MLB Power Poll: Trading deadline doesn’t shake up power structure

The final few hours and days before the trading deadline didn’t lack for intrigue or action, but the regular-season power structure really didn’t change much after the flurry of activity.

Consider …

In the AL East, the Yankees and Rays still are the favorites, and the Red Sox still need to hurry up and get healthy.

In the AL Central, the White Sox still have the best rotation and the Twins still need Justin Morneau back in the lineup.

In the AL West, the Rangers still are the clear favorites.

In the NL East, Philadelphia might have closed the gap a little, but the Braves still have the better rotation and a few games on the Phillies.

In the NL Central, the Cardinals washed (lost a bat and gained a pitcher), and the Reds did nothing.

In the NL West, the division-leading Padres improved, and the rest of the teams are trying to figure out a way to catch baseball’s most surprising team.

The middle of San Diego's order is stronger with Ryan Ludwick in it.
The middle of San Diego’s order is stronger with Ryan Ludwick in it.

Anyway, on to the poll.

1. Yankees (last week: 1). A quick New York newbie update: Lance Berkman is 1-for-8, Austin Kearns is 0-for-2 and Kerry Wood struck out three in his first inning, which was scoreless despite the fact that he allowed two walks and a hit.

2. Rays (2). Newcomer Chad Qualls is just the 14th pitcher used by the Rays this season. By contrast, Qualls was one of 25 different hurlers used by his former team, the Diamondbacks, this season.

3. Padres (3). Ryan Ludwick, the outfielder San Diego stole from the Cardinals, had 20 doubles, 11 homers, 43 RBIs, 45 runs scored, a .283 average and a .828 OPS. How those numbers rank, respectively, on the Padres: second (tied), second, second, third, third, second. So, yeah, that was a good move for San Diego.

4. Giants (6). The Giants are 14-4 since the All-Star break. In that stretch, their pitching staff has a 2.96 ERA (third in the majors) and 152 strikeouts (first). Matt Cain has started four times since the break; he’s 3-0 with a 1.52 ERA and holding opponents to a .150 average.

5. Rangers (4). C.J. Wilson hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in his past 11 starts, rolling up a 7-2 record and 2.75 ERA in that stretch. On the downside, though, he’s walked at least four batters in six of those starts and failed to last six full innings in four of them.

6. Red Sox (7). The Red Sox have won five of six and have four in a row against the Indians to start this week. After that, though, it’s four at Yankee Stadium.

7. Twins (12). Since the All-Star break, the Twins lead the majors with 6.47 runs per game (the Yankees are second at 5.88). Delmon Young, since the break, is batting .452 with a 1.214 OPS and 23 RBIs; he’s up to .335 and 81 RBIs on the season.

8. White Sox (10). Gordon Beckham isn’t quite putting up Delmon Young numbers, but after his horrid first half, the .379 average and 11 RBIs since the break is a huge relief for the White Sox.

9. Braves (5). Clearly, the Braves scouted Rick Ankiel exclusively after he returned from the disabled list—he hit .367 with six RBIs in those eight games—and ignored what he did before he got hurt—.210, nine RBIs in 19 games.

10. Reds (8). After the Reds—who are fighting for their first playoff berth since 1995—stood pat on deadline day, it kinda felt like GM Walt Jocketty pulling out his Hoosiers speech … y’know, "I would hope you would support who we are, not who we are not. … This is your team."

11. Cardinals (9). It seems odd that a team that has failed to score at least three runs on 34 different occasions this season would trade a starting outfielder with a .281 average, 11 home runs and an .827 OPS for a new No. 4 starter. Well, maybe "odd" isn’t the right word …

12. Phillies (11). Domonic Brown already has a couple of two-hit games for the Phillies. The team’s clear No. 1 prospect was hitting .327 with 20 homers, 17 stolen bases and a .980 OPS in the minors (65 games at Class AA, 28 at Class AAA).

13. Rockies (15). Is there a more schizophrenic team than the Rockies? Already in the second half, they have an eight-game losing streak and a four-game winning streak.

