1: Pittsburgh Pirates (61-42, +$2,340) (LW: 1): The Bucs still haven't run down the Cardinals for the best record in the NL Central, but they really could be buyers at the trade deadline. They swept a three-game set in Washington, which really helped quell any doubters out there, but losing two out of three to the lowly Marlins isn't going to help any. These next five games against St. Louis will be the biggest five games of the season to date for sure.
2: Oakland Athletics (62-43, +$1,582) (LW: 2): Oakland has won six of its last eight games to open up a commanding six-game lead in the AL West. Taking three out of four against the Halos probably effectively ends any chance that they have to get back into the race as well. Things are really starting to look good for the A's, and there is a real chance that they could be adding Jake Peavy this week before the trade deadline.
3: Boston Red Sox (63-43, +$1,276) (LW: 4): If you didn't see the David Ortiz outburst, you might want to YouTube that, if for nothing else, a good laugh. On the field, Boston held its own this week, splitting games against the Rays and the Orioles to just barely maintain their lead in the AL East. The chase is on though, and Boston knows that it isn't going to be in good shape if it doesn't add to its starting pitching. Pitchers only gave up more than three runs in two of the six games this week though, so things are getting better for the Bo Sox.
4: Cleveland Indians (56-48, +$1,255) (LW: 5): If the Tribe are going to make their move, they're going to do it right now. They have won four games in a row, and they have four with the lowly White Sox and three with the Marlins coming up. In fact, four of their next five series are against teams that aren't going to be anywhere near the playoff race this year. The four games in the middle? Home against the Tigers. The offense has scored 27 runs during this four-game winning streak.
5: Baltimore Orioles (58-48, +$903) (LW: 3): Baltimore hasn't gotten a home run in the second half of the season from 1B Chris Davis, and that is bad news. The Orioles have only scored a total of 15 runs in their last six games, and they are just 1-5 in those outings. The good news is that the next six games are at home against the Astros and Mariners. If these turn out to be losing series though, don't be shocked if Baltimore falls out of the race in a hurry.
6: St. Louis Cardinals (62-40, +$874) (LW: 6): The Cardinals really had troubles scoring runs in Atlanta this weekend, and that has to be troublesome for a team that was averaging just over five runs per game coming into that series. The series of the year is on tap against the Pirates, as these five games in four days could very well determine which team is going to be on its way to the NL Central crown this year.
7: Tampa Bay Rays (62-43, +$885) (LW: 7): The Rays are now 21-4 in their last 25 games, and they have won nine straight series dating back to June 23rd-25th against the Blue Jays. What has been working for Manager Joe Maddon? The better question? What hasn't been working? Tampa Bay was in first place for two days this week, and the opportunity is going to be there to get back in control this week. This was a fantastic start to the second season, going through the AL East with three excellent road series. Now, it's back home at the Trop, where the Rays haven't been in two weeks.
8: Atlanta Braves (60-45, +$269) (LW: 11): After all of the injuries and all of the problems that the Braves had, they managed to win three games from the mighty Cardinals to keep their hopes alive for the best record in baseball this year. Brandon Beachy is expected to be back in the rotation this week, and not a moment too soon after the gruesome ankle injury that ended the season, and perhaps maybe even the career of Tim Hudson.
9: Minnesota Twins (45-57, +$181) (LW: 12): This is a tremendous jump from the Rays down to the rest of the teams in baseball, and Minnesota is the best of the next bunch in spite of the fact that it is 12-games below-.500. The team went through a West Coast swing going 4-3, and for a team that had just 18 wins on the road all season long before this trip, that's a good accomplishment. The bad news? Minnesota doesn't have a batter on the team with more than 10 home runs.
10: Chicago Cubs (48-55, +$171) (LW: 15): The Cubs dealt away RHP Matt Garza this week, but they are clearly streaking in spite of that fact. They just swept the Giants on the road with three victories in which they scored just a total of six runs. Theo Epstein knows what he is doing. This Chicago team is going to be a heck of a lot better next year, and it has a legitimate chance to play a spoiler's role this year in the NL Central, even having made three trades with eyes on the future already and perhaps plenty more to come this week.
11: Kansas City Royals (51-51, +$139) (LW: 16): That's the week that the Royals so badly needed. They took three huge games from the Royals and three on the road from the White Sox, and now, they aren't all that far out of the playoff race. The team is just seven back in the AL Central and four back of the AL Wild Card. Could KC be buying at the trade deadline? Don't be all that shocked if that turns out to be the case.
