MLB Power Rankings for September 25th, 2013

david-ortizThe 2013 MLB regular season is almost at a close, which means that playoff positions are very close to being decided. Some teams like Boston, Oakland, Atlanta and St. Louis have nothing to worry about because they’ve already locked up postseason berths. Other teams like Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Texas are still fighting for their playoff lives. That said, let’s discuss the clubs that have already clinched postseason berths along with those who are still clawing for a spot.

1. Boston Red Sox (95-63), clinched AL East – After finishing an AL East-worst 69-93, the Red Sox have completed an impressive worst-to-first resurrection. Now they seek to beat out the A’s for the best overall record in the American League.

2. Oakland Athletics (94-65), clinched AL West – Oakland entered oakland-athletics-titleSeptember in a close battle with Texas over the AL West. Well that battle has turned into a bloodbath with the A’s outdistancing their division rival by 7 games. Bartolo Colon is peaking at just the right time with a 3-1 record and 0.90 ERA in his last five starts.

3. St. Louis Cardinals (94-65), clinched playoff berth – The Cardinals are in the midst of trying to close out the Central division, with a 3-game lead over Pittsburgh. This club can only get better if they get Allen Craig back by October.

4. Detroit Tigers (91-65), clinched playoff berth – The Tigers should come into the playoffs on a roll since they square off against bottom-feeders Minnesota and Miami to end the year. In a season filled with highlights for Detroit, Max Scherzer may top them all with his 20 wins.

5. Atlanta Braves (93-64), clinched AL East – Much like Detroit, Atlanta Atlanta Braves v Chicago Cubsgets two easy series to close out the regular season with Philadelphia and Milwaukee on the schedule. Both the offense and bullpen are looking strong. Now it’s up to Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and the rest of the starters to step up in October.

6. Cincinnati Reds (90-69), clinched playoff berth – Cincinnati is now likely fighting with Pittsburgh for home field in the Wild Card game. Assuming the Reds can beat the Pirates, they have a deep enough team to make some noise in the playoffs.

7. Los Angeles Dogers (91-66), clinched AL West – Think Boston’s one-year turnaround is amazing? How about the Dodgers, who became just the fourth team in history to go from last place after July 1st, to first in their division. Matt Kemp has only played 69 games this year, but if he can go in the playoffs, it’ll really boost the Dodgers’ World Series hopes.

8. Pittsburgh Pirates (91-68), clinched playoff berth – Pittsburgh finishes out the year in Cincinnati, which will decide who gets home field in the Wild Card game. Unfortunately, the Pirates blew their chance at a division title after losing three of four to the Padres last week.

9. Cleveland Indians (87-70), second in AL Central – Cleveland has been red hot in September and jumped into the second Wild Card spot as a result. Now they need to hang on with Texas only one game behind them.

10. Tampa Bay Rays (88-69), second in AL East – With a division title out of reach, Tampa Bay will fight to hold onto their Wild Card position. They’re currently one game ahead of Cleveland and two games ahead of Texas.

11. Kansas City Royals (83-74), third in AL Central – The Royals have very slim postseason hopes as they currently sit four games behind Cleveland for the last Wild Card spot. But playoffs or no playoffs, the Royals can be proud of how their rotation improved over the last couple of months.

12. Texas Rangers (86-71), second in AL West – Texas has played terrible down the stretch, posting one of the worst records in September. But if the Rangers can pick themselves up and start playing like they did in the season’s first half, they could still make the postseason.

Biogenesis Scandal could see 20 MLB Players suspended for Steroids

alex-rodriguezIn the early 2000’s, Major League Baseball was rocked by the BALCO scandal. BALCO was busted for supplying MLB stars like Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi with performance-enhancing drugs, which fueled their careers to new heights.

Here we are now a decade later, and it looks like a modern-day BALCO scandal could be brewing with the Biogenesis clinic. 20 MLB and minor league players are accused of receiving steroids from Biogenesis, including Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon.

The MLB is currently investigating this matter and working with Biogenesis owner Tony Bosch to uncover which players have been violating baseball’s substance abuse policies. Here’s a look at the main players who are currently under investigation:

Ryan Braun – Milwaukee Brewers
Everth Cabrera – San Diego Padres
Melky Cabrera – Toronto Blue Jays
Francisco Cervelli – New York Yankees
Bartolo Colon – Oakland Athletics
Nelson Cruz – Texas Rangers
Fautino de los Santos – Free agent
Gio Gonzalez – Washington Nationals (allegedly received legal substances)
Yasmani Grandal – San Dieog Padres
Fernando Martinez – Houston Astros
Jesus Montero – Seattle Mariners
Jordan Norberto – Free agent
Jhonny Peralta – Detroit Tigers
Cesar Puello – New York Mets (minor leaguer)
Alex Rodriguez – New York Yankees

MJS MJS brewers15, nws, sears, 6One thing that stands out about this list is how several of the players have either been busted for, or accused of using steroids in the past. Rodriguez, who’s the biggest name on the list, admitted to juicing from 2001-2003 while playing with the Rangers. Since there was no punishment in place for using steroids back then, he escaped suspension.

However, due to his past, Rodriguez would be facing the 100-game suspension for second-time offenders because he’s already been associated with roids. Colon, Cabrera and Grandal would also be in this boat because they tested positive for excessive testosterone levels in 2012. This trio was linked back to Bosch last summer, which raised suspicions among the MLB’s top brass.

ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” approached Bosch about his involvement with Colon, Cabrera and Grandal last year. And the Biogenesis founder denied any wrongdoing in the matter. However, he’s since changed his stance and has agreed to cooperate with league investigators. Sources have told Outside the Lines that Bosch’s information could supply the league with what they need to suspend certain players.

tony-boschBosch is set to meet with MLB officials this Friday to start sharing what he knows. The doctor has pledged to offer any materials and phone records he has to aid the investigation. In exchange for his cooperation, Bosch asked the league to drop a civil suit against him, to which they complied.

Furthermore, he wants the MLB to vouch for his cooperation to federal investigators. Of course, baseball officials can’t promise that Bosch won’t suffer any legal consequences for his actions. However, working with Major League Baseball should definitely help minimize any criminal sentence.

It’s doubtful that Tony Bosch has many options left but to work with the MLB. Biogenesis was served with a cease-and-desist letter last year by the Florida Department of Health. Since his business can no longer operate, Bosch is said to be nearly broke and living with family and friends. He’s also failed to convince the Department of Health to let him reestablish a “wellness” clinic.

Working with Bosch is definitely in the MLB’s interests too. Without him, Major League Baseball merely has circumstantial evidence on the listed players. Sure there are some intriguing documents in the league’s possession, like one that has Braun making payments of $1,500, $20,000 and $30,000 to Biogenesis. However, Bosch can actually provide legitimate testimony on what these payments were for.

The case should definitely make some huge advancements this weekend as Bosch begins sharing information. And the way it looks now, he has plenty of dirt on some very high-profile major leaguers.