Gennaro Filice
Friday June 13th, 2008

Howdy, folks. I'll be taking the wheel on the Power Rankings from here on out. I intend to be fair and balanced in my ranking, with no biases toward any coast or region. But I must warn you -- I'm a very excitable individual. A little rally can go a long way in these eyes, which should breed much fluidity from week to week. Naturally, my reign of terror begins with a pretty significant reshuffling of the deck, including a new No. 1.

MLB Power Rankings
1Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 3
No Big Papi? No problem. J.D. Drew is keeping David Ortiz's No. 3 spot nice and warm, hitting .500 with four homers, four doubles 11 RBIs and 12 runs since taking over Papi's post on June 4. What's Ortiz been up to during his DL stint? Committing to bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law, of course. Ortiz became a United States citizen Wednesday. Part of the ceremony can be seen here. Dapper, Papi. Very dapper.
 
2Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 1
Upon tuning into WGN for Thursday afternoon's Cubs-Braves game, I found myself questioning whether or not someone had slipped psychedelics into my lunchtime pizza slice. A black and white broadcast with janky old-school graphics, subpar camera angles and fedoras everywhere? That's bewildering stuff. But I quickly found out that the broadcast was all a part of WGN's 1948 Throwback Game, which honored 60 years of Cubbies coverage on the station. WGN pulled out all the stops. Kudos to whoever decided to incorporate the constant banging of a typewriter as an ambient sound.
 
3Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 2
Anybody else think Torii Hunter's post-homer bat flip is a bit too pronounced these days? It may be wise for him to get a little extra padding in the ear-hole region.
 
4Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 4
Even after Tom Gordon's blowup Wednesday night, the Phillies still boast the No. 1 bullpen in baseball with a 2.71 ERA. Pretty amazing for a group that finished 24th just one season ago with a robust 4.41 mark. Three cheers for GM Pat Gillick, who shored up the 'pen in the offseason by adding three key arms: Brad Lidge, Chad Durbin and Rudy Seanez.
 
5Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 6
Does anyone realize that Dioner Navarro is hitting .338? This is the same guy who hit .227 last season. Although it seems like he's been around forever, Navarro is still just 24. I have to believe the catcher's early season success played at least a small part in convincing the Rays to take shortstop Tim Beckham over catcher Buster Posey with the No. 1 pick in the draft.
 
6Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 7
I know I'm setting myself up for heartbreak by falling for ultra-fragile flamethrower Rich Harden, but how can I not fawn over a guy who strikes out the first three hitters of a game on nine pitches, as Harden did against the Angels last Sunday?
 
7St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 5
Albert Pujols lost another limb and Adam Wainwright has joined the rest of the Cards' staff on the DL. If Tony La Russa can continue to win without those two, the devil is feeling unusually generous.
 
8Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 13
Mark Reynolds is definitely one of the streakiest hitters in the game, but when he's hot he can really carry an offense.
 
9Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 8
It's hard to fathom how this team has scored the third-most runs in the American League when Paul Konerko (.217), Jim Thome (.219) and Nick Swisher (.223) are all within sniffing distance of the Mendoza Line. Thank God for the Carlos Quentin trade.
 
10Florida Marlins
Last Week: 10
Andrew Miller struggles mightily with consistency from start to start, but you can tell the 23-year-old has the makings of a future ace. Miller made Chase Utley look foolish on Wednesday, and that isn't easy to do.
 
11Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 14
Bombs away for the Beermakers! With 10 jacks during a three-game series against Houston, this Brewers teams looked like last year's ballclub, which led the majors with 231 homers. Of course, this series did take place in Minute Maid Ballpark. And three of thee bombs did come against Brandon Backe, who is tied for the MLB lead with 18 homers allowed. Mr. Buzzkill rears his ugly head ...
 
12New York Yankees
Last Week: 16
Jason Giambi's hitting homers like its 2000, but I'm more intrigued by his newfound ability to beat the infield shift by poking the ball to the left side. And I don't want to hear anyone call these base knocks "cheapies." Opposing teams choose to position themselves that way.
 
13Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 11
Roy Halladay is mowing batters down again. The American League's foremost connoisseur of ground balls averaged just 135.5 strikeouts over the last two seasons, but this year he's on pace to whiff 187.
 
14Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 9
Mind-boggling statistic of the week: Free-swinging Brave Jeff Francoeur doesn't have a single hit on a 2-0 or 3-1 count this season. That's almost as ridiculous as Atlanta holding a 7-24 record on the road.
 
15Texas Rangers
Last Week: 18
Milton Bradley says he just wanted to introduce himself to Kansas City Royals announcer Ryan Lefebvre after storming the press box in a fit of anger Wednesday night. Would it have been similar to Inigo Montoya's "introduction" in The Princess Bride?
"Hello, My name is Milton Bradley. You killed my psyche. Prepare to die."
 
16Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 19
If only Baltimore could face Hideki Okajima every game. The O's feasted on Okajima and his patented "Okie Dokie" pitch once again in a comeback win over Boston. Against the rest of the league, Okajima owns a 0.40 ERA. But against Baltimore, that mark balloons to 13.50.
 
17Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 23
The Indians have the most star-studded disabled list in recent memory. On Thursday Victor Martinez and Josh Barfield joined Travis Hafner, Fausto Carmona and Jake Westbrook. And yet they still won two of three games (including a 12-2 smackdown Thursday) against a certain team from the Land of 10,000 Lakes ...
 
18Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 12
Finally, Carlos Gomez shows us that his legs are still operational. Prior to Wednesday night's theft, Minnesota's speed demon had stolen just one base in his previous 28 games.
 
19New York Mets
Last Week: 15
Say what you want about Billy Wagner's abrasive persona, but the struggling Mets closer didn't have any problem holding himself accountable after a third straight blown save. "I can't say a thing about our team," Wagner told the New York Post. "I suck." As usual, David Wright attempted to bear a teammate's cross. "Billy is the least of our concerns," Wright told the Post. "We have to start swinging the bats better." I beg to differ, Dave. Billy Wagner and his decreased velocity are a pretty big concern.
 
20Houston Astros
Last Week: 17
We all love watching Lance "Big Puma" Berkman play, but when you set a photo montage to "Wind Beneath My Wings" and superimpose Berkman's face on your girlfriend's body, you may be taking that adulation a bit too far. Check out the leader in the clubhouse for Obsessive Fan Video of the Year.
 
21San Diego Padres
Last Week: 26
The Padres have won seven of eight and now they have last year's NL Cy Young winner back in the fold. They still need to add some firepower to that offense to get back in the NL West race. Stud prospect Chase Headley could be a start.
 
22Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 20
Fresh off the DL, Bucs backstop Ryan Doumit is the hottest hitter in baseball. In a three-game series against the Nats, Doumit was 9-for-12 with four homers, two doubles, seven RBI and ... Wait! I'm jinxing it! "I don't even want to talk about it. I'm not trying to analyze it," Doumit told the assembled press. "I just want to ride the wave right now." Ride away, brother.
 
23Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 27
The White Sox entered a three-game set against the Tigers with a seven-game win streak and an 11-game lead over their AL Central foes. But Chicago failed to further bury Detroit, as the Tigers rallied for a three-game sweep. Suddenly, Justin Verlander and Kenny Rogers have returned to form.
 
24San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 24
How badly will Barry Zito embarrass himself against his former team Friday night? In two career outings vs. the A's, The 126 Million Dollar Man has allowed 10 earned runs in eight innings. That's good for an 11.25 ERA.
 
25Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 21
Edinson Volquez allowed more than two earned runs for the first time in a Reds uniform. Slacker. Though he did extend his quality starts streak to 10.
 
26Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 22
Hiroki Kuroda's inconsistency this month is making my head hurt. First he yields six earned runs in just 2.2 innings to the struggling Mets. Then he throws a complete-game shutout with 11 strikeouts against the NL's best team, Chicago. And Thursday he gave up six earned runs in 2.1 innings to the offensively inept Padres. Guess $35.3 million just doesn't buy a whole lot of stability these days.
 
27Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 29
After a fabulous career at Stanford, Greg Reynolds went to the Rockies with the second overall pick in the 2006 draft. Just two years later, he's already in Colorado's starting rotation. But is Reynolds really ready for the big show? After his worst start of the season Thursday, Reynolds sits at 1-4 with a 6.69 ERA. And his 9-to-21 strikeout-to-walk rate is flat-out embarrassing.
 
28Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 28
I still don't believe spending $36 million on volatile outfielder Jose Guillen was Dayton Moore's most astute move ever, but I'm starting to understand the Kansas City GM's logic a little bit. Guillen became the first visiting player ever to have four homers and 10 RBIs in one series at Yankee Stadium.
 
29Washington Nationals
Last Week: 25
Manny Acta and Elijah Dukes got into a face-to-face shouting match in the dugout Wednesday night after Dukes engaged in a flamboyant celebration with Lastings Milledge during an exciting comeback win. On Thursday Acta told the Washington Post that he had made up with his starting right fielder, but refused to expand on the situation: "What happens in Pittsburgh stays in Pittsburgh." Pittsburgh: The new Vegas?!?
 
30Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 30
Marketing is all about positive thinking. We know this. But the Mariners may want to tweak the current slogan atop the official team page: "Mojo Risin'." Mojo Risin'? Jim Morrison's rolling over in his grave. It's hard to believe the mojo could be any worse in Seattle. Not when the Mariners hold the worst record in baseball (24-42) and J.J. Putz's elbow is acting up.
 

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