Mikey’s MLB power rankings

It’s August 8, and we’re past 2/3 of the way through the MLB season right now. That means teams have roughly 50 games to get their act together and either make a run or hold on to their place in the playoff picture. Ironically as I say that, the rankings have barely changed at all this week. What you don’t see is that the Phillies are creeping up on the Braves, the Dodgers and Mets are falling way behind, and the Tigers have fallen out of their race about as fast as any team can in August. With that, here are the rankings for this week…..

1. New York Yankees (68-41)—The only reason the Yankees are still first here is because you’re first until someone knocks you off. But believe me, the Rays are going to knock them off any day now, no matter how many Berkmans the Yankees add.

2. Tampa Bay Rays (67-43)—Out to prove that 2008 was no fluke, and doing it with a vengeance. Do you think Fox is terrified of a Tampa Bay/San Diego World Series?

3. Texas Rangers (64-46)—Sale complete, but mission not complete. Tim McCarver said on Dan Patrick this past week that he thinks this is the best team in the American League. And who can really argue with that?

4. San Diego Padres (63-46)—Oh hey, speaking of the Padres, these guys just keep winning. Sure, their lead is now just one game over the Giants, but we didn’t expect them to be there in June, much less August or beyond.

5. Atlanta Braves (63-47)—It’s not smoke and mirrors anymore, and this team has a great mix of crafty vets and hungry youngsters. Just look out for the Phillies, because here they come, just two games back.

6. Boston Red Sox (63-48)—Don’t count them out yet. All those injuries and just 6 games back in that division? That’s all I’m gonna say.

7. San Francisco Giants (63-48)—This team has its eye on the NL West crown and they have the pitching to get there. Do they have enough offense (i.e., power) though?

8. Chicago White Sox (63-47)—Sorry Mr. President, I just don’t see this lasting much longer. The other shoe is going to drop, and the Twins are going to pounce.

9. Cincinnati Reds (63-48)—Two words—Joey and Votto. Dude might win the triple crown and his team might reach the promised land for the first time in 20 years.

10. Minnesota Twins (62-49)—Too much talent to be kept down in the AL Central. Do you ever wonder if Johan Santana regrets leaving Minnesota?

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

Dodgers owner Frank McCourt still spending during divorce

Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has assured the team’s fans that his impending divorce with his wife, Jamie, won’t discourage offseason transactions.

From the Los Angeles Times:

“I talk to fans too,” McCourt said in his first interview with The Times since it became public that he and his wife and former club president, Jamie McCourt, planned to divorce. “They’re very excited about the team. They’re very supportive of what we’re doing.”

McCourt declared the Dodgers are “headed in the right direction,” pointing to how they have reached the postseason in four of the last six seasons and settled on an organizational philosophy of building around a group of homegrown players.

McCourt said that his team’s lack of activity in the free-agent market should not be interpreted as a sign that his team is facing financial difficulties as a result of his personal situation.

“My divorce has no bearing on the club whatsoever,” he said.

McCourt’s statements come on the heels of two important transactions. Yesterday both Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp and pitcher Chad Billingsley avoided arbitration by signing contract extensions. Kemp will make $10.95 million over the next two years while Billingsley’s one-year deal is worth $3.85 million. Prior to the deals the Dodgers had only signed second baseman Jamey Carroll to a two-year, $3.85 contract this offseason.

Dodgers fans are definitely skeptical about the entire situation. If Jamie McCourt gets what she wants, she’ll walk away with half of the the team’s worth, making spending increasingly difficult. With things as they are, I’m amazed the Dodgers got Kemp that cheap. He’s easily the best outfielder (both offensively and defensively) in the National League and is entering his prime. However, the Dodgers now have to work with Andre Ethier, Jonathan Broxton, James Loney, Russell Martin, George Sherrill, and Hong-Chi Kuo, whom all filed for arbitration on Friday. With this money tied up, I’m sure they’ll have to part with a couple of these players.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Manny exercises option, will return to Dodgers

According to a report by SI.com, Manny Ramirez exercised his $20 million contract option for 2010 and will return to the Dodgers.

The team said Friday that the slugger exercised his $20 million contract option for 2010. His agent Scott Boras informed Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti of the decision.

