Pepper Power ~ Week 13 ~ Wee Bey Blows EditionPosted 27 June 2011 by Pony Boy
The Yankees have been at this for years. A big bat comes on the free-agent market. They throw gobs of money at the batter. Then they sign another guy and another guy who will hit .280 with 30 home runs.
Meanwhile, the Yankees starting rotation hobbles along with rent-a-wrecks. Sometimes those aging veterans have a surprising season, as Bartolo Colon was having before he got injured a few weeks ago. Then the postseason comes along and the Yankees get pitched out of the playoffs.
That’s what makes hating the Yankees so fun. With the exception of C.C. Sabbathia, big-name pitchers have not come to New York. Though the Yankees staff is serviceable, it lacks big names that they could have lured from other teams.
For now, it doesn’t matter. The Yankees will bash their way into the playoffs. But look at those ERA standings. The top of it doesn’t explain anything. But the bottom five teams are the Twins, Orioles, Royals, Astros and Cubs. Good teams can win without great pitching. But the worst teams in the league can’t win in spite of bad pitching.
1. Phillies (49-30): Every team faces injury concerns over the course of 162 games. Philadelphia has plenty of concern. Roy Oswalt is out until at least August with a bulging disc in his back. He hasn’t been very good this season, but Oswalt isn’t the only problem. Jose Contreras is out. Closer Ryan Madson is out. Great teams have depth. The Phillies are going to test their depth for the rest of the summer.
2. Red Sox (45-32): An uninspiring week as the Red Sox took the week off and lost series against the Pirates and the Padres. Roll that around in your mouth for a minute.
3. Yankees (45-31): A theoretically more difficult week than rival Boston had was still not exactly a test. New York took care of the Reds and Rockies, winning a pair of series. The Yankees have produced more runs this year than 28 teams. That other team? The Red Sox.
4. Brewers (44-35): The Brewers swept the Twins for the second straight year in Milwaukee. I went to a game last year during that series. Kudos to Brewers fans for not throwing things on my drunken self. But screw Delta. I missed a whole game because Delta canceled my flight out of Detroit and decided to send me to Minneapolis, then back to Milwaukee. I take that back. Delta is fine when flying out of traditional Delta hubs (Atlanta, Salt Lake, Cincinnati) and terrible out of the old Northwest hubs (MSP, Detroit and Memphis). I hate Delta almost as much as I hate American. That’s saying something.
5. Braves (44-35): Jair Jurrjens became the National League’s first 10-game winner and I’m not 100 percent sure how to pronounce his name. I can’t bring myself to watch SportsCenter. Do they sponsor the opening credits now? “SportsCenter, brought to you by Band-Aids.”
6. Giants ( 44-34): It’s fun to watch a championship team hit the “Go” button, as the Giants did this week by winning five straight to take the lead in the NL West. Perhaps the Giants are starting to get healthy, as 13 different players have been on the disabled list thus far.
7. Diamondbacks (43-36): I might be developing a crush on Kirk Gibson, who had this to say about playing the Tigers last week: “It was a special time and we’ll never forget it. But now they’re the enemy.” I’m sure Gibson will be fired two years from now and I’m sure it will be because he will make some guy play on a torn meniscus or something, but it’s a great story for now. Remember how great everybody thought Richard Dent was for the San Francisco 49ers? How’d that work out?
8. Rangers (41-38): If the Rangers get their act together, they can salt away the West title by the end of August. They’ve got the fourth-best run-producing offense in the AL and a middle-of-the-pack ERA. There’s no reason they can’t put together a little run.
9. Tigers (42-36): The Indians are back in first place and all is more or less right in the Central. The Tigers are doing it in spite of atrocious pitching from everybody whose last name doesn’t start with a ‘V’.
10. Rays (44-34): They’ve Yo-Yo’d to a game and a half behind the Red Sox, thanks in part to going 5-1 last week. It helps when you allow four runs or less in five games, it helps even more when you win 14-10 shootouts. Bottom line: Tampa Bay is winning any way it can.
11. Reds (40-39): At some point, Cincinnati could get hot. Manager Dusty Baker knows it. “You got to keep treading water until you start swimming,” Baker said Sunday after Cincinnati’s 7-5 loss to the Baltimore. Fair enough. Teams can hang around in the standings, and in these power rankings, on potential alone. For now.
12. Nationals (40-38): OK, it was the Mariners and the White Sox. Still, Washington swept Seattle and took a series from Chicago. With a new/old manager in Davey Johnson (really?), the Nationals could, at least, make a run at a .500 season.
13. Blue Jays (39-39): I’m not a big fan of relegation. I can’t explain nor defend that position. However, it would be nice to see the Blue Jays find some way out of the AL East. They would have won the AL Central several times in the past 10 years, if they’d traded places with the Tigers. Perhaps the Tigers should spend time rotating with the Blue Jays between divisions.
14. Cardinals (41-38): Swept by the Blue Jays, the Cardinals were shut out twice in the past week. Yeah, they miss Albert Pujols. “You don’t have much margin for error when you don’t have Albert,” Matt Holliday said. You also don’t have a very good team when you don’t have Albert.
15. Angels (39-40): The Angels were a blown save away from a 5-1 week and a very impressive run through interleague play. Maybe they’re starting to wake up.
16. Twins (32-44): Goddamn it. That was my reaction when a friend put something on Facebook about the Twins being 6.5 games out of the lead in the Central. You don’t say shit like that. Sure enough, Minnesota hasn’t won since that status went up. Nice work, numbnuts. The Twins are in danger of becoming the Twinkies again.
17. Mariners (39-39): Pathetic. That pretty well sums up the offense. Granted, pitching is the main thing. But if the Mariners had just a little bit of offense (current batting average: .228) they would be ruling the West. They scored a combined 10 runs in their last five games. Amazingly, they won two of those games.
18. White Sox (38-41): They are a paltry 6-11 against teams in the AL Central. Two things about that: How have they played so few games against division teams? And how have they been so bad?
19. Indians (40-36): They’re shitty.
20. Pirates (39-38): A polite golf clap here.
21. Mets (39-39): Took series from the Rangers and the Athletics to pretend they still care.
22. Rockies (38-39): Isn’t this about the time the Rockies go on a huge run? They’ve only done it every year for the past six years. Teams in the struggling NL West should be very concerned because the Rockies will get their acts together and they will make some kind of move.
24. Orioles (35-40): I hate to rank teams in order of their records but nobody down here has done anything in the past week. So the rankings remain the same.
23. Athletics (35-44): Fact: Mark McGwire could still bat cleanup for the A’s. As in tomorrow. They have the fourth-worst run-producing offense in the majors.
25. Dodgers (35-44): A nice comeback win in the ninth inning against the Angels suggests they haven’t packed it entirely in.
26. Marlins (34-44): A little story about how bad the Marlins are. With a runner on third in Sunday’s game against the Mariners, pitcher Steve Cishek wanted to issue an intentional walk. The score was tied 1-1 in the 10th inning. Only, instead of throwing the ball to his catcher, Cishek unleashed a wild pitch and the Mariners took a 2-1 win.
27. Padres (34-45): That 3.38 team ERA is mighty impressive. The offense, which is scoring around 3.46 runs per game, is not so impressive.
28. Royals (33-45): Took a series from the Cubs. Attaboys.
29. Cubs (31-46): Lost a series to the Royals. Woe is you.
30. Astros (28-51): Fifty wins is starting to look like a goal.