By Gennaro Filice
August 01, 2008
Well, the trade deadline has come and gone. With a bunch of big names on the move, the deadline had a broad effect on the Power Rankings. First of all, the rich got richer, as baseball's most complete team (the Angels) added a top-tier power bat (Mark Teixeira). While the Red Sox regressed -- giving up one of the finest hitters of this generation -- the Yankees improved by making two savvy trades. The Dodgers added some oomph to an offense that has been stagnant all year. And the Pirates hit the restart button. Although we're still one month from the waiver-trade deadline, the wheeling-and-dealing portion of the season is pretty much over. Here's how things stand.

MLB Power Rankings
1 Los Angeles Angels
Last Week: 1
Ask and ye shall receive.
Guess that's what Arte Moreno's trying to tell me. In last week's Power Rankings, I dropped a not-so-subtle hint that the Angels should think about acquiring Mark Teixeira. Days later, Teixeira's sporting a Halos uni. The switch-hitting first baseman has always played his best baseball in August and September, but everyone knows this was a move made for October. One side note: Teixeira has exactly zero postseason at-bats.
2 Chicago Cubs
Last Week: 5
Two years after rewriting the Notre Dame record books as an All-America wide receiver, Jeff Samardzija is creating a buzz as a power reliever for the Cubs. You wouldn't know it from his mediocre minor league numbers, but the 6-foot-5 right-hander boasts major league stuff. Samardzija's fastball explodes out of his hand with great natural movement. Combine that with a filthy slider, and you see why he picked the diamond over the gridiron. Of course, Samardzija's far from a proven commodity. He has appeared in just three games (and allowed two runs). But you know how overzealous the national media gets when it comes to Notre Dame football players ...
3 Tampa Bay Rays
Last Week: 4
B.J. Upton plays a lackadaisical center field. That's not to say he's a bad outfielder -- Upton has a plus arm and fabulous range -- but he's just a bit too nonchalant for my liking. Upton's casual approach in center completely counters the unadulterated hustle of Grady Sizemore, the AL's defending Gold Glove winner at the position.
In terms of the Rays as a whole, it was encouraging to see this road-weary ballclub take four games in a seven-game road trip.
4 New York Yankees
Last Week: 6
Brian Cashman sure earned his paycheck over the last week, acquiring three capable veterans to fill New York's needs. The Yankees got a starting catcher (Pudge Rodriguez), a solid right-handed bat (Xavier Nady) and an effective lefty bullpen arm (Damaso Marte). And in doing so, all they gave up was a much-maligned reliever, an underachieving outfield prospect and three low-upside pitching prospects who couldn't crack the rotation over Sidney Ponson. Job well done, Brian.
5 Milwaukee Brewers
Last Week: 3
Milwaukee may have just missed a golden opportunity to overtake the Cubs by getting swept in their own ballpark by the Cubbies (turning a one-game deficit into a five-game hole), but the Brewers have a great chance close that gap in August. Of their 27 games in the month, the Brewers play just two against a team currently above .500 (St. Louis). They have seven consecutive games against Washington and San Diego -- the bottom two teams in these rankings. On the flip side, the Cubs' schedule is far more imposing (10 games against St. Louis, Florida and Philadelphia).
6 Boston Red Sox
Last Week: 2
Addition by subtraction? I think not. Boston had the best chance to win a World Series this season with Manny Ramirez in left field, not Jason Bay. Now, if we're talking long term, the trade makes a bit more sense, as Bay is signed through 2009. But at the same time, Boston also sent two prospects to Pittsburgh, including former first-round pick Craig Hansen. The 24-year-old Hansen has overpowering stuff and could have a bright future. This trade was not in the Red Sox best interest.
7 Chicago White Sox
Last Week: 7
Broken-bat homers never cease to amaze me. Nick Swisher achieved said feat in the ninth inning Tuesday night. Joe Nathan completely sawed off Swisher with a 3-2 fastball, leaving the White Sox slugger with nothing but the knob of the bat. But Swisher got enough of the ball to produce his 15th home run.
The trade for Ken Griffey Jr. is a bit of a head-scratcher to me. What makes Chicago think Griffey can return to being an effective center fielder? And geez, Ken Williams must've really soured on formerly hyped second baseman Danny Richar.
8 Minnesota Twins
Last Week: 9
I prematurely hopped on the Denard Span train many years ago for two nonsensical reasons: 1) He has a cool name; 2) He was a first-round pick. Basically, Span was my 21st century Delino Deshields. Following an unsuccessful April stint with the big club, Span was sent back down to the minors and my admiration of the 24-year-old outfielder declined. But an injury to Michael Cuddyer gave Span a second chance, and he's made the most of it. On top of becoming a human highlight film in the field, Span's hitting .341 with 17 runs in 25 games since being recalled.
