7:40 PM CDT, June 18, 2012
Statistics through Sunday (last week's ranking)
1. Rangers (1): There have many issues, including a lack of production since early in the season from Michael Young and the highly regarded lineup, but a soft schedule has kept those issues from showing up in a major way in the standings. The trend should continue, as three of their next six series are against the Padres, Rockies and Twins.
2. Yankees (4): Maybe this is the year Curtis Granderson is the MVP.
3. Dodgers (5): They're worried about Ted Lilly's shoulder and don't want to have a second kid in the rotation alongside Nate Eovaldi. That's why you hear them linked to Ryan Dempster and other available starting pitchers. The guy they'd really like, though, is Cole Hamels, who they would try to tie up with a long-term deal.
4. Nationals (3): Bullpen help is on their radar after the jettisoning of Brad Lidge.
5. Orioles (9): Buck Showalter clearly has a good thing going with the makeup of a surprisingly strong roster. The rotation could use a proven starter like Zack Greinke, Hamels or Dempster but Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen are holding up well as they count the days until they can play the Dylan Bundy card.
6. Reds (13): If you didn't see it, check on YouTube for Brandon Phillips' between-the-legs flip to start a double play behind Johnny Cueto on Sunday. Few rosters have more high-end talent than the Reds.
7. Rays (2): James Shields has won one of his last six starts. Joe Maddon's team has lost its way, going 18-21 since May 4. That's been a shock to the system for a team that thought its starting rotation would pave the way to 100 wins.
8. Angels (10): Welcome to the season, Ervin Santana.
9. Blue Jays (7): In a span of four games, Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison left starts with serious injury concerns. GM Alex Anthopoulos is left with a difficult decision on cashing in a possible playoff run or dealing from a nice supply of prospects to try to restock.
10. Braves (6): Lost six of seven in an interleague stretch against the Orioles, Yankees and Blue Jays.
11. White Sox (8): The blown saves by Jesse Crain and Addison Reed at Dodger Stadium doubled the total for Robin Ventura's bullpen over a stretch of 26 games.
12. Tigers (17): Won consecutive interleague series against the Rockies, Cubs and Reds. Can they carry that over against AL competition?
13. Giants (11): Santiago Casilla has gone 18-for-19 in save situations replacing Brian Wilson.
14. Cardinals (14): Combined nine blown saves for Jason Motte and 2011 post-season hero Marc Rzepczynski.
15. Pirates (15): Have a weekend, Pedro Alvarez – 4 home runs, 9 RBIs on Saturday and Sunday.
16. Marlins (12): Once again struggling to score runs, as they were before Giancarlo Stanton hit 12 home runs in May.
17. Mets (19): Chris Young has made a solid return to the rotation, which is being carried by R.A. Dickey.
18. Red Sox (21): Josh Beckett's surliness is getting tedious for all involved. Bobby Valentine continues to confront a clubhouse full of spoiled brats, including Jacoby Ellsbury, who has regained his reputation for being soft physically. No one knows when he'll come back from the subluxation of his non-throwing shoulder, which shelved him early in the season.
19. Indians (16): Jason Kipnis is making an All-Star push with 11 home runs and 17 stolen bases.
20. Phillies (18): Is Cliff Lee ever going to get another win? How much longer will Roy Halladay be out? Will Cole Hamels be re-signed or traded? Too many questions in the vaunted starting rotation.
21. Athletics (27): Yoenis Cespedes is proving to be a tease.
22. Royals (24): Does the emergence of Wil Myers make Jeff Francoeur a trade candidate? It probably depends on the offers Dayton Moore receives for Francoeur, whose OPS is an unimpressive .720.
23. Diamondbacks (20): Lyle Overbay could interest a contender. He and Paul Goldschmidt are a solid platoon but Goldschmidt really needs to play every day.
24. Mariners (23): Do they want to liven up the trade market? How about announcing that Ichiro Suzuki has decided he wants to play for a winner. Probably won't happen, but if Ichiro isn't getting a new deal, why not?
25. Brewers (22): Crunch time is coming fast on a Zack Greinke contract extension.
26. Twins (25): After falling to 15-32 on May 27, Ron Gardenhire has done a nice job to keep the bottom from falling out. Credit to the reconstructed left side of the infield (shortstop Brian Dozier, third baseman Trevor Plouffe).
27. Astros (26): Does trading Jed Lowrie make any sense? His name's being floated.
28. Cubs (29): Don't be surprised if Anthony Rizzo arrives as early as Saturday. That's the first day he wouldn't reach a full year's service time by season's end.
29. Rockies (28): Can Jim Tracy and Dan O'Dowd both survive this hot mess?
30. Padres (30): If they're going to trade Carlos Quentin, they need to do it after making a serious offer on a long-term extension. That's part of why the baseball staff hopes a new owner is picked and approved in the next month.
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