Sunday, April 23, 2017

MLB Power Rankings April 23, 2017

After 3 weeks of the Major League Baseball season and what have we learned?  We know that the Cubs are starting to hit the ball with regularity.  We still think the Rockies, Orioles and Yankees are for real. The Astros are staying hot, and we aren’t only talking about Houston in the summer. Washington is heating up too, and it has nothing to do with politics. Here’s this week’s power rankings, enjoy!

1  1.     Chicago Cubs                                                 LW:     1
         The Cubs bats are warming up and getting more consistent. Had several come from behind wins    last week, and the pen is righting its ship. Still the best team in the majors.

2  2.     Baltimore Orioles                                          LW:     4
A 4-2 week and two series wins for the Birds who stay on top of the AL East. Doing it with Manny Machado hitting only .206.  Dylan Bundy has a 1.37 ERA.

3  3.     Houston Astros                                              LW:     2
Astros went 5-2 last week and remain affixed atop the AL West.  Jose Altuve is doing his thing, hitting .324, while Dallas Keuchel is healthy (3-0, 0.96).

4  4.     Washington Nationals                                  LW:     3
Nationals have won 6 in a row. The middle of the order is hot too, B. Harper has 7 homers, R. Zimmerman has 5.  Shawn Kelley has 3 saves as new closer.

5  5.     Colorado Rockies                                           LW:     6
Fresh off a sweep of the Giants, the Rockies are still in 1st place in the NL West.  Nolan Arenado continues to rake and Mark Reynolds has 5 HR’s.

6  6.     New York Yankees                                        LW:     7
Joe Girardi has his young guys playing well and the Yanks are only 1.5 games behind the Orioles in the AL East.  Aaron Judge is a freak show at the plate.
Joe Girardi

    7.     Cleveland Indians                                         LW:     8
A 5-1 week has the Tribe back in a first place tie with Detroit.  Cleveland swept Minnesota and took 2 of three against the White Sox.

    8.     Detroit Tigers                                                LW:     12
Staying in first place without Miguel Cabrera who’s on the DL with a groin strain.  Tigers are getting help from some minor league call-ups these days.

    9.     Arizona Diamondbacks                                 LW:     11
Knocking on door of 1st place, while Goldschmidt slumps and now Shelby Miller leaves a game early. Yasmani Tomas had a 2 HR game v. LA.

   10.    Boston Red Sox                                              LW:     10
Rookie Benenintendi has 5-for-5 game.  Mookie Betts and Hanley Ramirez help Boston to a win at Baltimore.

1  11. Miami Marlins                                               LW:     13
The power has been turned on, though it was against SD. Stanton with 2 more HR.  Miami is only 2.5 back of Nationals.

1  12. Los Angeles Dodgers                                     LW:     5
Rough times for the Dodgers, with Rich Hill being bothered by blisters. Joc Pederson left a game with groin tightness.  Kenta Maeda struggling too.

1  13. Pittsburgh Pirates                                         LW:     14
Big blow suffered with the suspension of Starling Marte. Polanco and McCutchen try to hold outfield together.
Starling Marte (Sports Illustrated)

1  14. Milwaukee Brewers                                      LW:     24
Brewers may have found diamond in the rough with hot hitting Eric Thames and catcher Jett Bandy.  Love that name.

1  15. Texas Rangers                                               LW:     22
Rangers sweep Royals with help from Yu Darvish. Rangers have won 4 in a row and are only 4 games out of first.

1  16. Philadelphia Phillies                                     LW:     25
Coming off sweep of the Braves, the Phillies are at .500 for the season.  2B Cesar Hernandez is rolling, has 4 homers and 10 RBI over his last 19 games.

1  17. Cincinnati Reds                                             LW:     19
Reds are hanging around with the Cubs, and avoided a sweep with a win today. Bronson Arroyo pitched like it was 2004.

1  18. New York Mets                                              LW:     9
Fallen below .500 with tough stretch of 7 losses in 8 games.  Bruce and Cespedes lead with 6 HR’s. 

1  19. St Louis Cardinals                                         LW:     30
Moved up after falling to #30 last week. Fattened up against the Brewers this week, getting some good pitching from Mike Leake and Adam Wainwright.

2  20. San Francisco Giants                                     LW:     16
Giants are hurting, losing Madison Bumgarner for an extended time will not help them in the NL West. Shut out by the Rockies Sunday.
Madison Bumgarner
(SF Gate)

   21. Tampa Bay Rays                                            LW:     21
Swept Tigers mid week, but lost two of three to the Astros.

