That's right, MLB Power Rankings. You do know that that means, right? It means we're only a few short weeks/months (depends on you how you want to look at it, you pessimistic jerk) from starting the 2009 baseball season. Spring is nearly here, everyone has a bounce in their step and there's not an illegal, injectable steroid in sight!
So without further ado, let's get down to business and rank every single Major League Baseball team right freaking now. Because baseball can't wait any longer to get going.
- 1. Rays | Previous Week: --
Why not, right? The Rays added Pat Burrell and they got rid of Edwin Jackson (picking up Matt Joyce in the process). Aside from bolstering their already stout and well-balanced offense, Jackson's departure clears the way for David Price to dominate this division for the next decade. Even if it doesn't happen immediately, there's too much goodness (see: Evan Longoria and James Shields) not to love.
- 2. Yankees | Previous Week: --
As easy as it is to hate on the Yankees when you take a look at their spending spree in the offseason, you have to be impressed. Adding Mark Teixeira to an already deep lineup and crafting a rotation that kicks off with CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett makes them the favorite to win the World Series this year ... if you think everyone stays healthy. (Hint, hint.)
- 3. Mets | Previous Week: --
The moves made by the Big Apple's metaphorical younger sibling were under-reported this offseason. That's understandable considering what the Yankees did, but when you look closely at what the Mets bring to the table in 2009, it's hard to argue with the job Omar Minaya did. David Wright, Jose Reyes and Johan Santana anchor this team again, but Francisco Rodriguez and J.J. Putz are the key bullpen additions. The back-end of the rotation and the lineup are big questions, though.
- 4. Red Sox | Previous Week: --
How good is the American League East this season? It's kind of ridiculous, really. The Sawx were good enough to make the playoffs last year and they've added John Smoltz, Takashi Saito and Brad Penny (hello, upside) to an already impressive pitching staff. Should be a fun race to watch.
- 5. Phillies | Previous Week: --
I think it's egregious, irrepremonious, and flat out detrimenilious to put the defending World Series champs at fifth. Of course, I'm not the one trying to repeat as champ with Jamie Moyer and Joe Blanton anchoring the back-end of my rotation. The lineup's beastly status hinges on Chase Utley's return from hip surgery, and the rotation will need the Brett Myers from last season's second half to hope for a repeat.
- 6. Braves | Previous Week: --
Letting John Smoltz walk to Boston seemed like a reprehensible move, but it's hard to argue that GM Frank Wren did a poor job assembling a rotation that now features Derek Lowe, Javier Vazquez and Kenshin Kawakami in addition to budding star Jair Jurrjens. A bounceback by Jeff Francoeur and another healthy season from Chipper Jones is necessary for Atlanta to have the offense to contend.
- 7. Angels | Previous Week: --
A late Bobby Abreu signing did wonders to improve the Angels' offseason, which involved losing Teixeira and K-Rod -- even if letting both go was financially prudent. Still, John Lackey heads up a still strong rotation (provided Ervin Santana doesn't collapse after getting an extension) and as long as the lineup doesn't age all at once, the Angels seem poised to win the AL West again.
- 8. Cubs | Previous Week: --
Why shouldn't you love this team? They were the darlings of the 2008 season. They have Rich Harden, who is always healthy. They have Carlos Zambrano, who isn't overworked. They have Kosuke Fukudome, who isn't overrated. They have Ryan Dempster, who isn't overpaid. They have Derrek Lee, who isn't secretly hated by the Wrigley faithful. I mean, there's no reason this team won't be great, right? Right? Just messin', Chicago. You come right back in off of that ledge, you hear?
- 9. Diamondbacks | Previous Week: --
Brandon Webb and Dan Haren form a formidable pitching nucleus any way you slice it. Max Scherzer is for real, it's just a matter of "when." And if you look at a young, talented lineup that features Stephen Drew, Justin Upton, Chris Young and Conor Jackson, well, talk about mortgaging the farm all you want, these guys should still win the NL West.
- 10. Brewers | Previous Week: --
This is a very underrated Brewers team. Manny Parra and Yovani Gallardo are great (great, I say!), but losing Sabathia and Ben Sheets will scare folks. The offense is still there but Jeff Suppan and Dave Bush have to emerge as viable starters this season. It's possible, because both have in the past, but it's also a lot to hinge a playoff berth on.
- 11. Indians | Previous Week: --
Aside from Grady Sizemore's standard awesomeness, Cliff Lee was a lone bright spot for the 2008 Indians. The lineup could be excellent this year, especially if Travis Hafner bounces back, and while the rotation has plenty of questions, if Fausto Carmona can come closer to 2007 than last year, this is a team that should win the AL Central.
- 12. Athletics | Previous Week: --
Oakland made huge strides on offense in the offseason, adding Matt Holliday (via trade) and Jason Giambi (via free agency). The pitching staff isn't full of big names, but it does have some upside, with Justin Duchscherer and Dana Eveland leading the way. Plus, there's not a better division to be in than the AL West this year.
- 13. Cardinals | Previous Week: --
As good as Albert Pujols is, being surrounded by Ryan Ludwick and Rick Ankiel still makes St. Louis seem questionable. Further boosting that "core" are Skip Schumaker and Troy Glaus, two names that are almost as appealing as Thelma and Marvin. Add in the fact that, outside of Adam Wainwright, the pitching staff ranks squarely in the "Provo" range, and, well, wait ... they're in the NL Central. Anything can happen! No, seriously.
- 14. Twins | Previous Week: --
If there's one organization to respect in all of sports for building a winner under any economic conditions, it's the Twins. Despite losing nearly every single big-name player since Kirby Puckett, this team just wins. Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer are back as is Francisco Liriano. Your "Where the ____ did that Twins guy come from" pick of 2009? Scott Baker.
