ATLANTA - : Michael McKenry #55 of the Pittsburgh Pirates catches a foul ball against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Isn't this the best time of the year? People all over the internet and talk radio, loudly proclaiming that they alone know the best moves their teams can make. Reporters all trying to beat each other to Twitter, hoping to get the scoop first, even if it means floating 10,000 rumors of dubious quality. Yes, other than the sport and everything else involved with it, including hamstring injuries and $15 beers, the trading deadline really is the best thing about baseball.
This week's power rankings are based on each team's strategies heading into the trade deadline.
1. St. Louis Cardinals
Rival executives are convinced that the Cards are looking to swing a trade for Luke Hochevar, which will allow Dave Duncan to move Hochevar's grip one-eighth of an inch to the left. This will result in a top-three Cy Young finish for Hochevar in 2012.
2. Philadelphia Phillies
Sources with knowledge of the Phillies' thinking say that the front office is going to rub ace pheromones over Vance Worley, parade him in front of general managers in heat, and trade him for six or seven All-Stars. Extracting the ace pheromones isn't as painful as you might think, but it's not a walk in the park,either.
3. San Diego Padres
The Padres are likely to trade all of their good relievers, because they can just make more of them out of mud and sticks, like orcs in Lord of the Rings.
4. Cleveland Indians
The Indians have the same deadline strategy that they've had for close to a decade: they call up the Mariners and ask if they're looking to trade any franchise cornerstones for mediocre platoon first basemen.
5. Colorado Rockies
Highly placed sources are hinting that the Rockies plan on studying this comic, and doing the same thing to the Yankees with Ubaldo Jimenez instead of a Joe Shlabotnik baseball card. The source hinted that the Rockies will not throw Ubaldo away in a city garbage can after the deadline.
6. Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are being coy about which players they're putting on the trading block. But according to SB Nation's own Jon Bois, who has knowledge of the Rays' thinking, if Kyle Farnsworth is placed on the trading block, he'll karate-chop it in half with his bare hands.
7. Boston Red Sox
The Red Sox are looking to trade for Carlos Beltran and put him on the bench. When other teams complain, they'll hold the heads of the other teams with a long, outstretched arm, saying "What're you going to do about it? What're you going to do about it?" as the other teams wildly throw punches that connect only with air.
8. Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati plans on being jerks and not deciding whether or not they're buyers or sellers until five minutes before the trading deadline. If they're sellers, they plan on not trading anyone important, instead choosing to light cigars from productive catchers they've lit on fire.
9. Los Angeles Angels
According to a highly placed source who wishes to remain anonymous but has knowledge of the Angels' thinking, the Angels have interest in coordinating a Peter Bourjos/Mike Trout foot-race on pay-per-view. The proceeds will go towards a Jeff Mathis extension, because Jeff Mathis is the only thing holding this whole operation together.
10. Oakland Athletics
The A's will take players they've meticulously acquired in the hopes of contending, and trade them for prospects who aren't as good as the ones they traded in the offseason. This is the baseball cycle of life.
11. Texas Rangers
Sources indicate that the Rangers plan on crank-calling the Braves and asking for more players for Mark Teixeira. They'll get their buddy Jake to pretend he's a lawyer who was going over some fine print as part of an audit, and demand Freddie Freeman to complete the deal.
That's all they'll probably do. What, you thought I was going to make some cheap joke about the Dodgers' finances? Come on. Have some faith in me.
14. Chicago Cubs
Rival executives seem to think that the Cubs plan on asking Ryan Dempster really, really, really nicely to waive his 2012 player option for $135 million. If he does, he'll likely be traded a team that isn't the Cubs, and everyone will come out ahead. Except the Cubs, who will finish behind.
15. Toronto Blue Jays
The Blue Jays plan on commenting on other team's Facebook pages to remind everyone they're still in the league.
16. Florida Marlins
A highly placed source who wished to remain anonymous said that if it were up to him, he'd "trade Hanley Ramirez for a chair, a patch of sunlight, and some damned sleep." The source's name is Jack McKeon, and he's old, so he'll forget that he wished to remain anonymous.
17. Washington Nationals
Sources in the front office indicate that the Nationals are looking to trade that intern who pointed out that the Giants wouldn't even trade Barry Zito for Jayson Werth now, and they're looking for a new intern who doesn't talk so much in exchange.
18. Pittsburgh Pirates
This deadline strategy is still being fine-tuned.
19. Milwaukee Brewers
Because their only prospect went out for a carton of milk and never came back, the Brewers plan to hire George Plimpton to make up a prospect they can trade. Only after several voice mails go unanswered will the Brewers suspect that Plimpton passed away several years ago.
20. Arizona Diamondbacks
Sources indicate that the Diamondbacks intend to call the Angels every half-hour and offer Joe Saunders and two A-ball pitchers for Dan Haren.They hope to wear the Angels down and annoy them to the point that they give in. Hey, it worked once.
21. Minnesota Twins
Scouts throughout the organization are committed to identifying the prospects who might be blocked at the major-league level. Once the front office has a list of said players, they'll trade them for middling relievers because at no point will they ever, ever, ever need those prospects.
22. New York Mets
The Mets are likely to trade Carlos Beltran for prospects, and then give the prospects to an independent-league team, who has promised that they'll return five times the number of prospects to the Mets. It can't miss.
23. Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles will work out a trade that sends Mark Reynolds to the Nationals for Bryce Harper, but will have to cancel the deal when Peter Angelos remembers that Harper's Magazine wrote a nasty article about him eight years ago and decides to stick it to them by refusing to employ the editor's son. As per usual, no one is able to talk sense into Angelos, but he'll be pretty sure he won the battle, which is nice.
24. Kansas City Royals
The Royals are looking to trade a bunch of crap players for a bunch of crap prospects who turn into crap players that they can trade for crap prospects in the hope of having a roster full of crap players some day.
The Giants are planning to give the screws that were pulled out of Buster Posey's ankle to a mad scientist, in the hopes that he can slough off some DNA and use the screws to build some sort of robo-Posey. If that doesn't work, they'll just trade for Jeff Francoeur.
26. Chicago White Sox
Sources who are anonymously familiar with how the White Sox are thinking say that the White Sox are hoping that Jayson Werth is put on waivers so they can scoop him up to play alongside Juan Pierre and Alex Rios. "Can you believe that the other teams were just giving those guys away?!?" Kenny Williams will say.
27. Seattle Mariners
They're not going to do much before the deadline, but they'll keep a close eye on the players who clear waivers just in case the team reels off a 16-game winning streak. They'll also see if the Indians have any mediocre platoon first basemen they're willing to deal.
28. Atlanta Braves
Sources say the Braves are looking to acquire bullpen help to take load off Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel, allowing the late-inning relievers to pitch 58 out of every 60 games instead of 59 out of every 60.
29. New York Yankees
The Yankees are having internal discussions about acquiring Pudge Rodriguez so we can all enjoy the story of another slow, unbearable trudge of a Yankees player approaching 3,000 hits.
30. Houston Astros
According to a source familiar with the team's thinking, the Astros are planning to screw everything up.
Power Rankings of Yesteryear:
7/19 - Ballpark names
7/5 - Mascots
6/27 - Promotional giveaways
6/21 - Health inspection reports
6/13 - Random ex-major leaguers in minor-league system
6/6 - Awesome names in draft history
5/31 - Team logos
5/24 - Annoying people
5/17 - Song titles
5/10 - Hair metal bands
5/3 - Sitcom locations
4/24 - Team names