   22. Oakland A’s                                                    LW:     27
2nd place team in the AL West, but 3 games back and losing 5 of last 10 games.

   23. Chicago White Sox                                        LW:     18
Bats warmed up in finale against the Indians. Derek Holland throwing well for the Sox.

2  24. Minnesota Twins                                           LW:     15
Lost two in a row and have dropped 7 of their last 10 games.

2  25. Los Angeles Angels                                        LW:     26
Angels having a tough time of late, losing 8 of their last 10 games.

2  26. Seattle Mariners                                            LW:     23
Team struggling away from Safeco Field, only 2-9 on the road. Start series at Detroit this week.

2  27. San Diego Padres                                          LW:     29
2 straight losses, and 7 of the last 10 have been dropped by the Padres. Already 5.5 games out of first.

2  28. Kansas City Royals                                        LW:     17
Lost four straight games.

2  29. Atlanta Braves                                               LW:     20
After winning first four games in new home, lost the last 3 there, and 6 straight overall.

3  30. Toronto Blue Jays                                          LW:     28
Jays continue to scuffle in last place in AL East, already 7.5 out of 1st.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

MLB Power Rankings Week 2, April 16, 2017

Now nearly two weeks into the baseball season, there have been a lot of surprises, both good ones and bad.  The Cubs still hold the top spot in this week’s rankings, but have a slim lead over the hot Astros.  The Marlins were the biggest mover in the positive direction (up 12 spots from last week), while the Cardinals dropped like a stone in a river falling 21 spots…Here’s this week’s Power Rankings…

1. Chicago Cubs                                            LW: 1                                     
Bullpen is a bit of a mess these days, but Cubs still have the best team in baseball, only a matter of time before offense gets consistent.  
Courtesy Daily Herald 

2. Houston Astros                                          LW: 6
Astros have won four in a row and most importantly for them Dallas Keuchel is back healthy (2-0, 0.86 ERA).  Still love their young offensive talent. Had a good week. 

3. Washington Nationals                               LW: 7
Nationals are happy that Bryce Harper is playing like an MVP…hit 2 HR's including a walk-off HR Sunday. Daniel Murphy remains hot as does the pitching.
Bryce Harper 

4. Baltimore Orioles                                      LW: 11
Coming off a 4-2 week.  Dylan Bundy has 2 wins for the leaders in the AL East.  Trey Mancini leads the O’s with 4 HR’s, Chris Davis has 3 for Baltimore.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers                                 LW: 3
Dropped to 3rd place in NL West, but still the class of the division.  Injury worries with Rich Hill and his blisters. Still have Clayton Kershaw and Corey Seager.

6. Colorado Rockies                                       LW: 5
Bud Black is doing great things in Denver with this young Rockies team.  They just took 3 of four at San Francisco.  Antonio Senzatela, leads with 2 wins.

7. New York Yankees                                    LW: 18
Joe Girardi’s team has won 7 in a row, swept the Cardinals at The Stadium. Michael Pineda is pitching well, Greg Bird and Aaron Hicks are providing some offense too.

8. Cleveland Indians                                      LW: 2
Lost series to Detroit, and White Sox on current homestand.  Even as the Tribe has fallen into last place, it’s still a long season.

9. New York Mets                                          LW: 13
Swept Phillies, but lost 3 of four at Miami.  Good news for Mets, that Matt Harvey is off to 2-0 start…Yoenis Cespedes off to a 6 home run start.
Matt Harvey
(Courtesy New York Newsday)

10. Boston Red Sox                                       LW: 4
Have won last two games.  Mitch Moreland won a game with 2 run single.  Joe Kelly leads staff with 2 wins.

11. Arizona Diamondbacks                          LW: 14
2-4 week, included losses against division foes, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  Zach Greinke and Shelby Miller only have one win a piece for the 8-5 D-Backs.

12. Detroit Tigers                                          LW: 15
Tigers now lead the AL Central, and took 2 of three from the Indians in Cleveland.  Matthew Boyd pitching well, leads staff with 2 wins.

13. Miami Marlins                                      LW: 25
Tied with Nationals for lead in NL East.  Over last week and a half won 5 of 7 against the Mets.  Rookie JT Riddle was no joke in hitting walk off homer v. New York.

14. Pittsburgh Pirates                                  LW: 19
Enter the week after sweeping the Cubs at Wrigley Field. Andrew McCutchen is hitting again, and young pitchers starting to come through consistently.

15. Minnesota Twins                                   LW: 12
Dropped consecutive series, to Tigers and White Sox this week. Ervin Santana threw a gem against the Sox, a one-hitter with 8 strikeouts.

