Thursday April 29th, 2010

MLB Power Rankings
21Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 25
In the first two weeks of the season Jay Bruce started 0-for-19 and had a homer overturned by replay, en route to going 6-for-41 (.146), with zero homers and two RBIs in 12 games. His next eight games: 10-for-27 (.370), three homers, six RBIs. Looks like he's turned the corner.
22Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 6
Atlanta is the inaugural recipient of the See-Saw Award, which goes to the club who oscillates most violently back and forth. Their ranking has gone from 16th to sixth and now down to 22nd, thanks to seven straight losses to the Phillies, Mets and Cardinals. The Braves would have fallen even farther if not for the degree of difficulty component, as all of those teams have winning records and five of those games were on the road.
23Texas Rangers
Last Week: 23
In a rare move the Rangers on Tuesday demoted both catchers from their Opening Day roster, optioning Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden to Triple A Oklahoma City. The pair very recently had been ranked highly among one of baseball's best farm systems, but Salty has barely played while battling injury and Teagarden is just 1-for-27 with -- inconceivably -- 17 strikeouts. That means they'll be in town for Friday's NBA playoff game between the Lakers and the Thunder, though they'll be playing their own game simultaneously.
24Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 28
Everyone's a critic: Upon visiting the White House on Monday, Yankees assistant general manager Jean Afterman urged manager Joe Girardi to let President Obama, a noted White Sox fan, hold the World Series trophy because "he might not get a chance again." Obama replied affably, with just a little bit of an edge, "And you wonder why other teams don't root for you."
25Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 12
Manager Joe Torre has two things to look forward to this weekend: a visit from the lowly Pirates and a possible win in the Kentucky Derby. Torre is 10 percent owner of Homeboykris and is already blocking off race time to watch from his office at Dodgers Stadium. On Monday when a reporter mentioned the gelding's 50-to-1 odds, Torre corrected him, "That's 72-1," jokingly noting that his longshot should receive its proper due.
26Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 26
Sure, Juan Cruz was terrible, but will Bruce Chen be any better? Cruz, who signed a two-year, $6 million contract before the 2009 season, had allowed opponents to bat .391 against him in 5 1/3 innings, but he would still seem to have more upside -- and more guaranteed money due him -- than either Chen or Brad Thompson, the other reliever the Royals promoted.
27Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 27
Austin Kearns had merely been slotted to be the fill-in, rotated through the lineup to give occasional days off to Matt LaPorta, Russell Branyan and Travis Hafner, but he may start getting a more full-time nod. He had a four-game stretch in which he had a trio of three-hit games, one of which included five RBIs in a win over the Angels.
28Houston Astros
Last Week: 30
The Astros' total of eight home runs would only tie them for first on the individual-player leaderboard, but Houston has finally found ways to win without power or, for that matter, patience (35 walks, a paltry 4.9 percent of all plate appearances). Yet the 'Stros have emerged victorious in seven of eight recent games. During that stretch Houston's starters sapped the power and patience from their opponents, allowing four home runs and walking nine in 52 innings for a 2.77 ERA.
29Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 29
When even the league's official site is acknowledging that the manager's job status is in danger, then things are not looking good. Dave Trembley isn't the only one having a rough week. The O's most productive player to this point in the season, Ty Wigginton (.322, 6 HR, 12 RBIs), didn't even make the All-Star ballot.
30Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 20
The Orioles have been worse this season, but no team is playing worse than the Pirates right now. They recently lost seven straight, with four of those defeats by at least seven runs, for a cumulative deficit of 72-12. The Pirates started their slide by getting swept at home to the Brewers -- including a 20-0 rout -- in front of an average crowd of just 11,737. If this keeps up, will there be even 11 fans when they return home next Tuesday?
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