Mikey’s MLB power rankings

The Yankees just keep winning, and suddenly the Padres keep losing, sitting with an 8-game losing streak, but still clinging to a three-game lead over the Giants. We may wind up with very few pennant races, but we are likely to have lots of new match-ups in the postseason this year. For that, I’m excited. And let me go out on a limb here. Watch out for the Rockies. They have this knack for winning 98% of their games in September and climbing fast in the standings.

1. New York Yankees (85-50)—They haven’t lost since I did my last rankings. The Rays caught up, but then the Yanks jumped back out to a 1.5-game lead. I know I’ve been high on the Rays, but the Yankees ain’t gonna fold. And CC for Cy Young?

2. Tampa Bay Rays (83-51)—With a 7-game lead in the wild card, that’s got to be what the Rays are gunning for. And they’d have to suffer a major collapse for that to happen at this point.

3. Cincinnati Red (78-56)—No longer a flash in the pan, the Reds are not just for real, they are striking fear in every other MLB team. How about the addition of Aroldis Chapman? Did anyone thing he would be helping this team in a pennant race in September?

4. Minnesota Twins (78-57)—The White Sox have Manny Ramirez now, but that won’t stop the Twins from pulling away this month.

5. Atlanta Braves (78-57)—Hanging tough as the Phillies make a charge. This could be one division race worth biting your nails over.

6. San Diego Padres (76-57)—Speaking of biting nails, how are you Padres’ fans feeling these days? Yikes.

7. Texas Rangers (75-59)—Now with a 9-game lead, Nolan Ryan can print those playoff tickets.

8. Philadelphia Phillies (77-58)—This team has caught fire at the right time, and we all knew they had it in them. One game back, and the Braves could wind up missing the postseason entirely after a great year.

9. Boston Red Sox (76-58)—A good season, and they’d be in the divisional hunt in every other division but the AL East.

10. San Francisco Giants (74-61)—With the Padres losing 8 in a row, the Giants have still not been able to capitalize. And now they trail the Phillies by 3 games in the wild card hunt.

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Secondary pitches will keep Chapman in big leagues – not 105 mph fastball

LOUISVILLE, KY - APRIL 16: Aroldis Chapman #51 of the Louisville Bats is pictured before the game against the Columbus Clippers at Louisville Slugger Field on April 16, 2010 in Louisville, Kentucky. The game was cancelled due to bad weather (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

I love the Reds’ decision to call up Aroldis Chapman for the stretch run. Why not bring him up? First of all, the kid has posted a 2.40 ERA and 49 strikeouts in the minors over 30 innings after being converted into a reliever. Cincinnati also gave him a six-year, $30 million contract last winter so let’s see what he can do.

But while his fastball (which was reportedly clocked at 105 mph last Friday) has garnered the most attention, it will be his secondary pitches that will help the Reds now, and subsequently keep him in the big leagues for good.

It doesn’t matter how hard a pitcher throws – major league hitters are going to catch up at some point. If a hitter doesn’t have to worry about a player’s secondary pitches, then they’ll just sit dead red on the fastball and drive it into the gap.

That’s not to suggest that a fastball isn’t important because it is, of course. But when hitters have other pitches to worry about, then a 105 mph fastball may as well be 205 mph.

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Chapman struggling in minors

MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that Cincinnati Reds signee Aroldis Chapman was recently torched for eight runs in his seventh start for Triple-A Louisville.

Chapman was roughed up for eight runs on nine hits and three walks over only 3 1/3 innings while striking out five. His undoing was six runs allowed during an eight-run Rochester top of the fourth inning.

Following Trevor Plouffe’s three-run home run with one out in the fourth, Chapman left the game with the Bats trailing, 8-2. Of the 75 pitches he threw, 42 were strikes.

The outing sent Chapman’s ERA from 2.84 to 4.63. Overall, he has allowed 18 earned runs, 36 hits and 21 walks while notching 41 strikeouts over 35 1/3 innings. In three May starts, the 22-year-old Cuban lefty has a 9.42 ERA.

It’s unfortunate, considering he was impressive in April. Meanwhile, Nationals golden boy Stephen Strasburg has yet to have a disastrous outing in the minors.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Reds name Leake fifth starter

And this is news…why? Well, because Mike Leake was taken with the eighth overall pick in last June’s draft and has yet to throw a pitch in the minors yet. Not one.

From ESPN.com:

The 22-year-old Leake beat out Travis Wood, a second-round pick in 2005, and Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman, who was hampered by lower back spasms late in spring training.

“There’s no words to describe it, right now,” said Leake, the former Arizona State star who was selected eighth overall in last June’s draft. “Maybe in a couple days.”

Chapman, who agreed to a $30.25 million, six-year deal in January, was optioned to Triple-A Louisville.

Granted, Leake will actually be reassigned to the minors before Cincinnati needs a fifth starter, but it’s still impressive that he made the big league club without spending at least a couple months in Triple A. Tim Lincecum, the Giants’ two-time Cy Young winner, even spent some time in the minors before he was called up to The Show.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

2010 MLB Preview: NL Central

In order to help get you ready for the MLB season, we’re doing division-by-division rankings with quick overviews on how each club could fair in 2010. Next to each team, you’ll also find a corresponding number written in parenthesis, which indicates where we believe that club falls in a league-wide power ranking. Be sure to check back throughout the next two weeks leading up to the season, as we will be updating our content daily. Enjoy.

All 2010 MLB Preview Content | AL East Preview | AL Central Preview | AL West Preview | NL East | NL Central | NL West

Next up is the NL Central.

1. St. Louis Cardinals (4)
Albert Pujols, Chris Carpenter, Adam Wainwright and Matt Holliday could help the Cardinals win this division sauced out of their minds on a nightly basis. That said, would anyone really be surprised if Carpenter’s arm falls off and the starting pitching (which is among the best in the league) suffers? It’s happened before, so if you answered “yes” to the proposed question then you sir or madam, have not been paying attention. Still, the addition of Brad Penny (who pitched well in the second half last year) will strengthen the club’s starting pitching and Kyle Lohse is a fine middle of the rotation guy. Pujols and Holliday will ignite the offense again, although Colby Rasmus might be the key to whether or not this team makes a serious World Series run. Skip Schumaker is a solid table setter, but how Rasmus fairs hitting in front of Pujols and Holliday could be the difference between the Cards winning the NL Central again and playing for a championship. David Freese better produce too or else the club will regret not acquiring a veteran third baseman in the offseason. All in all, the Cardinals are the best the NL Central has to offer and should make another postseason appearance this season. But how far they go beyond that depends on whether or not Carpenter and Wainwright can continue their magic and if Pujols and Holliday receive help from the rest of the lineup.

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