Mikey’s MLB power rankings

A lot has changed since last week. The Dodgers have faded and the Rangers have caught fire. The Yankees and Red Sox have been steadily winning while Tampa bas dropped off just a bit. And the Mets and Braves keep battling for first place. Here are this week’s power rankings…..

1. New York Yankees (46-27)—Not only have they taken over first place in the mighty AL East, but the Yankees are starting to put a bit of distance between themselves, and the Rays and Sox. They just have way too much talent.

2. Texas Rangers (44-29)—We knew the Rangers would hit the ball, but did anyone expect their pitching staff to be fifth in the AL in ERA, and second in strikeouts? Quick, name me two of their starters…..I know, I couldn’t either.

3. Boston Red Sox (44-31)—Like the Yanks, too much talent, and too much straight up desire to win. No wonder the chowder heads love their team.

4. San Diego Padres (43-30)—Don’t look now, but the Padres have the best record in the National League. That is not a typo.

5. Tampa Bay Rays (43-30)—I’ll give you five reasons why the Rays aren’t going away any time soon—Garza, Price, Davis, Niemann and Shields. It’s almost like a young version of the ‘90’s Braves. But being no-hit again isn’t good, either.

6. Atlanta Braves (43-31)—Speaking of the Braves, these guys are turning back the clock with guys like Chipper Jones, Derek Lowe, Tim Hudson and Billy Wagner leading the way; and with Martin Prado leading the NL in batting.

7. New York Mets (42-31)—Seriously, RA Dickey is 6-0 with a 2.33 ERA in 7 starts? It’s like suddenly the Mets can do no wrong, and they just keep winning.

8. St. Louis Cardinals (40-33)—Raise your hand if you think the Cardinals are afraid of the Reds. I see a few hands up and they’re all in Southern Ohio.

9. Minnesota Twins (40-33)—Leading a weak division once again, and there’s no reason to believe the Twins will relinquish first place any time soon. Or that Joe Mauer’s average will continue to drop.

10. Cincinnati Reds (41-33)—They might be overachieving right now, but you can’t count them out.

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

Billy Wagner plans to retire

Billy Wagner told the New York Post that he plans to retire in the offseason.

“I don’t plan on talking to nobody,” Wagner said, when asked where he might pitch next season.
Does that mean retirement?

“Why wouldn’t I?” he said. “I’ve got nothing else to [accomplish].”

That’s a different picture than Wagner painted before leaving the Mets for the Red Sox in August as part of a waiver deal. The 38-year-old lefty, who returned from an 11-month hiatus after undergoing Tommy John surgery, had said his plan for next year was to pursue a closer’s job near his Virginia home — perhaps Washington, Baltimore or Cincinnati — and make a run at the 15 saves he needs to reach 400 for his career.

The Red Sox have agreed not to pick up Wagner’s $8.8 million option for next year, allowing him to become a free agent and pursue his goal.

But yesterday, Wagner indicated the saves milestone is not relevant to his decision.

“That’s just dust in the wind,” he said.

In the end, the 400-save mark is just a number. But for a closer, it’s a pretty big number and I can’t imagine Wagner not wanting to pursue the 15 saves he needs in order to notch No. 400.

As long as he’s healthy, I wouldn’t be surprised if he changed his mind and wound up with a non-contender so he could be a closer. But we’ll see.

Mikey’s MLB power rankings

Pennant races this season are not quite as exciting as last season, but that doesn’t mean we won’t have a few good races in September. The power rankings this week have not changed much, but the Rockies and Rangers swapped places. The Rays, who were on the cusp of cracking the Top 10, traded Scott Kazmir to the Angels yesterday, making us all scratch our heads and wonder if they are conceding the race.

1. New York Yankees (80-48)—The first team to 80 victories is officially in cruise control. The question is, can they carry it over into the postseason? Because we all know how you-know-who performs in October.

2. Los Angeles Angels (76-51)—If newly acquired Scott Kazmir stays healthy, this scrappy Angels team could be wearing new jewelry. Then again, October has been none to kind to them recently as well.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (75-55)—The Cardinals now have a 9 game lead on the woe-as-me Cubs. The good franchises always add the right parts when they are in a pennant race, and Matt Holliday and John Smoltz are those guys for the Redbirds.

4. Philadelphia Phillies (74-52)—The Phils may have given the slightest ray of hope to the Marlins and Braves, but then they remembered that they were the world champs.

