbacks: I was tweeting like crazy about this on Friday night, but I’ll reiterate here: I have no problem with Hinch leaving Edwin Jackson in to throw 150 pitches for a no-hitter. You don’t do it with some young franchise-quality pitching prospect, but you can do it with a solid, experienced contributor-type like Jackson. Odds are he’ll never win a Cy Young. The competitive part of the season truly is over for the Dbacks. You have to let him and the fans have this.

27. Indians: I’m surprised the Tribe found a taker for Russell Branyan so quickly. I figured they’d have to wait a few weeks for that kind of a deal to develop. Pure gravy for them that they could get that done, get some bodies in return and open up a slot for LaPorta to prove himself with so much of the season left to play.

28. Astros: Are Astros fans experiencing some delicious schadenfreude seeing Nolan Ryan — the man who many in Houston feel abandoned them twice — having so much trouble assuming ownership of the Rangers, or are they worried that all that difficulty is killing the market for Roy Oswalt and thereby preventing them from getting their hands on a prized Ranger prospect or two?

29. Orioles:  When you’re in as deep a hole as the O’s have been in all year it’s not likely that you’ll ever climb out, but they won some damn games this past week, and they at least deserve to be out of the cellar.

30. Pirates:  I saw some glimmers of faint hope as the season began. Now it’s like, how much more black could this be? and the answer is none.
None more black.

Texas Rangers ink free-agent ace Jacob deGrom to 5-year deal

Jacob deGrom
USA Today
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ARLINGTON, Texas — Jacob deGrom is headed to the free-spending Texas Rangers, who believe the health risk is worth the potential reward in trying to end a six-year run of losing.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner agreed to a $185 million, five-year contract Friday, leaving the New York Mets after nine seasons – the past two shortened substantially by injuries.

“We acknowledge the risk, but we also acknowledge that in order to get great players, there is a risk and a cost associated with that,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “And one we feel like is worth taking with a player of Jacob’s caliber.”

Texas announced the signing after the 34-year-old deGrom passed his physical. A person with direct knowledge of the deal disclosed the financial terms to The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the club did not announce those details.

The Rangers were also big spenders in free agency last offseason, signing shortstop Corey Seager ($325 million, 10 years) and second baseman Marcus Semien ($175 million, seven years).

The team said deGrom will be introduced in a news conference at Globe Life Field next week following the winter meetings in San Diego.

“It fits in so many ways in terms of what we need,” Young said. “He’s a tremendous person. I have a number of close friends and teammates who played with Jacob and love him. I think he’s going to be just a perfect fit for our clubhouse and our fans.”

Texas had modest expectations after adding Seager, Semien and starter Jon Gray ($56 million, four years) last offseason but still fell short of them.

The Rangers went 68-94, firing manager Chris Woodward during the season, and then hired Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion with San Francisco. Texas’ six straight losing seasons are its worst skid since the franchise moved from Washington in 1972.

Rangers owner Ray Davis said the club wouldn’t hesitate to keep adding payroll. Including the $19.65 million qualifying offer accepted by Martin Perez, the team’s best pitcher last season, the Rangers have spent nearly $761 million in free agency over the past year.

“I hate losing, but I think there’s one person in our organization who hates losing worse than me, and I think it’s Ray Davis,” Young said. “He’s tired of losing. I’m tired of losing. Our organization is tired of losing.”

After making his first start in early August last season, deGrom went 5-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 11 outings. He helped the Mets reach the playoffs, then passed up a $30.5 million salary for 2023 and opted out of his contract to become a free agent for the first time.

That ended his deal with the Mets at $107 million over four years, and deGrom rejected their $19.65 million qualifying offer in November. New York will receive draft-pick compensation for losing him.

The fan favorite becomes the latest in a long line of ace pitchers to leave the Mets for one reason or another, including Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden and David Cone.

The Rangers visit Citi Field from Aug. 28-30.

When healthy, deGrom is perhaps baseball’s most dominant pitcher. His 2.52 career ERA ranks third in the expansion era (since 1961) behind Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw (2.48) and Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (2.19) among those with at least 200 starts.

The right-hander is 4-1 with a 2.90 ERA in five career postseason starts, including a win over San Diego in the wild-card round this year that extended the Mets’ season. New York was eliminated the next night.

A four-time All-Star and the 2014 NL Rookie of the Year, deGrom was a ninth-round draft pick by the Mets in 2010 out of Stetson, where he played shortstop before moving to the mound. He was slowed by Tommy John surgery early in his career and didn’t reach the majors until age 26.

Once he arrived, though, he blossomed. He helped the Mets reach the 2015 World Series and earn a 2016 playoff berth before winning consecutive NL Cy Young Awards in 2018 and 2019.

But injuries to his elbow, forearm and shoulder blade have limited him to 26 starts over the past two seasons. He compiled a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021, but did not pitch after July 7 that year because of arm trouble.

DeGrom is 82-57 with 1,607 strikeouts in 1,326 innings over nine big league seasons. He gets $30 million next year, $40 million in 2024 and 2025, $38 million in 2026 and $37 million in 2027. The deal includes a conditional option for 2028 with no guaranteed money.

The addition of deGrom gives the Rangers three proven starters along with Gray and Perez, who went 12-8 with a career-best 2.89 ERA in his return to the team that signed him as a teenager out of Venezuela. Young didn’t rule out the addition of another starter.

With several holes on their starting staff, the Mets have shown interest in free agents Justin Verlander and Carlos Rodon to pair with 38-year-old Max Scherzer atop the rotation.

Now, with deGrom gone, signing one of those two could become a much bigger priority.