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MLB Power Rankings: Astros, Pirates make moves

Jul 24, 2015, 12:29 PM EDT

USA Today

Here is a look at Major League Baseball with analysis from Nationals Insider Mark Zuckerman and Nationals writer Chase Hughes:

LAUNCH PHOTO GALLERY

30. Phillies – Hughes: (LW: 30) Will Ruben Amaro finally bite the bullet and trade somebody? Somebody, anybody?!?!

29. Marlins – Hughes: (LW: 29) Jose Fernandez is back and dominating with a 2.77 ERA and 32 strikes outs in his first 26 innings pitched.

28. Brewers – Hughes: (LW: 28) Milwaukee just traded Aramis Ramirez. I wonder who else on that still-talented team is available.

27. Rockies – Hughes: (LW: 27) It’s been a tough season in Colorado and now even John Axford – a popular trade target – is struggling.

26. Red Sox – Zuckerman: (LW: 21) Worst record in the AL? Who saw that coming?

25. Athletics – Zuckerman: (LW: 24) Kazmir was first to go. Many more expected to go now.

24. Mariners – Zuckerman: (LW: 23) What a disappointment this season turned out to be in Seattle. Never have solved their offensive woes.

23. Reds – Hughes: (LW: 26) The Aroldis Chapman rumors are back in the forefront. Would they accept a package surrounding Erick Fedde?

22. Padres – Hughes: (LW: 25) With how A.J. Preller put his team together this offseason, the last week before the trade deadline should be fun to watch in San Diego as he potentially tears it apart.

21. White Sox – Zuckerman: (LW: 20) It’s not gonna happen this year, so why not think about selling some pieces for the future?

20. Diamondbacks – Hughes: (LW: 17) If only the Tigers had kept Robbie Ray (2.72 ERA, 10 GS), then they’d having something to show for the Fister trade.

19. Braves – Hughes: (LW: 22) It is quite strange seeing Ross Detwiler pitch for the Braves.

18. Rangers – Zuckerman: (LW: 18) Gallardo has been a nice acquisition for them. Unfortunately, that’s not enough to get them into contention.

17. Indians – Zuckerman: (LW: 19) Do they have a run in them? If so, time is running out to show it.

16. Orioles – Zuckerman: (LW: 14) Have lost 14 of 19, including a killer sweep at Yankee Stadium this week.

15. Tigers – Zuckerman: (LW: 15) Buyer or seller? This may be the most intriguing team in baseball approaching the trade deadline.

14. Rays – Zuckerman: (LW: 13) They’ve managed to piece it together this long, but odds of holding it together through second half aren’t great.

13. Mets – Hughes: (LW: 11) I don’t know whether I should applaud them for being patient or crush them for sitting on their hands and not trading for offensive help.

12. Blue Jays – Zuckerman: (LW: 16) Time for these guys to make a move (a trade for a pitcher and a surge up the standings).

11. Twins – Zuckerman: (LW: 10) With lack of great teams in AL, they’ve got as good a shot as any to snag a Wild Card berth.

10. Giants – Hughes: (LW: 12) The Giants had lost seven straight before Hunter Pence returned. They are 9-2 in the games since.

9. Astros – Zuckerman: (LW: 9) Really nice pickup of Kazmir to bolster their pitching staff for the stretch run.

8. Cubs – Hughes: (LW: 8) Everyone wants to see the young Cubs in the playoffs. If it takes them trading for Cole Hamels, then so be it.

7. Nationals – Zuckerman: (LW: 5) They seemed to have avoided a major injury scare with Escobar, but they need some of their guys to return ASAP.

6. Yankees – Zuckerman: (LW: 7) Back end of bullpen has been utterly dominant, which makes them a real threat if they get to October.

5. Angels – Zuckerman: (LW: 6) Pujols, Trout trying to become first teammates with 50 HRs apiece since Maris/Mantle in 1961.

4. Dodgers – Zuckerman: (LW: 4) The rest of the National League better hope Kershaw and Greinke start slowing down before October.