5. Los Angeles Dodgers (76-53)—Their lead over the Rockies shrunk to 2 games this past week. It’s now back to 4, but this NL West race is not going to be a landslide as everyone thought. In fact, it’s now a 3-team race.

6. Boston Red Sox (74-54)—Don’t think the Sox can’t still catch the Yankees. If not, they should be able to hang on to the wild card, and adding Billy Wagner certainly doesn’t hurt their chances.

7. Colorado Rockies (72-57)—The wild card is not what these Rockies have in mind, and they just keep right on winning and closing the gap.

8. Texas Rangers (71-56)—Slipping in the power rankings and slipping in their quest for a wild card berth.

9. San Francisco Giants (70-59)—Got a big lift from Lincecum last night against the Rockies, but Giants need to sweep this weekend if they want to remain in contention.

10. Detroit Tigers (68-59)—T-men hanging tough, but watch out for the surging Twins, is all I’m sayin’.

Papelbon voices displeasure over Sox potentially acquiring Wagner

Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon isn’t thrilled about his club potentially acquiring reliever Billy Wagner from the Mets.

From the Boston Herald:

“It’s a tough decision, because do you disrupt what we have now or do you make it better?” he said. “It’s a tough decision, and I’m glad I don’t have to make it.”

“I think that we have a good dynamic in the bullpen, I think we have guys who know how to work together,” Papelbon said. “Is Billy Wagner a good pitcher? Would he bring some more depth to our bullpen and make our bullpen better? There’s no question about it, but you also have to think about what we have now and what we’ve been able to accomplish to this point in the season and how good we’ve been.

“It’s not that it shakes the balance; you have that little bit of time of getting used to it, but how are we going to use this guy now, what situation is he going to be best in, who’s going to leave our bullpen – it’s a multitude of things. It’s not just one specific thing.”

Asked if Wagner’s addition would be welcomed, Papelbon said “no question.”

“I don’t think in this environment you hold grudges or you get an ego about yourself,” Papelbon said. “When a guy comes in, you welcome him with open arms and you move forward and you say, ‘Look, you’re here for one reason and for one reason only: You’re here to help us win a World Series this year.’ And if that guy’s not on board, then he falls by the wayside, but if he comes in our clubhouse and says, ‘I’m on board for this,’ then you rock and roll, man.”

This all may be moot anyway, as the Red Sox, Mets and Wagner’s agent Bean Stringfellow are struggling to come to terms with a deal. Stringfellow wants a guarantee that Boston won’t pick up Wagner’s 2010 club option and won’t offer the reliever salary arbitration. A deal has to be completed by 1 p.m. ET on Tuesday or else Wagner goes back on waivers.

As far as Papelbon’s feelings are concerned, he shouldn’t be worried about what the front office is doing. He has a right to have an opinion, but he doesn’t get paid to scout other team’s players and determine whether or not they’ll be a good fit for the Sox. Regardless of if Boston’s pen has been productive this season, if the front office believes Wagner makes the group better, then they’re going to proceed with trying to acquire him – Papelbon (and his opinions) be damned.

MacPhail: MLB buyers and sellers

SI.com’s Andy MacPhail put together a small list of MLB teams that should either buy or sell as the trade deadline nears.

Of the teams he discussed (which also include the Blue Jays, Mariners, Orioles and Brewers), MacPhail seems to be way off in his assessment of the Mets:

Mets: SELL
44-48, 9 games back in East, 6 1/2 games back in wild card.
The Mets held on as long as they could without Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado, but once Carlos Beltran joined them on the disabled list, their season was lost. Since all three will not be coming back anytime soon, it’s highly doubtful the Mets will be able to make a legitimate run at the postseason. There may not be much to sell on this team — the core is still very impressive — but dealing prospects or taking on salary with a team going nowhere has burned the Mets before, like in 2005 when they traded stud prospect Scott Kazmir to the Rays for the middling Victor Zambrano.

Just what do the Mets have to sell with all of their tradable pieces being on the DL? They’re obviously not going to trade David Wright, Johan Santana or Francisco Rodriguez, so who would they be able to offer in a trade – Gary Sheffield? Come on.

Unfortunately for the Mets, they’re stuck in a holding pattern right now. Reyes, Delgado, Beltran, John Maine, Billy Wagner and J.J. Putz are all currently on the DL with various alignments and with each passing day, they slip further and further out of contention. They’re just going to have to view this season as a wash and regroup for next year.

One thing is for sure though – they’re not going to be “selling” anything in the next two weeks.

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