- 15. Dodgers | Previous Week: --
It's entirely possible -- and likely is a better word, I suppose -- that the Dodgers will end up signing Manny Ramirez. But considering that all they've really done this offseason is sit and around and posture with him and agent Scott Boras, you have to wonder how good this team will actually be in 2009. As you can see, I'm not impressed.
- 16. Blue Jays | Previous Week: --
The Blue Jays have plenty of young talent (Travis Snider, David Purcey and Adam Lind come to mind), but the loss of A.J. Burnett and an incredibly strong AL East makes contending unlikely for a team that would be dangerous in any other division.
- 17. Giants | Previous Week: --
It might be easy to tab the Giants as a sleeper this year. Tim Lincecum is unreal, Randy Johnson appears ageless and Matt Cain still has tons of potential. But that lineup is fairly ghastly even with Pablo Sandoval, and the rotation still includes Barry Zito somehow.
- 18. Reds | Previous Week: --
Much like the Rangers, Cincy posseses some serious offensive capability, particularly in the form of Jay Bruce and Joey Votto. They're less potent with their bats as a team than Texas, but they also have a much brighter immediate pitching future with Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez already in the majors. Sexy prospect name-dropping, while fun, doesn't win division titles.
- 19. Marlins | Previous Week: --
The Marlins overachieved last season, finishing seven games above .500. They could do the same this year if they get great production out of Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez and Cameron Maybin. Hanley Ramirez shouldn't be an issue, of course, but Dan Uggla has to be more All-Star and less All-Star Game for this to work again.
- 20. Rockies | Previous Week: --
Holliday might be gone, but in the thin air world that the Rockies operate in, that just means someone else gets to crank up their home/away splits in 2009. Seth Smith probably won't equal Holliday's production, but then the Rockies, with a young lineup and an inconsistent rotation, probably won't be having flashbacks from 2007 either.
- 21. Royals | Previous Week: --
I want to love the Royals. I've always wanted to love Alex Gordon and Billy Butler (in that platonic, I own you in a fake baseball league kind of way). And I want to love Brian Bannister because he understands more about VORP than most baseball writers. But to quote George Bluth, "never promise crazy a baby." It's probably a year too soon for this team.
- 22. Tigers | Previous Week: --
Detroit did very little in the offseason to address their total and utter meltdown in 2008. But really, should they have? In theory, this is a very good team, right? I think so. Miguel Cabrera is still great, judging by his second half. There's no reason to think Justin Verlander can't be great again. Jeremy Bonderman could bounce back. Armando Galarraga wasn't a total fluke. Magglio Ordonez and Gary Sheffield aren't completely washed up. And, um, oh my. Has anyone seen Rick Porcello hanging around?
- 23. Nationals | Previous Week: --
Adam Dunn finally relented and headed to the capital, giving the Nationals with a nice haul for the offseason. Well, relatively anyway. Scott Olsen and Josh Willingham are good additions, but the 'pen is brutal and so is the rotation. At least Elijah Dukes will provide ample enjoyment, dawg.
- 24. White Sox | Previous Week: --
All right, everyone, pat Kenny Williams on the back. He, Ozzie Guillen and the 2008 incarnation of the ChiSox showed the computers. Well, that was fun while it lasted. The AL Central wasn't great last year (thanks, Cleveland) and everyone who cares about statistics paid the price. Carlos Quentin, Alexei Ramirez and Gavin Floyd are all due for relative dropoffs. I like John Danks, but even he can't keep this team afloat.
- 25. Orioles | Previous Week: --
The O's are still a ways off. They mainly need help with their pitching staff and bullpen, but there are certainly some seeds present in this lineup for future danger. Nick Markakis is outstanding, Adam Jones is going to be great and Matt Weiters will eventually arrive in the pros. Felix Pie is also there, for those of you who came for the punch and pie combo. (What? You won't let me get one horrible pun out through the whole column?)
- 26. Astros | Previous Week: --
The Astros, as is typical at this point for whatever reason, made a run late last year. Unfortunately, when you glance around the roster, this isn't a team for the future outside of Hunter Pence, J.R. Towles, and maybe Wandy Rodriguez. Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee are awesome but aging, and this is a team slotting Mike Hampton in for the third spot in the rotation. That's never a good sign.
- 27. Rangers | Previous Week: --
Drool away at the offensive potential of this lineup. Chris Davis is outstanding. Josh Hamilton is as well. Ian Kinsler is the truth. Michael Young and Hank Blalock are older, but they can still do damage. Pitching, of course, is the problem again. Kevin Millwood is the anchor and after that, it gets sour, which is a terrifying prospect indeed.
- 28. Mariners | Previous Week: --
Only a loser would have projected success out of this crew last year. Sigh. Hoping for Erik Bedard's health, plus Ichiro Suzuki and Adrian Beltre battling it out for the MVP was apparently too much. Oh, and in case you're curious, it'll be too much this year as well. Jose Lopez is an up and comer, Felix Hernandez is simply amazing and Brandon Morrow could be a stud, but there won't be much to talk about here team-wise.
- 29. Pirates | Previous Week: --
When there's a debate between whether Ian Snell or Paul Maholm should fill the No. 1 starter role, you have problems. The Pirates, clearly, are a team with problems. (Shocking, right?) Nate McLouth, Andy LaRoche and Ryan Doumit offer glimpses of hope, but they are just glimpses.
- 30. Padres | Previous Week: --
Outside of Chase Headley and Adrian Gonzalez, this team is just flat out depressing. Jake Peavy has to get moved at some point (right?) once the team stumbles out of the gate, and you know you've hit rock bottom when you're inking the scrappy David Eckstein to be your second baseman. On the bright side, Brian Giles is still there!