MLB Power Rankings Week 22: Large Leads and Profits Exposed

Eric Ball@@BigLeagueEballFeatured ColumnistAugust 30, 2010

MLB Power Rankings Week 22: Large Leads and Profits Exposed

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    What a wacky week for incredible comebacks: The Colorado Rockies were down 10-1 to the NL East-leading Atlanta Braves—in the blink of an eye, it became a 12-10 Rockies win. Going on at almost the same exact time, the Cincinnati Reds blew a 10-2 lead before having to grind out a 12-11 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

    Financial records of a few teams were leaked to the website Deadspin last week and the numbers were startling. The Pittsburgh Pirates have been one of the most profitable teams in MLB, in the green $29.3M in 2007 and 2008 combined—that means the Pirates are one of the most profitable teams in all of baseball.

    Yes, those Pirates, the worst franchise in professional sports. Needlees to say, fans aren't happy.

    The leaked records are a huge setback for the Florida Marlins as well, who begged taxpayers to help them build a new stadium, for the Fish have made quite a profit too.

    The Oakland A's, Los Angeles Angels, and Tampa Bay Rays were the other teams with leaked financial documents.

    The fact that such private information had been released is another question in itself. How did Deadspin obtain them? Was more than one person involved? It's turned into a huge story that could possibly alter the revenue sharing landscape as we know it.

30. Pittsburgh Pirates

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    PITTSBURGH - AUGUST 25:  Daniel McCutchen #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the St Louis Cardinals during the game on August 25, 2010 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    How have the Pirates responded to the financial news this week? By getting swept by the Brewers at Miller Park, of course.

    Their road record is just abysmal. The 13-51 mark is SEVEN games worse than the 29th best road record. The Reds ripped off six wins on a nine game trip last week. They almost collected half of the Pirates entire told for the 2010 season. The Pirates have lost their last 13 road games.

    Too bad the owners are too busy counting their millions in profit to care.

29. Baltimore Orioles

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    ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 29:  Koji Uehara #19 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates a save and a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the ninth inning at Angel Stadium on August 29, 2010 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images
    Harry How/Getty Images

    It's too bad the O's can't play the Angels every game. Sunday's 1-0 win completed a season sweep of the Halos. The 6-0 mark represents 12.5 percent of the 48 wins the team has.

    Julio Lugo left the game Sunday after a pick-off attempt when the ball hit him in the batting helmet, briefly leaving him motionless on the ground.

    The Orioles determined Lugo wasn't seriously hurt after undergoing a CT scan. Lugo said he felt fine after the game, but manager Buck Showalter said the club will be taking plenty of caution with bringing him back.

28. Cleveland Indians

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    BOSTON, MA - AUGUST 5:  Trevor Crowe #4 of the Cleveland Indians walks off after grounding out against the Boston Red Sox August 5, 2010 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
    Darren McCollester/Getty Images

    For the second time in the past few weeks, manager Manny Acta talked about Asdrubal Cabrera as a potential leader in the Indians' clubhouse.

    ''He wants to be out there all the time,'' Acta said. ''He likes to do it [lead], but he has to take small steps. It takes time.''

    When it was suggested that Cabrera isn't one of the more vocal players, he said, ''He's probably quiet in English, but you haven't heard him in Spanish.''

    The 24-year-old will be a big part of the Indians future—at least while Acta is around.

27. Seattle Mariners

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    SEATTLE - AUGUST 27:  Adam Moore #10 of the Seattle Mariners bats against the Minnesota Twins at Safeco Field on August 27, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. The Twins won 6-3. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Minor league prospect Michael Pineda has pitched his last game this year.

    General manager Jack Zduriencik said that Pineda, who has made 25 starts and pitched 139.1 innings between Single-A and Double-A, will be shut down.

    “The simple reasons is because of innings,” Zduriencik said. “We had gauged that he would pitch between 140 and 150 innings this year. This is a prized product of ours and this is a guy we want to protect.”

    The 423 runs scored is last in the majors in runs scored. Even the Quadruple-A Pirates have scored 441 runs.

26. Arizona Diamondbacks

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    SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 29:  Gerardo Parra #18 of the Arizona Diamondbacks safely gets around the tag of Eli Whiteside #22 of the San Francisco Giants in the eighth inning at AT&T Park on August 29, 2010 in San Francisco, California. Parra slide past home
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Stephen Drew had a home run and a double on Thursday, giving him seven extra-base hits in Arizona's series in San Diego this week. According to Elias, that's the most extra-base hits any player has had in one series at that venue; the previous record was six.