Ricky Romero is part of an unheralded Big 3 in Toronto.
Ricky Romero is part of an unheralded Big 3 in Toronto.

14. Dodgers (13). OK, maybe the Dodgers can claim that title. They opened the second half with a six-game losing streak, then won five of six and currently have lost five in a row.

15. Blue Jays (18). The Blue Jays have three starters with at least 18 starts and ERAs under 4.00—Ricky Romero (21 starts, 3.46 ERA), Shaun Marcum (21, 3.24) and Brett Cecil (18, 3.77). That’s something the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox can’t claim.

16. Marlins (20). Closer Leo Nunez has already matched his 2009 saves total (26), and he’s just getting better as the season progresses. He’s allowed just one run in his past 12 games (0.77 ERA) and struck out 17 in those 11 2/3 innings.

17. Mets (19). More than likely, the Mets’ fate will be decided over the next couple of weeks, when they face the Braves, Phillies, Rockies and Phillies (again). At 6 1/2 behind the Braves in the East and 7 1/2 out of the wild card, there’s no room for a slip-up.

18. Angels (14). The kid the Angels just called up, Peter Bourjos, has impressive numbers at Class AAA Salt Lake—in 102 games, he was hitting .314 with 85 runs scored, 13 doubles, 12 triples, 13 homers, 52 RBIs and 27 stolen bases.

19. A’s (17). The results weren’t pretty—10 hits and five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings—but at least Brett Anderson was back on the mound for the A’s last week. The young lefty starter who had a 4.06 ERA as a 21-year-old last season, has made just seven starts in 2010.

20. Tigers (16). You have to feel sorry for the Tigers, who have placed almost as many guys on the disabled list (three) as games they’ve won in the second half (four).

21. Brewers (21). So much for those hopes of being a darkhorse contender in the second half. The Brew Crew has lost five in a row and sits 11 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central.

22. Nationals (25). So, in the second half, the Nats have lost series to the Marlins and Brewers (non-contenders) and won or split series with the Reds, Braves and Phillies (contenders). Guess that means their four-game set with the Diamondbacks this week spells trouble.

Alex Gordon has two months to show he can be a force with the bat.
Alex Gordon has two months to show he can be a force with the bat.

23. Astros (26). The Astros have won five in a row and allowed a total of four runs in those games. The "worst" start of the stretch? Wesley Wright gave up just four hits and two earned in seven innings against the Brewers on Sunday.

24. Royals (23). After a pair of 0-fers in his return to the majors, Alex Gordon has a seven-game hitting streak and a pair of home runs as the Royals’ new left fielder. True, he’s only hitting .286 in those seven games but considering he was at .158 when he started the streak, that’s quite an improvement.

25. Cubs (22). Carlos Marmol’s numbers really are amazing this year. In 49 1/3 innings, he’s allowed just 25 hits and struck out 92. That’s a strikeout-per-nine-innings ratio of 16.78; the previous best in the wild-card era of any pitcher with at least 49 innings was Eric Gagne in 2003—a far cry back at 14.98.

26. Indians (24). Chris Perez, the Indians’ official closer now that Kerry Wood is wearing Yankees pinstripes, hasn’t allowed a run in his past 14 appearances. For the season, he has a 2.13 ERA and a dozen saves.

27. Diamondbacks (29). Justin Upton is working on a 17-game hitting streak entering the week—he’s hitting .403 during the stretch—and has boosted his average to .282 for the season, with 16 homers and 13 stolen bases.

28. Mariners (27). Last year, Daniel Murphy led the Mets with 12 homers. Nobody on the Mariners has cracked double-digits yet this season.

29. Pirates (28). Youngster update: Jose Tabata has a 12-game hitting streak and is batting .397 over his past 19 games. Neil Walker is hitting .377 over his past 15 games, with a 5-for-5 showing mixed in there. Pedro Alvarez, though, has struggled lately; he’s hitting just .111 with one RBI in his past 10 games.

30. Orioles (30). Well, the Orioles got their experienced manager in Buck Showalter. He has his work cut out for him.

Ryan Fagan is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at rfagan@sportingnews.com, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ryan_fagan.