16. San Francisco Giants                             LW: 8
After starting the week taking 2 of 3 from the Padres, the Giants dropped 3 of 4 from the Rockies at home.  Giants are a half game behind San Diego in NL West standings.

17. Kansas City Royals                               LW: 22
Royals have gotten hot of late, having won four straight games and moving back to the .500 mark.

18. Chicago White Sox                               LW: 21
Made major league history this week starting an ALL-Garcia outfield.  White Sox finished the week taking 2 of 3 at Minnesota.
3 Garcia Outfield for White Sox
(courtesy CSN Chicago)

19. Cincinnati Reds                                     LW: 26
Reds maintain the top spot in the NL Central, finished the week 4-3.  Will get tested this week with three game series against Baltimore in Cincinnati.

20. Atlanta Braves                                       LW: 28
Opened new home this week, taking each of the first three games against San Diego. Bartolo Colon wins his first game with the Braves.

21. Tampa Bay Rays                                   LW: 20
Lost important piece in starting rotation, Jake Odorizzi is on the 10-day DL with left hamstring tightness.

22. Texas Rangers                                         LW: 16
Three straight losses for the Rangers who are falling fast in the AL West.  The Rangers are 4-8.

23. Seattle Mariners                                     LW: 10
Mariners having trouble closing out games struggling at back end of bullpen. Felix Hernandez still King in Seattle.

24. Milwaukee Brewers                                LW: 27
Brewers have won 5 of their last 6 games.  Eric Thames is providing some offense.  Thames is 1st player in team history with 5 homers in first 10 games w/team.

25. Philadelphia Phillies                               LW: 29
Phillies are in last place in the NL East, but have scored the third most runs in the division.

26. Los Angeles Angels                               LW: 24
Falling back to reality, have lost five in a row.  The Angels are still in 2nd place in weak AL West division.

27. Oakland A’s                                            LW: 23
See above.  The A’s have lost 3 in a row but are still in 3rd place in AL West.

28. Toronto Blue Jays                                   LW: 17
Toronto owns the worst record in baseball after two weeks of the season. 2-10 record has the Jays in last place in the AL East.

29. San Diego Padres                                   LW: 30
San Diego lost 3 in a row to Atlanta in its new home. Padres are tied for the worst run differential in baseball (- 22).

30. St Louis Cardinals                                   LW: 9
What has happened to the Cardinals?  St Louis is the team that shares the worst run differential with the Padres.  St Louis has lost 3 in a row and are last in NL Central.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cubs Show Class With Rings for Santo and Banks...

Kudos Cubs.  Kudos to you, The Ricketts Family.
World Series Rings

In the midst of all the crazy celebration, the pomp, the circumstance at Wrigley Field the last few days, you didn't forget anyone. You rewarded front office members, ushers, broadcasters and even your part-time seasonal workers with World Series rings. That is incredible. 

But more importantly you didn't forget a couple of guys that bled Cubbie Blue their entire lives. 

From Jeff Santo's Facebook Page
What an amazing, heartwarming gesture made to these two fine gentlemen, their families and fans. Such a classy move by the organization.

Both of these All-Star players gave their all, 9 innings at a time for many years in Cubs pinstripes. They are two of the greatest players in the history of the organization and truly deserve this honor.

I couldn't help but get a little choked up at the site of other great Cubs legends that never experienced the ultimate prize, but nonetheless were a huge part of the banner raising and ring ceremony.  Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg were made to feel as though they were still players by this family run organization. They looked so proud as if they were still playing.  This is how greats of yesteryear should be embraced and appreciated.  They laid the groundwork, built the framework of what was ultimately accomplished after a long long 108 year championship drought.

During the Cubs run to the 2016 World Series, I couldn't help but think of how much I wanted Ron Santo sitting next to me, watching every game.  I imagined the bruises on my arms from him punching me with excitement, or grabbing my shoulder in frustration. Gladly I would have accepted a few games worth of pain to have my friend getting to enjoy it with me.  But seeing how the Cubs honored Ronnie and Ernie made me smile a little through the tears, making it a little easier to take.

I wrote my grandpa's name on the wall
at Wrigley Field
I've gotten to know Ron's children, Ron Junior, Jeff and Linda Santo over the years, I'm so happy for them.  They were all invested deeply in this run to the title for the Cubs. I remember having Jeff on our radio postgame show soon after the final out of Game 7.  He was tearing up with emotion. It was real. It meant a lot. I'm sure his reaction and that of his siblings is much the same tonight thanks to the Cubs organization.

