Patterson’s Week 4 MLB Power Rankings

Well it is Sunday and any faithful reader of this site knows that means its time for the weekly Major League Baseball power rankings courtesy of yours truly.  My MLB At Bat free trial is up and its time for me to make a decision.  Should I buy the season package for $100 or just live with the audio of games for the rest of the season.  What do y’all think?  As promised here are the rankings for week 4 of the season.

1) Philadelphia Phillies (1)

The Phillies have held the number one spot all 4 weeks in the rankings.  Is there any reason for them not to?  Placido Polanco set an April record for hits with 41 and is hitting .398.  They are also on their third closer as both Brad Lidge and Jose Contreras have gone down with injuries.  In steps Ryan Madson and the Phills haven’t missed a beat.

2) Cleveland Indians (4)

Are the Indians really the second best team in baseball? They are tied with the Phillies for the best record in the game but are they for real?  Grady Sizemore is hitting .378 and is showing signs of his old self.  Justin Masterson is turning into the ace he was projected to be when he was in Boston.  Masterson is 5-0 with a 2.18 ERA.

3) Colorado Rockies (2)

Another former Red Sox, Jorge De La Rosa, is pitching well.  On a staff where most people assume Ubaldo Jimenez is the sure fire ace, De La Rosa has been the one to actually put up the numbers.  He is 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA. I can’t be all that upset De La Rosa is contributing to another team.  He did help the Red Sox get Curt Schilling.

4) New York Yankees (3)

Going into the season the Yankees were worried about their starting pitching.  I made jokes about them walking into the bar and giving a passed out Freddy Garcia a contract.  I joked they found Bartolo Colon at the local all you can eat buffet.  Well they are laughing now as Garcia and Colon have been surprisingly productive. Colon’s ERA is at 2.77 while Garcia’s is at at 2.00.

5) Florida Marlins (5)

This week, I came to the realization the Marlins are the most exciting team in baseball.  They essentially have a bunch of no names playing around Hanley Ramirez and Josh Johnson.  Those no names have helped contribute to a 16-9 record and they are only 1.5 games behind the Phillies.

6) St. Louis Cardinals (7)

Could you imagine where the Cardinals would be if they had a legitimate closer? Ryan Franklin lost his job after 4 blown saves.  Miguel Batista blew his only opportunity.  And Mitchell Boggs already has a blown save and he has had the job less than a week.  That’s 6 blown saves and the Cards have lost 11 games.

7) Tampa Bay Rays (9)

Joe Maddon continues to work his magic without Evan Longoria.  Earlier this week Ben Zobrist became Ben ZoBeast when he knocked in 8 runs in the front end of a doubleheader.  In the night cap he knocked in two more to give him ten on the day.  Not a bad day at the office.

8) Texas Rangers (6)

After a month into the season, the Rangers have to be ecstatic they decided not to trade Michael Young.  He has been carrying the Ranger offense with Josh Hamilton out.  Young is hitting .342 with 19 runs batted in.

9) Los Angeles Angels (12)

Last week I bashed the Angels, after a reader wrote in telling me the Angels need to be ranked higher than what I had them.  This week the Angels played well enough to bolster themselves in the rankings. At this point in the season, they are a fringe playoff team.  Jered Weaver and Dan Haren are carrying the organization.  In order for them to get over the hump, they need to start hitting the baseball.

10) Los Angeles Dodgers (14)

Lost in how great of a season Matt Kemp has had thus far, Andre Ethier has put together a 26 game hitting streak.  Over the course of the 26 game streak, Ethier is hitting .380.  I just hope I am not jinxing him by recognizing his streak.  In my life time I would really like to see someone snap Joe D’s 56 game streak.

11) Cincinnati Reds (13)

Brandon Phillips has to be one of the most entertaining athletes in sports.  After being booed in St. Louis, Phillips took to his Twitter account and said “I love my new nickname, Boo Phillips!”  And said the Cardinals fans weren’t loud and could do better.  Count me as a fan of Brandon Phillips. Side note: When I was a bat boy for the Pawtucket Red Sox and he was with the Buffalo Bisons, I broke protocol and got his autograph.  Glad I did.

12) Kansas City Royals (11)

The Royals are starting their decent winning 3 out of their last ten.  Jeff Francis has come back to earth sporting an ERA of 5.03.  Arriving back to earth next will be Bruce Chen.  As with most things in life, it is only a matter of time.

