Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tommy's Baseball Power Rankings

This is going to be another long one. In other words, get your printers ready, or if you have Wi-Fi at your house, take your computer with you. I feel that reading while performing a bowel movement is probably the best thing anyways, and that’s why I write: because I love entertaining people while they’re doing their business.

This one’s going to be long because I’ll be ranking all of the teams in major league baseball from 30-1. In that I’ll include my playoff predictions, and the same sarcastic wit that you’ve come to expect from me.

I stole something from espn.com’s Bill Simmons, the lower tier teams that I don’t feel the need to go in depth into will be placed in divisions named after one of the four most inept managers I’ve seen in my lifetime, and yes, two of them are former Cubs managers (Dusty isn’t one of them though!): Larry Rothschild (Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager 1998-2001), Don Baylor (Colorado Rockies 1993-1998; Chicago Cubs 2001-2002), John Boles (somehow he got two stints as manager of the Marlins, one as Jim Leyland’s rocking chair warmer in 1996, and again from 1999-2001) and Jim Riggleman, who today was named interim manager of the Washington Nationals and has managed the Cubs, Mariners (as an interim) and Padres, and will probably go down as the worst manager to ever lead an overachieving team to the post season. (I mean, think about it, that 1998 Cubs team should’ve been nothing more than an entertaining .500 ballclub no? It was pretty much Sammy Sosa and Kerry Wood and a 1991 Minnesota Twins reunion featuring everyone from that team except Kirby Puckett and Jack Morris; I guess Sosa and Wood took over those roles. Usually that team only makes the playoffs if a Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox or Joe Torre is managing the team, not Jim Riggleman. They truly were overachievers, and the weird thing is, being the Cubs fans we are, we thought they actually had a shot in a loaded National League that year even though we’d have to get through a 100 win Braves team in the first round, then a stacked Padres team assuming that series ended the way it did, and if they would’ve gotten past the Padres they’d have to face probably the best team of the last 20 years, yet when we got to the playoffs, we thought we had a chance! In-fucking-credible!)

Jim Riggleman Division

30. Washington Nationals
Since he’s taking over that team and all, why not? I swear, he was the worst manager I’ve ever seen, although Freddi Gonzalez is breathing down his neck (more on that in a minute)

Larry Rothschild Division

29. Cleveland Indians
28. San Diego Padres
27. Arizona Diamondbacks
26. Kansas City Royals
When the Devil Rays hired Rothschild to manage the ballclub in 1997, he was fresh off of being the pitching coach of a World Series Championship team (The Marlins), and many thought he’d be a great manager, especially for an expansion club. When the season started, many people thought the Indians, Diamondbacks, Padres, and Royals would be contenders. Much like the then-Devil Rays Rothschild hiring, those prognostications would turn out to be wrong.

John Boles Division

25. Oakland A’s
24. Baltimore Orioles
23. Pittsburgh Pirates
Much like Boles, they’ll win you a few games to convince you that they have it, but in the end, they don’t.

Don Baylor Division

22. New York Mets
Don Baylor may have won a wild card with the Rockies in 1995 but the fact is, after that year, that team should’ve made the next step and won a division or made a World Series appearance. They never did or could get over that hump though, so Baylor was fired. Yet in 2001, simply because he was a third base coach on the Atlanta Braves, the Cubs thought he’d make a great manager and hired him, despite the fact that he was TERRIBLE in Colorado. See in the case of the Cubs hiring Dusty, they hired someone who’d at least made a few playoff appearances and was fresh off a World Series. He blew that World Series, but he was there. Baylor though was not a good hiring. I tend to think it was because they saw some footage of him playing for the Angels in the 70’s belting line drives and thought he could convince his players to do the same.
What does this have to do with the New York Mets? Well, two years ago they blew it the final week of the season. Last year they blew it the final week of the season. Other than Santana, Wright, Reyes (when healthy) and K-Rod, they have nothing but a bunch of players who not only have only gotten older, but are still emotionally reeling from the last two years of epic collapses. The team should’ve been blown up last season but they brought it back hoping it would work. It won’t. Fact is, it’s time to trade Beltran and Delgado and give Sheffield a chance to go to a team that has a better chance of competing and needs a DH, it’s not going to happen New York Mets fans, just admit it.

