Mikey’s MLB power rankings

Things have shifted a lot in MLB since I took a hiatus last weekend. Wow, have they ever shifted. The Rockies have now lost 5 in a row and are fading out of the race. The Phillies have won 11 in a row to take over the top spot. The Rays are ahead of the Yankees now in the AL East and the Twins are as hot as the Phils. The Braves are whopping 7 games back of the Phillies now. Damn, this is getting fun.

1. Philadelphia Phillies (93-61)—Peaking but maybe too soon. Still, when you have Halladay, Oswalt and Hamels, it’s not really fair. And everyone else is getting healthy now.

2. Tampa Bay Rays (92-61)—They finally overtake the Yanks, but have company up here. Still, they’ve been consistent all year and they have David Price at the top of their rotation.

3. Minnesota Twins (92-61)—Even without Justin Morneau, this is a very dangerous team. But are they peaking too soon as well?

4. New York Yankees (92-62)—When I heard the New York sports talk guys being all gloom and doom after a split with the Rays this past week, I didn’t understand it. But when you look at the remaining schedules of both teams, you get it. A loss to Boston last night probably didn’t do much for Yankees fans’ confidence.

5. San Francisco Giants (87-67)—Making for one of the most compelling pennant races, because the winner will move on while the loser may not even take the wild card.

6. San Diego Padres (86-67)—Looking back, that long losing streak came at the right time, and the wrong time, at the same time.

7. Cincinnati Reds (86-68)—The magic number is 3. I wonder if Brandon Phillips will get a Christmas card from the Cardinals’ organization this year.

8. Atlanta Braves (86-68)—Now trailing in the wild card race by a half-game. This is another compelling race that shouldn’t have been so compelling, but seriously, how do you hold off the Phils and that pitching staff?

9. Texas Rangers (85-68)—Magic number is 2, will they be the second team to clinch?

10. Boston Red Sox (85-68)—I don’t think they’ve officially been eliminated yet, but it’s getting very, very late. And what a shame for a team that really is as talented as most of the teams on this Top 10 list.

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

Breaking down the 2010 National League Wild Card race

St. Louis Cardinals Albert Pujols receives high fives in the dugout after hitting his second two run home run of the night in the fifth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on June 29, 2010. UPI/Bill Greenblatt Photo via Newscom

Before their sweep of the Braves this week, I would have said that the National League Wild Card is a three-team race. But now that the Rockies are putting together a very Rockie-like charge, this is definitely now a four-horse competition in the NL.

Let’s break down the contenders and make a prediction.

(Side Note: I’m fully aware that the Phillies and Cardinals still have a great chance of catching the Braves and Reds in their respective divisions, but I’m going by the standings as of Thursday, August 26. In a couple of weeks, I’ll update this list so for now, let’s just call this Version 1.0.)

Philadelphia Phillies
Games Remaining: 36
Games Back: 0
What I Like About Their Chances: I like the Phillies because quite frankly, they’ve been here before. They know what it takes to play good baseball in the month of September and their roster is chockfull of veteran players. Even though they haven’t shown it of late, the Phils also still have the best lineup 1-8 of any of the four Wild Card contenders and a three-headed monster in Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt (who has been outstanding in the month of August) and Cole Hamels. This is, by far, the most talented team of the four listed…

What I Don’t Like: …that said, this club isn’t playing very good baseball right now. In their last seven games, they’ve won only two and they were just swept at home by the Astros. Also, despite all of their offensive firepower, they’ve managed to score just 16 runs in those seven outings. They also have six more games against the Braves, who they are just 5-7 against this season. This is a club that seemingly can’t put it all together this season and you just get the sense that something’s missing.

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Astros trade Roy Oswalt to Phillies for J.A. Happ, two prospects

July 18, 2010 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States of America - 18 July 2010: Houston Astros starting pitcher Roy Oswalt (44) delivers a pitch to the plate during the National League game between the Houston Astros and the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates Paul Maholm.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports, the Astros have traded starter Roy Oswalt to the Phillies for J.A. Happ, and prospects Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar. Oswalt had to waive his no-trade clause in order for the deal to go through, which he obviously did. (Or else, you know, there wouldn’t be a story.)

Here are some details for the y.o.u.:

The Astros also agreed to pay $11 million of the more than $23 remaining on Oswalt’s contract, which runs through 2011, so the Phillies will owe him about $12 million for a season plus two months. They also can exercise their end of a mutual option in an effort to keep Oswalt for 2012.

Some teams were reluctant to pursue Oswalt, who turns 33 on Aug. 29, in this trade market due to injury concerns. He has been on the disabled list three times since ‘06 with back or hip issues, including each of the past two seasons.

As Rosenthal points out, exactly one year ago, the Phillies traded for Cliff Lee and they went on to appear in their second World Series in two years. Will they strike magic two years in a row? Tough to say. They were six games above the Marlins in the NL East at this date last year and now they’re chasing the Braves by three.

That said, a three-game deficit is nothing with a starting rotation that features Oswalt, Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels. The key is whether or not the offense will come around, which it looks like it may.

Oswalt is having his worst career as a pro record-wise at 6-12, but he’s pitched better than the numbers suggest. He should be re-energized by re-joining the pennant race and should be a welcome addition to the Phillies’ rotation. It’s time for him to step up now, though.

Phillies have deal in place for Roy Oswalt

08 Mar 2002 : Roy Oswalt of the Houston Astros during the Spring Training Game against the Kansas City Royals in Haines City, Florida. The Astros won 11-0. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Did you think the Phillies were just going to lie back and let the Braves take the NL East from them? You did? Well then you, my friend, were wrong. Dead wrong.

According to FOX 26 in Houston, the Phillies have a deal in place for Astros’ starter Roy Oswalt and are waiting for the pitcher to sign off on it. He needs to waive his no-trade clause before any deal goes through, but unless he really, really likes the Beer Can House (it’s made of cans! Cans, I tell ya!), then there’s little doubt that Oswalt is on his way out of Houston.

Apparently the two sides have agreed on the amount of money that the Astros will take back in the deal and the two teams have agreed on the players that the Phillies will have to give up. Who those players are nobody knows, but J.A. Happ is probably one of them.

Speaking of Happ, it was rumored yesterday that he may have been involved in a deal that would have sent him to the Cubs in exchange for Ted Lilly. But obviously if the Phillies acquire Oswalt, Lilly would be dropped from Philly’s plans like a (insert clichéd line here).

More on this story as it develops.

Yankees, Dodgers, Phillies and Cardinals want a piece of Oswalt

Jul 17, 2009; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Houston Astros starter Roy Oswalt (44) pitches during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Photo via Newscom

…Actually, they want the whole thing – not just a piece. The Houston Chronicle reports that scouts for each team were in attendance Saturday to watch Roy Oswalt’s start against the Reds.

Too bad he was hammered for nine hits and six earned runs. He also allowed two home runs and walked a batter as his ERA jumped from 3.12 to 3.42 and his WHIP from 1.07 to 1.11.

No matter – teams will still peruse him and it’ll be interesting to see which team puts together the best package in order to acquire him. Of course, whichever club pulls the trigger on a trade will also have to be willing to pick up the $16 million tab that he’s owed in 2011. Obviously that wouldn’t be much of a problem for a team like the Yankees, but the same can’t be said for the Dodgers or Cardinals.

Either way, with the trade deadline rapidly approaching, it’s likely that he’ll be wearing another team’s uniform by his next start.

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