    A woman with a Mexican flag and a man ran onto the field at Petco Park while the Diamondbacks were batting against the San Diego Padres Wednesday night. I'm sure D-Backs love taking the blame for a decision they had absolutely no say in.

25. Chicago Cubs

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    CINCINNATI - AUGUST 29:  Kosuke Fukudome #1 of the Chicago Cubs hits a home run during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on August 29, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    There have been plenty of rumors regarding who the next manager of the Cubs will be: Joe Girardi and Ryne Sandberg have been the main candidates so far but neither of them have been interviewed.

    Enter Eric Wedge.

    He met with the Cubs brass over the weekend and it seems like it might be a good fit. The Cubs don't want a "celebrity" manager like Lou Pinella or Dusty Baker. Wedge has had success in the past with the Indians and he has known the G.M. for years.

    Keep an eye on the progress of this situation.

24. Washington Nationals

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    WASHINGTON - AUGUST 10:  Stephen Strasburg #37 of the Washington Nationals sits in the dugout during the sixth inning of the game against the Florida Marlins at Nationals Park on August 10, 2010 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    The hammer has come down hard on the Nationals rookie phenom Stephen Strasburg—He needs to undergo "Tommy John" surgery and will be out for a long time. There have been plenty of success stories of players coming back from the surgery. Chris Carpenter and Arthur Rhodes are two examples. He hopes to make it back by midseason next year. However, the typical time table for recovery is 9-to-12 months. Cross your fingers 'Nats fans.

    The Nationals are projected to lose around $7M because of the injuries. Ouch

    Livan Hernandez has agreed to a one-year contract extension for the 2011 season with the Washington Nationals, giving the team some stability in a rotation that will be without Strasburg for the majority of the '11 season.

23. Kansas City Royals

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 15:  Pitcher Joakim Soria #48 of the Kansas City Royals throws toward first during the game against the New York Yankees on August 15, 2010 at Kauffman stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    The Royals got their top setup reliever back prior to Sunday’s game by activating Robinson Tejeda from the DL.

    Tejeda, 28, was diagnosed with a strained tendon in his right biceps after a July 29th appearance. He is 3-3 with a 3.42 ERA in 41 outings but compiled a 1.38 ERA over his last 31 appearances.

    The Royals made space on the roster for Tejeda by placing reliever Kanekoa Texeira on the DL due to a strained right elbow.

22. Houston Astros

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 28:  Brandon Lyon #37 and Humberto Quintero #55 of the Houston Astros celebrate after defeating the New York Mets on August 28, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Astros defeated t
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    The Astros have won six of eight and have posted a winning record since June—too bad April and May were dreadful. This young club has a bright future.

    Brett Myers went at least six innings again on Saturday, making Myers the 13th pitcher to go at least six innings in his first 27 starts since 1920. Curt Schilling was the last to do it, with six or more innings in his first 35 starts.

    Jeff Keppinger (left big toe) is rehabbing in the minors this week. Geoff Blum rejoined the Astros after missing three days with neck discomfort.

21. Detroit Tigers

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 19:  Robbie Weinhardt #34 of the Detroit Tigers pitches during the sixth inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on August 19, 2010 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    The Tigers offense has been awful outside of MVP candidate Miguel Cabrera. A perfect example was Friday night against the Royals. The Tigers were 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position while scoring three runs—two of them came from Cabrera's solo home runs.

    The need for a big bat should be at the top of the list in the offseason. Oh and by the way, Manny Ramirez just entered your division.

20. Milwaukee Brewers

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    ST. LOUIS - AUGUST 18: Relief pitcher Trever Hoffman #51 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on August 18, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Brewers beat the Cardinals 3-2.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Imag
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    The Brewers swept the Pirates at home over the weekend. This is business as usual for the Brew Crew. They have now won 28 of it's last 30 home games against the Pirates.

    Trevor Hoffman earned his 599th save on Sunday. He already holds the all-time record but he might pitch again next season. He hinted that his arm felt great and he still has fun on the mound. After having an ERA of over 11 in his first 16 appearances, he has knocked it back down to a respectable 2.45 ERA in his last 27 appearances.