3. Pirates – Hughes: (LW: 2) It’s great seeing Aramis Ramirez go back to Pittsburgh after 12  years.

2. Royals – Zuckerman: (LW: 3) Time to go out and get a No. 1 starter (Cueto?) and give that great bullpen some help.

1. Cardinals – Hughes: (LW: 1) Winners of three straight, the Cardinals are now on pace for 104 wins.

LAUNCH PHOTO GALLERY

  1. coop202 - Jul 24, 2015 at 12:39 PM

    Maybe i’m just pessimistic, but I’m not sure why people who think a team that’s been DL heavy all year will all the sudden become the picture of health? I know most of the core is on their way back, but it seems incredibly nieve to confuse on their way back with healthy through September.

    There’s also a ton of false optimism around a handful of players. MAT has been clutch for sure and will be a decent MLB player but right now is having a worse season than the Shark ever did as a starter here. Someone on the last post mentioned Tyler Moore being a future store, which imply a very late breakout in terms of age but not impossible I guess.

    We have a great team to root for, don’t get me wrong, but odd tendencies when it comes to where this board is optimistic and pessimistic.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 24, 2015 at 12:50 PM

      I think you’re overgeneralizing from a few exchanges or posts.

      Where are all the people claiming that the team will become the picture of health and remain that way thru Sept (and Oct, hopefully?). Practically no team is able to do that–why should the Nats?

      In that last thread, I think 1 poster claimed TyMo was a future star, and 3-4 others pretty quickly shot that down.

      I’m not sure there is a sense of “this board” –a bunch of different people, with a bunch of different opinions. Less of a hive mind, more schizophrenic.

      • coop202 - Jul 24, 2015 at 12:58 PM

        That’s fair. I guess I’m more confused by the group then that wants some combination of dumping fister and only adding bp depth. Even when healthy it’s not like zimm and werth weren’t dragging offensively – just too many iffs for a semi-all in year.

      • adcwonk - Jul 24, 2015 at 1:05 PM

        FWIW, Werth was clearly on an upward trend before he broke his wrist. I think over the last 9 or so games he was batting .303

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 24, 2015 at 1:07 PM

        So the real point is that you want Rizzo to go out and add some offense? Maybe he will.

        Despite all the injuries, the fact remains that the Nats have scored the 5th most runs in the NL. The offense gets at least somewhat better with the return of Werth, Rendon, Zim and Span–tho how much better, who knows? And the rotation probably gets stronger with the return of Stras.

        But there’s no one riding to the rescue of the BP unless Rizzo goes out and gets it by trade. It does make sense that it would prioritize that.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 24, 2015 at 1:08 PM

        *he would prioritize that.

      • coop202 - Jul 24, 2015 at 1:16 PM

        Fair, but the runs scored really just means we’ve been clutch as I believe we’re bottom half of the nl in the other offensive categories even with the nl mvp and yunel’s ridiculous overachieving. Anyways I prioritize this first on health and second on playoff potential. That same healthy lineup was impotent last year in the playoffs. I’d definitely get behind a Bruce/chapman deal tho

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 24, 2015 at 1:30 PM

        the runs scored really just means we’ve been clutch….

        You say that like it’s a bad thing. 😉

        as I believe we’re bottom half of the nl in the other offensive categories

        Two things:

        1. I think it’s a little odd to be so dismissive of scoring runs, which is what actually decides the games.

        2. The Nats rank 6th in OBP and 7th in SLG in the NL. They’re 10th in BA, but that’s the most volatile and least meaningful stat anyway.

    • coop202 - Jul 24, 2015 at 2:37 PM

      Looks like I’m a bit low on the stats you’re right, benefits of a league with only maybe 11 mlb offenses. I still think we need a high average bat with power beyond our injured stallwarts, but I’ll go ahead and temper my disappointment (unless of course we get shut out there times by kershaw and Greinke in the playoffs. Then I told you so :))

      • bowdenball - Jul 24, 2015 at 3:40 PM

        “High average bats with power” are an exceptionally rare commodity. There’s maybe two available at the trade deadine, depending on whether you think .270ish is a “high average” and whether the Brewers and Padres are actually selling Carlos Gomez and Justin Upton.

      • coop202 - Jul 24, 2015 at 3:46 PM

        I’ve been pushing for the rental still in Cespedes if Detroit is actually a seller. Hitting .291 with a .810 OPS and 14hrs. Gomez would definitely fit the bill if he’s on the block but I like Cespedes more

      • chaz11963 - Jul 24, 2015 at 5:09 PM

        So, when all the regulars come back, where would this very expensive commodity play?

