Thursday June 10th, 2010

MLB Power Rankings
21Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 21
The Cubs continue to disappoint, but closer Carlos Marmol is on pace for a record-breaking season. Hitters have swung the bat 182 times against him and connected only 100 times, a staggering miss rate of 45.1 percent. The major-league record, held by then Dodgers closer Eric Gagne, is 44.8 percent, set in 2004; and the Wall Street Journal notes that only four pitchers (Gagne, Billy Wagner in 1999, Brad Lidge in '04 and Armando Benitez in '99) have ever cracked the 40-percent barrier with a minimum of 50 innings pitched.
22Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 22
Five of the 30 teams in the majors drafted their manager's son this week, though only White Sox skipper Ozzie Guillen is unhappy. The Tigers, who took Jim Leyland's son in the eighth round, were the only team to make such a selection before the 20th round; the Giants picked Bruce Bochy's son in the 20th round, the Rockies and White Sox selected Jim Tracy's and Guillen's sons in the 22nd round and the A's grabbed Bob Geren's son in the 36th round. Guillen thought his son Ozney should have gone higher, saying, "Obviously, it's a disappointment. Twenty-second round? Anybody can go 22nd round."
23Houston Astros
Last Week: 28
Carlos Lee could do nothing right in April, bating .183 with no home runs. The power arrived in May, as he hit five homers, and now the rest of his swing has come alive in June: He started the first nine games of the month batting .333 with four more homers, including an extra-innings grand slam. What does this mean for Houston? Not playoff contention, obviously, but perhaps Lee will have more trade value.
24Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 23
There are easy ways to hurt your team, and as any baseball fan knows, walking the opponent is near the top of the list, so it should be no wonder that the Brewers are floundering at 11 games under .500. Not one of Milwaukee's top-five starters is walking fewer than four batters per nine innings, and the club is the worst in the majors in walks issued (250) and WHIP (1.62). Former starter Jeff Suppan, despite having nearly $10 million left on his contract, was released, thanks to his 7.84 ERA and 2.00 WHIP. The 335 runs the Brewers have allowed are second-worst in the majors.
25Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 25
At what point do Zack Greinke's statistics indicate actual struggles or a simple lack of support around him? Greinke is now just 1-8 in 13 starts with a 4.05 ERA and 1.30 WHIP this year after going 16-8 with a 2.16 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in his AL Cy Young season of 2009. The numbers show a mix: His run support has certainly trailed off, from 4.2 runs per game last year to 2.5 runs this year; but the Royals ranked last in defensive efficiency in '09 but have improved to No. 21 this year. More tellingly, he had a 14-start stretch from June through mid-August last season in which he went 3-7 with a 3.65 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. In other words, it's been a near-identical stretch and probably just an ordinary slump.
26Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 26
In the old days one of the perks of a disappointing season was pillaging the Yankees' farm system when they inevitably made a trade for a high-priced free-agent-to-be, but the New York Daily News has reported that the Yankees likely won't add Mariners' lefty Cliff Lee by trade this season. So Seattle will have to look beyond New York's prized catching prospect Jesus Montero for daydreams of future Mariners glory.
27Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 24
After watching the Nationals' prized pitching prospect throw on Tuesday, the Pirates pitted their own against Washington on Wednesday to considerably less fanfare, as Brad Lincoln gave up five runs in six innings. Pittsburgh also promoted its top young outfielder, Jose Tataba, who singled on the first swing of his major-league career and finished 2-for-4 with a run and a walk. Still waiting -- though not for much longer -- is third baseman Pedro Alvarez, who on the same day was a single shy of the cycle in Triple-A.
28Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 27
Starter Justin Masterson was better than his numbers, sabermetricians argued, when the young righty sinkerballer had a 5.87 ERA despite a 9.1 K/9 rate and a groundball percentage of 61.9. They were right. Masterson made a small mechanical adjustment three starts ago to stay on top of the ball and get more sinking action, and he's gone 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA since, including a two-hit shutout of his former team, the Red Sox.
29Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 29
The perfect games -- Braden, Dallas; Halladay, Roy; Galarraga, Armando (sort of) -- have been well documented, but this has also been the year of the inside-the-park home run. For the first time in 27 years one ballpark (Nationals Park) had two inside-the-parkers when the Mets' Angel Pagan and the Orioles' Adam Jones both did it in May, and now the Diamondbacks have tallied their second of the season. Shortstop Stephen Drew had his on Opening Day, and on Wednesday Gerardo Parra hit a two-run inside-the-park-roundtripper that provided the entirety of the Diamondbacks' offense in a 2-1 win over the Braves.
30Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 30
The Orioles have a lot on riding on the negotiations between No. 1 overall pick Bryce Harper (and his agent, Scott Boras) and the Nationals. Why? Baltimore is so obviously destined for next year's top pick -- it has the sport's worst record by seven games already -- that, should Harper not sign, it could swoop in and try to sign him next year. The O's do, of course, already have a right fielder (Nick Markakis), catcher (Matt Wieters) and center fielder (Adam Jones) locked in for the foreseeable future, but one would guess they'd find a spot for Harper's bat.
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