19. Los Angeles Angels

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    ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 29:  Hideki Matsui #53 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim takes a swing in his at bat as a pinch hitter against the Baltimore Orioles during the eighth inning at Angel Stadium on August 29, 2010 in Anaheim, California. Matsui struck
    Harry How/Getty Images

    This is an ugly season for the Angels. Getting swept by the O's? Twice? They traded Brian Fuentes last week to the Twins for a player to be named later, a move that was all about shedding salary. Fuentes had some harsh words for Angel fans on his way out the door:

    "It was funny. I felt like I was pitching on the road quite a bit. I came in to a lot of boos, but the fans here come out in droves. They’re here to be entertained. They’re entertained one way or another, through my frustrations or through my success. I felt like I’ve given them a lot more success than failure."

    The Angels spent a grand total of four games in first this season. That's the least amount of time spent in first for the Halos since '03.

18. New York Mets

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 28:  Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch against the Houston Astros on August 28, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Where is the love for their ace?

    The Astros sunk the Mets, 4-1 on Saturday, as New York once again failed to score for Johan Santana. The Mets have scored a total of 84 runs in Santana's 28 starts, an average of three runs per start.

    According to Elias: the last Mets pitcher with such a low run-support average in a season (minimum: 20 starts) was Bob Ojeda in 1988; the Mets averaged 2.97 runs in his 29 starts that year. Since the start of '09, the Mets have averaged 3.25 runs in Santana's starts, the lowest average among the 99 big-league pitchers with 40-or-more starts over that time.

17. Oakland Athletics

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    OAKLAND, CA - AUGUST 19:  Cliff Pennington #2 of the Oakland Athletics hits a two run double against the Tampa Bay Rays in the sixth inning during an MLB game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on August 19, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    From Elias: Dallas Braden threw his third complete-game victory in his last six starts as the Athletics drew closer to the Rangers with a 5-0 victory this weekend. The last Oakland pitcher who registered three complete-game wins over a six-game span was Mark Mulder, who in May of 2004 tossed three consecutive complete-game victories.

    The 7.5-game deficit they face is still within reach. They play the AL West-leading Rangers four more times in Oakland. If their excellent starting pitching keeps up, maybe the division race will heat up a bit in September.

16. Los Angeles Dodgers

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    ST. LOUIS - JULY 18: Manny Ramirez #99 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on from the dugout against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on July 18, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cardinals beat the Dodgers 5-4.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Imag
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    The Dodgers have said goodbye to Manny Ramirez—he is headed to the Chicago White Sox on Monday in a straight waiver claim, a league source with knowledge of the situation said Sunday.

    The Dodgers don't want anything in return, simply the $4M relief that is still due to him this season. The last Dodger moment of Mannywood? A pinch hit appearance that resulted in his ejection after one pitch with the bases loaded.

    Manny being Manny. Gotta love it.

    The 38-year-old Ramirez is batting .311 this season with eight homers and 40 RBI, but has played in just 66 games due to injuries.

15. Florida Marlins

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 25:  Wes Helms #18 of the Florida Marlins scores against the New York Mets in the second inning on August 25, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
    Andrew Burton/Getty Images

    Did the Marlins misrepresent their financial state to public officials? After begging for help from the local taxpayers, the Marlins were able to land enough money for a new stadium. They made $37.8M alone in '08.

    That makes the Marlins ownership liars, blatantly misleading to Marlin fans how strapped for cash the team was. They could have contributed a substantial amount of money to the stadium, while still recording a profit. 

    The team could have a huge problem on its hands in the near future. The city of Miami needs to launch an investigation into this and figure out what the heck is going on. The ugly truth might really kill the already tiny fan base.

14. Toronto Blue Jays

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    ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 15:  Jose Bautistal (R) #19 and Jason Frasor #54 of the Toronto Blue Jays congratulate each other following their teams victory over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angel Stadium on August 15, 2010 in Anaheim, California. The Blu
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Solid month for the young Blue Jays ace.

    Brandon Morrow struck out nine Tigers batters in six innings in the Blue Jays win on Saturday. In his last appearance of August, Morrow raised his strikeout total for the month to 49 batters in only 30.1 innings.

