Where do the Giants rank with newly acquired Carlos Beltran?
This week's MLB power rankings take more than just records and standings into account. The heart-racing, stress-inducing madness of the trade deadline has finally come to an end with no shortage of blockbuster deals and Hollywood-like drama.
The San Francisco Giants brought a close to the Carlos Beltran saga. The Cleveland Indians found a way to land Ubaldo Jimenez. Hunter Pence escaped from the Astros and found a promising new home with the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Atlanta Braves caught speedster Michael Bourn.
With all of these teams being contenders, their recent acquisitions should shake up the power rankings, and it sure will be interesting to see which trades work out the best.
Will Jimenez take the Indians rotation to the next level? Will Bourn and the Braves dash through the postseason? Will Beltran bolster the Giants offense enough to defend their championship? Or will Pence and the Phillies be too much for them all? Only time will tell.
For now, it is time to take a look at where all 30 teams rank with their new-look rosters.
Houston Astros manager Brad Mills doesn't have much to argue about these days. His team is flat-out terrible. You can't blame him though for wanting to blow off some steam every now and then.
Mills watched his team, already stuck in dead-last place, lose their two best players at the trade deadline. The good news for the Astros is they got a bunch of good prospects when they dealt Hunter Pence and Michael Bourn to the Phillies and Braves, respectively.
Still, the Astros are just 35-73; that's almost 40 games below .500. With their two best players gone, they likely will only drop even further. This clearly is a team in a rebuilding transition, so keep your heads up Houston fans, future success isn't too far away.
Oh, and football season is coming up soon. There is always that to look forward to.
The Chicago Cubs, once again, have fallen flat on their butts in 2011. There always seems to be optimism about this team at the beginning of the season, but it never seems to work out for the Cubbies—no matter how high their payroll gets.
Failed projects like Alfonso Soriano continuously come back to haunt Chicago's North Siders. After making no trades at the deadline this year, the only thing Cubs fans can salvage this year is if their rival Cardinals don't make the playoffs either.
There are a few bright spots on this roster. Aramis Ramirez stayed put, and Starlin Castro is turning out to be one of the best young players in the game. However, those two are not enough to turn this team around.
Oh the poor Baltimore Orioles. How are they supposed to compete in that division? Going against the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays, the Orioles just don't stand a chance.
After a hot start to the 2011 season, there was actually some hope in Baltimore. However, that fire fizzled out shortly after it was ignited. The competition of the AL East has stomped the Orioles down to a record of 42-63.
Young catcher Matt Wieters and 2011 newcomer Mark Reynolds provide some hope for years to come in Baltimore, but unless the possible realignment takes them out of that division, the Orioles aren't going anywhere.
At least they have a beautiful stadium.
The Kansas City Royals are in last place in the AL Central—arguably the weakest division in all of baseball. With a record of 46-62, the Royals aren't offering their fans much to look forward to for the rest of the year.
While this team doesn't win many games, a ridiculous amount of their wins have been walk-offs. In fact, the Royals lead MLB with 11 of them so far. At least those games are fun for their fans to watch.
Another city desperate for the football season to start, Kansas City will surely love watching the Chiefs again on Sundays.
Ichiro Suzuki is pretty much all the Seattle Mariners have had going for them for a while now. All-Star closer Brandon League has been great this year, and they managed to hang on to him throughout the trade deadline.
After recently losing 17 games in a row, the Mariners have at least made a couple trades to get some good prospects. Trading starting pitchers Erik Bedard and Doug Fister for young power-hitting prospects should help the offensively challenged team down the road. Yet for this year, Seattle fans seem destined for more heartache.
At least Safeco Field is a nice stadium and the fans there get to watch Ichiro in what will likely be a Hall of Fame career.
San Diego closer Heath Bell won't be grinning much for the rest of the 2011 season, as the Padres failed to move the All-Star to a contender before the trade deadline. Yet they were able to deal their next-best reliever Mike Adams and outfielder Ryan Ludwick, getting two young pitching prospects in return.
The Padres are doomed for the rest of the season, as they are in last place in the NL West with a record of 47-62.
Other than honoring Trevor Hoffman on August 21st, all that the Padres have to look forward to this year is possibly playing the spoiler role down the stretch, which will be much more difficult without Ludwick and Adams.
Another NL West team hangs in the pits of the league. To go along with their bankruptcy issues, the Los Angeles Dodgers just are not very good.
Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp are pretty much all the Dodgers lineup has going this year. There was talk of trading both power hitters, but no deals were made. All the Dodgers managed to do before the trade deadline was ridding themselves of shortstop Rafael Furcal.
The Dodgers didn't get much, if anything really before the trade deadline passed. Yet they did open up a spot for young prospect Dee Gordon.
