In this weeks Power Rankings on AOL Sports, the Mets moved up two spots to number three. The Rays dropped from the top spot all the way to 4th place and the Braves are moving up the charts quickly. How long before the Mets get to the inevitable number one spot? I say May 1st!
1. Red Sox | Previous Week: 2
The Red Sox didn’t answer all the questions directed their way this offseason, but they came mighty close in their opener. Josh Beckett fanned 10 over seven innings against Tampa and displayed the velocity on his fastball that was so lacking last October. Mike Lowell — coming off of a hip injury that kept him out of last year’s ALCS — had an RBI double and Jason Varitek — coming off of the worst season of his career — wrapped a home run around Pesky’s Pole. All are good omens. — Andrew Johnson
2. Cubs| Previous Week: 3
The Cubbies are only 1-1 so far after an extra-inning loss to the Astros on Tuesday night. But Alfonso Soriano has started hot and Carlos Zambrano looked like an ace in the opener against Houston. Ryan Dempster wasn’t quite as dominant, but, hey, he’s Ryan Dempster. Nice performances by the bullpen bode well, but a lot of this team’s potential to dominate could hinge on Rich Harden’s health. That’s not scary at all.
3. Mets | Previous Week: 5
The Mets only squeaked by the Reds, but Johan Santana — four walks aside — dominated; a whopping 12 left on base might be a bad sign, but it’s also the reason this game wasn’t more out of hand. And the bullpen problems of yore, with J.J. Putz and Francisco Rodriguez now locking down the eighth and ninth innings, appear to be solved.
4. Rays | Previous Week: 1
James Shields struggled yet again at Fenway Park Tuesday. In four career starts at the “lyric little bandbox,” Shields is winless and has a double-digit ERA. There’s hardly any shame in that (though he may want to learn how to pitch there given the frequency with which the Rays visit Boston), and Tampa Bay still looks solid. It will look even better when B.J. Upton gets back in the lineup, likely next Monday against the Yankees. — AJ
5. Braves| Previous Week: 9
Derek Lowe and Jair Jurrjens looked spectacular in their debuts against the world champion Phillies, Jordan Schafer hit a tater and is as-billed defensively, Jeff Francoeur’s new stance looks pretty good and Chipper Jones appeared healed from his oblique injury when he blasted a shot on Tuesday. Good times all around in the A-T-L.