Mikey’s MLB power rankings

It’s hard to believe July is ending today and the dog days of summer are in full swing. It also means pennant races are heating up, and this year they are more so than ever. You can safely say the Rangers are playoff-bound, but every other division lead is no greater than 3.5 games, and we have three divisions that have the top two teams separated by 1.5 games or less. How awesome is that? I mean, this could be the greatest stretch run as far as the entire league, ever. Here are Mikey’s power rankings (yes, I just referred to myself in the third person, I need to stop that!)……

1. New York Yankees (65-37)—The Rays are inching closer, but the Yanks are still the team to beat. Adding Lance Berkman was a way for them to bully the Rays a little, like “Take that, small market team!” I also keep thinking about how they are going to sign Cliff Lee in the off-season and then they may play .800 ball next year. And really, who wants to see that?

2. Tampa Bay Rays (64-38)—Don’t think the Yankees aren’t sweating, however. Because these Rays just sweat talent.

3. San Diego Padres (60-41)—Seriously, when was the last time the Padres were contemplating trades at the trade deadline to bolster their team for the stretch? It’s such a great story this year.

4. Texas Rangers (60-43)—Speaking of great stories…..the Rangers are up by 8 games in their division and could be the first team to clinch a playoff spot.

5. Atlanta Braves (59-43)—Another great story. I wonder if Greg Maddux could come back and help these guys for a few months.

6. Boston Red Sox (58-45)—Now these guys will definitely be the odd team out, and it almost seems like if they keep winning it won’t matter.

7. San Francisco Giants (59-45)—Don’t look now, but the G-men are 2.5 games back of the Padres. And they have one of the best starting rotations in baseball, so they have the goods to contend down the stretch.

8. Chicago White Sox (58-44)—Another 5-game win streak, but barely hanging on to first place in the AL Central

9. Cincinnati Reds (57-47)—How many great team stories can there be in one year? Forget the year of the pitcher, it’s the year of the Cinderella. Sorry, Cardinals fans, I know you have a half-game lead, but Joey Votto just hit another home run. Wait, there goes another one!

10. Minnesota Twins (57-46)—It’s just a matter of time before the White Sox fade, and the Twins are putting ridiculous pressure on them with their own 6-game winning streak.

In the hunt: St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, LA Dodgers
Fading fast: New York Mets, LA Angels, Colorado Rockies

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Kings hire Cousins’ high school coach

June 24, 2010 - New York, NEW YORK, USA - epa02221131 DeMarcus Cousins of Kentucky after after being the fifth overall pick by the Sacramento Kings in the 2010 NBA Draft in the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York, USA, on 24 June 2010.

Per NBA.com…

Hughley had coached at LeFlore High School in Mobile, Ala. for seven years (2004-2010), guiding the Rattlers to six straight regional appearances and a 6A state title in 2007. While at LeFlore, he coached current Kings center Demarcus Cousins. Before coaching at LeFlore, Hughley was an assistant coach at several universities, including Wright State, Liberty and Southern. Hughley’s experience also includes coaching for the league’s NBA China program and working over 10 years at Pete Newell’s “Big Man Camp.”

This a low downside move. The Kings are just trying to do everything they can to create an environment for DeMarcus Cousins to succeed. If that means bringing in his high school coach to mentor him, then so be it.

Cousins has the ability to be an All-NBA big man, so it’s worth the investment.

2010 Fantasy Football Preview: WRs

ST. LOUIS - DECEMBER 20: Andre Johnson #80 of the Houston Texans carries the ball during the game against the St. Louis Rams at Edward Jones Dome on December 20, 2009 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

All 2010 Fantasy Football Articles | 2010 Position Rankings

Are wideouts the new running backs? Not quite, but they continue to gain importance as more and more leagues make rules changes that enhance the value of the position. How do you know if you’re in one of these leagues? If your rules only require one starting RB spot and has a flex position, or if it awards one point per reception, you can start thinking about drafting a WR in the middle of the first round.

As I noted in the RB preview, there is a pretty sizable drop off after the first five or six running backs this season, so as soon as Chris Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew and Ray Rice are off the board, it’s time to consider going with a wideout. Frank Gore and Steven Jackson are justifiable picks at #5 or #6, but Andre Johnson is also worth consideration. And I’d rather have Larry Fizgerald than any of the RBs in the next tier (Michael Turner, Rashard Mendenhall, DeAngelo Williams, etc.).

