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Stan 'The Fan' Charles' MLB Power Rankings: July 18, 2016

July 18, 2016
Now that baseball has returned from the All-Star break, the rest of the season will fly by. This week, I take a look at all 30 teams as they grind toward the July 31 trade deadline. During the past few weeks, my power rankings have had more teams in flux than at any time in my past four seasons. This doesn't figure to change. Think of the 2016 MLB season like a snow globe -- each week you give it a shake and see where it all falls.

1. Washington Nationals (56-37 overall record, No. 2 ranking last week) -- The Nationals have a comfortable lead in the division. They are trying to tweak their roster in order to position themselves to have a serious shot at a title. They should be in the hunt for Yankees relievers Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman. 

2. Chicago Cubs (55-36, No. 3) -- There wasn't supposed to be this much drama. The team desperately needs manager Joe Maddon's calm hand. For all the brain trust did right during the past few years, the signing of right fielder Jason Heyward has kind of been a bust. The Cubs will be in the hunt for a big pitcher to raise the bullpen by a level.

3. Cleveland Indians (54-37, No. 5) -- They may get outfielder Michael Brantley, their most gifted player, back by the end of this week, but catcher Yan Gomes is now out with a separated shoulder. The Indians also lost right-hander Tommy Hunter, who fractured his back while trying to keep his infant son from falling down the stairs. Their starting pitching is outrageously good. ESPN's Buster Olney thinks they could be a sleeper in the hunt for Miller.

4. Texas Rangers (55-38, No. 4) -- General manager Jon Daniels is a busy boy, and he seems to be focused on adding a significant starting pitcher and some bullpen help. They are in serious need of a starter to plug in behind Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish. They appear to match up well with Tampa Bay for either Matt Moore or Jake Odorizzi. The Rangers' late, one-year signing of outfielder Ian Desmond stands out as a clever move.

5. San Francisco Giants (57-36, No. 1) -- The Giants have more wins than anyone in baseball. They are due to get back second baseman Joe Panik (concussion) by the end of this week, and right fielder Hunter Pence (hamstring) is on pace to return sometime next week. So why does something feel wrong? Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto have been lights out all season. This seems about the time for Cueto to have an injury. Also, Jeff Samardzija seems to be trending the wrong way. Closer Santiago Casilla has decent numbers, but his 3.38 ERA and 1.33 WHIP could be red flags for a ninth-inning guy. The Giants should be active at the trade deadlines in trying to acquire pitching. 

6. Baltimore Orioles (53-37, No. 6) -- A 13-1 record from two relievers -- Brad Brach and Mychal Givens -- speaks to how good the O's are and how bad the rotation is. Brach and Givens have won more games combined than all the starters combined, save for Chris Tillman's 13 wins. They are desperate for rotation help but short on necessary assets to land a difference-maker. 

7. Boston Red Sox (51-39, No. 7) -- Vice president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski is showing how deep their prospect pool is to trade from. In the past week, the Red Sox have added Aaron Hill as infield insurance and righty reliever Brad Ziegler to lessen the impact of injuries to Junichi Tazawa and Craig Kimbrel in the bullpen. If that wasn't enough, they just added lefty Drew Pomeranz to their rotation. He's cheap, controllable and was a National League All-Star. 

8. Houston Astros (50-42, No. 8) -- If you had shot me through and through with truth serum, I never would have seen the Astros in play for Cuban defector and third baseman Yulieski Gourriel. But they signed him to a five-year a $47.5 million deal. I'm not sure how he fits in, but now veteran third baseman Luis Valbuena and a couple of youngsters could be a nice haul to pick up another starting pitcher. The oddest part is this move came only a few days after rumors started flying that star minor league shortstop Alex Bregman was going to be called up to take over third base, which is Gourriel's primary position. He won't be ready immediately, but once he shakes off the rust, he should be an add-on down the stretch.

9. Los Angeles Dodgers (52-42, No. 9) -- Clayton Kershaw should return this week. Slowly but surely, other parts of their rotation are coming back -- lefty Hyun-Jin-Ryu and righty Brandon McCarthy, plus outfielder Andre Ethier. I still think they'll be in on the Yankees' relief arms. It could be an interesting bit of musical chairs with the Cubs, Rangers, Nationals and Dodgers competing for the Yankees' two monster arms.

10. New York Mets (49-42, No. 12) -- I guess I am wrong, but this feels like it's all going south. Teams make big mistakes on talent all the time (see the Orioles with Jake Arrieta), but they made a big miscalculation on second baseman Daniel Murphy. General manager Sandy Alderson doesn't make many mistakes like that.

11. Toronto Blue Jays (52-42, No. 10) -- The Blue Jays are a talented team, but there are a lot of "buts." It seems like they are a bit distracted with two big bats-- Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion -- neither of which are certain to return this season. To me, it seems they can afford to lose one but not both. Bautista's demands seem to be way out of line for a 36-year-old who has spent past five weeks on the disabled list. I'm also not sure if John Gibbons is ultimately the man team president Mark Shapiro sees as the right fit. Without lefty ace David Price or shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to put them over the top this year, can they get past the O's and Red Sox?

12. Miami Marlins (49-42, No. 17) -- The best move this club made during the offseason was selecting Barry Bonds as their batting coach. Reportedly, Bonds actively pushed management not to trade outfielder Marcell Ozuna, which has paid off. They'll also try to add to their rotation behind right-hander Jose Fernandez. 