With a record of 48-59, the Hollywood crowd doesn't have much to look forward to other than the above-mentioned outfielders, Ethier and Kemp, along with young pitching stud Clayton Kershaw.
The Oakland Athletics are, as usual, producing talented young pitchers. This year they are led by All-Star Gio Gonzales, Trevor Cahill and former Rookie of the Year Andrew Bailey as their closer.
Jemile Weeks, however, seems to be their only talented young hitter, and the A's didn't do anything at the trade deadline to bolster their offense.
The rest of the year certainly doesn't look promising for Oakland as they are 49-59 and 11.5 games back in the AL West. All A's fans have to look forward to this year is the release of Moneyball on September 23, starring Brad Pitt as A's general manager Billy Beane.
The Minnesota Twins failed to make any deals before the trade deadline passed, opting to hang onto Michael Cuddyer, who was involved in many talks.
With Joe Mauer being out for most of the year so far and now playing first base, the Twinkies are 50-58 and seven games back in the AL Central. After being preseason favorites to win the division, the high hopes of Minnesota fans have shifted toward the state's football team.
The Twins should have made some sort of deal that would have benefited them for next year knowing that they are basically out of contention in 2011.
Now all fans have to look forward to is Jim Thome's 600th home run.
The Washington Nationals managed to trade for Jonny Gomes, which certainly helps their offense with a struggling Jayson Werth—their main offseason acquisition.
However, the Nats had a chance to get the center fielder they needed in Denard Span, B.J. Upton or Michael Bourn. They could have given up Drew Storen and promoted All-Star reliever Tyler Clippard to the closing role.
Now the Nationals are sitting at 51-56 and are in last place in the NL East.
Now that the Colorado Rockies have dealt their ace pitcher, Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzales are about all Rockies fans have to enjoy the rest of the year.
Trading Ubaldo Jimenez to the Indians for top pitching prospects certainly helps for years to come, but it signals the Rockies giving up on the 2011 season. They came into the season with a stacked lineup and impressive young pitchers, and were thought to be the biggest threat to the Giants in the NL West.
However, the offense didn't turn out to be quite the juggernaut everyone predicted, and Jimenez fell off after his injury. Now the Rockies sit 10 games back in their division at 51-57.
The Florida Marlins are another team that decided to stand pat at the trade deadline. At just two games below .500, the 53-55 Marlins are still stuck 15.5 games behind the NL East-leading Phillies.
Despite playing in front of one of the weakest crowds in all of baseball, the Marlins seemed destined for success with names like Hanley Ramirez, Gaby Sanchez and Mike Stanton. However, after losing star pitcher Josh Johnson, the Marlins were doomed.
It turns out, for the Marlins, Hanley Ramirez has turned into more of a project than a prodigy. The slugging shortstop has proved to have maturity issues, and perhaps just a lack of enthusiasm for playing for a sub-.500 team with a weak fanbase and barely any national attention.
It is surprising the Marlins didn't deal Ramirez for some prospects. Either way, their season was doomed by the success of the Braves and Phillies.
The Chicago White Sox are a team that really could have used a deadline deal. They are two games below .500 at 52-54, yet in the AL Central, they are only four games back. That is definitely within striking distance.
Their pitching isn't having a great year, but they still have a fairly impressive offense. Though the Sox could always make a waiver-wire move, the chances of them still being in the playoff hunt are getting slimmer by the day.
At least the South Siders have bragging rights over Cubs fans.
The Cincinnati Reds have the same record as both the White Sox and the Marlins, yet they get ranked higher because they play in a better division than Chicago, and they just pulled off a very impressive sweep of the defending champion Giants.
The Reds are in fourth place in the NL Central, 6.5 games back, which kept them from going into sell mode at the deadline. Though it is unlikely, the Reds are still in what is considered striking distance.
With a lineup consisting of Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce, the Reds looked primed to make the playoffs once again. Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Bronson Arroyo lead a talented pitching staff, yet the Reds are still on the outside looking in.
It has been an interesting year for shortstop Jose Reyes and the New York Mets. After weeks of speculation, the Mets only ended up trading Carlos Beltran and got what many believe to be a top pitching prospect in Zack Wheeler.
The Mets have managed to work their way above .500 now sitting at 55-53. Yet trailing in the NL East by 7.5 games means their season is just about over.
Yet with a lineup that is still as dangerous as theirs is, and Johan Santana set to return in the end of August, the Mets are still dangerous.
Andrew McCutchen and the Pittsburgh Pirates are having their best season in many years. With a record of 54-52, the Pirates are only 4.5 games back in the NL Central.
With trade deadline acquisitions such as Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick, the Pirates are certainly making an effort to catch the Cardinals and Brewers.
Manager Clint Hurdle has turned around another perennial disappointing team like he did with the Rockies a few years ago. If the Pirates continue to play well and maybe pick someone up on the waiver wire, don't be surprised to see them continue to compete for the division crown.
With a record of 55-53 and the addition of Colby Rasmus, the Toronto Blue Jays are a dangerous team. Yet they will miss the playoffs once again due to being in the AL East and trailing the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox.
Slugger Jose Bautista has 31 home runs and Adam Lind has 19. However, the Blue Jays lack the pitching you need to beat powerful lineups like those of the Red Sox and Yankees.
Toronto is another team that needs the talked-about realignment to become a reality in order to have any chance at making the playoffs while Bautista and Rasmus are still there.
Although the Cleveland Indians have fallen out of first place in the AL Central, 2.5 games back with a record of 53-52, the recent acquisition of starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez shows they are serious about making the playoffs in 2011.
The Indians also traded for Kosuke Fukudome and sent Orlando Cabrera to San Francisco, opening up a spot for rookie Jason Kipnis.
No one expected the Indians to be in the 2011 hunt for the playoffs, but here they are, and with their recent trade deadline work, expect them to make a strong push in the final months of the season for the AL Central crown.
Justin Verlander has led the Detroit Tigers into first place in the AL Central. The trade for Doug Fister should help bolster their rotation.
With a lineup that consists of Alex Avila, Miguel Cabrera and Magglio Ordonez, the Tigers look poised to fend off the Indians and win another division title.
The Tigers are the lowest-ranked division-leading team as they play in what is widely considered the weakest division in the league. Detroit is the only division-leading team yet to reach 60 wins. With a record of 57-51, the Tigers have left an opening for other teams to make a run at them.
The Tampa Bay Rays are 56-51 and sit 10.5 games back in their division. Yet they rank higher than the Tigers because the AL East is so much tougher than the AL Central.
The Rays could have been sellers at the deadline as B.J. Upton was the topic of many trade talks. Yet they decided to keep the team intact and it would be hard to blame them.
With a lineup featuring All-Star Matt Joyce, Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, Casey Kotchman and Johnny Damon, one would think the Rays would be a powerhouse. Then you remember the lineups the Yankees and Red Sox roll out every day and it is no wonder why this team is stuck in third place.
The St. Louis Cardinals have been busy lately, adding five players to their roster through trades before the deadline.
Of those five players, the headliners are Rafael Furcal and Edwin Jackson. However, it did cost them their budding young star center fielder Colby Rasmus.
The Cardinals are 2.5 games back in the NL Central with a record of 57-51, yet their trades indicate that they are trying to win now. Jackson should help replace injured Adam Wainwright, and Furcal should fill the hole at shortstop.
With a lineup that still consists of Albert Pujols, Matt Holiday and a rejuvenated Lance Berkman, the Cardinals will be tough for anyone to fend off.
The Los Angeles Angels are in second place in the AL West, two games back with a record of 59-50. They have an impressive lineup and a Cy Young candidate in Jared Weaver.
Yet they sit at No. 9 in the power rankings because they are stuck behind the defending AL champion Rangers, and they did not come up with any improvements before the trade deadline expired.
They could always come up with someone on the waiver wire, but it likely will not be someone who could vault them in front of the Rangers, and everyone knows the AL Wild Card is going to come out of the AL East.
Therefore, it would take a Texas-sized collapse from the Rangers and continuously solid play from the Angels for them to make it into the playoffs.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are also two games back in their division, but they rank ahead of the Angels because of the moves they made before the trade deadline.
The D'Backs picked up starting pitcher Jason Marquis as well as reliever Brandon Ziegler. If there is a questionable part of the Arizona roster, it's the bullpen. However, Ziegler should help bring some stability there.
At 59-49, the Diamondbacks have surprised everyone in baseball this year, and they aren't going away. General manager Kevin Towers has pieced this team together nicely, and with their recent acquisitions, they look poised to give the Giants all they can handle in the NL West.
September will likely be the decisive month for Arizona's playoff hopes.
The Milwaukee Brewers have slugged their way to a 60-49 record and a spot in first place of the NL Central division.
Prince Fielder has 24 home runs and Ryan Braun has 21. Add in 19 from Rickie Weeks and Milwaukee presents one of the most feared lineups in the game today.
The only knock on the Brewers is their pitching staff. Ace Zach Greinke isn't having the year he had last year for the Royals, and the bullpen is very questionable. However, with the offense they have in Milwaukee, they don't exactly need a Cy Young winner on the mound every day.
The Brew Crew has won six games in a row and doesn't appear ready to relinquish its 2.5-game lead.
Former AL champion Texas Rangers made a very important move at the trade deadline, acquiring relievers Mike Adams and Koji Uehara. As they proved in the World Series last year, the Rangers bullpen wasn't up to the challenge of the postseason.
