Stan 'The Fan' Charles' MLB Power Rankings
By Stan "The Fan" Charles
Including games on June 24
1. New York Yankees (3-3 since June 18, 43-28 overall) -- While the top five are beginning to bunch up, the Yankees did enough to stay on top. After all, they put up a four-spot against R.A. Dickey on national TV Sunday night.
2. Los Angeles Angels (4-2, 40-33) -- The Angels continue to be behind the Rangers in the standings, but they are beginning to put some serious distance between themselves and a losing record. Shortstop Erick Aybar is heating up, and even though he isn't a leadoff guy, he can still ignite a different portion of the Los Angeles lineup.
3. Texas Rangers (5-1, 45-28) -- The experiment of using Joe Nathan as closer has been an unqualified success, and signing pitcher Roy Oswalt move was again the type of move that separates the wannabes from those that are what they are -- winners.
4. Boston Red Sox (5-1, 38-34) -- Outfielder Cody Ross' return was a big help, and the trade of Kevin Youkilus to the White Sox is yet another dagger in the past culture, before manager Bobby Valentine took over. Next up, a play for another quality starting pitcher. Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury getting closer to returning from injuries.
5. Tampa Bay Rays (3-3, 40-32) -- To manager Joe Maddon's credit, after a Friday rainout in Philadelphia and a one-run loss on Saturday, he had his team primed to win both games of the doubleheader Sunday against the tough, but going nowhere, Phillies.
6. Washington Nationals (3-3, 41-29) -- The biggest compliment one can give the Nats is that they have become significantly relevant. But the team is challenged on the offensive side of things. Jayson Werth had wrist surgery and is not due back until late July, and now comes word that Ryan Zimmerman's shoulder pain has returned and he is taking cortisone shots to try to avoid going on the DL.
7. Baltimore Orioles (2-4, 41-31) -- The bats went on a week-long hiatus at Citi Field and during the three games versus the Nats at Camden Yards. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette is grinding things out, but read my column later during the week about how this being his first year back in MLB since 2002 may have cost the O's two key players they should have and could have gotten.
8. Chicago White Sox (3-3, 38-34) -- Thought by some to be a seller this year at trading time, Chicago aggressively sought out and acquired a prideful and highly motivated Kevin Youkilus for next to nothing. If his body holds up, this is a potential game changer.
9. Los Angeles Dodgers (1-5, 43-30) -- Call in this story: absence makes the heart grow fonder, as this second and longer DL stint by Matt Kemp is making a huge difference in the Dodgers' run-scoring capabilities. It's now up to new ownership and incumbent general manger Ned Colletti to do just what White Sox did.
10. San Francisco Giants (3-3, 40-33) -- The big if surrounding the Giants continues to be whether Tim Lincecum can gear up for strong second half. Friday's night's performance versus the A's from innings 2-6 was as good a five-inning stint as he's had all year.
11. New York Mets (4-2, 39-34) -- A national TV audience saw what opponents have seen all season -- a plucky, not lucky bunch of gamers. The Mets are leading all of MLB with two-out runs. They really are never out of games, but one thing general manager Sandy Alderson needs to look for is finding someone that can come back to take a lead, and then hold it. An injury to closer Frank Francisco, who is now on the DL, may force Alderson to make improvements to the bullpen.
12. Cincinnati Reds (1-5, 39-32) -- The Reds came face-to-face with the American League Central Indians and Twins and took a significant step back. This was a week they really could have seized control. Instead, they let the Pirates and Cardinals inch closer.
13. Detroit Tigers (3-3, 35-37) -- Let me introduce you to the glass-half-full or glass-half-empty team. Those that root for the Tigers probably feel they have seen the worst and are ready to turn back into a contender. Then again, the reality is, after 72 games, Detroit has not yet had a winning record. The haves in this division are flawed, but so far, so are the Tigers.
14. St. Louis Cardinals (4-2, 38-35) -- There's an adage that getting an important player back off the DL is like making a trade for an impact player. If that is true, the cavalry in the person of right-hander Chris Carpenter may be back just after the All-Star Game. What makes the Cardinals again a dangerous team is starting pitcher Adam Wainwright has only recently returned to form.
15. Pittsburgh Pirates (4-2, 38-33) -- The trade for pitcher A.J. Burnett has worked out really nicely for the Pirates. Now they'll try to add a similar type of salary-shedded player. If they can find the right one (for example, Carlos Lee in Houston), the Pirates could make things interesting. There is talk about trying to sign Derrek Lee. If they do that, what a waste of 3.5 months.
