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?

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Tim McCarver compares Joe Torre situation with Yankees to WWII

During FOX’s broadcast of the Yankees-Rays game on Saturday, announcer Tim McCarver broke into a tirade over the way the Bombers handled former manager Joe Torre’s exit from New York.

Here’s the video.

McCarver has always loved to hear himself talk and this is evidence of such. He says that Yankees have essentially scrubbed themselves clean of all things Joe Torre in their new stadium, but there’s zero truth to that. There might not be a statue of Torre outside of the stadium, but there is at least one photo of him on the field level concourse and I’m sure there are others.

Some announcers love to compare situations in sports to historical events like World War II. In most instances, they go overboard in these comparisons and I think that’s what McCarver did here. What does he want the Yankees to do? Have a Joe Torre day at the stadium while he’s the manager of the Dodgers? It isn’t going to happen. Given all he accomplished in New York, it’s unfortunate that Torre didn’t end his career with the Yankees, but things happen. Times change, people move on – everything eventually comes to an end.

Silencing Tim McCarver

Tim McCarverTwo days before the Dodgers and the Phillies kick-start the NLDS, Fox broadcaster Tim McCarver told the Philadephia Inquier that Manny Ramirez was “despicable” in Boston. It’s been over two months since Manny’s trade and it appears as if the slugger’s being criticized now more than ever. Leave it to the confounding McCarver to give his two cents to a major Philadephia newspaper right before the Championship Series. His comments have been getting a good deal of attention, but Joe Sheehan over at BaseballProspectus.com has come to Manny’s defense.

In July, when Ramirez was supposedly “refusing to play,” the Red Sox played 24 games. Ramirez played in 22 of them. This was tied for fourth on the team with J.D. Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury. He was sixth on the team in plate appearances (AB+BB) in July. Not quite Lou Gehrig’s numbers, but he helped out a bit more than David Ortiz (six games), and was in the lineup somewhat more often than peers such as Moises Alou (one game). Oh, he didn’t get three days off in the middle of the month-Ramirez played in the All-Star Game.

When he played, Ramirez killed the league. He hit .347/.473/.587 in July. His OBP led the team, and his SLG led all Red Sox with at least 25 AB. The Sox, somewhat famously, went 11-13 in July. Lots of people want you to believe that was because Manny Ramirez is a bad guy. I’ll throw out the wildly implausible idea that the Sox went 11-13 because Ortiz played in six games and because veterans Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek has sub-600 OPSs for the month.

Four days before he was traded, Manny Ramirez just about single-handedly saved the Red Sox from getting swept by the Yankees, with doubles in the first and third innings that helped the Sox get out to a 5-0 lead in a game they had to win to stay ahead of the Yankees in the wild-card race.
If all of the above is “refusing to play,” I would sincerely like to see what “trying” looks like. It would be entertaining to see a player post a .600 OBP or .800 SLG.

The entire article is worth reading, whether you can’t stand the beating Manny’s taken or if you just can’t get enough of bashing Tim McCarver. It’s funny how prominent Boston and Philadelphia publications are augmenting their unfavorable portrayal of Ramirez right as the Dodgers make their push towards the World Series. If Manny had floundered after his signing with Los Angeles, keeping the Dodgers out of the playoffs, this cruel opposition would have stopped a long time ago. I never heard the media give Manny anything but love when he was in Boston. Manny gave Bean Town seven great years and two World Series championships. Yet, in two weeks their relationship turned sour and he’s subsequently been blacklisted by a good chunk of sports analysts.

Be that as it may, no athlete’s career is without its gaffes. It seems to me like the pundits are criticizing the same behavior and play they used to adore. Sheehan backs up this statement with statistics and a well-researched opinion.

The Phillies played a great game yesterday, and I think it’s a fair assessment that both series will be neck and neck. Even so, Bud Selig is hoping the Dodgers meet the Red Sox in the World Series. If this happens, Manny will likely perform as he always has—phenomenally—regardless of the uniform he’s wearing.

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