Posted on: March 8, 2010 2:37 pm

Preseason Power Rankings


1.  Yankees

The best got better this off season, upgrading CF with the acquisition of Curtis Granderson and adding another solid pitcher to their rotation with Javier Vasquez.  The World Series is theirs to lose.


2.  Angels

The Angels have quietly been one of the best teams in all of baseball in recent years and this year should be no different with their core players returning along with new additions Joel Pineiro and Hideki Matsui.


3.  Phillies

The NL champs return largely in tact with a new ace Roy Halladay at the top of their rotation.  They should be one of the best offensive teams in 2010.


4.  Red Sox

The Red Sox upgrade at SS with Marco Scutaro and strengthen their rotation with John Lackey.  They are doing their best to keep up with the Yankees but it may not be enough.


5.  Dodgers

The Dodgers retained all of their arbitration eligible players keeping together a group of emerging stars that has gelled well since the 2007 season.  If Manny Ramirez can find his 2008 form the Dodgers should contend for the NL pennant.


6.  Cardinals

The Red Birds resigned the top free agent position player Matt Holliday, keeping protection in the lineup for Albert Pujols. 


7.  Mets

The Mets were one of the most disappointing teams in baseball last year, however with key players returning from injury and off season additions Jason Bay and Kelvim Escobar the Mets look like they should be back in good form. 


8. Rockies

The Rockies have been the little team that could over the past few seasons.  They have done more with less than most other teams.  They have one baseball’s best short stops in Troy Tulowitzki and a very consistent pitching staff.



9. Mariners

The Mariners enter the 2010 season with arguably the best pitching 1-2 punch in all of baseball with Felix Hernandez and Cliff Lee, and off season free agent acquisition Chone Figgins, along with the incomparable Ichiro gives them a very speedy top of the lineup.  The Mariners could surprise a lot of people this season.


10. Rays

While the Rays feature some of the league’s best young talent with players such as Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, and Jason Bartlett, they will need their pitching to be stronger this season if they hope to compete.


11.  Twins

The Twins have one of the top three players in the game at a position that is the thinnest of any in the game.  They have five other batters that will hit above .280 and the amount of left handers in their lineup will give most team fits.  But none of that will matter if the pitching rotation cannot hold up their end of the bargain. 


12.  Braves

The Braves will again be relying on their pitchers to keep them competitive, as they don’t quite have the bats that their fellow NL East teams have.  Like the Rockies, the Braves don’t have a lot of household names in their rotation but they produce consistent outings and give the team a chance to win.


13.  Giants

Another team with a very strong 1-2 punch in their rotation, the 2009 wild card runner up has improved offensively with 1B Aubrey Huff and OF Mark DeRosa.


14.  Tigers

The Yankees got Curtis Granderson and the Tigers ended up spending $13 million on Johnny Damon for the last leg of his career.  That’s why the Yankees are the Yankees and the Tigers are the Tigers.


15.  White Sox

The South Siders lost a little power by letting Jermaine Dye go, but Juan Pierre should be a suitable replacement.  If Jake Peavy can stay healthy they should contend for the AL Central.


16. Rangers

A young team with a lot of talent the Rangers could find themselves contending for the AL West.


17.  Cubs

The Cubs suffered from a lot of injuries and underwhelming performances from key players.  With Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano healthy again the Cubs have reason for optimism.  But then again, Cubs fans are optimistic every year.


18.  Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks will need Brandon Webb to resemble his old self if they are to compete, but a few off season moves should help their offense.


19.  Marlins

The Marlins are unimpressive on paper, outside of a few players, but the perennial team of prospects always seems to keep themselves in the playoff hunt deep into the season even with one of baseball’s lowest payroll. 


20.  Brewers

The Brewers lost Ben Sheets but added a few reliable leftys with Doug Davis and Randy Wolf. Combined with the offensive upside of a lot of their young players the Brew Crew has the potential to make a run in 2010.


21.  Reds

The Reds probably won’t be winning the World Series this year, but with young players like Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, and Johnny Cueto they should at least be fun to watch.


22. Indians

Grady Sizemore and Shin-Soo Choo will be the highlights on this team with low expectations.


