1. Philadelphia Phillies (1) 69-39
You know what is really bad news for everyone in baseball? When the team that has been pretty unanimously atop polls as the best team in baseball for a while now gets arguably the highest grade for their deadline moves. The Phils got even scarier as they acquired Hunter Pence from their minor league affiliate, the Houston Astros. Lidge, Oswalt and now Pence…boy, Ed Wade loves those Phillies. Pence is the perfect right-handed hitter for this lineup as he fits snugly between Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez.
2. Boston Red Sox (2) 66-41
There may not be a huge difference record wise between 1 and 2 in the rankings, but there is as far as looking towards the final two months. The news on Clay Buchholz continues to get worse and its very likely he will not pitch again in 2011. The Sox seemed to be sniffing at every available guy before the deadline, and in the end wound up with a huge question mark in Erik Bedard. When healthy Bedard has been good, problem is that is a very rare occurrence. But with all that said, the Sox continue to lead the AL East and appear to be a lock to earn a post season berth.
3. New York Yankees (3) 65-42
The biggest shock of the deadline may have been what the Yankees didn’t do. The Yankees are a sure fire bet to do something at the July 31st trade deadline. Whether it’s big or small, Brian Cashman is usually very active. Not this time around, and honestly I can’t blame him. Yes, he is very protective of his prospects, but considering what was out there can you blame him? Ubaldo Jimenez was the most appealing starter out there, but lets face it…Ubaldo has 1 dominant half in his career, the rest has been solid to mediocre. Was he worth mortgaging the future for? 2-5 in the Yankees rotation may continue to be questions, but here is what isn’t. The closer, the 8th inning guy and the ace…and the fact they will be playing October baseball.
4. Texas Rangers (6) 61-48
The Rangers have lost 2 straight series, which has allowed the Angels to creep quite close in the AL West, but they were busy at the trade deadline while the Angels sat on their hands. Koji Uehara and Mike Adams are solid additions to a pen that needed all the help they could get. But as we enter the stretch drive the big questions surrounding the Rangers to me involves the top of the rotation. We know CJ Wilson and Colby Lewis are solid, but what is Alexi Ogando? Ogando, Derek Holland and Matt Harrison will determine if the defending AL Champs will get a shot to defend their crown.
5. San Francisco Giants (5) 61-48
Don’t look now but the World Champions may be in for a dogfight in the NL West. The D-Backs have hung around for months, but are now starting to really make their move. They beat SF on Monday to pull within 1 game. The Giants have not seen immediate returns since acquiring Carlos Beltran. While they did win a series in Philly, they got swept by the pitching hungry Reds and managed only 5 runs in the 3 game series.
6. Atlanta Braves (4) 63-47
The Braves have a few things in common with the Giants these days. They both acquired a much needed bat at the deadline. (Michael Bourn in Atlanta’s case.) They both rely on very good rotations and bullpens, while have a difficult time scoring runs. And they both find the Arizona Diamondbacks crawling up their backs. The Braves wild card lead is down to just 2 ½ games over Arizona. Keep an eye on Jair Jurrjens. After his remarkable 1st half, he has come back to earth the last month.
7. Arizona Diamondbacks (NR) 60-49
While the Indians and Pirates have gotten most of the attention as the 2011 “surprise” teams the Diamondbacks continue to quietly hang in there. Justin Upton has had a fantastic year a few months after being shopped around in the league, and Ryan Roberts has come out of nowhere to hit 15 home runs. They even made a splash at the deadline acquiring Brad Ziegler, and calling up big prospect Paul Goldschmidt to be their first baseman. The Braves/Giants NLDS rematch felt inevitable but the D-Backs are now officially threatening both.
8. Milwaukee Brewers (NR) 61-49
If you thought the recent hot streak of Milwaukee was all about playing the lousy Cubs and Astros at home…well you may be right, but the Brewers have a shot to shut up all this week. They play a big series with St. Louis and after winning the opener to make it 7 straight wins they have opened up a 3 ½ game lead in the Central, which feels like the biggest lead in decades.
9. Detroit Tigers (8) 57-51
Their division rival Indians may have landed the sexier name, but in 2011 the Tigers landed the better pitcher. Doug Fister and his god awful record are coming to Detroit, but when you look closer at his season, you realize Fister’s record doesn’t indicate how good he’s been. Despite Carlos Guillen looking like a clown in the Sunday game against Jered Weaver, the story of 2011 for Detroit has been Justin Verlander. Again, he flirted with a no hitter…his dominance should remind everyone of how dangerous Detroit can be if they find a way to win the Central.
10. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (7) 61-48
They survived Texas going what felt like 2 weeks without losing, and now we will see if they can survive an eerily quiet trade deadline. They called up Mike Trout a few weeks ago but he didn’t provide much, so the Angels pursuit of the AL West will rely on a top of the rotation Texas can’t match. Despite getting out dueled by Verlander, Jered Weaver continues to be remarkable.
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