Thursday May 27th, 2010

MLB Power Rankings
21Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 21
Third baseman Brandon Wood has barely hit all season (.156 average in 122 at-bats), and over the weekend the Angels wouldn't even let him try. Not only did manager Mike Scioscia hold him out of the starting lineup in consecutive games for the first time this season, but he wouldn't even let Wood take batting practice for two days, an unorthodox move designed to let Wood "decompress." Now Wood, who is out of options and thus cannot be sent to the minor leagues without clearing waivers, won't be hitting for much longer. Call it the world's best timed injury, but he was sent to the disabled list with what's been called an "aggravated hip flexor."
22Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 24
Omar Vizquel has long called Luis Aparicio "an icon." At the rate Vizquel keeps passing the Hall of Famer, though, it won't be long before a young shortstop is calling Vizquel an icon, too. Vizquel, who asked for and received Aparicio's permission to wear his No. 11 with the White Sox, has passed his hero for most career games played at shortstop and most career hits by a Venezuelan; on Monday Vizquel tied Aparicio for second-most career hits while playing shortstop (trailing only Derek Jeter).
23Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 22
If the Pirates, who are only six games under .500, are going to make a run for the franchise's first winning record since 1992, they should bring up third-base prospect Pedro Alvarez sooner rather than later. He's the next great hope of Pirates fans and could provide some needed power to the corner infield positions. Oh, and there's this: His bio from the Vanderbilt athletic site says his two nicknames are El Toro, which means The Bull, and El Matatan, which my Spanish translator says means The Badass.
24Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 26
Need further evidence that batting average is an overrated stat? The Royals -- the very same 19-28 club that resides in Kansas City -- are leading the majors with a .280 team average.
25Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 27
The Diamondbacks have by far baseball's worst bullpen, with a 7.52 ERA -- more than a run and a half worse than second-worst Milwaukee (5.83). Arizona has been making regular transactions with its reliever corps, most recently adding Saul Rivera and Carlos Rosa and releasing Blaine Boyer and Bob Howry. In all, the Diamondbacks have already used 19 pitchers this season, tied with the Royals for the most in baseball.
26Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 25
USA Today ran a fawning profile of Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, noting his impressive business acumen as well as his on-field exploits. His agent even dared say, "What (NBA star) LeBron (James) has done in Cleveland, Ryan is starting to do in Milwaukee." That, of course, is overzealous hyperbole, but there's no doubting that Braun would be a much bigger national star if he played somewhere else.
27Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 28
There was speculation from the Mariners that Ichiro Suzuki might move from his leadoff perch down to third in the lineup, in an effort to help produce more runs. He is, after all, leading the AL in hits (64) and is one of only two everyday Mariners with an on-base percentage higher than .321 -- Franklin Gutierrez has a .382 and Ichiro a .377. But Ichiro made only 13 starts anywhere else in the lineup, and manager Don Wakamatsu doesn't want to change anything with his star, the team's only consistent player. Still, that lineup might need a kick-start in the very near future.
28Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 23
Receiving a call-up when Grady Sizemore went on the disabled list, Trevor Crowe was hot in his return to the bigs, batting .324 (12-for-37) with a home run and three stolen bases in his first nine games. But the 2005 first-round pick out of Arizona has a lot of catching up to do, not only on his own career path -- many thought he'd be more established by now -- but on the two players with whom he shares Nov. 17, 1983 as a birthday, Ryan Braun and Nick Markakis.
29Houston Astros
Last Week: 29
Starter Roy Oswalt voiced his frustration with the state of the Astros last week, saying he'd like to be traded to a contender. But despite reported interest from the Dodgers, Nationals, Rangers and others, a source has told that the Astros are not interested in trading the three-time All-Star anytime soon. With Houston's season going nowhere -- and 2011 not exactly brimming with hope and possibility -- why not?
30Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 30
So much for rookie left-hander Brian Matusz being the Orioles' lone developmental bright spot. He has slumped in the season's second month, going 0-4 with a 7.50 ERA in five May starts. Catcher Matt Wieters, center fielder Adam Jones and starters Brad Bergesen and David Hernandez -- the other Orioles no older than 25 -- are all struggling, too. At least more hope is on the way: Heralded young right-hander Chris Tillman is expected to make his first start of the season on Saturday.
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