The final few hours and days before the trading deadline didn’t lack for intrigue or action, but the regular-season power structure really didn’t change much after the flurry of activity.

Consider …

In the AL East, the Yankees and Rays still are the favorites, and the Red Sox still need to hurry up and get healthy.

In the AL Central, the White Sox still have the best rotation and the Twins still need Justin Morneau back in the lineup.

In the AL West, the Rangers still are the clear favorites.

In the NL East, Philadelphia might have closed the gap a little, but the Braves still have the better rotation and a few games on the Phillies.

In the NL Central, the Cardinals washed (lost a bat and gained a pitcher), and the Reds did nothing.

In the NL West, the division-leading Padres improved, and the rest of the teams are trying to figure out a way to catch baseball’s most surprising team.

The middle of San Diego's order is stronger with Ryan Ludwick in it.
The middle of San Diego’s order is stronger with Ryan Ludwick in it.

Anyway, on to the poll.

1. Yankees (last week: 1). A quick New York newbie update: Lance Berkman is 1-for-8, Austin Kearns is 0-for-2 and Kerry Wood struck out three in his first inning, which was scoreless despite the fact that he allowed two walks and a hit.

2. Rays (2). Newcomer Chad Qualls is just the 14th pitcher used by the Rays this season. By contrast, Qualls was one of 25 different hurlers used by his former team, the Diamondbacks, this season.

3. Padres (3). Ryan Ludwick, the outfielder San Diego stole from the Cardinals, had 20 doubles, 11 homers, 43 RBIs, 45 runs scored, a .283 average and a .828 OPS. How those numbers rank, respectively, on the Padres: second (tied), second, second, third, third, second. So, yeah, that was a good move for San Diego.

4. Giants (6). The Giants are 14-4 since the All-Star break. In that stretch, their pitching staff has a 2.96 ERA (third in the majors) and 152 strikeouts (first). Matt Cain has started four times since the break; he’s 3-0 with a 1.52 ERA and holding opponents to a .150 average.

5. Rangers (4). C.J. Wilson hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in his past 11 starts, rolling up a 7-2 record and 2.75 ERA in that stretch. On the downside, though, he’s walked at least four batters in six of those starts and failed to last six full innings in four of them.

6. Red Sox (7). The Red Sox have won five of six and have four in a row against the Indians to start this week. After that, though, it’s four at Yankee Stadium.

7. Twins (12). Since the All-Star break, the Twins lead the majors with 6.47 runs per game (the Yankees are second at 5.88). Delmon Young, since the break, is batting .452 with a 1.214 OPS and 23 RBIs; he’s up to .335 and 81 RBIs on the season.

8. White Sox (10). Gordon Beckham isn’t quite putting up Delmon Young numbers, but after his horrid first half, the .379 average and 11 RBIs since the break is a huge relief for the White Sox.

9. Braves (5). Clearly, the Braves scouted Rick Ankiel exclusively after he returned from the disabled list—he hit .367 with six RBIs in those eight games—and ignored what he did before he got hurt—.210, nine RBIs in 19 games.

10. Reds (8). After the Reds—who are fighting for their first playoff berth since 1995—stood pat on deadline day, it kinda felt like GM Walt Jocketty pulling out his Hoosiers speech … y’know, "I would hope you would support who we are, not who we are not. … This is your team."

11. Cardinals (9). It seems odd that a team that has failed to score at least three runs on 34 different occasions this season would trade a starting outfielder with a .281 average, 11 home runs and an .827 OPS for a new No. 4 starter. Well, maybe "odd" isn’t the right word …

12. Phillies (11). Domonic Brown already has a couple of two-hit games for the Phillies. The team’s clear No. 1 prospect was hitting .327 with 20 homers, 17 stolen bases and a .980 OPS in the minors (65 games at Class AA, 28 at Class AAA).

13. Rockies (15). Is there a more schizophrenic team than the Rockies? Already in the second half, they have an eight-game losing streak and a four-game winning streak.

Ricky Romero is part of an unheralded Big 3 in Toronto.
Ricky Romero is part of an unheralded Big 3 in Toronto.

