Picking apart our offseason MLB Power Poll

When Sporting News compiled its offseason baseball power poll, it really was the offseason. Like before Christmas. After three more months of moves and six weeks of spring training, you’d think our offseason rankings would need overhauling. Well, we don’t. But we would tweak them a little.

The offseason power poll, with some late March analysis:

1. Yankees. Not a thing has happened to make us think they shouldn’t be in the top spot. Actually, their chances improved after putting Joba Chamberlain in the correct role.

Brad Lidge is one of the Phillies' few concerns.
Brad Lidge is one of the Phillies’ few concerns.

2. Phillies. With Brad Lidge still a concern, the gap between the No. 2 and 3 teams has tightened, but we’ll still stick with the Phillies here. Their lineup has the majors’ best balance of power, speed and defense.

3. Red Sox. A sure sign you’ve had a smooth spring: Manager Terry Francona spends part of a morning press briefing dissecting the battle for the organization’s No. 8 and 9 starters. Dissecting this power poll, we can say the difference between No. 1 and No. 3 is smaller than the gap between No. 3 and No. 4.

4. Cardinals. They didn’t have Matt Holliday when we did the poll in December, but we figured they would re-sign him. No need to jump off the Cardinals’ bandwagon.

5. Rockies. The fact that no structural damage has been found in Huston Street’s right shoulder is a good sign. We suppose. If we hadn’t ignored the alarms set off when Street didn’t pitch for three weeks last September, we would have slotted Colorado a bit lower. Still, there are worse backup plans than Franklin Morales.

6. Angels. We would rank few clubs this high after losing their All-Star leadoff hitter, No. 1 starter, future Hall of Fame DH and key lefthanded reliever. But we believe in Mike Scioscia.

7. Mariners. If we’d known Casey Kotchman and Milton Bradley would be manning the 3 hole and cleanup spot, we’d have bumped Seattle out of the top 10.

8. Rays. It didn’t seem right to rank three teams from one division in the top four overall. But after watching these guys in spring training, we should have.

9. Twins. No one knew about Joe Nathan’s elbow in December. But knowing wouldn’t have changed the Twins’ ranking. Minnesota still has Joe Mauer, Ron Gardenhire and one of the game’s best front offices.

10. Cubs. One reason to believe the Cubs are more likely to move up than down when the games begin: Despite all their troubles in 2009, they finished over .500.

11. Braves. Perhaps we should have known 20-year-old Jason Heyward would emerge as the best player in Florida this spring, as at least one scout has called him. Still, we feel pretty good about the Braves’ spot.

12. Dodgers. We didn’t put the Dodgers below the Rockies because of L.A.’s ownership disarray. We just like the Rockies’ rotation better.

13. Giants. We must have thought they would surprise everyone and sign Matt Holliday. But with its lack of offense and plodding defense, we should have put San Francisco in the bottom half.

Ozzie Guillen's spring included an unexpected Twitter controversy.
Ozzie Guillen’s spring included an unexpected Twitter controversy.

14. White Sox. If you knew in December that Ozzie Guillen’s latest controversy would be triggered by Twitter, let us know. We’ll rank the White Sox wherever you want.

15. Rangers. If you could have told us Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine last July, it wouldn’t have mattered. The Rangers are ranked right where they belong.

16. Tigers. Their two rookies, Austin Jackson and Scott Sizemore, have exceeded early expectations. Still, we’ll wait for them to produce when the games count before we reassess Detroit’s spot.

17. Mets. How could we rank these guys ahead of the Marlins? Well, we didn’t know Carlos Beltran would have knee surgery and Jose Reyes would have a thyroid problem. That’s our excuse, anyway, and we’re sticking with it.

18. Marlins. Our opinion of the Marlins wasn’t helped when they traded for Tigers discard Nate Robertson and promptly put him in their rotation. Still, they belong in front of the Mets.

19. Brewers. Until its starters show us something, this is the spot for Milwaukee.

20. Diamondbacks. We figured Brandon Webb would be ready by now. Otherwise, we’d have dropped the D-backs a couple of notches.

21. Athletics. That they spent $10 million on Ben Sheets proves general manager Billy Beane believes they have a chance. That is good enough for us to think we have them three spots too low.

22. Reds. They surprised — no, stunned — the baseball world by signing Aroldis Chapman. But we still don’t know how much difference he’ll make.

Lance Berkman's health is a concern for the Astros.
Lance Berkman’s health is a concern for the Astros.

23. Astros. If we’d known their two best players, first baseman Lance Berkman and ace Roy Oswalt, already would be dealing with injuries, we’d at least considered dropping them a spot.

24. Orioles. We didn’t think much of the Kevin Millwood trade at the time, and he hasn’t made us change our minds in spring training.

25. Blue Jays. They didn’t re-acquire Roy Halladay, so there’s no reason to move them up.

26. Royals. Zack Greinke makes them better than the teams below, just as he did in December.

27. Nationals. They didn’t have Chien-Ming Wang or Adam Kennedy when we ranked them. It wouldn’t have changed anything.

28. Padres. We weren’t sure Adrian Gonzalez still would be with them on opening day. Now we are. They’re still ranked correctly.

29. Pirates. Since we did the poll, they signed Octavio Dotel to close. No, he isn’t a difference-maker.

30. Indians. Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona are pitching well, and Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner are healthy. If we’d known that, we wouldn’t have stuck the Indians in last. Now, though, they will have the chance to prove we were wrong.

Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at smcneal@sportingnews.com.