23.  Blue Jays

The Blue Jays enter the 2010 season with Shaun Marcum as their ace, a far cry from Roy Halladay, who at least gave them a chance every fifth day.  The Jays are nothing more than a sparring partner for the Yankees and Red Sox.


24.  Orioles

Miguel Tejada will be one of the few veterans on a team that features youngsters Matt Wieters, Adam Jones, and Nick Markakis.  The Orioles should finish considerably better than the 64 wins they had in 2009.


25. A’s

The bright side for A’s fans is there are not a lot of players left that Billy Beane can trade away.  On the other hand, Rajai Davis better hope that he’s renting.


26. Astros

The Astros will need Roy Oswalt to pitch like he used to if they hope to compete.


27.  Padres

Look for Adrian Gonzalez to be wearing a Red Sox uniform by August.


28.  Nationals

This probably won’t be the year that the Nationals climb out of the NL East basement, and unfortunately like the AL East there are a few teams in the division that can spend far beyond the Nationals’ means, but with Ryan Zimmerman developing into one of the better third baseman in the game, Stephen Strasburg in the pipeline, and a few reliable veterans on the team don’t be surprised if the Nats make a run in the not too distant future.


29.  Royals

The Royals have Zack Greinke and uh...and uh…and uh…another long season ahead of them.


30.  Pirates

The Pirates have been one of the worst teams in baseball for nearly two decades.  They have not had a winning season in 17 years, the longest losing season streak of any team in the four major sports.  They have finished last in their division 10 times.  They trade away any and all of their top players and prospects at every trading deadline.  This year should be more of the same.  But Pittsburgh has won two Super Bowls and a Stanley Cup within the last five years so I guess there has to be some cosmic balance.

Posted on: October 7, 2009 12:08 pm
Edited on: October 7, 2009 2:01 pm

A Tale of Two Cities

It is a tale of two cities.  A  Midwestern team with a payroll of $67 million, less than 24 hours removed from a 12 inning game that was the 163rd of their season, a game played in their old, drab, domed stadium that they share with an NFL team.  An unsexy team of players largely unknown to the casual baseball fan and certainly to most of America.  A team without a true ace pitcher or their MVP first baseman that has just traveled 1200 miles in the middle of the night to take on a well rested baseball goliath that is being touted as one of the best teams in a decade.

The team that these modest Midwesterners face consists of All Stars and future Hall of Famers, playing in a newly built billion dollar stadium in the biggest city in the nation and one of the largest media markets in the world.  They’ve essentially had the division locked up for month, they boast the most storied history of any team in baseball, and they will send their free agent prize from last off season tonight to face Brian Duensing, a rookie with a $400,000 salary, 1/38th that of CC Sabathia's.

There is no reason to think that the Twins will win the ALDS against the Yankees.  They have everything working against them.  They are built on role players such as Denard Span and Jason Kubel and their best pitcher has a 4.03 ERA, not to mention that they weren’t even first in their division until last night.  Most people say of the Twins, who are they and who cares, bring on the Red Sox for the ALCS.

But scratching the surface a little there is a glimmer of hope for the Twins.  The Yankees ace, CC Sabathia, has not had much postseason success.  He has an ERA of 8.80 and 12.27 in each of the past two postseasons.  The Yankees do not have a reliable fourth starter, and when compared to the Twins, outside of Sabathia, the two team's pitching staff’s numbers are very similar, both among starters and relievers.  The Twins relievers collectively have an ERA of 3.87, the Yankees have an ERA of 3.91.  The starters numbers are listed below.

Duensing 3.64     
Blackburn 4.03
Baker 4.37
Pavano 4.64

Sabathia 3.37
Burnett 4.04
Pettitte 4.16
Chamberlain 4.75

Offensively and defensively the Twins also match up very well with the Yankees.  The Yankees have a team batting average of .283, second best in the AL; the Twins are right behind them with the third best team average of .274.  Defensively the Twins have a fielding percentage of .987, the Yankees .985

Really the only noticeable difference between the two teams is the Yankees $208 million payroll and the Twins $67 million, 23rd in MLB.  In fact, the Yankees three highest paid players make more than the Twins entire team, but as the Yankees have learned the past eight years money doesn’t buy you a World Series. It would be nice if some of the national media would remember that once in a while.

