The OBL is underway, and much of the league news has been negative so far. But it appears that we're down to playing ball again, and we've already witnessed some surprises: the Astros are loving life at 5 games above .500, but may not wanna get used to it just yet. The Phillies, Braves, Rangers and Rays are amongst the preseason favorites who are playing below-.500 ball. It's just April, but the Rays in particular need to be worried that the Yankees are already too far away to snatch the WildCard from them. Over in the NL, only the Giants have already laid the groundwork for a successfull season. The year's biggest stunner are the beyond abysmal Royals, a team so bad that it's almost hard to feel sorry for them...
1. NY Yankees (-)
The Yankees needed pitching help, and decided to sell off superprospect Jesus Montero for bottom-of-the-rotation lefty John Danks. It'll help in the short-term, but you can't help but wonder whether an aging offense could've used the future All-Star in 2012 and beyond.
2. Boston Red Sox (-)
The Sox orchestrated two megaheists in 3 weeks' time, adding superstars Yovanni Gallardo and Joe Mauer while giving up nothing in return. Already the top team in the OBL talent-wise before those trades, the Sox are now set to win 110 this year.
3. SF Giants (-)
The Giants are playing in an extremely poor division, and are expected to take full advantage of it. Watch their current 3.5 game lead grow as the season progresses.
4. Philadelphia Phillies (-)
The best pitching staff in baseball should help the Phillies reach the playoffs this year. Once they're there, they'll be tough to beat.
5. Atlanta Braves (-)
Sources told us Brian Eshbach's claim that he "put a [...] lucrative offer on the table" for Hanley Ramirez was apparently hogwash. He probably shouldhave, as Alex Gonzalez doesn't look like a starting caliber SS in this league anymore.
6. Tampa Bay Rays (-)
The Rays have started slowly, but with the arrival of superstar Hanley Ramirez, the offense now looks like a formidable unit. The team will only go as far as the young pitching staff will take it.
7. Texas Rangers (-)
The Rangers have already fallen behind the Angels by 4 games, but easily remain the most gifted team in the division.
8. Los Angeles Angels (-)
Can an offense with this little talent really take a team to the playoffs? It seems doubtful, but the hot start indicates we can't write the Angels off.
9.St. Louis Cardinals (-)
Despite the season-ending injury to Adam Wainwright, the Cardinals remain the top team in an extremely unimpressive division. That has every bit as much to do with MIL's front-office decision to trade Gallardo as it has with the Cardinals themselves.
10. Detroit Tigers (-)
The Tigers, much like the Cards, should be able to take advantage of an extremely easy division. With Verlander, Scherzer and Porcello, this team could make for a very interesting dark horse if the indeed make the playoffs.
11. Chicago Cubs (-)
The offense is too right-handed heavy, but the Cubs have enough depth and enough talent (albeit overpaid talent) to surprise some people this season.
12. Flordia Marlins (-)
The Marlins' surprising decision to trade Hanley was motivated by financials mostly, but Jason Bartlett should hold his own at SS, and the team has enough talent to surprise some people in 2011 already.
13. Chicago White Sox (-)
The Sox have depth, but lack true star power. Newly-acquired Jesus Montero may well be the biggest star on this team over the next 5 years, unless Gordon Beckham can finally play up to his potential this year.
14. Milwaukee Brewers (-)
Without the Gallardo fiasco, the Brewers would rank in the top-10, but losing a 5 WAR pitcher for nothing in return is just brutal.
15. LA Dodgers (-)
Despite the bad start, the Dodgers have the ingredients to get to 85 wins, possible more. Clayton Kershaw will establish himself as one of the top-5 pitchers in the game this year...
16. Cincinnati Reds (-)
The Reds desperately need more talent in the rotation, and their bullpen isn't a forté either. Will they trade stud catching prospect Devin Mesoraco for a mid-rotation anchor?
17. Washington Nationals (-)
The Nats wheeled and dealed more than any other team in the game, and have quietly formed a pretty strong rotation in the process. Grabbing CF Michael Bourn for almost free should pay dividends, too.
18. Toronto Blue Jays (-)
The most gifted pitcher in the game won't pitch this year, and the McCutchen heist alone probably won't get the team to .500. In a brutal division, the Jays will have a hard time to hang with the big boys, and 2011 most certainly is a year too early to try and do that.
19. Colorado Rockies (-)
You cannot win with a pitching staff like this. The Rockies need to find arms any way they can.
20. Cleveland Indians (-)
Will Franciso Liriano be merely a stop-gap? The Ace is said to be extremely unhappy playing for the Indians, and won't be controllable too much longer. Liriano could be one of the most sought-after players at this year's trade deadline...
21. Seattle Mariners (-)
Being 9-6 is nice, but drafting future superstar Juan Freitas at #2 is the real story for the Mariners this week.
22. New York Mets (-)
Will José Reyes resign? That'll probably be the only interesting question for the also-ran Mets this year.
23. San Diego Padres (-)
The Padres are in rebuilding mode again. Heath Bell could net them a solid return in July, but other than him, only 3B Chase Headley figures to draw interest from other teams.
24. Minnesota Twins (-)
The Liriano deal wasn't great, but at least netted a very legit prospect in Alex White in return. Giving up Joe Mauer for nothing in return, though, will really set this franchise back for years to come.
25. Arizona Diamondbacks (-)
They won't win much this year, and will really have to get their #3 overall pick right this year in order to put some high-end talent into a below-average farm system.
26. Baltimore Orioles (-)
The O's are overachieving to start the year, and will only have two things to worry about in 2011: whom to draft with their top-10 pick, and hoping that they can strike a clever deal or two at the deadline. The talent gap between them and the rest of the division is frightening.
27.Houston Astros (-)
The Power Rankings refuse to overstate the first 15 games, but it's great to see the Astros doing so well. We're afraid that the 2011 season will still end up at around 65 wins, and without Brett Wallace in the fold, the team is down to praying that Jordan Lyles and Delino DeShields pan out. Even IF they do, the future looks extremely bleak in Houston.
28. Pittsburgh Pirates (-)
The Pirates just whiffed BIG-time with their #1 overall pick, and calamity manager Jim Silveira successfully traded away superstar Andrew McCutchen for nothing in return shortly before resigning for unspecified reasons. We're guessing owner Robert Nutting's head exploded when he saw the McCutchen deal in the papers...not a good year in PIT so far.
29. Oakland A's (-)
Trading Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Kurt Suzuki were all clear indicators that the A's will go into rebuilding mode, and they hope that Desmond Jennings can give the team a spark in 2012.
30. Kansas City Royals (-)
Placing the Royals last may have been the easiest decision we ever made. The only thing that we will remember about their season will be the 0-? start...