12: New York Yankees (55-50, +$44) (LW: 9): It's got to be tough to be GM Brian Cashman. He really didn't want to do the deal that sent OF Alfonso Soriano to the Bronx for the second time in his career, and he is stuck in the midst of this whole Alex Rodriguez garbage. A-Rod could ultimately be suspended for effectively the rest of his career any day at this point, as the Biogenesis suspensions are clearly coming and could be massive. The Yankees are clearly in some trouble going forward for the rest of the year, but they aren't nearly out of it yet, especially with Derek Jeter back in the fold. Jeter came back from his latest injury and hit a home run on the first pitch he saw against the Rays on Sunday.
13: Cincinnati Reds (59-47, +$16) (LW: 10): Cincinnati's pitchers have to be suing for support at this point. The team ranks second in baseball with a 3.33 team ERA, and it is first in the league with a 1.18 WHIP. These last three games in LA were atrocious. The Reds scored just a total of two runs in 29 innings of work, and that turned three should-be wins in which they allowed just seven runs into three losses. The rest of this road trip finishes up at Petco Park this week before coming home to take on the Cardinals in one of the most important series of the season.
14: Arizona Diamondbacks (54-51, +$14) (LW: 8): You just get the feeling that Arizona is fading and fading quickly. Losing two out of three at home to San Diego could prove to be the beginning of the end. If the Diamondbacks don't make some big moves in a hurry, they are going to be in a world of hurt for the rest of the year. We might not see it by the July 31st deadline, but by the August 31st deadline to make trades to keep players on rosters for the postseason, we might see Arizona selling.
15: Los Angeles Dodgers (56-48, -$155) (LW: 21): The Dodgers are still coasting, and they won six of their seven games this week to move six-games above .500. They are going to be in front of the breakeven line for the whole season at some point in all likelihood, and that is going to be a tremendous accomplishment for a team that was once down almost $2,000 in losses this year. The team won these last three games by scoring just seven runs in total. If the pitching staff can make that stand up, there is no doubt that LA is going to be one of the best teams in the league and most dangerous teams in the playoffs.
16: San Diego Padres (48-58, -$221) (LW: 20): The Padres had their first winning week in quite some time, and they did so with some wildly different results this week. San Diego scored 12 runs and 10 runs in wins on Thursday and Saturday, and it scored a total of just one run in the other two games. Of course, there are still a lot of questions about this team going forward, especially with a pitching staff which still ranks 25th in the league in team ERA at 4.23.
17: Seattle Mariners (50-55, -$392) (LW: 14): The Mariners watched their eight-game winning streak go by the wayside against the Indians at home, and they ended up losing two out of three inexplicably to the Twins, including getting beaten as a -245 favorite on Friday with Felix Hernandez on the bump. Is Raul Ibanez on the move? Don't be surprised at some point in the next few days if he is going to be sent elsewhere.
18: Miami Marlins (40-63, -$610) (LW: 24): The Fish went 5-2 this week, and they ended up winning as at least a +136 favorite in four of those games. The joke of the week though, came on Monday when the announcement came down that Ryan Braun was being suspended for the rest of the season because of the Biogenesis scandal. Logan Morrison, do the honors please. "You know we're clean. We haven't scored a run in 37 innings." You wouldn't know that the team nearly made $500 in profits this week, but that indeed did end up being the case.
19: Texas Rangers (56-49, -$666) (LW: 13): Adding Matt Garza definitely helped out, but the truth of the matter is that in games in which Garza didn't start this week, the team went 1-5. Yikes. Texas knows that it is in some tremendous trouble at this point, as it is still on the wrong side of the postseason at this point, and there isn't that much that really could be traded to bring in more talent. Oakland is just playing tremendous baseball right now, and it is going to be a tough team to run down.
20: Colorado Rockies (51-55, -$744) (LW: 17): The Rockies have opened up the second half of the season with a 5-5 record in 10 home games, and that really probably was the end of the season. Colorado now has to go on the road this week, and it is only 20-29 this season away from Coors Field. Don't be shocked if the Rocks end up rolling towards the back of the NL West in a hurry after this week.
