Team’s true colors may be starting show now, so here’s this weeks power rankings:
1. Toronto Blue Jays (14-6) (3)
They’re scoring the most runs in the league per game and they’re third in the AL in ERA. All with half their rotation on the DL. As long as they keep scoring runs and Roy Halladay is their ace, expect ongoing success.
2. St. Louis Cardinals (13-6) (4)
They’ve played a lot of games at home so far (10-3 at Busch) but their pitching staff has been solid thus far and Albert Pujols continues to be well, be Albert Pujols.
3. Boston Red Sox (12-6) (10)
Jacoby Ellsbury stealing home became an instant classic moment of the 2009 season. I didn’t even see it live, but I watched the replay over and over because it was so great. Terry Francona loved, Boston loved it, I loved it, and I love the way the Red Sox are playing right now.
4. Los Angeles Dodgers (13-6) (1)
Clayton Kershaw got roughed up yesterday and there were some miscues, but teams have those games. The Dodgers still lead the entire league in WHIP and are second in the NL in batting average.
5. Seattle Mariners (12-7) (5)
Pitching, pitching, pitching. Second in the AL in ERA.
6. Detoit Tigers (10-8) (9)
Offense is coming through as Miguel Cabrera continues to tear.
7. Kansas City Royals (9-9) (7)
This staff is doing a real nice job thus far this season. If only they could start scoring some runs. They lead the American League in ERA and WHIP and last time I checked Zack Greinke still hasn’t let up an earned run.
8. Chicago Cubs (9-8) (8)
They’re still striking out batters at an alarming rate but a few key offensive players are struggling and/or hurting.
9. Pittsburgh Pirates (11-7) (NR)
Wow, who would have thought. The Buccos lead the entire league in ERA (2.97) but I’m hesistant to put them any higher.
10. Florida Marlins (11-7) (2)
I’ll put it this way, they haven’t won a game since last week’s Monday Ten. All the team’s suprises have kind of fallen back to earth. Emilio Bonifacio had a rough week and you all saw that bullpen against the Phils.
Speaking of those Phillies–
Pushing the Ten: Philadelphia Phillies (9-8)
San Diego Padres (10-8)
The MLB scene changes a lot in a week during its beginnings and with it, changes my “Monday Ten.” Here’s this week’s power rankings.
1. Los Angeles Dodgers (10-3) (last week: 4)
Only team with an average over .300, they’ve won eight straight, and now Manny’s hit a few out.
2. Florida Marlins (11-1) (2)
They just win ballgames and the bullpen’s been unreal thus far. But, six of those wins have come against the Nats, who have won just once. That’s the only thing kept them from the one spot.
3. Toronto Blue Jays (10-4) (5)
The starting pitching is doing a great job so far this year, something unexpected. The Jays are also scoring runs too, something else unexpected. They also boast the highest batting average in the AL.
4. St. Louis Cardinals (8-5) (1)
Carpenter going down for a while will certainly hurt this squad. But the offense is doing a great job manufacturing runs.
5. Seattle Mariners (8-5) (3)
Lead the entire league in team ERA. King Felix and Bedard are a nasty combo.
6. San Diego Padres (8-5) (NR)
I didn’t include them last week because I still thought they were terrible but after watching them play hard against the Phillies all weekend, this team can play small ball and win close games. Once teams figure out their young guys, things may start to go downhill. But for now, Heath Bell is a monster.
7. Kansas City Royals (7-5) (Pushing)
Kyle Davies is 1-0 with a 2.89 ERA in three starts with 21 strikeouts in about 18 innings. He’s the x-factor here.
8. Chicago Cubs (7-4) (6)
As a team, they’re striking out more than a batter per inning.
9. Detroit Tigers (7-5) (NR)
Miguel Cabrera is a monster and if Armando Galarraga can pick up this staff and lead it this season, they could turn out alright.
10. Boston Red Sox (6-6) (NR)
A four game winning streak and a dominating start by Jon Lester only leads me to believe that the best is yet to come. This team is on the up.
Pushing the Ten: Cincinnati Reds (6-5)
Colorado Rockies (4-7)
Los Angeles Angels (4-8)
Atlanta Braves (6-6)
New York Yankees (7-6)
Still to early (hence all the teams that dropped out), but I’ll continue to do this.
Team Preview: Florida Marlins
Projected MLB Rank: 14th (t) — NL Rank: 9th (t) — NL East Rank: 3rd (t) — Record: (82-80)
The Florida Marlins may have silently become one of the biggest threats in the National League. The team’s built of young stars with a lethal combo of electric arms and powerful bats. I would not be suprised at all if they ended up playing playoff baseball–if they could stay healthy.
