Tuesday, February 15, 2005

CBS Sportsline's Power Rankings 

CBS SportsLine.com has come out with their 2005 Power Rankings...

And the thing that jumps out at me is how few really good teams there are out there.

New York and Boston are one-two, which seems reasonable, followed by the Cards.

Anaheim is #4, and my initial reaction is that that is too high. But they are followed by Florida at #5, which seems ludicrous to me...until I skim down the list, and can't identify any team which definitively must be ahead of Florida.

Minnesota is at #6, and I guess they should probably be ahead of Florida, particularly since they kept Radke in the fold. San Fran and Atlanta are 7-8, although the Giants didn't make the playoffs last year, and Atlanta lost J.D. Drew (although they did add Tim Hudson). I keep thinking Atlanta is going to fall off every year, but they manage to keep it together, aided in no small part by division rivals who seem to take two steps back for every one step forward. San Fran, meanwhile, made its typically cryptic offseason moves, seemingly overpaying for every old player on the market (Omar Vizquel? Moises Alou?).

The Padres and the Indians are slotted too high, at #10 and #11. The Pads get credit for pitching and defense (even though their pitching isn't all that great), and the author of the rankings seems to believe that Kevin Millwood and his inning-eating averageness is the missing piece for a team that went 80-82 last year.

The Rangers, as well, seem a tad high at #12, with Sportsline claiming that they have "the most questionable collection of starting pitchers" in baseball...something that seems odd in light of their claim that the Reds, slotted way too high at #15, "pitching is finally improving". The Reds rotation is anchored by Paul Wilson, Ramon Ortiz, and Eric Milton, a collection of overpaid mediocrities trending towards awfulness, which leads one to wonder, if the Cincy pitching is finally improving, how bad was it to start with?

The Dodgers are in the bottom half, checking in at #16, the victim of mass mainstream hysteria over DePodesta's moves this offseason. The loss of Beltre will hurt, but Shawn Green has been replaced by J.D. Drew, which is a net upgrade, and Jeff Kent was a great pickup. I think L.A. is still the favorite in the N.L. West.

Detroit, at 18, is another one of these baffling, idiosyncratic selections...they were 72-90 last season, and their big offseason additions were an old, ineffective closer (Troy Percival) and a 31 year old outfielder with a bad knee (Magglio Ordonez). I wouldn't be surprised if they have the worst record in the A.L. this season.

Oakland comes in at #22, behind Arizona and Seattle. Now, take a step back and think about this...Oakland finished 2004 28 games better than Seattle, and 40 games better than Arizona. Oakland lost Hudson and Mulder, which will hurt, while Seattle and Arizona made some interesting additions...but can anyone really, legitimately believe that Arizona gained 40 games on the A's? Particularly when they lost the Big Unit, a better pitcher than either of the departed A's starters? Oakland is being written off by a lot of people, but they are still a much better team than Seattle or Arizona, and I think will end up 2nd in the A.L. West.

Houston, similarly, is being underrated, coming in at #23, ahead of only the miscellaneous dregs of baseball (Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Tampa, Toronto, Washington, Colorado, Kansas City...put them in whatever order you want, it doesn't really matter). The loss of Kent and Beltran is huge, no question...but Chris Burke is a nice prospect who should fill in acceptably at second base, Pettitte is, supposedly, going to be healthy, and Lance Berkman should be back from his torn ACL by the end of April. This isn't likely to be a playoff team, but they are at least a .500 team...and it is ludicrous to put them below teams like Arizona and Cincinnati, which will need a bunch of breaks just to win 80 games.

Anyway, a very flawed ranking, I believe...but for someone like me, starved for baseball, it is enough to whet my appetite anyway...

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