Thursday, July 31, 2008
MLB Power Poll
The sands in the MLB trade deadline hourglass are just about to dissapear and surprisingly, it has been a busy one. Normally, when the deadline is done, there's a lot more chatter than actual movement, but this time around, baseball has become exciting again (for non-fantasy players) during the dog days of summer. How much will these deals actually benefit the teams? We won't know until October when one team is pouring the champagne. Right now the winners look to be the Yankees and Angels, but in the future, it looks like the Pirates have stashed away a wealthy booty. Still, knowing Pittsburgh's luck, these guys will all turn out to be epic busts. Let's take a look at a poll that has never been called a bust.
1.) (1) LA Angels of Anaheim- The Angels were already at the top of the poll last week and they already owned baseball's best record. Many teams would be content with that, but LA is looking to put this whole World Series thing out of reach. They traded for Mark "Sexy Texy" Texeira (as the ladies call him) without giving up the farm (Casey Kotchman is but a large cornish game hen in the grand scheme of things). It's just what the Halos needed. Their pitching has been outstanding all year and while their lineup features big names, it hasn't produced like Mike Scioscia was expecting it to. Right now you have to consider these guys the favorite to take home the hardware.
2.) (2) Chicago Cubs- The Cubbies already made their deadline deal when they traded for Rich Harden a week and a half ago. The former Oakland A hurler has given up just 2 ER and struck out 30 (!!!!) in 3 starts with the North siders, but has an 0-1 record to show for it. C'mon Chicago, stop wasting this man's hard work. Harden pitches tonight with the Cubs looking for the sweep over the Brewers. This series has been a huge statement for the Cubbies so far as their offense has blown apart Milwaukee's 3 best pitchers (Sheets, Sabathia, and Parra). If this is a preview of things to come, then this division might not be as close as we once thought.
3.) (6) Tampa Bay Rays- It seems like every week, we go back and forth on who the best team in the AL East is. Right now, it looks like Tampa has taken the throne back by playing slightly above average baseball while the Red Sox flounder. While they have no sweeps since the All-star break, they have yet to lose a series either. They need to play better baseball if they want to keep their lead (it stands at 3 games right now) because the Yanks are coming on very strong and the Sawx are bound to get out of their slump eventually (right?!)
4.) (5) Chicago White Sox- Welcome to the Windy City Junior. The White Sox made, in my opinion, a rather unneccessary trade by acquiring Ken Griffey Jr. from the Reds. They've already got a stacked OF, but I guess it can't hurt. It seems like every new series that begins, I say to myself..."This is when the White Sox are going to come back to earth". Every time though, they prove me wrong by lighting up the scoreboard. On their recent 6 game road against the Tigers and Twins, they're split 3-3. I would think they've gotta be happy with that considering the way the other two teams have been playing over the past month. With a win tonight, Ozzie's Club will build a 2.5 game cushion on the Twins heading into lowly KC tommorow.
5.) (7) New York Yankees- It's hard to argue that the Yanks are one of the most dangerous teams in baseball right now. Not only are they playing at a high caliber, but they just made two huge trades that could pay dividends for them if they make the playoffs. They tackled 3 needs without giving up a lot. By trading with the Pirates for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte, the Pinstripes shore up their bullpen to make it even with Boston's and set their OF for the rest of the year. Thanks to some delusional minds in Detroit's front office, the Bombers were able to replace the injured Jorge Posada with arguably the greatest postseason catcher ever in Pudge Rodriguez. It was also addition by subtraction and they parted ways with perennial douchebag Kyle Farnsworth. Watch out for the Yankees!
6.) (3) Boston Red Sox- The Red Sox have to be in panic mode right now. After getting swept by the Juggernaut known as the Angels, they're 3 back of Tampa Bay, and only a game ahead of their arch nemesis in New York. The pitching seems to be fine, the bullpen is solid, the hitting is alright. So what gives? Mediocre adjectives shouldn't be describing this team. They are as talented as any other in the majors and need to start playing like they did in the playoffs last year. It's the same club, so if they want to pull ahead they need to play up to their potential.
UPDATE: The Red Sox moved Manny Ramirez, OF Brandon Moss, and RP Craig Hansen and got Jason Bay in return. On paper, it looks like they got ripped, but maybe without Manny's distractions they can start playing up to potential.
7.) (9) St. Louis Cardinals- The Red Birds are somehow still lurking close in the division race. With a 3 game win streak (coupled with the Brew Crew's 4 game slide) they're tied with Milwaukee once again. The return of former Cy Young winner Chris Carpenter makes this team one to watch down the stretch. I don't quite understand why they haven't made any moves to bolster their lineup, but I guess they don't want to mortgage the future just yet. All I'm saying is, don't count out the Cards. They're feisty, and right now they're tied for the wild card lead.
8.) (4) Milwaukee Brewers- Last week, this was the hottest team in baseball. They had a chance to take the lead in the NL Central, but it's tough when you're matching up with a team that's just smidge better. It doesn't help that this team is directly above you in the standings. Still there are no excuses for possibly getting swept by the Cubs. The Cheese heads may be content with just locking down the wild card, but that may not be good enough in the end if they don't start winning meaningful series'. They've got 7 more games with Chicago, including 3 at home to close out the regular season.
9.) (-) Minnesota Twins - The Twinkies return to the poll after capturing 4 of their last 5 games to close to within a game and a half of division leading Chicago. Minny is in a great position to take over that lead if they can take out the White Sox tonight. Their next 3 series come against bottom dwellers Cleveland, Seattle, and Kansas City. Management has been great in the Twin Cities all year, but the only question I have is: Where the hell is Francisco Liriano!?!
10.) (10) Philadelphia Phillies- Just when it looked like the Mets had a stranglehold on the division by taking 2 of 3 from the Phils, New York lays an egg against 3rd place Florida. This makes way for Philadelphia to regain the NL East lead once again via a 4 game win streak. During that stretch, they've scored 22 runs, albeit against the soft tossing Nats and Braves. Still, when it comes down to it, wins are wins, and with the ever-consistent Brad Lidge closing out games, a lead in the 9th is all they need. A very exciting series in St. Louis looms tommorow.
Honorable Mention: New York Mets, Florida Marlins, Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers