Gennaro Filice
Thursday August 7th, 2008

Sorry, folks -- minimal excitement at the top. The Angels and Cubs have established themselves as the premier teams in their respective leagues, while the plucky Rays just refuse to lose. Much to the delight of most readers, though, the Yankees take a plunge following a devastating injury. Oakland's freefall continues to the bowels of the rankings. The A's are rapidly approaching their neighbors across the San Francisco Bay (yikes!). And even though Washington has won four of five, I just can't bring myself to let the Nats out of the cellar. Not when Austin Kearns is batting cleanup.

MLB Power Rankings
1Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 1
I don't think Vladimir Guerrero minds having Mark Teixeira in the lineup. In the seven games he has played with Tex, Vladdy is hitting .333 with three homers and 10 RBI. Overall Teixeira has played eight games for Los Angeles, and the Halos have scored at least nine runs in four of them.
So, is Teixeira a rental or will Arte Moreno toss him a big chunk of change in the offseason? Torii Hunter is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Teixeira in the fold. "I'll probably take him out to dinner, wine and dine him, let him see the O.C. and L.A.," Hunter told The Press-Enterprise. "If I've got to put a mask on and threaten him to sign at night when he walks to his car, I'll do it."
2Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 2
Fonzie's back! Alfonso Soriano has been raking since returning from the disabled list, hitting .389 with six homers, five doubles, 15 RBI and 14 runs in 15 games. The Cubs are averaging a healthy 6.33 runs since their leadoff hitter's return. "I said all along, when we were in that Houston-Arizona road trip [after the All-Star break], that once we got Soriano back in the lineup, it would help stabilize things offensively, and it has," Lou Piniella told
3Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 3
Unbelievable win for Tampa Bay on Wednesday. Playing without Carl Crawford (sore hamstring) and B.J. Upton (benched for not hustling), the Rays erased a three-run deficit in the bottom of the ninth, beating Cleveland 10-7 on Carlos Pena's walk-off homer. Team of destiny? Sure seems like it.
There's still plenty of baseball to be played, but the Rays' playoff hopes look pretty darn good. With 49 games remaining, Tampa Bay can go 27-22 and end up with 95 wins.
4Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 6
After last week's big three-way deadline trade, a certain someone said "Boston had the best chance to win a World Series this season with Manny Ramirez in left field, not Jason Bay." One week into his Red Sox tenure, J-Bay is force-feeding me my words. Bay's hitting .423 with four extra-base hits in his new Boston duds. Most importantly, the Red Sox are 5-1 since the trade. Let's not go too crazy, though -- the five wins came against Kansas City and Oakland. And it must be mentioned that Manny is on an absolute tear in Los Angeles. (More on this later ...)
5Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 5
For a second there, I thought Prince Fielder was going to ditch vegetarianism and eat Manny Parra. Was the dugout fracas a big deal? No. The Brewers regrouped and finished up a six-game road trip with four wins. But Milwaukee still faces a five-game deficit in the division race, and Brewers faithful are getting pretty desperate in their YouTube Cubs bashing.
6Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 7
Blonde bleach is all the rage on the South Side. Bobby Jenks and Juan Uribe have sported blonde goatees for much of season, but A.J. Pierzynski recently one-upped them both, channeling his inner-Billy Idol and dying his hair platinum blond. Any chance Ozzie hops on the blonde bandwagon?
7Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 8
The Denard Span lovefest continues for one more week here at the Power Rankings. On Wednesday Span carried the Twins to a win over Seattle by going 3-for-5 with four RBI and robbing Adrian Beltre of a go-ahead homer with this fabulous grab. This dude is pure excitement.
8St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 9
Jason Isringhausen lost the closer job. Again. Why did Tony La Russa reinsert him into the role in the first place? You got me. On the season, Izzy is 1-6 with 6.28 ERA and seven blown saves in 19 chances. Shocking numbers from a guy that logged at least 30 saves in seven of the past eight seasons.