21: New York Mets (46-56, -$762) (LW: 22): The good news for the Mets is that they scored 11 runs in their first game of the series against the Nationals in DC. The bad news is that they only scored a total of three runs in the other three games, and they gave up two touchdowns in the series finale on Sunday. It's off to Miami for a series with the Marlins this week, where Matt Harvey will work on his streak of 15 straight innings without allowing an earned run.
22: Detroit Tigers (59-45, -$805) (LW: 26): Just when the Tigers really started to feel some heat from the Indians, they went on the run that they desperately needed and rolled off eight wins in nine games. Why has this happened, might you ask? The team plated a whopping 22 runs over the course of its last two games, and it has scored at least six runs in six out of seven and at least four runs in nine straight. You're going to win a lot of ball games when you're batting .280 as a team like Detroit is.
23: Toronto Blue Jays (48-56, -$924) (LW: 19): It took until the third series after the All-Star break for Toronto to get a win, and it did manage to get victories in three out of four games against the lowly Astros. However, the damage really has been done. In spite of the fact that the Jays have averaged 4.62 runs per game this season, they have a 4.32 staff ERA, and that's why they are 14 games back in the AL East with no chance of making the playoffs in a season in which they have one of the highest payrolls in the game.
24: Houston Astros (35-69, -$970) (LW: 23): The Astros have now gone just 6-22 in their last 28 games over the course of the last five weeks, and they are back to their ways from the beginning of the season. Houston simply just doesn't have it in it this year, though we are still convinced that the way its minor league system is building is really bringing the team to the forefront of baseball in the next few years as long as it ponies up the money to keep some of these guys for the long run.
25: Philadelphia Phillies (49-56, -$1,121) (LW: 18): And that should be it for the Phils. They lost all six games that they played this week, and they are now seven-games under .500. The phone has been ringing to see if Philly will give up on LHP Cliff Lee. If GM Ruben Amaro Jr. is smart, he pulls the trigger and gets some badly needed prospects in exchange for Lee. If he stays too stubborn and doesn't do it though, it could be a move that cripples the franchise for the next several years to come.
26: Washington Nationals (52-54, -$1,354) (LW: 25): Dare the Nationals become sellers by Wednesday's trade deadline? They probably won't, but that doesn't mean that they are going to be eager to buy either. The team is just too far back of the Braves at this point to make a run, and in all likelihood, because they haven't gotten the job done in these last two weeks with so many injuries to deal with in Atlanta, it is never going to get better than that. So many pitchers have had great years for the Nats, but it is all for naught, and it isn't going to help if LHP Gio Gonzalez is suspended for his role in the Biogenesis lab either.
27: Milwaukee Brewers (43-61, -$1,939) (LW: 28): The story with the Brewers this week of course, had to deal with Ryan Braun, as he admitted lying about using PEDs and accepted a suspension that will keep him out for the rest of the 2013 season. The good news for the Brew Crew and for Braun is that this whole PED thing will go away after this season, giving both the team and the star of the team a fresh start once again in 2014. Milwaukee fans are all basically concerned about the same thing at this point: When do the Packers start playing?
28: Los Angeles Angels (48-55, -$2,199) (LW: 30): The Halos are probably as good as done. They just lost the last three games of a four-game set to Oakland, taking what was a 10-game deficit and turning it into a 13-game deficit in the AL West. On top of that, Albert Pujols has been put on the DL with a foot problem that could keep him out for the rest of the season. It looks like this is another case of a team that spent a heck of a lot of money to produce very little in the way of wins.
29: Chicago White Sox (40-62, -$2,207) (LW: 29): It was a frustrating week to be on the White Sox. The team was beaten in six out of seven games in division, and in all likelihood, Jake Peavy has pitched his last game with the club. One of the favorites in the clubhouse, Peavy is expected to be sent packing to get back some more prospects for a team that is out of the equation. There are fewer than 72 hours left before the trade deadline, and we are shocked that the White Sox haven't made any major moves as of yet.
30: San Francisco Giants (46-58, -$2,249) (LW: 27): Essentially, the final salvo of the season has been shot off for the Giants. They just don't have it this year, and we can't put our finger onto exactly what it is that is wrong with this team. The roster isn't all that much different from the one that won the World Series last year, but now, the G-Men have one of the worst records in baseball, the worst money mark in the game, and little hope of finishing anywhere aside from in last place in the NL West. It's time to sell some big names off at the deadline and rebuild the farm just a bit.