It starts with their studded young rotation. Ricky Nolasco solidified himself last year as the ace at the end of the season, when they have two other starters that could snag that title in the future as well. Nolasco got even better as the season progressed and finished off his 2008 with a 3.52 ERA, a 15-8 record, and 186 strikeouts next to 42 walks (12 in the second half). I would consider him to be my wild card to win the Cy Young award.
Josh Johnson might be considered the ace if he was healthy last season. In 14 starts he posted seven wins and only one loss. The 25 year old also held a 3.61 ERA and struck out 77 batters. The rotation continues with who I think could be the future ace of this staff, 22 year old Chris Volstad. Volstad came up midway through last season and in 14 starts and a relief appearance he compiled a 2.88 ERA while going 6-4. He rolls groundball outs like it’s his job and should improve his strikeout/walk ratio in 2009. Anibal Sanchez certainly has big punch potential but had a rough ten starts last season. The rotation finishes off with southpaw Andrew Miller, who came over in the Cabrera/Willis trade. He should continue to develop and one day will reach his potential.
The addition of Leo Nunez will help this bullpen. Nunez posted a 2.98 ERA in 45 games last season with the Royals. He even has the potential to move into the closer role if Matt Lindstrom can’t get the job done. Lindstrom saved 5 games last season when Kevin Gregg went down at the end of the season. In 66 total games last season he had a 3.14 ERA and is currently considered Florida’s closer. The rest of the bullpen is average. Logan Kensing and Renyel Pinto both had ERA’s over 4.00 and the addition of Scott Proctor who posted a ERA over 6.00 last year isn’t exactly an improvement.
The lineup is a serious threat. Hanley Ramirez was basically a star in this league before he even played a game in the majors. Don’t be suprised if he surpasses his 33 homeruns and 67 RBIs last season now that it looks like he will be batting in the three spot. Jorge Cantu was a nice suprise last season when he hit 29 homeruns and drove in 95 runs, and he’s only 27. Expect Dan Uggla to continue this season after he hit 32 homers with 92 RBIs and a .514 slugging percentage.
Leftfielder Cody Ross is a serious homerun threat and shouldn’t have to platoon this season as he did last year. Look out for him to top his 22 homeruns and 73 RBIs. Jeremy Hermida needs to step up his game if he wants to stick around Miami, or atleast start. He is supposed to be a power and speed threat but looked nothing like that last season with 17 homeruns and six steals.
This will be the first full season for John Baker, Cameron Maybin, and Gaby Sanchez. In 61 games last season, Baker hit .299 with five homers and 32 RBIs and will probably be the Marlins starting catcher come April. Maybin probably won’t hit at the rate he did last season for the eight major league games he played (16 for 32) but he’s said to be a future all star and he’s got speed. Sanchez would be a nice option to open up the season at first base but if he isn’t ready, the Marlins shouldn’t rush him. Cantu could simply start the season at first and the Marlins deep bench could fill the hole at third with Dallas McPherson, Wes Helms, or Emilio Bonifacio.
As I mentioned earlier, I would not be suprised at all to see this team winning the Wild Card. They key is for them to stay healthy and not to strikeout as much. Fredi Gonzalez has done a nice job thus far as the Marlins manager and the league should watch out this year for this team.
Oh yea, They will be staying in Miami now too.
Season Preview: Detroit Tigers
Projected MLB Rank: 27th — AL Rank: 12th — AL Central Rank: 5th — Record: (68-94)
The city of Detroit just doesn’t have the luck these days. The American auto industry,
centered in Detroit, is falling apart. The Lions, well, they went defeated and didn’t win a game. The Pistons are free falling in the eastern conference. And for the 2009 Tigers, don’t expect much.
Before the 2008 season, the Tigers had won 88 games the previous season and had just made a huge trade with the Marlins, acquiring Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. For a team with much recent success and some young talented arms, they were picked in 2008 by many to even get to the World Series. The Tigers ended up falling apart in ’08 and had the third worst record in the AL.
This season, I don’t expect much to change. They weren’t all too busy this offseason and who they did sign, aren’t going to take them to the playoffs, and most likely not even over .500.
Gary Sheffield is 40 and hit last season with 19 HR and 57 RBI. I think the fact that his name is out and paired with steroids affects his play. Adam Everett is a definite step down from Edgar Renteria, who isn’t the player he used to be, which definately says something about Everett. Brandon Inge will be playing everyday and taking his .205 average out to third base with him.