    Of the 91 outs that Morrow got during August, 49 came via strikeouts. According to Elias, Morrow's strikeout rate during August is 14.5 per nine innings, the fourth best in modern major-league history among pitchers who threw at least 25 innings in a month. What a terrific stretch for a budding star.

    Blue Jays third baseman Edwin Encarnacion sprained his left wrist swinging at a pitch on Saturday and was placed on the DL after the game. Encarnacion is batting .246 with 13 homers and 36 RBI in 80 games. He missed 30 games in April and May with a sore right shoulder.

    Toronto recalled infielder Mike McCoy from Triple-A Las Vegas.

13. Colorado Rockies

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    CINCINNATI - JULY 18:  Aaron Cook #28 of the Colorado Rockies throws a pitch during the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park on July 18, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Carlos Gonzalez has been on-fire for the Rockies—he really loves the home cooking of Denver. He has at least one extra-base hit in each of his last six games. Gonzalez is batting .449 (47 for 102) and slugging .990 with 14 home runs and 35 RBI in his last 25 games at Coors Field.

    Gonzalez has hit 23 of his 29 HR this season at home. He leads all of the National League this season in the Triple Crown categories in home games. CarGo has hit plenty of home runs against off-speed pitches. 17 of his 29 HR this year have come against non-fastballs.

    "What is it that we've seen that he can't do very well?" Tracy asked. "He's as graceful a player as I've ever seen on the baseball field."

    The Rox won't die. After looking seemingly dead, they are only 4.5 games out of the Wild Card.

12. Chicago White Sox

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 29: Manager Ozzie Guillen #13 of the Chicago White Sox heads to the locker room after being thrown out of a game against the New York Yankees in the 9th inning at U.S. Cellular Field on August 29, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Yankees de
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Manny meet Ozzie. Ozzie meet Manny. Baseball fans across the country are fired up to see these two work together. Over/under 10 games for the first dugout dispute between the two?

    Clearly the White Sox think they still have a chance. Just over a month left and a 4.5 game deficit, the addition makes the White Sox very appealing.

    Manny historically plays great for a team when he first arrives. He knows how to win and will be rejuvenated with yet another change of scenery. I think the new Manny will provide terrific numbers over the final weeks of the season.

11. St. Louis Cardinals

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    WASHINGTON - AUGUST 26:  Matt Holliday #7 of the St. Louis Cardinals is hit by a pitch in the ninth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on August 26, 2010 in Washington, DC. The tying run scored on the play. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Gett
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    The Cards have really struggled over the last two weeks; this week alone they lost two-of-three to the beyond awful Pirates, then lost three-of-four to the Nationals.

    Not to mention the fact that the Cards had themselves a nice-sized distraction when manager Tony LaRussa and star Albert Pujols decided to attend a Glen Beck rally.

    It appears that La Russa is burned out on baseball and his team has mirrored their manager. Pujols has hit .409 with 11 homers and 23 RBI in the month of August. Matt Holliday has hit .304 with 19 ribbies. It's the rest of the team that isn't producing.

    Even Adam Wainwright has struggled of late, getting hit hard by the Pirates and Nationals in his last two starts.

10. Boston Red Sox

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    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 27:  Pitcher Jon Lester #31 and catcher Victor Martinez #41 of the Boston Red Sox have a conversation at the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on August 27, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (P
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    The Red Sox playoff hopes took a huge blow this weekend. Losing two-of-three to the Rays leaves the Sox seven games back with 31 games to play. With the way the Yanks and Rays have steamrolled the AL, a 10-12 game winning streak might be necessary.

    The insane amount of injuries have destroyed a decent roster. But when four of your main contributors land on the DL for extended amounts of time (Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia, Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury), it's hard to compete in the best division in baseball.

    The sounds of Tropicana field echoed loudly Sunday night:

    "No more Boston." Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap. "No more Boston.'' Clap, clap, clap, clap, clap

9. San Francisco Giants

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    SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 29:  Freddy Sanchez #21 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by Cody Ross #13 after he scored on a single by Jose Guillen #6 to tie their game 6-6 in the seventh inning of their game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at AT&T
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Barry Zito allowed six runs in the first inning and finished his 3.2-inning stint allowing nine runs (seven earned) as the Diamondbacks rolled. Over 23 games since August 4th, Giants starters are 3-13 (.188) with a 6.17 ERA, and a .302 opponents batting average. The winning percentage and ERA are the worst in the majors over that 25-day span, while the batting average is last in the National League.