9 St. Louis Cardinals
Last Week: 8
What's the most overlooked aspect of Albert Pujols' freakish offensive skill set? His savvy baserunning. At 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, Pujols isn't very light on his feet. But he makes up for a lack of speed with an aggressive (and smart) approach on the bases. In Tuesday night's win, Pujols scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning by doubling, stealing third base and advancing home on a wild throw. Of course, Pujols' fabulous baserunning gets lost in the shuffle when he's producing like he has been lately. Over the last six games, Pujols is batting .480 (12-for-25) with four home runs, 11 RBI and 10 runs.
10 New York Mets
Last Week: 11
With John Maine's status uncertain, the Mets can ill-afford to lose any more starting pitching. This makes Mike Pelfrey's workload a definite concern. Pelfrey has already racked up 126.2 innings this season; that's only a handful of starts from his previous career high (152.2). "Because this is his first full major league season, we have to kind of be guarded in that regard," Jerry Manuel told the New York Times. Will Pelfrey have enough gas in the tank for the height of a pennant race in September?
11 Philadelphia Phillies
Last Week: 12
Suddenly, the Flyin' Hawaiian thinks he's Ryan Howard. After hitting just three home runs in his first 80 games of the season, Shane Victorino left the yard six times in the last 14 contests. The 5-foot-9 sparkplug posted an uncharacteristically high 1.000 OPS in July. "It might be coming from his lips," Charlie Manuel told "He's got a lot of wind."
12 Florida Marlins
Last Week: 13
Well, they didn't get Manny. But the Marlins did bolster their pitching staff. Florida traded for Arthur Rhodes to add depth to the bullpen. But more importantly, the Marlins added a pair of quality starters without giving anything up. I'm referring of course to the recent returns of Josh Johnson and Anibal Sanchez. This offense has been scary all season. Now the Marlins have a bit of pitching. Watch out.
13 Arizona Diamondbacks
Last Week: 16
Orlando Hudson's contributions are often overlooked, but it's becoming increasingly clear that "O-Dog" is one of the better all-around second basemen in baseball. Having won three straight Gold Gloves, Hudson's defense has always been stellar. Hudson has also developed into a steady threat at the plate over the course of his career. Since his first full season in 2002, Hudson's batting average has increased each year (.268, .270, .271, .287, .294 and .307 in 2008). Hudson will be a free agent in the winter, and his complete skill set should earn him a nice chunk of change. Arizona traded second baseman of the future Emilio Bonifacio for Jon Rauch. Does that mean Josh Byrnes will attempt to re-sign Hudson?
14 Detroit Tigers
Last Week: 10
Todd Jones' bum shoulder has opened up the closer position in Detroit. So who will take over the ninth inning? The Tigers have three options: Fernando Rodney, Joel Zumaya and newly acquired Kyle Farnsworth. When it comes to closers, Jim Leyland places great importance on just plain throwing strikes (as evidenced by his reliance on the underwhelming Jones over the past three seasons). With that being the case, Leyland could definitely hand the job to Farnsworth. That's a scary thought for Tigers fans.
15 Texas Rangers
Last Week: 14
Watching Josh Hamilton swing the bat just makes me happy, like going to bed without setting an alarm, consuming a perfectly cooked quesadilla or listening to Bob Sinclar's "Love Generation." This year's feel-good story -- Hamilton, not Sinclar -- has 104 RBI in 105 games.
16 Toronto Blue Jays
Last Week: 17
Jesse Carlson's fabulous rookie season is being completely overlooked by the national media. The 27-year-old left-handed reliever owns a 1.86 ERA and is tied for the team lead in appearances (46). These days the good folks over at Bluebird Banter regularly refer to Carlson as "Cy." (Hey, a little enthusiasm never hurt anybody ...)
17 Los Angeles Dodgers
Last Week: 20
Just months from free agency, Manny Ramirez will be motivated to produce. And Manny's Los Angeles-based agent, Scott Boras, will make sure he's on his best behavior. The future first-ballot Hall of Famer provides the Dodgers' offense with some much-needed pop, though I'm sure he'll miss that short left-field wall at Fenway Park.
It's sure going to be strange seeing Manny and Joe Torre in the same dugout.
18 Baltimore Orioles
Last Week: 18
With the new, Dan Haren-inspired hitch in his delivery and a penchant for first-pitch strikes, Jeremy Guthrie stifled the Yankees Monday night to improve to 7-8 on the season That sub-.500 record sure doesn't fit Guthrie's shiny 3.49 ERA, but don't look to him for an explanation; the blame lies squarely on his supporting cast. Baltimore has scored a grand total of 11 runs in Guthrie's eight losses. It's a cruel, cruel world in which Guthrie owns the same record as Mark Hendrickson.