Ramirez hit .290 with 19 home runs and 63 RBIs in 104 regular season games. He missed 50 games while suspended for violating baseball’s drug policy.

In the NL division series against St. Louis, Ramirez batted .308 with no homers and two RBI. Against Philadelphia in the NL championship series, he hit .263 with one homer and two RBI.

Ramirez was traded to the Dodgers from Boston in July 2008.

Thank God. I don’t know if I could have gone another offseason talking about Man-Ram and his ongoing contract negotiations. Just thinking about it gives me a migraine.

Maybe this year he won’t get busted for using women’s fertility drugs in spring training. Hi-yo!

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Dodgers’ owner fires CEO…who happens to be his wife.

A day after the Dodgers were eliminated from the NLCS, owner Frank McCourt fired Jamie McCourt, his CEO and his wife.

From ESPN.com:

Attorney Dennis Wasser said his client learned she was no longer employed by the Dodgers, who ended their season Wednesday after being bounced in the NLCS by the Philadelphia Phillies for the second straight year.

Last week the couple confirmed in a terse statement that they have separated. Jamie McCourt sat in the first row of the owner’s box for Game 1 of the NLCS. Her husband was in the third row next to former Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda.
The McCourts have been married since 1979 and have four grown sons.

In March, Frank McCourt promoted his wife to chief executive officer of the team he gained ownership of in January 2004 after moving from his native Boston. The promotion made her the highest-ranking woman in Major League Baseball.

Good thing they’re separated or else this would have made for a couple of awkward moments around the dinner table.

“Uh honey, can you pass me the peas?”

“Go to hell.”

“That’s okay honey, I’ll get them myself.”

Kemp helps Dodgers take Game 1 over Cards

Thanks in part to Matt Kemp’s two-run dinger in the top of the first off Chris Carpenter, the Dodgers earned a 5-3 victory over the Cardinals in Game 1 of the NLDS.

From MLB.com:

It didn’t start well for the Dodgers. Wolf worked himself into a first-inning mess, loading the bases with no outs on a walk to Skip Schumaker, a ground-rule double by Brendan Ryan and an intentional walk to Pujols. He caught Matt Holliday looking and appeared to get Ludwick on a popup behind second base.

Ronnie Belliard, starting instead of Gold Glove second baseman Orlando Hudson, headed out and Kemp came in as the ball hung in the air. At the last moment, Kemp yielded to Belliard, who tipped the ball with his glove but didn’t catch it as a run scored. Belliard made amends on the next batter, ranging up the middle to glove Yadier Molina’s sharp bouncer and turning it into an inning-ending double play.
The Dodgers added to the lead in the third. With runners on the corners, Casey Blake grounded over the third-base bag. Mark DeRosa made a diving stop and, as Andre Ethier scored from third, DeRosa airmailed the ball into right field trying to erase Manny Ramirez going to second base.

But Wolf opened the fourth by walking No. 8 hitter Colby Rasmus, who was bunted to second by Carpenter and doubled home by Schumaker as Weaver started warming up. With two outs Wolf walked Pujols intentionally for the second time. But when he nicked Holliday with a 1-2 pitch he was replaced by Weaver.

Carpenter was back in trouble in the fifth with two on and no outs. After pinch-hitter Juan Pierre’s sacrifice bunt, Furcal increased the lead to 4-2 with a sacrifice fly that ended an 11-pitch at-bat. The Dodgers sixth started with Ethier’s double, which was cashed in when Kyle McClellan hit Russell Martin with a pitch with the bases loaded.

All playoff games are big of course, but this one carried extra weight for the Dodgers because they hadn’t played well the week heading into the playoffs (they nearly handed the division over to the Rockies) and Carpenter had owned them in previous outings. So for Joe Torre’s club to get a win in Game 1 to set the tone for the rest of the series is big.

Earning a win in Game 2 isn’t monumental, but it’s highly important for St. Louis. I’m sure before the series started Tony La Russa figured that he had to get at least a split out of the tandem of Carpenter and Adam Wainwright in these first two games before heading back home. We’ll see how Wainwright fares against Clayton Kershaw.

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