MLB Power Rankings—Top 5 and Bottom 5

It’s getting down to pennant race times and there are some incredibly tight races and a lot of teams that are at least in contention. Here we’ll take a look at who we think the Top 5 teams are right now and who the Bottom 5 are as well.

Top 5

1. New York Yankees (73-43)—Not only did the Yankees sweep the rival Red Sox last weekend and make quite a statement, they’ve won 10 of 11 and are 22-6 (.786) since the all-star break. That is just scorching.

2. Los Angeles Angels (68-45)—You have to feel for the surging Rangers and even the Mariners, because neither one is going to catch this fundamentally sound team. If Mike Scioscia isn’t the best manager in baseball, he’s surely the most underrated.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (65-52)—The Cards grabbed Matt Holliday before anyone else could and he’s batting .493 with a slugging percentage of .813 in his first 75 at-bats with St. Louis. Pujols/Holliday has got to be the most fearsome 3-4 tandem in baseball.

4. Los Angeles Dodgers (69-47)—The Dodgers hung on without Manny for a few months, and then cooled off when he returned. They’ve lost 7 of 11 but still lead their division by 5 games and are 32-14 against NL West opponents.

5. Philadelphia Phillies (65-48)—Suddenly with Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez, and Jimmy Rollins finally finding his stroke, the defending champs are poised to make another run deep into October and possibly November.

Bottom 5

1. Washington Nationals (41-75)—They recently won eight in a row but still trail the Phillies by 25.5 games and the fourth place Mets by 13.5. So yeah, they’re still the worst team in baseball.

2. Pittsburgh Pirates (46-69)—The Pirates actually looked half decent early in the season, but they did what they always do in July—made a whole bunch of trades and pretty much surrendered the season as well as the next three seasons, as they’ve lost 11 of their last 13 games.

3. Kansas City Royals (45-70)—Remember the Royals were 14-12 and everyone started talking about this team being decent for the first time in two-plus decades? We remember, but then they remembered that they were the Royals.

4. Baltimore Orioles (48-67)—This team has some great young players like Adam Jones and Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis, but playing in that division is almost unfair.

5. Cleveland Indians (49-66)—Once again, the Indians have disappointed and started selling off players. Cliff Lee, like CC Sabathia last year, is the reigning AL Cy Young winner, and the Tribe also dumped popular catcher Victor Martinez and infielder Ryan Garko. Next year sure has a familiar ring on Lake Erie.

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

Martinez wins Phillies’ debut

Pedro Martinez gave up three runs on seven hits over five innings in his Phillies debut on Wednesday as Philadelphia crushed the suddenly lifeless Cubs 12-5 at Wrigley. Pedro also struck out five to earn his first win of the season.


Pitching in a major league game for the first time since last September, Martinez mixed it up, changed speeds and lasted five innings to get the victory for his new team, the Philadelphia Phillies, in a 12-5 rout of the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday night.

“It was really fun to actually get back to the game. Last year was a horrible year. It was a very tough year,” Martinez said of his final injury-slowed season with the New York Mets. “I actually feel good and it shows.”

Pedro threw 64 of his 99 pitches for strikes and topped out at 93 mph on the radar gun. A 30-pitch fifth inning ended his night but overall, he looked sharp for a guy that could immediately help a World Series contender.

Pedro Martinez weighs in about steroids

When asked recently about his opinions regarding former Boston teammates David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez testing positive for steroids in 2003, Phillies’ pitcher Pedro Martinez shared some interesting answers.

“I’m not going to say anything, because I don’t agree with it. I believe the game should be played clean. They’ve got my total support. They weren’t the only ones. There were a lot of guys.”

“There’s no crying in baseball,” Martinez said. “We won in 2004. That’s it. Are you going to tell me that the other guys, who used it on other teams are now whining? They used it, too. One thing that’s really caught my attention is — why is it all Dominicans? What’s going on? Why is it all Dominicans that all of a sudden come out positive? The last one standing might be me.

“That’s a big question to ask. What’s going on here? Why is it I’m the only one who might be left standing? All of a sudden, they’re going to come up and say: ‘Pedro [did it], too.’ That’s when I’m going to start stripping my clothes off and showing everybody I’ve never had acne on my back. If I did use it, it didn’t help me. They need to give my money back. It didn’t work.”

Martinez raises a great question that most media outlets are afraid to touch: Why are there more Dominican players testing positive for PEDs?

Granted, we don’t know what percentage of the 104 is Dominican and we may never know. But of the seven players whose names have been linked to the media, four are of Dominican descent: Ramirez, Ortiz, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez. Barry Bonds, Jason Grimsley and David Segui (who was born in the U.S., but his father is Cuban) were the other three names.

It’s an interesting topic and surely something that will gain further attention if the names of more Dominican players are released from that ’03 list.

Pedro Martinez a good signing for Phils

Any time a team can add a three-time Cy Young winner who has a World Series ring and can still throw 90 mph as a fifth starter, it’s usually a good thing. And when that three-time Cy Young winner only costs the club $1 million, it’s a great thing.

The defending World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies signed Pedro Martinez to a one-year, $1 million contract on Wednesday in hopes he can rekindle some of the magic that has made him an eight-time All-Star over his career. While they did have to immediately place him on the 15-day DL with an shoulder strain, the club thinks that Martinez might be ready to pitch on July 30 when the Phillies open a series in San Francisco.

This was a low-risk, high-reward signing for the Phils. Given Philly’s offensive firepower, Martinez essentially just has to give the club quality outings. They don’t need him to strikeout 10 batters a game or work into the eighth inning every outing, they just need him to stay healthy and keep them in ballgames. And even if he doesn’t stay healthy, then the Phillies would be in no worse shape then they were before they signed him.

If Pedro pitches well and the Phils can hold off the Marlins, Braves and Mets in the NL East, then the Phillies will have a starting postseason rotation of Cole Hamels, Joe Blanton, J.A. Happ and Martinez, with Jamie Moyer moving to the pen to provide some long relief. That’s not a bad rotation, especially if Happ (6-0, 2.90 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) can continue pitching as well as he has up to this point in the season.

Again, if Martinez’s arm or shoulder craps out again, then the Phillies essentially waste $1 million this year. But if he pitches well, then he was worth the investment – especially considering he wanted $5 million for one season (or so reports claim).

If the Phillies sign Pedro, does it take them out of the Halladay sweepstakes?

There’s an interesting situation developing in Philadelphia, where the Phillies are in serious talks with free agent Pedro Martinez, but have also been linked to Blue Jays’ ace Roy Halladay.

According to a report by’s Jon Heyman, the Phillies and Martinez may have already agreed to a $4 million contract, which would be a hefty price for a club that has also been linked to Halladay. If they take on a $4 million contract with Pedro, would the Phils still be willing to pursue Halladay, who’s owed $14.25 million this year and $15.75 million next year?

My guess would be no, unless Philadelphia has another trade scenario in their back pocket involving another pitcher. A likely candidate would be J.A. Happ, a 26-year old who has pitched incredibly well this season, posting a 5-0 record with a 3.04 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.

Maybe the Jays would be interested in a package that involved Happ and a couple of minor league prospects. If so, a rotation that included Halladay, Martinez and Cole Hamels would be awfully tough to beat in the second half of the season, although Hamels has struggled a bit this year.

We’ll see if the Phillies go through with the signing of Martinez and then if they drop out of the Halladay-running soon thereafter.

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