16. Toronto Blue Jays (3-3, 37-35) -- Starting pitcher Brett Cecil came to the rescue. With three of the Jays' five-man rotation on the DL with significant injuries, could they match up soon with the Cubs for either Ryan Dempster or Matt Garza? They certainly have a deep enough farm system.
17. Miami Marlins (1-5, 34-38) -- Miami snowballed its way back into contention during a four-week period. Now, the Marlins have reversed that snowball in the heat -- 3-15 has them having to start almost all over again. Can you say "The Myth Of Sisyphus"?
18. Cleveland Indians (4-2, 37-34) -- OK, at least I admit it when I make a mistake. Last week's rankings probably had the White Sox (No. 10 at 35-31) a tick or two too high and the Indians (No. 24 at 33-32) a tick or two too low. No way should these two have been that many places apart. I readjusted a tiny bit, but the Indians could have helped their cause a lot before losing the last two games to lowly Astros.
19. Arizona Diamondbacks (5-1, 37-35) -- The schedule maker fed the Diamondbacks the perfect recipe to get cooking into contention. Arizona is not out of the woods yet, but the flaws of the Dodgers are providing an opening.
20. Atlanta Braves (3-3, 38-34) -- The Braves suffered a big-time loss with the injury to right-hander Brandon Beachy. His Tommy John surgery by Dr. James Andrews was termed a success. If all goes well, Beachy could be back around the time of the 2013 All-Star Game. For one start, former stud Jair Jurrjens did a nice impersonation of an ace. I have to admit to being impressed with the Braves holding their own versus the Yankees and Red Sox.
21. Milwaukee Brewers (3-3, 33-39) -- Doug Melvin understands the concept of trading a big star who is facing free agency for future pieces, but ones that just might help immediately. Melvin needs to figure out how to parlay Zach Grienke into a couple of key players to make his team better for 2013 and beyond. Melvin is certainly capable of doing just that, especially since Grienke is the biggest difference-maker on the market.
22. Oakland Athletics (4-2, 35-38) -- Winning eight of nine in interleague play versus the Rockies, Padres and Dodgers was a stunning development. As bad as the A's are offensively, they have scored two more runs than they have allowed. That is some serious balance.
23. Kansas City Royals (2-4, 31-39) -- Attention fantasy baseballers, do not ever again fall for the Vin Mazzaro-can-help-me gambit. Every year, the pitcher seems to want to hold the distinction of the worst start in all of baseball. His game versus the Cardinals was high art. The Royals did get catcher Salvadore Perez back.
24. Philadelphia Phillies (3-3, 34-40) -- Manager Charlie Manuel's squad is now trailing Washington by nine games and has landed in the cellar. The return of Chase Utley after he had played just a few games in the minors seemed forced. Here's hoping general manager Reuben Amaro Jr. is leaning on senior adviser Pat Gillick for some of his wisdom.
25. Minnesota Twins (3-3, 29-42) -- Minnesota's latest calamity is a bullpen that has sprung a leak. For the Twins' purposes, it couldn't have come at a worse time, just as they were hoping Matt Capps would have gotten a hot hand and been a valuable commodity. Look for Glen Perkins and Jared Burton to get the saves … when they have the opportunities.
26. Houston Astros (3-3, 30-42) -- I recently bumped into an old friend, Richard Justice, now of MLB.com, at the O's game Saturday. He lives in Houston and gives high marks to new owner Jim Crane and his choice for general manager, Jeff Luhnow. The purge is about to begin.
27. Seattle Mariners (2-4, 31-43) -- This is a team preaching patience, as the Royals were a few years ago. As the Royals are demonstrating this year -- if those that are in charge don't get all aspects of a rebuild right, you can easily be stuck with a lemon again.
28. San Diego Padres (2-4, 26-47) -- "Stay classy, San Diego."
29. Colorado Rockies (2-4, 27-44) -- Things in the starting rotation have gotten so bad; they are going to a four-man rotation. Jeremy Guthrie is on the block, but general manager Dan O'Dowd better set his aim a lot lower for the return game.
30. Chicago Cubs (2-4, 24-48) -- A promising week (two wins versus the White Sox) gave way to a four-game losing streak, including all three in the Snake Pit in Arizona.
Posted June 25, 2012