    Tim Lincecum has a 7.82 ERA in August, his highest ERA in any month of his career and he's allowed at least four earned runs in each of his last four starts. His longest previous streak of starts surrendering four-or-more earned runs was a only two.

    Wacky series this week for the Giants and Reds. The Giants offense had been anemic, averaging three runs a game in the previous nine games. In three games against the Reds, they blew up for 38 runs in the three-game set.

    In the last game, the Giants came all the way back from a 10-1 deficit to take a 11-10 lead before losing in extra innings. The Giants scored 11 runs at home and lost, that's the most runs they've scored in a home loss in 27 years.

8. Philadelphia Phillies

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    NEW YORK - AUGUST 14:  Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch against the New York Mets on August 14, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Roller coaster ride of a week for the Phils. They were AWFUL during the week, losing four in a row at home to the lowly Astros.

    But luck was on their side as the Braves were unable to capitalize, getting swept by the Rockies. Next up was a cross country trip to San Diego to take on the first place/best NL record Padres.

    The Phillies ended up sweeping them in a three game set. Now the NL East deficit is down to two games and the awful four game set against the 'Stros is a distant memory. The Sunday shutout was the 16th of the season, second best in the NL. Philadelphia is now 14-2 against the NL West.

    Ryan Howard is batting .121 (4-33) with one RBI since returning from the disabled list on Aug. 21st.

7. Texas Rangers

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    BALTIMORE - AUGUST 22:  Neftali Feliz #30 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards on August 22, 2010 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Rangers beat the Orioles 6-4.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    All Rich Harden could do was watch from the top step of the dugout as someone else tried to finish the no-hitter he started. With one out in the ninth, the Twins Joe Mauer destroyed the party with a single against closer Neftali Feliz.

    Feliz managed to get two outs to finish a 4-0, but what might have been the sixth no-no in 2010 turned to dust.

    We'll never know if Harden, who was replaced after throwing 111 pitches over 6.2 innings, could have finished the job himself. Despite walking five Twins, Harden had his best outing of the season.

    With his history of injuries, pulling him was a no-brainer. It's just too bad he had to place his possible no-hitter in the hands of other pitchers.

    Help is on the way for the Rangers. Nelson Cruz returns to the lineup Monday after his DL stint. Ian Kinsler, out since late July, is expected back on Friday.

6. Atlanta Braves

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    HOUSTON - AUGUST 11:  Pitcher Takashi Saito #40 of Japan, along with Troy Glaus of the Atlanta Braves makes a gesture to his heart after retiring the last hitter in the tenth inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on August 11, 2010 in Hous
    Bob Levey/Getty Images

    From Elias: Omar Infante had two hits to lift his batting average to .344. With all of the attention on the Triple Crown candidacies of Albert Pujols and Joey Votto, it is Infante who could emerge as a spoiler. Infante's average stands well above Votto's league-leading .326 average (Pujols stands third), though Infante lacks the required total of plate appearances to qualify.

    Now set as Atlanta's lead-off hitter, Infante may get enough plate appearances to qualify by season's end. Infante needs 146 trips to the plate in Atlanta's 33 remaining games.

    Wacky and wild game against the Rockies on Wednesday. How are you going to blow a 10-1 lead? The Rockies had less than a two percent chance of winning the game. It all started with the walk of a Rockies RELIEF pitcher in the fifth by Johnny Venters. It sparked a six run inning and put the Rox right back in it.

    A game like that is why you can never give up hope.

5. Minnesota Twins

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    SEATTLE - AUGUST 27:  Second baseman Orlando Hudson #1 of the Minnesota Twins follows the play against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field on August 27, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. The Twins won 6-3. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Disabled players can be replaced on postseason rosters at any time—the Twins will put all seven disabled players on the playoff roster: Justin Morneau, Kevin Slowey, Jose Mijares, Nick Punto, Ron Mahay, Clay Condrey and Joe Nathan.

    Second baseman Orlando Hudson left Saturday's game in the first inning after his right ankle "locked up" while taking a lead off first base. Designated hitter Jim Thome left the same game in the fourth because of lower-back stiffness. Both players are day to day.

    Brian Fuentes is a great pickup that will provide even more depth to an already solid bullpen.