If you’re in a league that does NOT require two starting RBs, and you’re drafting in the back half of round one, it makes a lot of sense to zag when everyone else is zigging, by grabbing a stud WR. You could even draft a second wideout early in the 2nd and wait to nab your first RB late in the third, when guys like Pierre Thomas, Chris Wells and Joseph Addai are still likely to be available. You could end up with Fitzgerald, Reggie Wayne and Thomas as your core, and that’s a group that is projected (by Footballguys) to outscore a Turner/Mendenhall/S. Rice core by almost 100 fantasy points over the course of the season (assuming a high-performance, PPR league).

If you’re drafting in the first half of the first round and want to grab a stud RB early, don’t be afraid to go WR with your next pick, as there will be plenty of RB talent available early in the third round, and given the relative depth in rounds 2 and 3, you won’t be losing many points by letting Ryan Grant, Jamaal Charles or Knowshon Moreno go. Somebody comparable will be there in the 3rd.

Even if you load up on WR talent early, it’s always nice to be able to pluck a good WR out of the pack in the middle rounds. Here are a few players that are going in the 6th-10th rounds that should outperform their current average draft positions. (Note: All ADP data is from Antsports.)

Hines Ward (6.01)
It’s almost August, so that must mean I’m writing about Hines Ward as a value fantasy wideout. Sure, he’s 34, but over the last two seasons he has averaged 88-1105-6.5. He was WR14 last season and WR15 the year before, so why is he being drafted WR23? It’s not just his age — he’s going to be without Ben Roethlisberger for the first six games. But Byron Leftwich can hold down the fort, right? If he stays healthy, Ward should have another top 20 fantasy season.

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Report: Yankees on the verge of acquiring Lance Berkman

Lance Berkman (17) April 28th, 2010; Cincinnati Reds vs The Houston Astro's in Minute Maid Park, Houston Texas. The Astro's lost 6-4.

While an official announcement isn’t expected to come until Saturday afternoon, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports writes that the Yankees are on the verge of acquiring first baseman Lance Berkman from the Astros. (Joel Sherman of the New York Post posted the same report on his Twitter page.)

With Mark Teixeira entrenched at first base, Berkman would become the Yankees’ new DH for the stretch run. He would still have 24 hours to cancel any deal because he has a full no-trade clause in his contract, but one would assume that he would waive it in order to join a contender for the final two months of the season.

It’s unclear at this point what the Yankees would have to give up in a deal for Berkman, although prospects David Adams and Ivan Nova have each been mentioned in other trade scenarios. (Adams’ name was mentioned in the Cliff Lee deal before talks with the Mariners broke down.)

One interesting thing to note is that Alyson Footer, who is the Astros’ Sr. Director of Social Media, writes via Twitter that Berkman does not want the new team to pick up his $15 million option for 2011. It would appear as though he wants to return to the Astros next season.

Update: Sherman now says the deal is completed – Berkman is a Yankee.

Haynesworth’s conditioning tests less about running, more about respect

ASHBURN, VA - JULY 29: New Head Coach Mike Shanahan of the Washington Redskins watches practice on the first day of training camp July 29, 2010 in Ashburn, Virginia. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Far be it for me to write about another man’s intentions, but it sure looks to me that Mike Shanahan’s conditioning test for Albert Haynesworth is less about cardio and more about respect.

According to several media outlets, Haynesworth has failed two conditioning tests over the past two days. He passed the first leg of Shanahan’s test (which consisted of two 300-yard shuttle runs) on Thursday, only to fail the second because he needed to take a bathroom break. (No word yet on if it was a No. 1 or a No. 2 for Haynesworth.)

When Shanahan asked Haynesworth to run a third leg of the test, the massive defensive tackle told his head coach that he has never had to run three such sprints during even his best of seasons (including the years he went to the Pro Bowl). Considering defensive linemen never have to run further than 5-10 yards on a given play, it would seem a little absurd that Shanahan would make Haynesworth run this much (especially while the DT is reportedly in great shape as it is).

But that’s not the point now is it? The point is that Haynesworth spent virtually the entire offseason complaining about this situation in Washington and Shanahan wasn’t going to allow the defender to waltz into camp on Day 1 and act like everything is just gravy. Shanahan has been around long enough to know how to handle these types of situations and he has decided to test Haynesworth’s resolve right off the bat. Again, I can’t speak for Shanahan’s intentions, but it appears as though he’s making a point that one player doesn’t come above the team. And if you want to be a part of this team, you’re going to have to bust your hump. If you don’t, well, then there’s the door.

If these are indeed Shanahan’s intentions when it comes to Haynesworth’s conditioning tests, then how could you not appreciate this if you’re a Redskins fan? Coming off of Jim Zorn, this has to be a welcoming sight in D.C.

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