14. Dodgers (13). OK, maybe the Dodgers can claim that title. They opened the second half with a six-game losing streak, then won five of six and currently have lost five in a row.

15. Blue Jays (18). The Blue Jays have three starters with at least 18 starts and ERAs under 4.00—Ricky Romero (21 starts, 3.46 ERA), Shaun Marcum (21, 3.24) and Brett Cecil (18, 3.77). That’s something the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox can’t claim.

16. Marlins (20). Closer Leo Nunez has already matched his 2009 saves total (26), and he’s just getting better as the season progresses. He’s allowed just one run in his past 12 games (0.77 ERA) and struck out 17 in those 11 2/3 innings.

17. Mets (19). More than likely, the Mets’ fate will be decided over the next couple of weeks, when they face the Braves, Phillies, Rockies and Phillies (again). At 6 1/2 behind the Braves in the East and 7 1/2 out of the wild card, there’s no room for a slip-up.

18. Angels (14). The kid the Angels just called up, Peter Bourjos, has impressive numbers at Class AAA Salt Lake—in 102 games, he was hitting .314 with 85 runs scored, 13 doubles, 12 triples, 13 homers, 52 RBIs and 27 stolen bases.

19. A’s (17). The results weren’t pretty—10 hits and five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings—but at least Brett Anderson was back on the mound for the A’s last week. The young lefty starter who had a 4.06 ERA as a 21-year-old last season, has made just seven starts in 2010.

20. Tigers (16). You have to feel sorry for the Tigers, who have placed almost as many guys on the disabled list (three) as games they’ve won in the second half (four).

21. Brewers (21). So much for those hopes of being a darkhorse contender in the second half. The Brew Crew has lost five in a row and sits 11 1/2 games out of first place in the NL Central.

22. Nationals (25). So, in the second half, the Nats have lost series to the Marlins and Brewers (non-contenders) and won or split series with the Reds, Braves and Phillies (contenders). Guess that means their four-game set with the Diamondbacks this week spells trouble.

Alex Gordon has two months to show he can be a force with the bat.
Alex Gordon has two months to show he can be a force with the bat.

23. Astros (26). The Astros have won five in a row and allowed a total of four runs in those games. The "worst" start of the stretch? Wesley Wright gave up just four hits and two earned in seven innings against the Brewers on Sunday.

24. Royals (23). After a pair of 0-fers in his return to the majors, Alex Gordon has a seven-game hitting streak and a pair of home runs as the Royals’ new left fielder. True, he’s only hitting .286 in those seven games but considering he was at .158 when he started the streak, that’s quite an improvement.

25. Cubs (22). Carlos Marmol’s numbers really are amazing this year. In 49 1/3 innings, he’s allowed just 25 hits and struck out 92. That’s a strikeout-per-nine-innings ratio of 16.78; the previous best in the wild-card era of any pitcher with at least 49 innings was Eric Gagne in 2003—a far cry back at 14.98.

26. Indians (24). Chris Perez, the Indians’ official closer now that Kerry Wood is wearing Yankees pinstripes, hasn’t allowed a run in his past 14 appearances. For the season, he has a 2.13 ERA and a dozen saves.

27. Diamondbacks (29). Justin Upton is working on a 17-game hitting streak entering the week—he’s hitting .403 during the stretch—and has boosted his average to .282 for the season, with 16 homers and 13 stolen bases.

28. Mariners (27). Last year, Daniel Murphy led the Mets with 12 homers. Nobody on the Mariners has cracked double-digits yet this season.

29. Pirates (28). Youngster update: Jose Tabata has a 12-game hitting streak and is batting .397 over his past 19 games. Neil Walker is hitting .377 over his past 15 games, with a 5-for-5 showing mixed in there. Pedro Alvarez, though, has struggled lately; he’s hitting just .111 with one RBI in his past 10 games.

30. Orioles (30). Well, the Orioles got their experienced manager in Buck Showalter. He has his work cut out for him.

Ryan Fagan is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at rfagan@sportingnews.com, and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ryan_fagan.

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