9New York Yankees
Last Week: 4
Joba Chamberlain's rotator cuff tendonitis could serve as the death blow in New York's quest to make a 14th straight postseason. Chamberlain has been placed on the 15-day DL, but would anyone be shocked if he missed rest of the season? Yankees brass refuse to speculate on any sort of timetable. "He'll pitch when he's ready," Joe Girardi said. If the Yankees can make the playoffs with a stretch-run staff that includes Sidney Ponson, Dan Giese and Ian Kennedy, their postseason streak may never end.
10Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 11
At the tender age of 45, super-soft-tossing Jamie Moyer somehow still has what it takes to get out major league hitters. Moyer actually has one more win than staff ace Cole Hamels and owns a very respectable 3.78 ERA. Not to mention he's given up less than three earned runs in 11 straight starts. With better run support, Moyer would be in the teens in the win column.
11Florida Marlins
Last Week: 12
It's very encouraging to see Kevin Gregg getting back to his dominant self just in time for the stretch run of a tight NL East race. Gregg was a bit rocky at times during the first half, but he's locked in of late, allowing just one run in his last 13 outings while converting all nine save opportunities.
12Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 13
You ready for another round of Max Scherzer? The fireballing righthander is currently building up stamina (and striking out the world) at Triple-A Tucson. Yusmeiro Petit owns the fifth spot in Arizona's rotation right now, but I'm guessing he's just keeping it warm until Scherzer's ready.
13New York Mets
Last Week: 10
Aaron Heilman has the third-most appearances in the majors this season with 59. This little tidbit begs one simple question: Why on Earth does Jerry Manuel continue to trot him out there? Heilman is 1-6 with a 5.67 ERA and astronomical 1.49 WHIP. Heilman's most telling stat is the career-high nine home runs he has given up, eight of which have come with runners on base (a record for Mets relievers). And this is the guy the Mets turn to first when closer Billy Wagner hits the disabled list?
14Texas Rangers
Last Week: 15
David Murphy's bid for 100 RBI in his rookie campaign came to a crashing halt during this collision with Pudge Rodriguez. Sitting on 74 RBI, Murphy could miss up to four weeks with a strained posterior cruciate ligament (a knee injury, for you non-educated folks out there). Marlon Byrd couldn't have been more blunt in assessing how Murphy's injury will impact the Rangers: "That's going to kills us," Byrd told
15Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 16
A's pitcher Gio Gonzalez made his major league debut Wednesday and it didn't take long for him to experience a "Welcome to the bigs" moment. Gonzalez threw a first-inning fastball that saw way too much of the plate, and Toronto catcher Rod Barajas laced this mammoth shot. I'm willing to bet that's the hardest ball Barajas has ever hit in his life. By far. (To Gonzalez's credit, he composed himself and looked promising during the rest of his debut.)
16Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 17
Manny Ramirez has made quite the impression on his new hitting coach, six-time All-Star Don Mattingly. "I feel like Manny is the best right-handed hitter I've ever seen," Mattingly told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "To me, he's pretty much as good as it gets. He's a worker. I know people don't want to think that, but he works his butt off." Well, no wonder "Donnie Baseball" is singing the praises of his new left fielder -- Manny is hitting .600 (12-20) with three home runs and seven RBI in five games as a Dodger.
17Houston Astros
Last Week: 21
Lance Berkman hasn't gone yard since June 30. The 30-game homerless streak is the longest of his career. Berkman is just 2-for-20 in August. "He's not the same guy he was," manager Cecil Cooper told the Houston Chronicle. "You don't see him struggle for long, long periods of time. You have not seen that Berkman swing."
18Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 18
Baltimore's original plan was to start Hayden Penn in Tuesday night's game against the Angels, but the Triple-A Norfolk pitcher was bloodied by a broken bat during a warmup start, forcing the Orioles to scramble for a fresh minor league arm. Insert nine-year minor leaguer Chris Waters. The 27-year-old southpaw seized the moment, tossing an eight-inning, one-hit gem to beat the mighty Angels in his major league debut. "He just took out nine years of frustration on the best team in baseball," Aubrey Huff told the Baltimore Sun. "How great is that?"
19Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 14
Justin Verlander's roller coaster season has taken another dip. During June and July, Verlander enjoyed an eight-game stretch in which he allowed two earned runs or less, but the Tigers' hurler has yielded 18 earned runs over his last three outings. With Wednesday's loss to the White Sox -- Detroit's sixth straight defeat -- Verlander is 2-8 with a 6.01 ERA against the division rival.
20Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 19
Troy Tulowitzki is hitting .436 since returning from a second stint on the disabled list on July 21, but I still can't get used to him walking up to the plate to Britney Spears' Gimme More. "It's Tulo, b----!"
21Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 22
Now this is the Billy Butler we've all heard about. Spraying line drives all over the field, Butler is hitting .348 with five homers and 15 RBI since the break.
22Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 24
Cleveland may be the biggest disappointment in baseball this season, but don't blame Jhonny Peralta. The Indians shortstop is quietly having a solid season. Peralta's batting average (.281) and slugging percentage (.511) are the highest they have been since his breakout 2005 season (.292, .520). In his past 24 games, Peralta is hitting .381 with 12 doubles, five homers and 24 RBI.
23Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 20
The Athletics have scored a grand total of 17 runs over their last nine games. And that, folks, is the anatomy of a nine-game losing streak.
24Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 25
With Steelers training came going full bore in Latrobe, baseball season is officially over in Pittsburgh. But newly acquired pitcher Jeff Karstens has created a bit of a buzz in the Steel City with a pair of brilliant outings. Karstens carried a perfect game through 7 2/3 innings Wednesday, finishing with a compete-game shutout of Arizona that included just two hits and one walk. This came five days after his six innings of shutout ball against the Cubs. Karstens exhibited pinpoint control in both starts.
25San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 27
Alex Hinshaw has a changeup too? Hinshaw, a relative unknown prior to this season, has been a pleasant surprise in the Giants bullpen. Thanks to a mid-90s heater and a snap-dragon slider, the 25-year-old rookie boasts the lowest ERA (2.51) of any active Giant. But the rangy left-hander unveiled a new weapon in his arsenal Tuesday night. Facing a 3-2 count, Hinshaw shocked everyone -- including helpless strikeout victim Omar Infante -- by breaking off a nasty changeup. Even Giants broadcaster Mike Krukow had no clue Hinshaw had that trick up his sleeve.
26Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 26
An incredibly strange thing happened Tuesday evening -- Mike Hampton won a game. It was Hampton's first win in 1,086 days, dating back to August 14, 2005. Hampton better savor the taste of victory while he can -- he's scheduled to face Cy Young frontrunner Brandon Webb (16-4) Sunday.
27Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 23
The good news: Homer Bailey regained his velocity in Wednesday's start. The bad news: Bailey still gave up six earned runs -- raising his ERA to 7.93 -- and dropped to 0-6. Labeled as Cincinnati's top prospect before the '07 campaign, Bailey continues to struggle at the major league level. He's still just 22, but the erratic right-hander is already becoming associated with an ugly word: bust.
28Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 29
I'll bet there are a few contenders out there that regret not making a move for Raul Ibanez. In seven games since the trade deadline, Ibanez has 16 RBI.
29San Diego Padres
Last Week: 28
Padres owner John Moores has not attended many Padres games this season, and it's not because of the horrendous product on the field. He just hasn't had a place to sit. According to a San Diego Union-Tribune report, the Petco Park owners' suite has become a key front in Moores' divorce battle. When his wife, Becky, filed for divorce back in January, Moores agreed to give her exclusive access to the box in April, May, June and July. But recently, the ex-couple has fought over use of the suite. The report says that Moores was forced to shack up in GM Kevin Towers' box last weekend. Ah, big-money divorces ...
30Washington Nationals
Last Week: 30
The Nats play .800 baseball with Emilio Bonifacio in the lineup and .352 ball without him. OK, it's a miniscule sample size, but the Nationals are 4-1 since bringing Bonifacio up from Triple-A Columbus. The 23-year-old, acquired by Washington in the Jon Rauch trade, has sparked Washington's lineup from the leadoff spot, racking up eight hits and four runs. Bonifacio has also played stellar defense at second base.

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