13) Milwaukee Brewers (16)

Ryan Braun put together a great April hitting .367 with 10 home runs and 23 RBI’s.  On another note, after watching them this week, I learned that their closer John Axford has some filthy stuff.  He can bring it with an upper 90’s fastball and then drop a slow hook on you just like that.  If he can ever establish command, he has the potential to be great.

14) Seattle Mariners (27)

The Mariners make this week’s biggest leap after winning five in a row and seven of their last 10.  Justin Smoak has found his stroke and is showing signs of fulfilling his label as a top prospect.  Smoak was the centerpiece the Mariners acquired when they traded Cliff Lee.  Smoak is hitting .284 with 4 home runs and 17 RBI’s.

15) San Francisco Giants (15)

The Giants were dealt with devastating news when they learned Pablo Sandoval would be out 4-6 weeks with a broken bone in his hand.  Sandoval was leading the team in batting average, home runs, and OPS at the time of his injury.

16) Atlanta Braves (19)

Unfortunately for the Braves, they are making more news off the field than they are on it.  Pitching coach Roger McDowell is on leave after an incident with fans in San Francsico.  He allegedly made homophobic comments and crude gestures to fans before a game.

17) Toronto Blue Jays (20)

Adam Lind has done an admirable job of complimenting Jose Bautista in the Blue Jay lineup.  The 27 year old is hitting .274 with 4 home runs and 21 runs batted in.  The rest of the lineup isn’t doing so hot however as the team batting average is .256.

18) Oakland Athletics (17)

Old friend Coco Crisp continues to carry the feeble Oakland offense.  He is hitting .286 on a team where the average is .237.  The A’s continue to have great pitching but they have a difficult time scoring runs.  It will be interesting to see if they make their annual late season run and who will step up to lift the offense.

19) Baltimore Orioles (28)

The Orioles have won six of their last 10 games.  After my cheap shots at Jeremy Guthrie in recent weeks, he has given the Orioles four quality starts and sports an ERA of 2.53.

20) Chicago Cubs (18)

Alfonso Soriano leads the majors in home runs with 10 as he and Starlin Castro are the only offense to speak of.  But they have 9 errors between the two of them.

21) Washington Nationals (22)

The most eye opening thing about the Nationals to this point in the season is that brand new father Ian Desmond is the team’s leader in batting average at .239.   Hard to say Jayson Werth has lived up to his mammoth contract through one month as he is hitting .221 with 4 home runs and 7 runs batted in.

22) Detroit Tigers (10)

The Tigers have had an awful week.  They were swept by the Mariners and have lost two of three to the Indians.  The good news is they will be getting Victor Martinez back soon.  He will be in Pawtucket on Monday and Tuesday on a rehab assignment when the Toledo Mud Hens come to town.  I will be in attendance Monday night.

23) Pittsburgh Pirates (21)

This week the Pirates took flyers on two players that were once considered top prospects in baseball.  The Angles released Brandon Wood and the Dodgers released Xavier Paul.  Because the Pirates had the worst record in baseball last year they had dibs and took advantage of it.

24) Boston Red Sox (8)

In my 25 years of life on this earth, I have never been more frustrated with the Red Sox than I am right now.  They leave massive amounts of runners on base and they are amazing at not scoring runs when they have the bases loaded and nobody out.   I may deliver one of of my famous “Scottie Rants” at some point this week with this team.

25) New York Mets (25)

Ike Davis has been the lone bright spot for the Mets this season.  The young first baseman is hitting .337 with five home runs and 20 RBI.  He leads the team in pretty much every offensive category.

26) Arizona Diamondbacks (26)

Stephen Drew has emerged as the centerpiece of the Diamondback offense.  JD’s brother is hitting .321 with 22 runs batted in.  Ian Kennedy has pitched well for the Snakes with an ERA under 4 and 32 strikeouts in 39 innings.

27) Houston Astros (24)

It won’t be long before Brandon Lyon loses his job as the Astros closer.  Look for Mike Melancon to get the call in coming weeks to shut the door for the Stros.  On a happier note, old friend Bill Hall had a game winning walk off single for the Astros earlier in the week.

28) San Diego Padres (29)

The Padres are batting .211 this season.  If you need a spot starter in fantasy baseball just look to see who’s playing the Padres.

29) Chicago White Sox (30)

The White Sox had one bright spot this week.  Phillip Humber nearly dealt the Yankees a no hitter on Monday.  Other than that the Sox have lost 5 in a row and Ozzie Guillen has been suspended for tweeting.

30) Minnesota Twins (23)

Minnesota has lost six in a row.  They are the only team not to win ten games so far this season.