      • coop202 - Jul 24, 2015 at 6:27 PM

        Hiram is right – the point was I don’t have the expectation that all three of those are healthy ROS, and 2/3 were deadweight earlier in the year when they were healthy. Cespedes is a playoff rental that would likely displace Werth in that scenario. And yes, I undestand Werth owns my favorite moments in nats history (though the Shark sliding into the wall with Stammen behind him celebrating is a very very close second).

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 24, 2015 at 6:23 PM

        The commenter expects at least one of those regulars either not to return or not to be any good.

  2. adcwonk - Jul 24, 2015 at 1:06 PM

    A guy at work told me that he heard on the radio (for whatever that’s worth) that Reds scouts were at a (or some?) minor league games last night. Again: for whatever that’s worth.

    • Hiram Hover - Jul 24, 2015 at 1:09 PM

      It’s in Mark Z’s twitter feed, via Ken Rosenthal. For whatever that’s worth.

      • nats128 - Jul 24, 2015 at 1:55 PM

        Yes, its true. The Aroldis rumors are for real after so many people said they werent. Imagine that. 1st posted on here in early July. It doesnt mean there will be a trade but looks promising if they like what they saw.

      • Hiram Hover - Jul 24, 2015 at 2:12 PM

        I personally remain skeptical. Not that Rizzo has asked (that’s his job) but that he would be willing to pay the price the Reds demand. But we will see.

        And fwiw, there have been reports about this in the press since at least mid-June.

      • nattyboh1 - Jul 24, 2015 at 3:13 PM

        Fedde, Giolito, and Cole all started for various minor league clubs last night.

  3. NatsLady - Jul 24, 2015 at 2:13 PM

    I know we “don’t care” about chemistry, but I would rather not have Chapman, and not only because of Storen’s feelings. Get Koji (who would only take a medium-level prospect plus paying his salary this year and next), or Benoit or whoever would be a setup guy/backup closer. I don’t see Chapman taking a “co-closer” role without a fight–remember, he refused to be a starter even though that would have meant more money in the long run for him.

    IF you get Chapman you have to trade Storen. It could happen, you could get a good return. Perhaps management is so disenchanted/mistrustful of Storen that that’s what they would do.

    • virginiascopist - Jul 24, 2015 at 2:28 PM

      Interesting. I did remember the failed attempt to turn Chapman into a starter, but did not recall that it was his refusal that doomed the plan. I am sure if Rizzo has doubts with him accepting co-closer status, he will turn away — can’t imagine him trading Storen in favor of Chapman; I don’t believe that would solve anything. Wouldn’t mind Koji, except for the necessity of having him for next year as well.

    • adcwonk - Jul 24, 2015 at 2:37 PM

      I hear you on that, NL, and it’s a concern of mine, too.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2015 at 2:43 PM

      I care about team chemistry but like I said, Drew was dominant in September and took the closers job from Soriano and got in the playoffs and gave up a single and a double and the Nats lost the game and series.

      In the playoffs it’s do or die. I trust him tonight but I don’t trust him on a Friday night in October. You have to earn that trust and it might be an 8th inning performance in Game 1.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2015 at 2:47 PM

        NL – There was talking of trading Storen and the fact Rizzo didn’t pull the trigger tells you what he thought of that.

        I think Rizzo will figure it out.

      • NatsLady - Jul 24, 2015 at 3:47 PM

        @Ghost–the talk of trading Storen was years ago (2012, I believe, before any playoffs, or maybe 2011). I was at the Nats/Mets game when the hour struck and he hadn’t been traded, and he emerged from the bullpen to a big cheer (greatly puzzling the Mets fans).

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2015 at 3:50 PM

        There was the scuttlebutt when Soriano was signed also. If he can have a little postseason success he will move up to the next level as he is elite this year in conversions.

      • NatsLady - Jul 24, 2015 at 3:56 PM

        Well, good grief, he DID save Game 1 in 2012 (2-1), AND he pitched a scoreless 9th when Game 4 was tied and ended up as the winning pitcher.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2015 at 3:57 PM

        So why did Rizzo get Soriano?

      • NatsLady - Jul 24, 2015 at 3:58 PM

        I don’t think he did. I think Mr. Lerner did.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2015 at 4:02 PM

        Interesting. I guess Boras could have convinced him it was a “must have”. Good idea, too much money for what they got.