The bright spots in the lineup come from now first baseman Miguel Cabrera. This kid is still 25 years old. Last season he hit .292 with 37 dingers and 127 RBIs. Placido Polanco will hit .300 and is one of the best fielding second baseman in the league. Carlos Guillen and Magglio Ordonez will get their production numbers as well but are 33 and 34, respectively. Curtis Granderson gives the Tigers pop at the top of the order.
Pertaining to the pitching, Detroit had a team 4.91 ERA last year and let up 5.29 runs per game (3rd to last in the AL). After so much promise from the young arms the two previous seasons, they fell apart last season. Here’s some comparisons:
2007: 18-6 / 3.66 ERA / 183 SO
2008: 11-17 / 4.84 ERA / 163 SO
2007: 11-9 / 5.01 ERA / 145 SO
2008: 3-4 / 4.29 ERA / 44 SO (12 games)
2007: 9-13 / 4.56 ERA / 119 SO
2008: 7-11 / 4.44 ERA / 108 SO
2007: 10-15 / 5.17 ERA / 136 SO (w/ FLA)
2008: 0-2 / 9.38 ERA / 18 SO (8 games)
Only Bonderman and Verlander are expected to be in the rotation this season. They brought in Edwin Jackson, and Zach Miner and Armando Galarraga should develop. But I just can’t see these pitchers getting this team anywhere.
The bullpen is questionable. Brandon Lyon saved 26 games for the Diamondbacks last season yet had a 4.70 ERA. Fernando Rodney, Clay Rapada, and Bobby Seay each had ERA’s over 4.00 and Joel Zumaya was injured last season. Freddy Dolsi was the brightest spot in the bullpen last season that returns this year and still had an ERA of 3.97.
The fact that they have a good mix of veteran and young talent could help them this season but then I look at the pitching, especially the bullpen, and realize that they cannot compete given these young arms that have seemed to tired early.
I am going to try to make this my last post about A-Rod, steroids, etc, etc. But I got thinking who is next in line to capture the homerun record as their own fully clean, as far as we know. Rodriguez was supposed to be our savoir from Barry, Balco, Big Mac, and Juiced but, well, you all know the story forwards and backwards now (at least we think we do). So who could potentially top Bonds and take Hammerin’ Hank Aaron’s record from him and not have an asterisk surrounding his name?
In his eight year career, Pujols has slugged 319 homeruns averaging almost 40 homeruns a season. He is one of the best right-handed hitters in the game right now, if not the best. He is 29 years old and if he can average 37 homeruns over the next twelve seasons, he will have 763 homeruns, one more than Bonds. By that time he will be 41 years old. Bonds was 42 when he broke* Aaron’s record of 755. Pujols’ career high came in 2006 when he hit 49 dingers (and he only played in 143 games that year).
POSSIBILITY: MOST LIKELY
Ken Griffey Jr.
The closest among all active clean players with 611 homeruns (are Bonds and Sammy Sosa even active anymore?). Junior’s back in the Emerald City where he hit his first 398 homeruns. Since then, the new millenium hasn’t treated Griffey well as he has been plagued by injuries and years of not contending (until his trade to the White Sox last year). Since 2000, he’s topped out at 40 homeruns (2000) and is 151 homeruns away at 39 years old. He would need to play five more seasons and average just over 30 homeruns over that span to break take the top spot from Barry.
POSSIBILITY: NOT LIKELY
Over four years into his career he has connected for 177 homeruns. His 162-game average in homeruns is 50 per year. He has 586 homeruns to go if he wants to take away the title from Bonds he will need to average 46 homeruns over the next 13 seasons. However, he goes into slumps like it’s in his contract. But when his bat is hot, the lumber is on fire. Another problem is that he didn’t come up to the big leagues and stay up until he was 25 and he didn’t play his first full season until he was 26. He is 29 this season and if he only plays until he is 40 he will need to muster over 53 homeruns per season. Becoming a member of the 500 homerun club should be his first priority.
POSSIBILITY: NOT LIKELY
Dunn has raw power and has hit 278 homeruns over his eight year career averaging just under 35 per season. He is also 29 this season and needs 485 homeruns to break the record. He would need to average 45 homeruns over the next 11 seasons to conquer that feat and has only hit over 40 homeruns once (46 in 2004). I would say that he have the same priority as Howard, join the 500 homerun club first and then see where he’s at.
POSSIBILITY: NOT LIKELY
Let’s let him find a team first. But he needs 236 more homeruns and he is 36 years old. He would need to average just over 47 homeruns in the next five seasons and about 34 homeruns if he were to play seven more seasons.
POSSIBILITY: NOT LIKELY
Others who would need a prayer to break it:
Jim Thome, Vlad Guerrero
Too early to tell:
Miguel Cabrera, David Wright, Prince Fielder