I can be followed on Twitter @ ScottieNTCF

Bye Bye Victor; Hello Mediocrity?

Since the end of the 2010 Red Sox season, the biggest move Red Sox management has made was buying FC Liverpool.  The Sox haven’t even been linked to any of the big name free agents or trade targets that have been floating around this season.  At the beginning of the offseason, I assigned a value to Victor Martinez that I thought they should sign him at and not go any higher.  I believed that value to be 4 years for $60 million.

Today, the Detroit Tigers announced a deal in the range of 4 years for $50 million.  The Sox were not willing to go higher than $42 over 4 years.  Maybe I overpriced Victor in my head but it drives me bananas the Sox weren’t willing to at least go to $55 million.  Victor offered consistent offensive production from both sides of the plate, from a position that doesn’t generally put up solid offensive numbers.  I truly believe the Sox won’t offer Adrian Beltre anything that he would honestly consider.  To be honest, I don’t want the Sox to overspend on Beltre and would prefer they move Youk across the diamond and go after Adrian Gonzalez, Prince Fielder, or even Albert Pujols.  As it stands right now, the Sox lineup is weak.

With all that being said, there are some positives in the deal.  The Red Sox will get 2 first round picks in compensation from the Tigers.  No one drafts better than Theo, so I can’t wait to see who they land in the draft and how those prospects develop.  But that is the problem, I can’t wait.  I am impatient and crave success.  To me the Sox are third best in the American League East and that is not acceptable to me.  Expect Jarrod Saltalamacchia to be the starting catcher come April with Jason Varitek backing him up.

Victor Martinez will be 32 in December and by the end of this contract would be 36.  Catcher is one of the hardest positions to fill adequately in baseball.  Victor is head and shoulders above all major league catchers except Joe Mauer and Buster Posey offensively.  I fail to understand why the Sox wouldn’t be willing to go the extra mile for Vic.  I understand them being concerned with his age as catchers tend to decline around the age of 33-34.  The problem is they could easily move him to DH the last two years of the contract.

David Ortiz will only be here one more year after the Sox just picked up his option.  While I am on that subject I find it curious that the Sox were willing to pick up Ortiz’s option of $12.5 million and not give Victor his money when Victor offers more production.  The Rangers declined Vladimir Guerrero’s option for $6 million (half of what the Sox picked up Ortiz’s for), and Vlad offered comparable numbers to Ortiz.

If the Sox don’t make any moves that make this team better, the ownership is in real danger of losing its market share in this region. Once upon a time Boston was all about the Red Sox.  Now the Patriots are the toast of the town.  The Celtics may soon pass the Red Sox in popularity as well.  Hell, considering the Bruins are the only underdog in the city, they may pass the Sox due to everyone loving rooting for an underdog.  The bottom line is if the Red Sox are the 3rd best team in their division.  They need to make moves to be more competitive on the field and to generate interest in the ball club.  If the owners insist on guiding their efforts to their new asset, FC Liverpool, they are in real danger of doing what was once deemed impossible.

The pink hats will turn in membership card they bought for $25 because they though it was the cool thing to do.  The casual fan will tune in sporadically through out the season.  Fenway Park’s sellout streak will end.  NESN’s ratings will continue to plummet.  No one will truly care about the Sox because the ownership and management don’t seem to care either.  If this keeps up a once proud fan base will be no more.  Red Sox Nation will be no more.

The Lack of Deadline Deals…

In each of the past two seasons the Boston Red Sox were very active at the trade deadline.  In 2008 they swapped Manny Ramirez for Jason Bay.  In 2009 they acquired Victor Martinez for Justin Masterson and a couple of minor league pitchers.  In 2010 they…well in fact they didn’t do much.  But, the lack of a high impact deal doesn’t mean that the 2010 trade deadline was a complete disaster.

Jeremy Hermida was designated for assignment and his time with Boston has pretty much come to an end (barring no teams picking him up off of waives).  Ramon Ramirez was dealt to the San Francisco Giants for minor league relief pitcher Daniel Turpen.  Turpen is a mid-level prospect (tier two guy) that may find himself in the Sox’s bullpen within the next couple of seasons.  Ramirez had a very promising start to his Red Sox career, but has been terrible throughout the entire 2010 season.  Apparently Ramirez was unhappy with his role in the bullpen, but I can’t imagine that Terry Francona could have had much confidence in Ramirez to put him into the game at any point in time.