    Odd stat: The Twins hit into three double plays to bring their major league-leading total to 137.

4. Cincinnati Reds

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    CINCINNATI - AUGUST 29:  Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds runs the bases during the game against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on August 29, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The Reds won 7-5.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    According to Baseball Reference, 15 of Joey Votto's 32 HRs this season have been opposite field, including six of the last seven.

    Edinson Volquez has been demoted to the bullpen after lasting a grand total of .2 innings against the Giants. Aaron Harang is set to return on Tuesday and will be taking his spot in the rotation. Harang has been out with a stiff back since mid July.

    Triple-A phenom Aroldis Chapman was clocked at 105 MPH over the weekend. All signs point to him being up on the big club on September 1st. He could be the next David Price. Huge potential as a starter, but needed as a reliever for the present.

    Brandon Phillips got drilled in the wrist by a pitch on Wednesday and hasn't played since. He is currently listed as day-to-day, hopefully for Reds fans he doesn't need to make a trip to the DL.

    He wasn't the only Reds injury this week: Jim Edmonds landed on the DL, and Miguel Cairo and Laynce Nix both got banged up.

3. San Diego Padres

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    SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 15:  Tony Gwyn #18 of the San Diego Padres bats against the San Francisco Giants during an MLB game at AT&T Park on August 15, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Uh oh. Has the slump everyone has been waiting for arrived? Cole Hamels and Ryan Madson combined to shut out the Padres on five hits and complete the Phillies' three-game sweep of the NL West leaders. San Diego has lost four straight games for the first time this season.

    Jerry Hairston Jr has been placed on the DL with a strained ligament in his right elbow. The Padres said that Hairston won't need surgery but it will take two to three weeks to heal. The ultra utility man will hopefully recover quickly, the Padres need his verstility down the stretch.

    Chris Young is scheduled to make a rehab start Tuesday at Triple-A as he continues to work his way back from a shoulder injury.

    There's a possibility Young will pitch again in the majors this year if he remains pain free, pitching coach Darren Balsley said. The 6'10" Young has only made one start this season before going on the DL with a strained shoulder. He had arthroscopic surgery on the same shoulder last year.

    After throwing a series of simulated games and bullpen sessions, a rehab start will give Young a better sense of where he is physically.

2. Tampa Bay Rays

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    ST. PETERSBURG - AUGUST 29:  Outfielder Carl Crawford #13 (right) of the Tampa Bay Rays is congratulated by Evan Longoria #3 after his home run against the Boston Red Sox during the game at Tropicana Field on August 29, 2010 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    From Elias: The Rays defeated the Red Sox on Sunday night to keep pace with the Yankees, who won earlier in the day. Tampa Bay and New York have been tied atop the AL East 22 times this season, including each of the past seven days. It matches the most consecutive days that two teams have been tied for first place this late in a season in major-league history.

    A very encouraging sign for the Rays is their record against the best teams in the AL. They have posted a 15-10 record against the Yankees, Twins and Rangers.

    David Price had allowed one home run in seven starts (42.1 innings pitched) since the All-Star break. Victor Martinez homered twice against him in seven innings on Friday.

    Carl Crawford blasted his 100th career homerun on Sunday. He continues to play at a high level as free agency looms closer.

1. New York Yankees

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    CHICAGO - AUGUST 29: Starting pitcher Ivan Nova #47 of the New York Yankees delivers the ball against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on August 29, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Andy Pettitte is making progress in his recovery from a groin strain that has sidelined him since July 18th, hurling 35 pitches in a bullpen session that was described as "a lot more intense" than the session he threw on Friday.

    But the 38-year-old left-hander said it would still be "two weeks at least" before he could return to the mound. "It all depends on what they want me to do," Pettitte said. "Whenever they want me, I'll go out there."

    Pettitte currently holds a 11-2 record with a 2.88 ERA on the season.

    As other pitchers struggle to get over the 17 win hump, CC Sabathia quitely wins his 18th game of the season, posting a 3.14 ERA in the process. Old reliable has been great for the Yanks this season, very necessary considering how shaky the rest of the rotation has been at times.

    Part-owner Hank Steinbrenner has already started thinking about the playoffs with his team.

    "We'd like to win the division, but I think we can be rest assured we're going to get the playoffs, then it's a matter of what we do from there."