It's funny how the emotional memories of November 2, 2016 came flooding back to so many of us as the flag was raised and several fortunate Cub fans handed over the rings to the players.  For me, thinking about Ron and my late grandfather Sam Masur, the man who made my dad Steve a fan, who in turn passed it on to me.  "Papa" Sammy would have turned 108 years old November 5, 2016.

Thank you Ricketts Family for showing you can win with class. 

Sunday, April 9, 2017

MLB Power Rankings April 9, 2017


Well, we are a week into the new baseball season and I figured I would start ranking the teams from 1-30 from time to time (I’ll try to do it weekly).  Hard to do this after only a week, but here goes…(LW indicates Last Week's Ranking)

1.  Chicago Cubs                    LW: -                                                                        
As the defending World Series Champions get ready to raise the banner at Wrigley Field Monday night, the 4-2 start to the season, with all the games being on the road give them the early top spot.  Good pitching, and contributions from Jason Heyward are positive signs.

2.  Cleveland Indians              LW: -
3-3 record on early season is deceiving to me…swept Rangers, got swept by Arizona. Pen still solid.

3.  Los Angeles Dodgers        LW: -
Corey Seager showing he’s an MVP Candidate this season…Yasiel Puig is off to a great start.
Corey Seager

4.  Boston Red Sox                 LW: -
Still have great pitching, outfield defense and offense from Benintendi, Betts and Bradley makes them a threat.

5.  Colorado Rockies              LW: -
Surprise team of the early season?  No name pitching staff benefits from Bud Black.  Nolan Arenado is a stud.

6.  Houston Astros                 LW: -
Took 3 of four from Seattle to open the season.  Dallas Keuchel seems back on track. Young offense a plus.

7.  Washington Nationals       LW: -
Threatening to leave top 10 status after losing 2 of three to the Phillies.

8.  San Francisco Giants        LW: -
See above, but insert Padres for Phillies.  Madison Bumgarner out homering several teams by himself.
Madison Bumgarner

9.  St. Louis Cardinals            LW: -
Again see #7, then insert Reds for Phillies.  Yadier Molina and his sticky chest protector are just 2-4.

10. Seattle Mariners               LW: -
Giving them benefit of much doubt, after going  1-6 on the road

11. Baltimore Orioles            LW: -
Zach Britton converts 3 straight saves…O’s were one of the last undefeated teams in baseball.

12. Minnesota Twins             LW: -
Riding the Miguel Sano wave…2 HR and 8 RBI thru first six games.
Miguel Sano

13. New York Mets                LW: -
2-3 start to season, not a lot of offense early.

14. Arizona Diamondbacks    LW: -
Offense is clicking after first seven games at hitter friendly Chase Field. Greinke and Corbin holding down starting staff fort.

15. Detroit Tigers                  LW: -
Ian Kinsler picking up where he left off in WBC…Jordan Zimmermann wins his first game for the Tigers, trying to bounce back from last year.

16. Texas Rangers                 LW: -
Trouble brewing at the back end of the bullpen…closer Sam Dyson gave up 8 earned runs in two appearances.

17. Toronto Blue Jays           LW: -
Lost 3 of 4 to the Rays…danger of dropping out of top 20.

18. New York Yankees          LW: -
Gary Sanchez could be out for a bit, Greg Bird also is banged up.  Youth/rebuild still the plan.

19. Pittsburgh Pirates          LW: -
3 game sweep of Braves.  Starling Marte is taking over as face of the team.

20. Tampa Bay Rays             LW: -
Took 3 of four from Blue Jays…Steven Souza Jr off to a great start.

21. Chicago White Sox          LW: -
Up and down start to season. Still have Jose Quintana, but for how long. Geovany Soto off to a great start.

22. Kansas City Royals          LW: -
Won three of four from Astros.  Salvador Perez has four homers early.
Salvador Perez

23. Oakland A’s                     LW: -
Yonder Alonso hitting .389 early this season.

24.  Los Angeles Angels        LW: -
5-2, still not a believer. Mike Trout w/2 HR’s to lead Angels.

25. Miami Marlins                 LW: -
J.T. Realmuto a bright spot in early season.

26. Cincinnati Reds               LW: -
4-2 start v. Phillies and Cardinals.

27. Milwaukee Brewers        LW: -
Rebuild is underway in Milwaukee

28. Atlanta Braves                 LW: -
See above

29. Philadelphia Phillies       LW: -
Too early to tell

30. San Diego Padres          LW: -

Intriguing youth, but still far away.