1. Yankees: The only critical thing I can say is that for the past few years the Yankees have gotten off to slow starts and everyone with half a brain has said “don’t panic, it’s early.” I suppose that’s a two-way street and that we shouldn’t become overly optimistic before the break of May. But really: does anyone think that this Yankees team is as likely to crater as last year’s team was to rebound? I don’t.
2. Rays: Lost in all of the Boston navel-gazing is the fact that the Rays are a pretty awesome team.
3. Twins: Second best in runs scored per game in the A.L., second best in runs allowed per game in the A.L.
4. Giants: With Zito and Sanchez pitching like they have the rotation has gone from really good to phenomenal. And while I don’t think the offense is going to hold up, right now they’re third in the NL in runs scored. With their pitching, anywhere in the top 10 will keep them in it all season.
5. Phillies: The recent mini-skid drops them down a couple of notches, but taking care of the Braves in the next three games would easily restore their early-season luster.
6. Cardinals: For all the ink that was spilled over Saturday’s game, it was only one game and I assume everyone in Cardinals Nation is pretending it simply didn’t happen. More germane: the fact that the team directly behind St. Louis in the Central is a pretender, and the no one else below them looks particularly good.
7. Athletics: I feel like I’m sleeping on the Athletics having them this low, what with their rotation and everything. I suppose I’m just flashing back to last season, however, when every time I looked up Gio Gonzalez was getting creamed or something. But you know what? Throw a bunch of young arms at the wall and a few are going to stick. Braden, Gonzalez and Anderson have stuck, Sheets and Duchscherer are providing some special veteran seasoning and this A’s team boasts some pitching you just don’t want any part of. We’ll know soon whether I’m truly underestimating them: the Yankees come into town for three starting tomorrow.
8. Marlins: Two of three from the Phillies is nice indeed. The Phillies were quoted yesterday saying that they truly view Florida as a contender. If the past few years have taught us anything it’s that we discount Florida at our peril. My thing, though, is that you’re not going to go far in life betting on things like Nate Robertson being a pillar of your rotation, and I don’t think that anyone can ride Jorge Cantu and Dan Uggla to glory. We’ll see, but I still think that this team does the slow fade thing over the course of the season.
9. Braves: They survived the west coast swing, which usually kills them, they absorbed an utter shellacking by San Diego and a no-hitter from Ubaldo Jiminez, and at the moment their offense consists of three guys, one of whom is 20 years-old and is bound to slump eventually. The fact, then, that they’re only a game back is practically a miracle. The Phillies series is bigger for the Braves than it is for Philadelphia.
10. Tigers: You don’t lose two of three to the Royals and keep your lofty ranking.
11. Blue Jays: Losers of four of five and, in my mind at least, a little less than halfway towards finding their true level. At least insofar as the Power Rankings are concerned.
12. Rockies: The no-hitter from Ubaldo Jiminez was nice, but having their closer back would be nicer. Or at least having their current closer not walk so many damn guys.
13. Padres: Three wins in a row for the Padres, courtesy of the Diamondbacks’ awful bullpen. But you know what’s cooler than that? The Padres are now giving away free programs at all home games. I find that very cool for some reason.
14. Dodgers: The play of the year happened over the weekend: no, not Manny’s pinch-hit homer, but Ned Colletti designating Russ Ortiz for assignment.
15. Angels: Jered Weaver and Ervin Santana’s excellent outings over the weekend are a nice couple of steps on the journey back towards the top of the pitching rankings, which is where this team needs to be in order to do what’s expected of them.
16. Pirates: A very deceiving 7-5, as they have been outscored by 22 runs this season, which is the second worst in the NL. Don’t get used to them being in second place in the Central.
17. Indians: Four wins in a row has everyone vibing optimistic, and now they’re getting Russell Branyan and his attendant power added to the mix. I fear that a nine-game road trip through Minnesota, Oakland and Anaheim is going to bring everyone crashing back to Earth, however.
18. Mariners: Two of three from Oakland and Detroit and now three games against the hapless Orioles may prove to be the springboard back to respectability.
19. Rangers: Four losses in a row, and now they face an angry Boston Red Sox team. Not sure if it’s a good Boston Red Sox team, but they’re certainly angry.
20. Diamondbacks: Their bullpen is an utter mess. How messy? They gave up 14 runs in 7.2 innings vs. the Padres over the weekend.
21. Royals: Reason to worry? Zack Greinke did not top 94 mph with his fastball and averaged 91.2 mph for the game against the Twins on Friday night.
22. Brewers: Pitching, it was the Brew Crew’s downfall last year, and so it appears to be again this year.
23. Cubs: After losing two of three to the Astros I should do what they sometimes do in college football rankings and give them a ceremonial last place slot. But hey: Soriano isn’t going to be hopping anymore.
24. Mets: Ike Davis’ callup is a reason for optimism. Know what would be even better? Firing Jerry Manuel and moving Jenrry Mejia to the rotation.
25. Nationals: Pfun Pfact: Ivan Rodriguez is leading the NL in hitting. Bet you didn’t know that. And hey, between him and Livan Hernandez pulling his mini-Hershiser act, at least the team is trying to be interesting until Strasburg comes.
26. White Sox: A suddenly sputtering offense and a four game losing streak has the White Sox off to their worst start in 13 years. If only someone had predicted this maybe it could have been avoided. Oh, wait, everyone predicted this.
27. Red Sox: This is being covered everywhere -- including here -- so I’ll spare you. Come back next week, though, as we’ll have the results of [bleeping] Brookline High’s game against Walpole this Thursday.
28. Reds: The starting pitching -- expected to be a strength -- has been terrible. Where have you gone Aroldis Chapman, Reds’ Nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
29. Astros: The Astros have hit three home runs this year. Three. That’s only three more than you’ve hit.
30. Orioles: The team is skidding, the manager is on the ropes and the owner is sorta-kinda-but-probably feuding with the historical face of the franchise. I remember back when Orioles fans were looked at with jealousy. Now I pity them.