13. Pittsburgh Pirates (47-45, No. 11) -- It feels like it isn't their year. But, unlike the Orioles, this team seems to have a lot of talent in the minors who should keep them relevant for years. They are doing it the right way.

14. Detroit Tigers (48-44, No. 14) -- This is about how I thought they'd do without Dave Dombrowski, but you have to wonder why new general manager Al Avila thought right-hander Mike Pelfrey was a good idea in the back-end of the rotation. It looks like the Anibal Sanchez train has finally run off the track.

15. St. Louis Cardinals (47-44, No. 16) -- Can they pull it all together to make a run at a playoff spot? Right now, it looks like they'll be on the outside looking in. But, righty Adam Wainwright is starting to look like the "man" again.

16. Kansas City Royals (46-45, No. 15) -- They fell into the predictable trap of attempting to repeat without a couple key trade deadline pieces from a year ago -- right-hander Johnny Cueto and second baseman Ben Zobrist (both in first place with their respective new teams). Injuries to left fielder Alex Gordon and third baseman Mike Moustakas were killers.

17. Seattle Mariners (46-46, No. 13) -- General manager Jerry Dipoto made a number of moves with a certain level of decisiveness, but his biggest miss was acquiring left-hander Wade Miley. He's been a bust, and right-hander Felix Hernandez has been hurt and is probably starting the inevitable decline of a power pitcher.

18. New York Yankees (45-46, No. 18) -- The Yankees are having an internal debate on whether they should be buyers or sellers. I think both Miller and Chapman will be dealt, with the Yankees then using big bucks to re-acquire Chapman in free agency. 

19. Philadelphia Phillies (43-50, No. 20) -- The tandem at the top in Philly of president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail and new general manager Matt Klentak have really brought good value to the organization. With their wisdom and resources, they could be better than .500 as soon as next season and ready to contend in 2018 or 2019.

20. Chicago White Sox (45-46, No. 19) -- Pretty soon, the finger is going to start to point at skipper Robin Ventura. Owner Jerry Reinsdorf is an extremely loyal guy, but the roster looks better than the results to me.

21. Colorado Rockies (42-49, No. 22) -- I was always a big admirer of manager Walt Weiss when he played shortstop for Tony La Russa with all those good Oakland A's teams (even if Tony McGwire and Jose Canseco were juiced), and would love to see what he could do as a manager of a team that really knew what it was doing . He's about to finish a fourth year of less than mediocre results in Denver, and I am not sure either side sees this as a good fit any longer.

22. San Diego Padres (41-51, No. 23) -- After a season of general manager A.J. Preller making splashy "win now" moves, picking up the No. 14 prospect in all of baseball, righty Anderson Espinoza, for left-hander Pomeranz, shows he understand he has to do it the old fashioned way.

23. Oakland Athletics (40-52, No. 21) -- This past offseason, Billy Beane traded lefty Pomeranz to San Diego for light-hitting first baseman Yonder Alonso and lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski. San Diego turned Pomeranz into the top 15 prospect in all of baseball in right-handed pitcher Anderson Espinoza. Beane works in a tough market, but there are very few, if any, general managers who could take their team from where it was at the 2014 All-Star break to this and still have a job.

24. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (40-52, No. 26) -- In the middle of a disappointing season, the Angels realized their two best trade chips, right-hander Matt Shoemaker and left-hander Hector Santiago, were also their two best pitchers due to multiple injuries to their rotation pieces. They are in a tough sport to try and trade the few big league assets they have.

25. Arizona Diamondbacks (40-53, No. 25) -- I guess heads won't roll, but this is more than disappointing; this looks like a mess.

26. Milwaukee Brewers (39-51, No. 24) -- I am impressed with general manger David Stearns. He'll try to get a haul for catcher Matthew LeCroy and one or two of his bullpen arms.

27. Minnesota Twins (33-58, No. 27) -- The Twins have parted ways with longtime general manager Terry Ryan. It'll be interesting to see how new general manager Rob Antony does with all the talent Ryan helped sign and develop. While there were a myriad of issues with the inability of a lot of big-time prospects to assimilate into being productive major leaguers, it was probably Ryan's inability to locate worthwhile free-agent arms. His pickups of right-hander Ricky Nolasco and Ervin Santana were expensive misfires. There were also two other players with decent size contracts, righty Casey Fien and lefty Tommy Milone, who were both placed on waivers in early May -- costing the team nearly $7 million. Just this past week, the Twins also ate a little more than two months of right-hander Kevin Jepsen's $5.75 million contract after releasing him.

28. Tampa Bay Rays (35-56, No. 29) -- The Rays blueprint seems to be trading valuable arms for true-blue hitters. Both Moore and Odorizzi could go. The Rays were really hurt by two disappointments -- Chris Archer and Drew Smyly -- at the top of their rotation. Archer, especially, needs to be looked at differently when taking into account his poor second half of 2015.

29. Atlanta Braves (32-60, No. 28) -- Originally, there was talk of the Braves' rebuild being coordinated with the new 41,000-seat SunTrust Park, which opens next spring. You don't read that too much now. It looks like they'll be more on pace for being competitive in 2018 or 2019. They have a lot of work to do to develop their prospects. 

30. Cincinnati Reds (33-58, No. 30) -- Can we start the Bryan Price watch yet?

Catch "The Bat Around" with Stan "The Fan" Charles and Adam Gladstone every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon at PressBoxOnline.com/StanTheFan.