Arguably the biggest move that the Sox made was acquiring Jarrod Saltalamacchia from the Texas Rangers.  The now 25 year old catcher was once considered one of the best young catching prospects in all of baseball, but some recent troubles with his defense have taken him off the radar.  The Red Sox have been interested in Saltalamacchia since 2008 when they were looking for a young catcher for the future.  In 2009, Theo Epstein considered dealing Clay Buchholz for the young catcher, but when that deal fell apart the Red Sox went full steam ahead towards acquiring Victor Martinez.  Saltalamacchia had fallen out of favor with the Rangers organization, so the Red Sox were afforded the opportunity to send two mid-level prospects (1B Chris Mcguiness and RHP Roman Mendez) to Texas in exchange for the catcher.  Whether or not Jarrod Saltalamacchia will help the major league club this season remains to be seen, but I believe that this move by Theo will pay huge dividends for the Sox in the future.  In particular instances, the relationships between players and organizations become stale and all that is needed to revive a player’s career is a change of scenery.  If Saltalamacchia can iron out the issues with his throwing mechanics I can actually see him being the opening day starter for the Red Sox for the 2011 season with Victor Martinez becoming one of the league’s most productive designated hitters.

Although the Red Sox were in need of a major league ready outfielder and relief pitcher, I think that their lack of activity was another move that displays their dedication towards building through their farm system.  Since Theo Epstein’s tenure began as General Manager after the 2002 season, he has made it very clear that the team will build through their farm system.  This affords them the opportunity to trade big name prospects for players if necessary (as happened in 2009 with Victor Martinez), but it also affords them the luxury of not over paying (with prospects and depleting their farm system) for a player when they have minor leaguers that have the ability to step in and help out the big league club.  The beauty of Epstein’s situation is that the Red Sox have one of the better farm systems in the MLB, but they also have the second biggest payroll in the MLB.  They have the ability to pay free agents top dollar as well as bring up young prospects that can turn into stars.  Consider the lack of deadline moves a renewed commitment to the Red Sox way, and be happy that your fanship belongs to a team that has the farm system (and budget) to compete for a World Series for many years to come.

Who Will Step Up in June?

April wasn’t the best month for the Boston Red Sox.  We can all do ourselves a favor and forget about it.  We were too busy paying attention to the Celtics and the Bruins anyways.  It also helps that pennants aren’t won in April.  However, it is fair to say, there was nervous tension throughout April as many fans questioned the approach of pitching and defense.  David Ortiz and JD Drew had sub .200 batting averages and there was panic, although no one was paying attention.

May came.  And with it the emergence of Big Papi, JD Drew, and Adrian Beltre.  Papi showed that slow starts happen and he was a man possessed in May, hitting 11 home runs with 27 RBI’s and hitting over .360.  Screw the shift!  JD Drew who has the prettiest swing in all of sports actually used it to hit the ball and not just look pretty.  He upped his average from sub.200 to .280.  Beltre has quietly produced all season long hitting over .340.  Not bad for an acquisition that was used purely for defensive purposes.  Jason Varitek has made the Sox faithful happy he came back for one more year.

Also in May the starting pitching has come up big.  Jon Lester showed why he is the true ace of the Sox and possibly the best left handed pitcher in baseball.  Clay Buchholz has been a stud, tied for first in the American League in wins.  Dice-K has even shown glimpses of what he is capable of.  Because of this the Sox are 5 back of the Rays in the toughest division in baseball and 2 back of the Yankees for the wild card.

Now it is on to June.  Who will step for the team this month?  John Lackey has 5 wins coming into June but an ERA north of 4.50.  Josh Beckett hasn’t shown why he was worth his contract extension as he has struggled prior to going on the disabled list.  These are the two prime candidates to turn things around from the pitching staff and help shoulder the load that Lester and Buchholz have managed thus far.

Victor Martinez is having a 5 for 5 night at the time of this writing and is showing signs of heating up along with the weather.  Dustin Pedroia is in the middle of his annual slump but history has told us he will catch fire and tear up the league at any given point.  Jacoby Ellsbury will never be confused with Trot Nixon.  But whenever he decides to play through his nagging ribs injury he will help out the team greatly by just being in the lineup, allowing Marco Scutaro to go to the nine spot.

The June schedule is a soft one, one in which the Sox can make up significant ground in the Pennant Race.  Someone is bound to step up just like Ortiz and Lester did in May.  The Sox will be in the thick of things come September which is dangerous for Major League Baseball.  I hate to use the cliché but this team is built for the playoffs and we have seen what a solid rotation and timely hitting has done before.  Twice actually.