Flea Market Montgomery, it’s just like, it’s just like, a mini-mall hey hey Division

21. Toronto Blue Jays
Roy Halladay is on the trading block, so’s Vernon Wells. And since Toronto is dumb enough to say that, they lose leverage on any deal. Later on I’ll break down the best deal we could see that will work for the Blue Jays and another two teams. Other than that, boring team.

Won’t do anything but be very afraid of playing them Division

20. Cincinnati Reds
19. Atlanta Braves
18. Houston Astros
The Reds are still about two years away from being a bonafied contender. The Braves really need to clean house, and the Astros are about as exciting as paint drying. But if your season is on the line, do you want to play any of them? Didn’t think so.

Ready to bust out and do what they seem to do every year.

17. Minnesota Twins
What do they do every year? Start off slow, and then make a big run in August, then win their division. When I’m writing this August 16th, I’ll probably have them as high as 10.

Possible contenders if the right things happen.

16. Chicago White Sox
15. Chicago Cubs
Both these teams are just a good deal away from swooping in and stealing their divisions. The Cubs though are closer because of the fact that they SHOULD be players in the Roy Halladay sweepstakes. That doesn’t mean they will be, but they should be. How will this work? Well consider the factors:

Halladay is in full control. He wants to go to a National League team in a big market that’s in contention.
The Cubs, Dodgers, and Phillies fit that mold. The Cubs are only 3.5 games back, and haven’t even been totally healthy yet.

Whoever gets Halladay has to be able to take on Vernon Wells as well.
Now you might be thinking where are the Cubs going to put Wells, right? How about Right Field. He sure as hell would be an upgrade over their big bust of last year that every cubs fan knew would be a bust but Hendry didn’t seem to see it. Fact is, this deal is way too easy to NOT pull off.

Chicago gets:
Roy Halladay and Vernon Wells

Toronto Gets:
Milton Bradley, Josh Vitters, Andrew Cashner, Ryan Flahtery, Randy Wells and cash

Why would the Cubs make that deal you might ask? Vitters, Cashner and Flahtery are 3 of their top 5 prospects, and their farm system has thinned out, plus, Wells has been pitching very well since being called up. Well it’s simple. Because they have to make a move to win now and their window is closing. You might also ask why Toronto would take Bradley, well that’s why the Cubs are including cash, you know to buy him out so he can go someplace else, hopefully far far away from the sport of baseball. But this isn’t just an I hate Milton Bradley trade, it’s a trade that makes sense for both teams. The Cubs get another shut down starter to compliment Zambrano (who’s actually not a big game pitcher even though he should be), Lilly (a great number 3), Dempster (a good number 4 when he’s not hurting himself celebrating walk off wins), and Harden. A rotation of Halladay, Zambrano, Harden, Lilly, and Dempster makes the Cubs a force, and their pitching has been great this year. Wells can play right, get rejuvenated by Wrigley, and bring a bit more balance to the lineup and have a positive effect on the lineup as a whole.

When healthy, it would look like this:
Soriano LF
Theriot SS
Wells CF
Ramirez 3B
Soto C
Hoffpauir/Fox 1B
Fukudome RF
Fontenot 2B

Now, I know it’s very righty dominant, which many, including myself, say was their downfall last year. But, these guys can hit the ball and get on base, and with Wells probably wouldn’t have the jitters they had last season, time will tell. And if you’re wondering where Lee went:

Angels get: Derrek Lee
Cubs get: 2 of the Angels top prospects

So pretty much, the Cubs basically traded Bradley and Lee for Halladay and Wells because this deal (which would work out well for the Angels because in the lineup it would give Vlad Guerrero and Torii Hunter some protection, you know until October) would solve any farm system problems. Will Cubs fans be happy about it? No, but Lee really is past his prime, and both Hoffpauir and Fox need at bats. Will the Cubs do this? No. They think they can still win a World Series with their current team sadly.

