Thursday August 5th, 2010

MLB Power Rankings
11St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 7
For any team that lost a corner infielder to injury, there were two easily obtainable replacements available in the trade market: Boston's Mike Lowell and Baltimore's Ty Wigginton. But Cardinals third baseman David Freese didn't suffer his season-ending injury until Monday night -- two days after the non-waiver trade deadline -- putting St. Louis in a jam. Felipe Lopez had been filling in for Freese, but he has little power and is not a great option, and now making a trade will be difficult. Other teams could put in a waiver claim on Wigginton to block a deal, and Lowell is now needed in Boston with the injury to Kevin Youkilis.
 
12Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 10
Tuesday night afforded the Red Sox a heartwarming moment when the Fenway fans greeted the return of Mike Lowell with a standing ovation, and then he promptly homered in his first at bat. For a moment, at least, it masked the absence of team leader Kevin Youkilis, whose torn adductor muscle in his thumb has put his season in jeopardy. Boston has remained competitive through a whole slew of injuries, but the loss of Youk for an extended period of time would end their realistic chances of contending. For the Sox it's looking more and more like 2006 when second-half injuries sank an otherwise promising season and kept them out of the postseason for the only time in the past seven years.
 
13Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 17
Todd Helton is having an awful season: He's batting a career-worst .250 with a .313 OBP and an unfathomably low .313 slugging percentage, the result of only 12 extra-base hits (10 doubles, two homers) in 71 games. Yet his absence for most of July suggested that, despite his shortcomings this season, the Rockies might still be better when he's in the lineup. Colorado is 36-29 in games he has started (.554) and 20-22 (.476) in games he hasn't.
 
14Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 15
The Blue Jays' extra-base prowess isn't just limited to home runs. Though they lead the majors with 167 homers, including surprise individual HR king in Jose Bautista, the Jays tied an American League record on Tuesday night with six doubles in an inning against the Yankees. Travis Snider hit two of them, while Fred Lewis, Bautista, Vernon Wells and Aaron Hill all had one in a seven-run fifth inning. The 1934 Washington Senators and 2002 Texas Rangers are the only other AL clubs to have done it.
 
15Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 13
Third-base coach Larry Bowa offered some pointed, public criticism of center fielder Matt Kemp this week. After a hot start to the season, Kemp has cooled considerably. Since April 27 Kemp has batted .253 with a .309 OBP, and Bowa thinks his effort has been subpar, telling T.J. Simers of the Los Angeles Times, "I wish I had Matt Kemp's tools because I would be in Cooperstown. He has so much athleticism. I don't know if he knows what it's like to go full bore for nine innings. He's so talented, I don't think his mind lets him ask, 'Is there more here?'" Kemp acknowledged the problem saying, "There's more there. I agree." With his team in fourth place, the time is now to find it.
 
16Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 16
Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey has, not surprisingly, been very good for the A's, but his injury replacement, Michael Wuertz, did something Wednesday that Bailey had never done: strike out the side for a save. And Wuertz didn't feed off the bottom of the order, either, drawing his whiffs from the Royals' 3-4-5 hitters, Billy Butler, Jose Guillen and Kila Ka'aihue. It was Oakland's first three-strikeout save with no hits allowed since Huston Street did it in 2007.
 
17Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 14
Trading for Jhonny Peralta can only help -- he did, after all, hit two homers in his Detroit debut -- but it's about time the Tigers packed it in and looked toward 2011. Earlier this week they fell below .500 for the first time all season and sit in third place in the AL Central, eight games out of first. The bevy of games within the division in the season's final two months is often an easy way to play catch-up, but the Tigers don't have a winning record against any of their four AL Central counterparts, not even the Indians or Royals.
 
18New York Mets
Last Week: 18
The Mets keep trying -- and failing -- to prove they are better than mediocre. After spending all of July above .500, the Mets have again regressed to an even record (54-54) thanks to just seven wins in their last 24 games. Their up-and-down season keeps returning to .500, a winning percentage they have reached in April, May, June and now August, and three times in July they were just one game above even.
 
19Florida Marlins
Last Week: 19
How can someone with the speed of Hanley Ramirez go an entire month without a double or a triple? That's what he did in July, a month in which he had a .242/.306/.273 batting line with only one extra-base hit, a home run. Ever since the May 17 incident when he Ramirez upset his manager and teammates by kicking a ball into the outfield and not hustling after it, he hasn't been the same player. What is it they say about karma?
 
20Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 20
It wasn't quite Ryan Minor replacing Cal Ripken in the lineup to end his consecutive games streak, but Angels rookie Peter Bourjos received his own bit of legend-replacement notoriety this week when he replaced nine-time Gold Glove winner Torii Hunter in center field. Hunter still has a penchant for the spectacular play, but he's lost a step and the speedy Bourjos has a chance to be excellent defensively.
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