19 Colorado Rockies
Last Week: 21
Aaron Cook recorded his 14th win Wednesday night, leaving him just three shy of the franchise record of 17 (shared by Kevin Ritz, Pedro Astacio and Jeff Francis.) Cook is personally responsible for 29 percent of the Rockies win total (14 of 49). The sinkerballer is currently on a 20-win pace. If Cook gets to 18, he has to at least be considered for the NL Cy Young, right?
20 Oakland Athletics
Last Week: 15
Did anyone crumble under the pressure of trade rumors worse than Huston Street? Street was a hot name around the majors at the beginning of July, but the A's closer completely botched his national audition leading up to the trade deadline. Over his last six appearances of July, Street went 0-2 with two blown saves and a 6.75 ERA, and is still wearing an A's uniform.
21 Houston Astros
Last Week: 25
It's been a forgettable season for Roy Oswalt. The Astros' ace has posted career-worsts in just about every significant statistic, including ERA (4.67), WHIP (1.39) and opponent batting average (.287). But Oswalt encountered the perfect remedy Monday night: Cincinnati. Even though he didn't have his best stuff, it should come as no surprise that Oswalt still managed to defeat the Reds. The win improved Oswalt's career mark against Cincy to 20-1.
22 Kansas City Royals
Last Week: 26
There is a reason Jose Guillen has been traded or let go 10 times in his 12-year career, and it has nothing to do with lack of talent. Just over 100 games into Guillen's three-year, $36 million contract, the Kansas City Star already has a "Timeline of Jose Guillen issues." That's disheartening. Predictable, but disheartening.
23 Cincinnati Reds
Last Week: 19
Ken Griffey Jr.'s disappointing stay in Cincy comes to a close. Not including this year, Griffey averaged just 24 homers and 105 games over eight full seasons in his hometown.
24 Cleveland Indians
Last Week: 24
CC Sabathia took out a full-page ad in Wednesday's Cleveland Plain Dealer to thank Indians fans for their support over the past decade. The nice gesture cost Sabathia $12,870, or approximately five minutes pay from Sabathia's forthcoming free agent contract.
25 Pittsburgh Pirates
Last Week: 23
Well, the Buccos restocked their farm system. And why not? It's not like they were going anywhere with the current cast of characters. Very interested to see what Andy LaRoche can do now that he'll receive regular playing time in the 'Burgh. Pirates faithful have to be much happier than they were one year ago today, when former GM Dave Littlefield took on Matt Morris' bloated contract for no apparent reason.
26 Atlanta Braves
Last Week: 22
Following the Teixeira trade and Dr. James Andrews' unfavorable diagnosis of Tim Hudson's elbow, it appears the Braves will extend a new streak: consecutive seasons without postseason baseball. The Bravos haven't played in October since 2005. That's an eternity for Bobby Cox.
27 San Francisco Giants
Last Week: 27
Chad Billingsley overpowered San Francisco during a five-hit shutout Wednesday night, but at least the Giants didn't have to feel the wrath of Los Angeles' bullpen for a third straight night. In the first two games of the series, San Francisco hitters went 0-for-25 with 12 strikeouts against L.A. relievers. That's embarrassing, especially considering that the Giants didn't have to face lights-out closer Takashi Saito, who is currently on the DL.
28 San Diego Padres
Last Week: 30
In a battle of great nominal significance, San Diego's Chris Young continues to absolutely own Arizona's Chris Young. The Padres pitcher struck out his familiar adversary two more times Tuesday night. The Diamondbacks centerfielder is now 0-14 with eight strikeouts against his namesake.
In other Chris Young news, the country singer is opening for Martina McBride on The Waking Up Laughing Tour. Tickets still available in Albuquerque!
29 Seattle Mariners
Last Week: 28
Has anyone seen J.J. Putz's split-finger fastball? Putz rode his darting splitter to 76 saves in 2006-07, but the devastating pitch has completely abandoned him this season. Where's the bite? Opposing hitters have feasted on Putz's flat splitter all season. "When a pitch like that doesn't move the way it's supposed to, it's a very ineffective pitch," Putz told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Putz blew his second save in five days on Tuesday night. Remember, he blew two saves all of last season.
30 Washington Nationals
Last Week: 29
During their current eight-game losing streak, the Nationals have been outscored 42-12. On the season, they've been outscored 524-398. I'm not sure which deficit is more depressing, but these are definitely the numbers of a true cellar-dweller.

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