Hey we might’ve lost Sabathia and Sheets but we’re still alright and since the Cubs won’t pull the trigger on any of the deals you mentioned above, we might finish ahead of them division:

14. Milwaukee Brewers
I wouldn’t want to bet against a team with that type of offense. These guys can do one thing better than just about any overall team in the National League, and that’s hit the ball. They have pitching problems, and that will keep them from getting to the playoffs, but these guys will remain fun to watch (except for me and other Cubs and Cardinals fans) the rest of the year.

We overachieved the first half and will probably be about ten spots lower next month:

13. Colorado Rockies
12. Seattle Mariners
Rockies are in a division where the top two teams are head and shoulders ahead of everyone else. They’re in the middle. Of course if I were the Giants, I don’t want to see them on the schedule as they chug towards a Wild Card. The Mariners though have too many flaws to be considered a threat to anyone as far as the AL West is concerned, but again, will not be a team the Rangers or Angels want to face.

We’d be a better team if we still had Joe Girardi division:

11. Florida Marlins
They’re my sleeper pick to win the NL East (I’ll explain when I get to the Phillies). The only man in the way of that: Freddi Gonzalez. In two years when I’m writing this, he’ll have a division named after him (much like another former Braves 3rd base coach, Don Baylor. I see the similarities there, both were former braves coaches, only difference was Freddi is an obvious affirmative action/marketing hire because he’s Cuban. And don’t say I’m racist, I’m Cuban too!) He handles himself with the demeanor of a Tamiami fall league coach. I imagine him calling every player “papo” and telling his players after every win that they’re going to Pizza Hut. He’s just not a good manager, period. If Girardi were still the Marlins manager, they’d be cruising to an NL East title right now. I mean that!

Still iffy but they have a better shot than the previous 20 teams division.

10. St. Louis Cardinals
9. Detroit Tigers
8. Texas Rangers
7. Tampa Bay Rays
Each team is in first or second except the Rays, who are only in third place because of their division. Each team could shift into another gear and take their division or Wild Card, each team is very iffy. Sympathy for the Rays though, it’s not their fault right now.

Defending Champs that aren’t doing such a great job of defending it but are still ranked high because they brought back the same team and they’re in a bad division and a team that has a legit shot of overtaking them has Freddi Gonzalez as their manager division.

6. Philadelphia Phillies
Has a World Series Championship ballclub that is in first place at the all-star break ever been considered a disappointment? To me the Phillies are. They brought back the same team, yet are underachieving. They might make it into the playoffs, but who knows, if the Marlins make a key deal, Philadelphia could find themselves on the outside looking in. Rollins is struggling way too much for my liking, I feel like his career should be eulogized.


5. Los Angeles Angels
S.O.S. means same old shit. The Angels lead the AL West, they have prospects they can move to make a big trade that will push them over the hump, they don’t make the trade, they win the west by seven games, get swept in the first round by the Red Sox. Lather, rinse, repeat. What year is this again?

The cream of the crop

4. New York Yankees
Only thing I don’t like about this Yankees team, other than the fact that they’re the Yankees, is their record against other teams in their division, as well as their record against teams above .500. Other than that, they’re pretty solid. Teixeira has caught fire, their pitching has held up, they look solid. Not World Series winner solid, but solid enough to get into the playoffs.

3. San Francisco Giants
No one seems to be talking about them, but they have the best pitching rotation in baseball. Why isn’t anyone considering them a favorite to get to the World Series other than the fact that they’re in the same division as the Dodgers? Because their offense is pretty anemic right? Well, here’s the thing. With the pitching they have, they’re good with three to four runs a game while other contenders (like the teams at #5 and #6 need to score five or 6 runs per game. Plus, they’re on the West Coast. But their rotation is just way too solid for them to not make it as the Wild Card, which they will do barring an epic collapse, and they’re my pick to make it to the World Series from the National League.

2. Boston Red Sox
Their pitching isn’t deep enough for my liking, but they have the best overall team in baseball. So why are they at number two even though I think they’re going to the World Series? Because it’s based off of how the teams did in the first half, plain and simple!

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
You’re asking yourself, “If this guy doesn’t think they’re getting to the World Series, why does he have them at number one?” I answered that in the Red Sox part, but I’ll elaborate. The only team stopping the Dodgers is the Giants. Bad matchup for LA there, and that will be the NLCS matchup.

World Series prediction: Giants vs. Red Sox, Red Sox in 6.

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