When Sporting News compiled its offseason baseball power poll, it really was the offseason. Like before Christmas. After three more months of moves and six weeks of spring training, you’d think our offseason rankings would need overhauling. Well, we don’t. But we would tweak them a little.

The offseason power poll, with some late March analysis:

1. Yankees. Not a thing has happened to make us think they shouldn’t be in the top spot. Actually, their chances improved after putting Joba Chamberlain in the correct role.

Brad Lidge is one of the Phillies' few concerns.
Brad Lidge is one of the Phillies’ few concerns.

2. Phillies. With Brad Lidge still a concern, the gap between the No. 2 and 3 teams has tightened, but we’ll still stick with the Phillies here. Their lineup has the majors’ best balance of power, speed and defense.

3. Red Sox. A sure sign you’ve had a smooth spring: Manager Terry Francona spends part of a morning press briefing dissecting the battle for the organization’s No. 8 and 9 starters. Dissecting this power poll, we can say the difference between No. 1 and No. 3 is smaller than the gap between No. 3 and No. 4.

4. Cardinals. They didn’t have Matt Holliday when we did the poll in December, but we figured they would re-sign him. No need to jump off the Cardinals’ bandwagon.

5. Rockies. The fact that no structural damage has been found in Huston Street’s right shoulder is a good sign. We suppose. If we hadn’t ignored the alarms set off when Street didn’t pitch for three weeks last September, we would have slotted Colorado a bit lower. Still, there are worse backup plans than Franklin Morales.

6. Angels. We would rank few clubs this high after losing their All-Star leadoff hitter, No. 1 starter, future Hall of Fame DH and key lefthanded reliever. But we believe in Mike Scioscia.

7. Mariners. If we’d known Casey Kotchman and Milton Bradley would be manning the 3 hole and cleanup spot, we’d have bumped Seattle out of the top 10.

8. Rays. It didn’t seem right to rank three teams from one division in the top four overall. But after watching these guys in spring training, we should have.

9. Twins. No one knew about Joe Nathan’s elbow in December. But knowing wouldn’t have changed the Twins’ ranking. Minnesota still has Joe Mauer, Ron Gardenhire and one of the game’s best front offices.

10. Cubs. One reason to believe the Cubs are more likely to move up than down when the games begin: Despite all their troubles in 2009, they finished over .500.

11. Braves. Perhaps we should have known 20-year-old Jason Heyward would emerge as the best player in Florida this spring, as at least one scout has called him. Still, we feel pretty good about the Braves’ spot.

12. Dodgers. We didn’t put the Dodgers below the Rockies because of L.A.’s ownership disarray. We just like the Rockies’ rotation better.

13. Giants. We must have thought they would surprise everyone and sign Matt Holliday. But with its lack of offense and plodding defense, we should have put San Francisco in the bottom half.

Ozzie Guillen's spring included an unexpected Twitter controversy.
Ozzie Guillen’s spring included an unexpected Twitter controversy.

14. White Sox. If you knew in December that Ozzie Guillen’s latest controversy would be triggered by Twitter, let us know. We’ll rank the White Sox wherever you want.

15. Rangers. If you could have told us Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine last July, it wouldn’t have mattered. The Rangers are ranked right where they belong.

16. Tigers. Their two rookies, Austin Jackson and Scott Sizemore, have exceeded early expectations. Still, we’ll wait for them to produce when the games count before we reassess Detroit’s spot.

17. Mets. How could we rank these guys ahead of the Marlins? Well, we didn’t know Carlos Beltran would have knee surgery and Jose Reyes would have a thyroid problem. That’s our excuse, anyway, and we’re sticking with it.

18. Marlins. Our opinion of the Marlins wasn’t helped when they traded for Tigers discard Nate Robertson and promptly put him in their rotation. Still, they belong in front of the Mets.

19. Brewers. Until its starters show us something, this is the spot for Milwaukee.

20. Diamondbacks. We figured Brandon Webb would be ready by now. Otherwise, we’d have dropped the D-backs a couple of notches.

21. Athletics. That they spent $10 million on Ben Sheets proves general manager Billy Beane believes they have a chance. That is good enough for us to think we have them three spots too low.

22. Reds. They surprised — no, stunned — the baseball world by signing Aroldis Chapman. But we still don’t know how much difference he’ll make.

Lance Berkman's health is a concern for the Astros.
Lance Berkman’s health is a concern for the Astros.

23. Astros. If we’d known their two best players, first baseman Lance Berkman and ace Roy Oswalt, already would be dealing with injuries, we’d at least considered dropping them a spot.

24. Orioles. We didn’t think much of the Kevin Millwood trade at the time, and he hasn’t made us change our minds in spring training.

25. Blue Jays. They didn’t re-acquire Roy Halladay, so there’s no reason to move them up.

26. Royals. Zack Greinke makes them better than the teams below, just as he did in December.

27. Nationals. They didn’t have Chien-Ming Wang or Adam Kennedy when we ranked them. It wouldn’t have changed anything.

28. Padres. We weren’t sure Adrian Gonzalez still would be with them on opening day. Now we are. They’re still ranked correctly.

29. Pirates. Since we did the poll, they signed Octavio Dotel to close. No, he isn’t a difference-maker.

30. Indians. Jake Westbrook and Fausto Carmona are pitching well, and Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner are healthy. If we’d known that, we wouldn’t have stuck the Indians in last. Now, though, they will have the chance to prove we were wrong.

Stan McNeal is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at smcneal@sportingnews.com.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*