By Joe Lemire
July 22, 2010
MLB Power Rankings
21 Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 21
First baseman Prince Fielder and right fielder Corey Hart are effectively baseball independents, playing for the Brewers while simultaneously auditioning for other clubs who would love to acquire either via trade before the July 31 deadline. Fielder has said he doesn't care about the rumors, while Hart insists he'd like to stay in Milwaukee. At least he's savvy enough to know that's not possible: "Every time we play somebody I'm rumored with, I try to be nice," Hart told "Just in case."
22 Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 23
With Lou Piniella's announcement earlier this week that he would retire at season's end, two of the four leaders in wins among active managers -- Atlanta's Bobby Cox (2,468) and Piniella (1,827) -- will depart their respective dugout benches before 2011. But Piniella's retirement couldn't be more different than Cox's, with the Braves leading the NL East and the Cubs having fallen to a distant third in the NL Central. In other words, Cox is on a victory lap; Piniella is on a farewell tour.
23 Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 27
The Indians have beaten the Rays 17 straight times at home, a remarkable oddity given the club's divergent fortunes the last three seasons. That streak, which will be put to the test this weekend in Cleveland's Progressive Field, dates back to Sept. 29 2005, when the Indians' C.C. Sabathia (back when he used initials in his first name) outdueled then-Devil Rays starter Casey Fossum (back when the franchise had a first name). The last Indians' starter to lose at home to Tampa Bay? Cliff Lee.
24 Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 22
The shine has worn off for interim manager Ned Yost. Until just before the All-Star break, the Royals had played above-.500 ball for Yost, but now they're in a full freefall, enduring a recent six-game losing streak. It's officially time to play the prospects, of whom the Royals have many promising ones, but several -- especially Alex Gordon, Kila Ka'aihue and now Mike Moustakas -- are all wallowing in Triple-A, perhaps because, as Joe Posnanski noted, Kansas City values the wrong offensive skills.
25 Washington Nationals
Last Week: 24
The Nationals' bullpen has been the club's strength this year, and over the weekend it proved it could succeed even under extreme circumstances. While visiting the Marlins, a bee hive was discovered near the visiting bullpen in Sun Life Stadium (and also in two sections down the third-base line). Washington's bullpen didn't allow a run in seven innings of work in the three game-series, and the bees were shutout too: No fans or relievers were reported to have been stung.
26 Houston Astros
Last Week: 25
Should Roy Oswalt waive his no-trade clause and accept a deal to Philadelphia or anywhere else, he will be leaving the only organization he's ever known, after being drafted by the Astros in 1996 in the 23rd round. He is one of three players from the 23rd round of that draft to have reached the majors: infielder Jason Smith, a onetime Astros teammate of Oswalt's, and Cubs starter Ted Lilly, who was taken four picks after Oswalt.
27 Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 28
Right fielder Justin Upton and center fielder Chris Young took up bowling last offseason, and Young said earlier this season that on their best days they score around 200 -- and on the worst days only about 130. "We've been working on our spin ball," Young said. "Just like his baseball swing, Justin's bowling stroke is real smooth and real effortless." Before a competition against the coaches in spring training, Upton and Young decided to look "professional," Young said, so they bought their own bowling balls and matching red and black-and-white checkered bowling shoes. Given the Diamondbacks' season, they'll have no trouble being back on the lanes to hone their hobby by early October.
28 Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 26
The Mariners have one ace atop their rotation (Felix Hernandez), but they traded another (Cliff Lee) and just lost a former ace (Erik Bedard), whose rehab from surgery to repair a torn shoulder labrum hit a major snag. Bedard, who last pitched in the majors on July 25, 2009, had advanced to Triple-A and was set to be activated by Seattle before experiencing discomfort in the shoulder. With the Mariners far from contention, there's no rush to get him back this season. When the Seattle Times asked him recently if he'd pitch again this season, Bedard answered "probably not."
29 Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 29
On Tuesday night First Lady visited Baltimore to enlist the Orioles and Major League Baseball in her "Let's Move!" campaign to promote healthy eating and prevent childhood obesity. It's a great idea, though the venue has to be questioned, given that Camden Yards is one of 19 major-league parks with an all-you-can-eat section.
30 Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 30
The Pirates have had such extraordinary roster turnover that only two -- two! -- position players who had a major-league at bat for them in 2008 have also had an at bat for them in 2010: catcher Ryan Doumit and first baseman/right fielder Steven Pearce. Only Doumit has survived since '07.
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