MLB Power Rankings: Preseason

722894.png

MLB Power Rankings: Preseason

Every Monday throughout the regular season, we'll be running these power rankings -- but since the regular season gets underway in earnest this week, we're rolling out our pre-season power rankings today. Take a look and offer up your thoughts in the comments or to us on twitter @CubsTalkCSN or @WhiteSoxTalkCSN.

Tony
JJComments1
Tony: Not sold on them, but can't deny talent on paper.
JJ: No change at the top of AL from last two years.
2
Tony: Are Pujols, CJ enough to put them over the top?
JJ: Dan Haren's the best starter this team has.
3
Tony: Two WS runner-ups, can they finally win one in '12?
JJ: Better hope Pineda's okay.
4
Tony: Would be higher if Utley, Howard were healthy.
JJ: Rotation's easily still good enough to win the division.
5
Tony: Great lineup, but rotation questions.
JJ: Great offense, good pitching, laughable defense.
6
Tony: Love the upstart Rays and the underrated offseason moves.
JJ: Talent is there, can Bobby V bring it together?
7
Tony: Don't see a collapse in their future with second wild card.
JJ: Wainwright, Beltran should offset loss of Pujols.
8
Tony: Return of Posey will give offense huge boost.
JJ: Unreal amount of talent in this starting rotation.
9
Tony: Betting they learned from last year's epic collapse.
JJ: Gallardo, Greinke are a fearsome 1-2.
10
Tony: Great rotation, have full season of Braun.
JJ: If Josh Johnson stays healthy, playoffs seem likely.
11
Tony: Young, improving but won't sneak up on anybody anymore.
JJ: Don't sleep on Justin Upton as an MVP candidate.
12
Tony: Wainwright return is huge, Beltran helps with Pujols loss.
JJ: Should be part of a fun NL East battle.
13
Tony: Getting there, but can they put it all together in '12?
JJ: BRB, gonna go try to borrow some money from Matt Cain.
14
Tony: Up-and-coming, will challenge for 2nd wild card.
JJ: Things'll get interesting when Bryce Harper gets called up.
15
Tony: Will be a great drama, but good enough for postseason?
JJ: BRB, gonna go try to borrow some money from Joey Votto.
16
Tony: Future is very bright, but 2012 may not be it yet.
JJ: Tough to see them challenging Detroit. Solidly mediocre.
17
Tony: Can't even count them out, especially late in seasons.
JJ: Get on the Adam Dunn bandwagon while there's still room.
18
Tony: Is this the year they put together a winning season?
JJ: Hope Moyer can stay in rotation for as long as possible.
19
Tony: Second best team in AL Central, still not a "good" team.
JJ: Not enough pitching, but Brandon Morrow could be great.
20
Tony: BeckhamDunnRios rebound, but not drastically.
JJ: Team is meh, but Vin Scully makes them worth watching.
21
Tony: Magic's ownership will help turn club around.
JJ: Underrated in fairly-weak NL West.
22
Tony: Could be a Top 10 team...in two or three years.
JJ: Still a few starters away. Offense will score plenty of runs.
23
Tony: Wish I could rank them higher than Ryno's .
JJ: Jason Bay's situation pretty much sums up this team.
24
Tony: Season hinges on effectiveness of Mauer, Morneau, Liriano.
JJ: Bet they wish they never traded Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps.
25
Tony: Nope. Not even with the return of Santana.
JJ: Interested to see how Samardzija fares in the rotation.
26
Tony: Great farm system, not so great Major-league team.
JJ: Andrew McCutchen is a star; not much beyond him.
27
Tony: Montero, Ackley enough to score this team runs?
JJ: I want access to Bartolo Colon's magic pixie dust.
28
Tony: Will be a long year out in Cali.
JJ: Another sad year in a great baseball city.
29
Tony: A lot hinges on the young, inexperienced pitchers.
JJ: Let's just agree to enjoy the last few years of Ichiro's career.
30
Tony: Could challenge for worst record in MLB history.
JJ: Quick! Name five players on the Astros. Most can't.

