1. Rays: Having a perfect game thrown against them isn’t enough to knock ‘em out of the top spot, but the Yankees had the better week and could have easily been ranked first here. If nothing changes next week I just might switch ‘em anyway, because I’m tired of posting Rays pictures to the right.
2. Yankees: So why not rank them ahead of the Rays? Because while weekly records are important, big picture matters too. This big picture: (a) the Yankees’ bumps and bruises are troublesome; and (b) a week against the Orioles and the current iteration of the Red Sox does not exactly represent the largest challenge on the planet.
3. Phillies: Last week I said that the Cardinals series could be an NLCS preview. If so, it won’t be much of an NLCS. The Phillies are quite obviously the class of the National League at this moment.
4. Twins: Um, let’s just forget that I put them below the Tigers last week, OK?
5. Cardinals: Dropping three of four to the Phillies wasn’t too fun, but getting fat on the Pirates and Astros takes the sting away.
6. Padres: I did not anticipate writing “the Padres face a big series this week which will determine first place in the NL West” at any point this season. That’s why they play the games.
7. Giants: Think they’ll make a play for Lance Berkman? Couldn’t hurt.
8. Tigers: The starting pitching is a cause for concern. Indeed, it has inspired me to poetry: “Verlander and Willis and hope the other guys don’t kill us . . .”
9. Rangers: David Murphy has exploded and Tommy Hunter and Derek Holland stand ready to contribute. You get the sense that, before now, the team has been playing with one hand tied behind its back. Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!
10. Nationals: And even if they win, if they win, HAH! Even if they win! Even if they play so far above their heads that their noses bleed for a week to ten days; even if God in Heaven above comes down and points his hand at the Nats side of the field; even if every man woman and child held hands together and prayed for them to win, it just wouldn’t matter because all the really good looking girls would still go out with the guys from the Phillies because they’ve got all the money! It just doesn’t matter . . . it just doesn’t matter . . .
11. Athletics: Philosophy 101: If a team was in a pennant race all season and there was no one there to see it, would it still make some trade deadline moves?
12. Blue Jays: For someone who was supposed to be a disinterested, lame duck manager of a rebuilding team, Cito Gaston is doing quite a bit to snag some manager of the year votes thus far, ain’t he?
13. Mets: The fact that they’re playing the Nationals in a three-game series that matters for both teams kind of boggles the mind. Oh, and Jerry: now that this season is looking more promising than everyone thought, kicking Oliver Perez to the curb is probably a more pressing matter than you realize.
14. Reds: A very quiet 4-2 week. They’re as close to first place as the Tigers are.
15. Rockies: Evidence that your season isn’t going as well as you had hoped: one of your team’s most high-profile bloggers is waxing poetic about the beauty of a day at the ballpark and how fun it is to watch baseball regardless of who wins and who loses. Contrary to what some of you think, I’m not a Braves-specific blogger. I have been composing that same sort of essay in mind for a couple of weeks now, however.
16. Red Sox: Evidence of a less-than-ideally-constructed team: when Ellsbury and Cameron come off the DL, there’s a pretty excellent chance that they’re going to lose one of their most important players thus far -- Darnell McDonald -- to waivers.
17. Marlins: I think the NL wild card race is going to be wide open. Mike Stanton is killing the ball down at AA. These two facts would normally lead to a roster move that would benefit the team. But we’re talking about the Marlins here and they’re just not wired that way.
18. Brewers: This “score a whole bunch of runs, give up a whole bunch of runs” Brewers remind me of the John Jaha/Jeff Cirillo Brewers teams. Maybe a little of the Rob Deer-era too. And I’m not saying it like that’s a bad thing.
19. Pirates: I stared at the Pirates for ten minutes, wondering if I was going to do the emotionally-comforting thing and place them below the Braves or the intellectually honest thing and place them above. Damn intellectual honesty.
20. Cubs: I’d rather watch an interesting team lose 90 games than a boring team lose 90 games, and at least Starlin Castro makes the team interesting.
21. Braves: The fact that a 20 year-old rookie’s absence is so devastating to the Braves’ chances of winning is a damning indictment of how everyone else is playing.
22. Dodgers: If they could just find some loophole in the rules that allows them to bat Andre Either with men on base in all nine slots of the order, the rest season would be cream cheese.
23. Diamondbacks: Justin Upton: .220/.309/.382. Wowzers.
24. Angels: They’ve won two of their last ten, and those two came against a punchless Mariners team. Their saving grace is that the AL West remains eminently winnable this year.
25. White Sox: I am not making this up: when looking up info for this team, I attempted to type in “White Sox schedule” in Google. Instead, I typed in “Shite Sox schedule.” The first three results were two White Sox blogs and the team’s official site.
26. Indians: I actually overheard this conversation between a father and his ~10 year-old son as I stood in the raised viewing area above the left field fence at Progressive Field on Friday evening: “This area is called the home run porch.” “Think we’ll get a ball, dad?” “Well, the Indians won’t hit it out here, but the Tigers might.”
27. Mariners: Twitter is messed up right now so I can’t find the exact quote, but Sabernomics’ J.C. Bradbury said this morning -- presumably in response to the Mariners firing their hitting coach -- that teams fire coaches to make fans think that there’s order and reason in the universe and to shield them from the fact that so much of what goes on in baseball is random. Now, I think that overstates the case -- the fact that this M’s offense sucks isn’t random, it was practically pre-ordained -- but the point is a good one.
28. Royals: Oh look! It’s the first “Zack Greinke just doesn’t know how to win and all of you statsboys who love him can suck an egg” article of the season! How anyone can misunderstand how bad this Royals team is apart from Greinke is a mystery to me.
29. Astros: Richard Justice watches this team every day and he says that effort isn’t the problem. Just talent. Cold comfort when you’re as bad as the Astros are, but I guess it’s enough to keep them out of the bottom slot for this week.
30. Orioles: Hey! Three-game, midweek set against the Mariners! This should be enjoyed by literally tens of people.