Sunday, April 30, 2017

MLB Power Rankings April 30, 2017

Week four’s power rankings have the first change of the season at the top spot.   Washington takes over after a good week, while the Cubs slip to #2 for the first time. Cubs still among the elite but the Nationals great week can’t be over looked.  Here’s the rest of the field…

1.  Washington Nationals                 LW      4
There’s a new number one this week.  The Nationals scored 23 runs Sunday, with Anthony Rendon driving in 10.  Ryan Zimmerman and Bryce Harper are staying hot for DC. 

2.  Chicago Cubs                                LW      1
Still leading Central Division, still a top tier team and finding more consistency with offense.  Starting staff not going deep into games yet.

3.   Houston Astros                            LW      3
Dallas is flourishing in Houston…Keuchel giving Astros flashbacks of Cy Young season in 2015.

4.   Colorado Rockies                         LW      5
Fun times in the Mile High City…Rockies getting the pitching under Bud Black. Nolan Arenado hitting, Reynolds hitting, Desmond now back from injury.

5.  Baltimore Orioles                         LW      2
Ends Arpil in 1st place tie with Yankees after extra inning win Sunday.  Still have one of the best power lineups in the American League.

6.  New York Yankees                       LW      6
Aaron Judge making everyone rise with 10 HR’s in April…Joe Girardi getting the most out of a young lineup.
99 - Aaron Judge - NYY

7. Cleveland Indians                         LW      7
Happy to have Michael Brantley back from injury…has 5 home runs in first month of the season.  Francsico Lindor has 7 homers in April.

8.  Boston Red Sox                             LW      10
Hanley Ramirez heating up for Boston…Benintendi continuing to thrive as rookie in this lineup. 

9.   Arizona Diamondbacks               LW      9
Shelby Miller shut down for season and will undergo Tommy John surgery.  Jake Lamb with a monster home run for D-Backs.

10.   Los Angeles Dodgers                LW      12
Starting to put it back together…Dodgers end April on a four game winning streak.  Have series v. struggling Giants coming up…

11.  Miami Marlins                            LW      11
Marlins hanging around, but already 5 games back of red hot Nationals.  Ended April one game under .500.

12.   Chicago White Sox                    LW      23
One of the surprise teams of the first month.  Rebuild going well to this point.  Sox finish April 3 games over .500.

13.   Milwaukee Brewers                  LW      14
Riding hot bat of Eric Thames…to .500 after 1st month of regular season…

14.  St Louis Cardinals                      LW      19
Bouncing back from early struggles…still have bullpen issues…at 12-12 right now…

15.  Los Angeles Angels                    LW      25
Starters giving Angels a chance…team is a game over 500 after first month of season…

16.    Minnesota Twins                     LW      24
Phil Hughes has 4 wins…Miguel Sano continues to rake for the 12-11 Twins…

17.   Detroit Tigers                            LW      8
Hoping to get Miguel Cabrera and Jacoby Jones back soon…

18.   Cincinnati Reds                         LW      17
After early season success…the Reds have come back to Earth a bit...

19.  Pittsburgh Pirates                       LW      13
Scuffling a bit since Marte suspension…

20.  Tampa Bay Rays                        LW      21
Chris Archer gives the Rays a chance every 5th day…only 2 games under 500…

21.  Texas Rangers                            LW      15
Still trying to find some offense…on a consistent basis…

22.  Oakland A’s                                LW      22
Having issues scoring runs…ran into hot Dallas Keuchel Sunday.

23.  Philadelphia Phillies                  LW      16
Have dropped 3 in a row, to fall under 500 by one game..

24.   New York Mets                        LW      18
Injuries are absolutely killing the Metropolitans.   Syndergaard leaves start Sunday, Cespedes and others out of action for New York. 
Noah Syndergaard

25.  Atlanta Braves                          LW      29
Freddie Freeman is worth the price of admission…

26.  San Diego Padres                      LW      27
Wil Myers doing it all for 4th place San Diego…

27.   Seattle Mariners                        LW      26
First month did not treat Mariners well…end up 11-15…

28.   San Francisco Giants                 LW      20
No Bumgarner equaling no wins recently for struggling San Francisco…

29.   Toronto Blue Jays                      LW      30
.320 win percentage for a playoff team…not sitting well in Toronto…

30.   Kansas City Royals                    LW      28

2015 World Series champs falling on hard times…7 wins in April.    

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Day Rick Monday Saved the American Flag

It was a normal Sunday afternoon of baseball on the West Coast.  The Cubs were playing the Dodgers in a day game at Dodger Stadium on a sunny April 25, 1976.  Rick Monday was playing centerfield for the Cubs, when he noticed two protesters kneeling down, with an American Flag on the ground.
Associated Press Photo
Associated Press Photo
He wasn't sure what to make of it, but knew he had to do something about it.  This is an excerpt from an interview I did with Monday, know in his 24th season behind the microphone for the Dodgers about the incident in Los Angeles...

Yes that is a young Vin Scully on the play-by-play, describing the two protesters and the heroics of Monday. Ironically until this year, Monday and Scully shared the microphone on Dodgers broadcasts.

Monday was presented with the flag in a ceremony at Wrigley Field by Dodgers executive Al Campanis later in 1976. The flag hung in his home for a while, but after some hurricane damage to his property, Monday put it in a safety deposit box. Monday was traded by the Cubs the following offseason after hitting a career best 32 home runs. He was dealt for Bill Buckner and Ivan DeJesus.
Baseball Hall of Fame photo

He was always one of my favorite Cubs and have had the pleasure of getting to know him when I was with the Padres. Monday wore #7 and had that unique way of taking practice swings, with the barrel of the bat pointed right at the pitcher.

One thing you may not know about him, he was the very first player ever selected in Baseball's Amateur Draft. Monday was selected #1 out of Arizona State by the Kansas City Athletics. Rick Monday saved the flag and became an American Hero.

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.

Monday, April 17, 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.