Slumping White Sox get huge boost after Miguel Gonzalez 'defended his ground'

Slumping White Sox get huge boost after Miguel Gonzalez 'defended his ground'

Every factor but one suggested there was no way Rick Renteria would remove Miguel Gonzalez in the seventh inning on Monday afternoon.

Of course, Gonzalez didn’t know that.

But even as he walked to the mound with two on and no outs in the seventh and Wrigley Field roaring, Renteria didn’t have any intention of pulling Gonzalez.

Trades and injuries have given the White Sox manager even less wiggle room with which to work than the one-run lead Gonzalez was trying to protect. As long he was convinced his pitcher was game, Renteria would stay with Gonzalez. Gonzalez acquiesced and soon thereafter the White Sox were on their way to their first victory since July 8. The White Sox topped the Cubs 3-1 and in doing so snapped a nine-game losing streak.

“I just went in there to reaffirm that we were thinking the same way,” Renteria said. “He was thinking the same way. It was kind of easy.

“He said ‘I got this.’ He defended his ground.”

[Such a mighty wallop: How does Matt Davidson's mammoth home run stack up?]

Even though he had a front-row seat for the conversation, catcher Kevan Smith had little understanding of what transpired. The rookie said Renteria and Gonzalez spoke entirely in Spanish after Jon Jay and Javier Baez singled to open the bottom of the seventh inning. Smith heard Renteria mention to Gonzalez that lefty David Holmberg was ready to face switch hitter Ian Happ. Beyond that, all Smith heard from Gonzalez was ‘bueno’ and ‘listo,’ and Renteria was headed back to the visiting dugout.

But you don’t have to be a linguist to decipher what issues the White Sox pitching staff faces after a trying month.

Prior to Gonzalez pitching into the eighth, the White Sox hadn’t had a starter complete seven innings since June 16. An already overworked bullpen has also had to deal with season-ending injuries to Zach Putnam, Nate Jones and top relief prospect Zack Burdi. And those issues have been even further compounded by the trades of Jose Quintana, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle in the past 12 days.

So even though Gonzalez was on the verge of facing the top of the Cubs order a fourth time, Renteria had to stick with him so he could save top relievers Dan Jennings and Anthony Swarzak for later.

“I said ‘Just give me the ball,’ ” Gonzalez said. “ ’I’m OK. I’m fine. I’m feeling OK.’ Just walked away and I was able to get out of that jam. That was a big one.”

Smith was also happy with the decision. He liked how Gonzalez — who threw strikes on 73 of 105 pitches — had competed. Smith thought Gonzalez had great stuff and heard positive reviews from opposing hitters.

“(Gonzalez) had it,” Smith said. “The guys were coming up to the plate saying this guy has got some stuff today. It was a big moment to kind of prove that he can be a long guy, especially late in the game like that. Big pressure situation. Obviously it was getting pretty rowdy, but he stayed composed and pitched his way out of it.”

First was a five-pitch strikeout of Happ that ended with a swinging strike on a curveball. Jason Heyward then popped out to shallow center for the second out. Kris Bryant worked a five-pitch walk to load the bases. But Gonzalez jumped ahead of Anthony Rizzo in the count 1-2 before he got the star first baseman to fly out deep to center to strand the bases loaded.

Gonzalez returned in the eighth and retired one more hitter before he exited after a Kyle Schwarber single. The effort was plenty for Renteria and the White Sox, who also wiggled out of jams in the eighth and ninth inning.

“Sometimes you just don't have any other option,” Renteria said. “You just have to do what you have to do. They had a really good idea of how they wanted to attack those guys. …

“Miggy did a really nice job.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Sox win game one of Crosstown Series

crosstown.jpg

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Sox win game one of Crosstown Series

Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun Times), David Haugh (Chicago Tribune) and Ben Finfer (ESPN Radio) join Kap to go over the exciting first game between the White Sox and the Cubs.

Plus, the latest on trade rumors linking Justin Verlander and Alex Avila to the Cubs. Do the Cubs really need to make another move?

Finally, the guys discuss whether Kyrie Irving asking for a trade out of Cleveland is the dumbest career choice, ever.