        What I also like about Chapman is you get him next year and could trade him or keep him full season and get a QO.

    • chaz11963 - Jul 24, 2015 at 2:56 PM

      That’s a good point and I have been concerned about that too. I’m hoping the Nats’ front office would manage be sensitive to the situation as well. Drew would almost certainly be disappointed, but I would also hope he’s a smart enough guy to know it’s just business and it’s all about winning. The Nats would be a better team with Chapman as closer and Drew as the 8th inning guy. I would hope Drew would understand that eventually too.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2015 at 3:18 PM

        Chaz, that’s my exact sentiments.

        Drew is having a great year and I thought he should’ve been an All Star but I’m all for giving him a lower Lev chance. Same goes for Aaron Barrett.

        Too much at stake here.

  4. coop202 - Jul 24, 2015 at 3:30 PM

    Wonder what Miami got from St Louis for Cishek

    • coop202 - Jul 24, 2015 at 3:31 PM

      nm… probably a steal for st louis

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2015 at 3:43 PM

      A minor league reliever. So far the trades are not returning big prospects in the Kazmir, Aramis Ramirez and Cishek trades. Tick tock.

      • therealjohnc - Jul 24, 2015 at 4:04 PM

        There have been several prospect types (Keith Law at ESPN; Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs) who think that the A’s did very well in the Kazmir deal. Particularly with the catcher they picked up.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2015 at 4:06 PM

        Low level prospects. I’ve seen the catcher and he looks promising but I would have been looking for AA prospects.

        Beane didn’t shop the deal and thought it was fair. Would he have received a better prospect keeping Kazmir and done the QO? That’s the trade-off.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jul 24, 2015 at 4:09 PM

        Luhnow said he was texting Beane every day on the trade.

        I give Luhnow credit and he looks like the Executive of the Year right now.

    • NatsLady - Jul 24, 2015 at 3:48 PM

      Very glad Cishek has left the Division. Will worry about playoffs tomorrow…

  5. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 24, 2015 at 4:00 PM

    Cards got Cishek….. Jeez… glad he is out of the NLE but man…. to the cards.. just not fair.

    • adcwonk - Jul 24, 2015 at 4:05 PM

      Cishek has, imho, lost it this year. His ERA is 4.50 — he has 6 losses and 4 blown saves, OBA of .291 (righties hitting .309 against him), and his WHIP is a ghastly terrible 1.594. (bWAR of -0.7)

      Unless the Cards think they can restore the former Cishek, I don’t see why they’d want him

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jul 24, 2015 at 4:07 PM

        Hahaha…. its the Cards… watch he transform. 😊😊

      • NatsLady - Jul 24, 2015 at 4:36 PM

        He was demoted. Since he got back in mid-June he’s thrown 12.2 innings with a 0.71 ERA and 11/4 K/BB ratio while holding opponents to a .239 batting average

      • adcwonk - Jul 24, 2015 at 5:12 PM

        thanks for the info

  6. adcwonk - Jul 24, 2015 at 4:01 PM

    Drew is having a great year and I thought he should’ve been an All Star but I’m all for giving him a lower Lev chance. Same goes for Aaron Barrett.

    Too much at stake here.

    Drew is indeed having a great year. His OBA against righties is under .100 — but, eesh, against lefties this year it’s slightly over .300 — that makes me nervous. Overall, his WHIP is 1.018

    But Chapman’s WHIP is 1.258 (!) — he’s got four losses and a blown save. He walks too many guys — he has 23 walks (Storen has 9).

    Are we too much in love with the idea that he can throw 103 and scary as all heck?

    I don’t know — just asking. (That’s why I’m an armchair manager, and not an armchair GM 😉 )

    • bowdenball - Jul 24, 2015 at 4:08 PM

      I think it’s mostly that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. And that this phenomenon is particularly true when it comes to closers. At any given time I’d say at least 25 of 30 MLB fanbases think their team needs to upgrade at closer.

      • chaz11963 - Jul 24, 2015 at 5:15 PM

        Yeah, true. I think this is not just an upgrade at closer though, it’s an upgrade in the 8th and 7th innings. All of the RPs get pushed down, and the becomes better.

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