Category: MLB
Posted on: August 31, 2009 5:00 pm

Jon Rauch to Twins

The Diamondbacks traded Jon Rauch to the Minnesota Twins for a player to be named, effectively ending Rauch’s tumultuous tenure with the team.  When the Diamondbacks acquired Rauch in late July 2008 for highly touted prospect Emilio Bonafacio, the expectations were high.  Rauch had been a dominant reliever with the last place Nationals and was to fill an eighth inning void and solidify the bullpen for a playoff hopeful team.  When Rauch came to the Diamondbacks he had a 2.98 ERA in 48 games for the Nationals.  He finished the season posting a 6.56 in 26 games for Arizona.  The Diamondbacks, subsequently, missed the playoffs by two games.


The 2009 season started the same way the 2008 one finished for Rauch, disastrous.  He had a 9.31 ERA through 12 games pitched in April.  Opposing batters had a .333 average, and Rauch had given up more hits than he had innings pitched. The Diamondbacks record fell to 9-13 and their season seemed to be lost already. 


Even though it was only May the Diamondbacks had lost Brandon Webb for the season, Conor Jackson was out with a mysterious illness, Stephen Drew had just been added to the DL, the Dodgers had the best record in baseball, and the Diamondbacks offense could barely muster a run a game.  Hope for a postseason had faded very quickly.  A funny thing happened though, starting in May Jon Rauch progressively improved each month, until August, as the team’s playoff hopes became more and more distant.


Now Rauch finds himself with the Twins, who are in the midst of a playoff run.  They are only 4 games behind the Tigers for the division and only 1.5 games ahead of the third place White Sox.  The division has been very close all season, and now there will be more pressure than ever to finish strong.  I am looking forward to seeing which Jon Rauch shows up for them, the Rauch who is guaranteed to give up a run every time he take the mound or the Rauch that will shut down the opposition to give his team three crucial outs.  Despite his recent success I think that Diamondback fans will always see him as the former. 


Whatever happens to Rauch in Minnesota the most important thing is that he’s gone, and with him a $3 million contract.  That gives the Diamondbacks another $3 million of flexibility for next season.  $3 million on a $70 million payroll is a very big deal, even bigger than a 6’11” reliever with neck tattoos.

Posted on: August 3, 2009 11:09 am

The Real Moneyball

The trade deadline has passed, effectively ending the hopes of many teams for another year as they come to the realization that they are better off dumping their players than trying to compete.  The Pirates, as usual, traded anyone of any value.  The Orioles, Indians, and A’s were also again on the seller’s side of the ledger.  The rich continued to get richer, with the Dodgers acquiring George Sherill, the Phillies dealing for Cliff Lee, and the White Sox getting Jake Peavy.

It is obviously frustrating for fans of teams like the Pirates, who continually give away their players year after year, but it is also frustrating for fans of teams competing with the trade deadline gluttons.  If you are a fan of a mid or small market team that is in the division race but not necessarily a buyer, and a rival team gets an impact player at the deadline, it is very deflating.  Especially when they seem to do it every year, as is the case for the Red Sox and Dodgers.

In the AL Central the Twins are only two games behind the Tigers, who just obtained Jarrod Washburn, a great addition to their rotation.  Meanwhile teams like the Rockies, Rangers, and Twins are forced to stand pat and try and wedge their way into the playoffs with what they have.  They compete every night and battle all season only to have the teams around them get a giant shot in the arm with two months to go.

It is fortuitous that baseball has the wild card though, because it does give teams in secondary markets an opportunity to make the playoffs.  Right now there are no division leaders that are in mid or small markets, and no division leaders with a payroll below $100 million.  In 2008 there was only one smaller market team that won their division, the Tampa Rays; the other division winners were representing Chicago, Philadelphia, and LA. 

In addition to every division being led by a $100 million team, there is only one $100 million dollar that is even under .500, the Mets.  The $100 million dollar teams include the Yankees, Cubs, Red Sox, Tigers, Mariners, Angels, Phillies, Astros, White Sox, and Dodgers.  The statement the rich got richer definitely rings true, as six of those teams made major acquisitions

If you don’t think that money equates to winning consider this.  Four of the past five World Series have been won by teams in the $100 million club.  It doesn’t mean that the team who has the highest payroll always wins, but it does mean that to win you do have to pay.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com