Closer Neftali Feliz was one of the best in the game last year while winning Rookie of the Year. But outside of that, they needed some help. Adams is one of the best setup men in all of baseball. He and Uehara will certainly help bridge the gap from the starters to Feliz.
Everyone knows the Rangers have an extremely dangerous lineup. Impressive starting pitching and now a quality bullpen could be the difference they needed last year in the World Series.
With a two-game lead in the AL West, don't be surprised to see the Rangers make another postseason run, even if it means having to go through teams like the Red Sox and Yankees.
The San Francisco Giants landed the big bat they desperately needed in the middle of their lineup when they traded for Carlos Beltran. The Giants also filled their need for a right-handed hitting shortstop with Orlando Cabrera.
Earlier they picked up a reliable second baseman in Jeff Keppinger to replace injured Freddy Sanchez. General manager Brian Sabean certainly did his fair share of work at the trade deadline, and don't be surprised if he picks up more on the waiver wire like he did last year.
The defending World Series champions don't have the kind of lineup that could last punch for punch with teams like the Phillies, Yankees and Red Sox, but their pitching is what carried them last year and they could very well do so again in 2011.
A rotation headlined by Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain with arguably the best bullpen in baseball with All-Star closer Brian Wilson is a deadly combination. Take that with a little timely hitting from Pablo Sandoval and newcomer Beltran and it could be another championship combination.
A record of 61-47 and a two-game lead in the NL West puts the Giants in good position to make it into the playoffs again, in which case it will be up to their pitching to carry them the rest of the way.
(Oh, and their show is pretty good too.)
The Atlanta Braves recently lost their All-Star catcher Brian McCann, leaving a huge hole in the middle of their lineup. So they made one of the biggest trades of the season, acquiring center fielder Michael Bourn.
He's not going to bring the power McCann had, but his speed is nearly as valuable. This was a big move that could keep the Braves on the path to the playoffs—that and the fact that they have one of the best pitching staffs in all of baseball.
Jiar Jurrgens is having a Cy Young-caliber season while Tim Hudson and Tommy Hanson have been solid. They also have a great bullpen with Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel closing.
Now with a new element to their lineup, the Braves look as dangerous as ever at 63-46. The Braves are currently second in the NL East behind the Phillies, but are widely considered to be favorites for the Wild Card as they hold a 3.5-game lead over the Diamondbacks.
The New York Yankees seem to at least make the playoffs every year, and they seem destined to make it once again in 2011. Yet it may come as a wild-card appearance instead of being the AL East champs.
They trail the Red Sox by two games, yet the Yanks hold a comfortable lead of 6.5 games over the Angels in the wild-card race.
Standing at 64-42, the Yankees are the same team they were before the deadline. The Bombers didn't land any big-time trades, and it could be the difference between winning their 28th world championship and their playoff hopes ending a little early.
Their lineup certainly is one of the best in baseball, and C.C. Sabathia is putting up Cy Young-type numbers. However, the rest of the rotation can be a little shaky at times. Luckily, the Yankee lineup is usually enough to get the win either way.
If Derek Jeter can stay healthy and the rest of the lineup continues to produce, it will be very tough for any team to outlast the Yankees in a series.
From the start of the 2011 season, many predicted the Boston Red Sox to win or at least make it to the World Series. So far they are proving them right. The BoSox have the best record in the American League at 66-40, putting them two games ahead of the Yankees.
The Sox sure seem to have what it takes to win a championship, with both stellar pitching and hitting.
A lineup consisting of David Ortiz, Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia is possibly the most dangerous lineup in the league. Also, having pitchers like Cy Young hopeful Josh Beckett, John Lester and Jonathan Papelbon as the closer makes Boston that much more of a threat.
In addition, the Red Sox made a deadline move of their own, getting the starter they had been searching for in Erik Bedard. They also picked up a utility infielder for extra support.
No one will be surprised if the Sox find their way to another World Series, but there is some serious competition in both leagues in 2011.
The Philadelphia Phillies pulled off a blockbuster trade of their own, getting Hunter Pence from the Astros. It was a huge addition to an already powerful lineup.
The Phillies own the best record in baseball at 68-39, almost 30 games above .500; compare that to the Astros being nearly 40 games below. The Phils were another common pick for the 2011 World Series, and it's easy to tell why.
With Pence being added to a lineup that already features Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Sane Victorino, Philadelphia has one of the most formidable lineups in the league. Having so many power threats offensively makes it easier on their pitching staff, which usually doesn't need much help.
Cy Young candidate Roy Halladay is followed in the rotation by Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels with Roy Oswalt nearing his return. Combine that starting pitching with guys in the bullpen like Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson, and it's hard to see the Phillies losing a series to anyone.