By Ted Keith
July 16, 2009
MLB Power Rankings
11 Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 11
Troy Tulowitzki, SS
Remember when Tulowitzki was being hailed as the second coming of Cal Ripken Jr.? Following a stellar rookie season in 2007 when he batted .291 with 99 RBIs, Tulowitzki endured an injury-plagued season last year and has had mixed results trying to regain that form this year. Yes, he has 16 home runs and a 111 OPS+, the highest of his career, but he's also hitting just .254 with a .338 on-base percentage, numbers that rank well below his figures from '07.
12 Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 12
Carlos Quentin, LF
Who can save the White Sox? How about Q-uperman? Quentin, out since late May with a foot injury, should be headed back to the White Sox lineup early in the second half. If he brings back the form that made him the leading AL MVP candidate before breaking his wrist last September, all the better for the Sox, and of course, their No. 1 fan.
13 Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 13
Manny Parra, SP
After losing CC Sabathia and Ben Sheets in the offseason, then watching Dave Bush go on the DL and Jeff Suppan struggle, it's a minor miracle that the Brewers are still just 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals in the NL Central. Along with Yovani Gallardo, lefty Manny Parra was supposed to be the foundation of their success this year, but by June Parra was performing so poorly that manager Ken Macha referred to him as a "whipped puppy" and the team sent him down to the minors. Parra returned just before the break and was impressive in a loss to the Cardinals. Now that he seems to have regained his confidence, he needs to resume his winning ways if the Brewers are to have any chance of making it back to the postseason.
14 Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 16
Erik Bedard, SP
Bedard may be the most important player the Mariners have, so important in fact, that they might not have him much longer. His numbers -- 5-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 13 starts -- are impressive, but the shoulder inflammation that kept him out for about a month right before the All-Star break is a concern. Not only did it limit his chances to aid the Mariners' surprising postseason push (they're just four games out in the AL West), it threw a wrench into potential plans to trade him to acquire either a bat, prospects or both. If Bedard stays, he has a good chance of helping the M's this year, but he may be able to aid their long-term future more if he's traded.
15 Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 14
Francisco Liriano, SP
Another year, another huge question mark for Francisco Liriano. As a rookie in 2006, it was, Can his sore arm hold up for an entire season? (It couldn't). In 2007, it was, Will he make it back at all from Tommy John surgery? (He wouldn't.) In 2008, it was, Why isn't he being promoted to the majors sooner? Now, it is, Why isn't he pitching better? To be sure, Liriano's velocity has never been the same after his surgery, but it's the lack of sharpness to his slider that is really troubling. He's just 4-9, the most losses in the AL, with a 5.47 ERA and is averaging nearly one walk for every two innings pitched. Along with Scott Baker, the Twins have not gotten what they needed from their two top starters. "Liriano and Baker. Those were the two we were really relying on and it hasn't happened yet," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Whether it will or not, we'll have to see."
16 Florida Marlins
Last Week: 15
Leo Nunez and Dan Meyer, CL
The disaster that was the Matt Lindstrom-as-closer experiment may well be over, and not just because Lindstrom is currently on the disabled list. His 6.52 ERA meant that every appearance was going to be an adventure. As the Marlins try to hang in playoff contention, a reliable closer is a must. Nunez and Meyer have been designated by manager Fredi Gonzalez as the two best ninth-inning options at the moment, but Florida may need to go fishing for a more suitable long-term replacement before the trade deadline, such as Pittsburgh's Matt Capps or Baltimore's George Sherrill. Until a better option arrives, Nunez and Meyer may be the ones keeping a tenuous grip on Florida's playoff hopes.
17 Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 17
Alfonso Soriano, LF
No player has typified the curiously struggling Cubs more than Soriano, who entered the year as a seven-time All-Star and one of the game's top leadoff hitters and has since struggled so mightily that he's been booed by the Wrigley Field faithful and dropped to the middle of the order by manager Lou Piniella. His once-dangerous speed is all but gone -- his seven stolen bases are easily a career low -- and Soriano was hitting just .228 with a .295 OBP from the leadoff spot. But when batting sixth, he's at .316 with a .350 OBP. It's too soon to tell whether he's out of his slump completely, but it's fair to say the Cubs long-awaited postseason push isn't likely to happen, or last long once it does, unless Soriano returns to form.
18 Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 18
Roy Halladay, SP
Halladay looked visibly uncomfortable discussing the trade rumors that have swirled around him ever since Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi announced a few weeks ago that Toronto was considering dealing its All-Star ace if the right offer came along. A Halladay trade would not only accelerate the Blue Jays' rebuilding plans, but it could alter a pennant race the same way the CC Sabathia deal did last season, and, for whatever it's worth, have an impact on the Cy Young race as well if Halladay (a favorite for the AL honor along with Kansas City's Zack Greinke) were to be dealt to the National League.
19 Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 20
Tommy Hanson, SP
Even if there is no postseason in store for Atlanta this year -- and with a six-game deficit it's not looking likely -- they still have considerable cause for optimism in the form of 22-year-old righty Tommy Hanson. Hanson has been superb since being called up, going 4-0 with a 2.85 ERA, although his K/BB ratio (25/20) leaves something to be desired. Hanson's continued development may not be enough to save the Braves this season, but his exposure to big-league hitting will only help him prepare for his first full big-league season next year.
20 New York Mets
Last Week: 21
Jose Reyes, SS; Carlos Beltran, CF; Carlos Delgado, 1B
Take your pick: Reyes, Beltran or Delgado. How about all three? Simply put, the Mets have zero chance of making it to October without those three players. In fact, even getting one or two back may not be enough to erase the 6 1/2-game deficit they face in both the NL East and the wild card races. It isn't known for sure when any of the three will be back, but if it isn't soon, the Mets can start thinking about next year.
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