Cubs

MLB Power Rankings: Pirates, Yankees continue to surge

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MLB Power Rankings: Pirates, Yankees continue to surge

Last week saw baseball's first big trade of the summer, with Arizona unloading Mark Trumbo to Seattle as the Mariners try to inject some life into a lagging offense. But only a few other teams are in sell mode right now, with even the bottom-five White Sox only a few games under .500 and only need a good week or two to get back in the playoff hunt.

With that comes another week of MLB Power Rankings from CSNChicago.com's Tony Andracki and JJ Stankevitz. Stay tuned for updated rankings every Monday throughout the 2015 campaign. Here's where we're at so far: Preseason rankings | Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8

Rank Team
Last Week Comment
1 1

Still the clear No. 1 team in baseball and with Jaime Garcia healthy, may be the best rotation in baseball, even without Wainwright.

2   2

Yasiel Puig is back, Clayton Kershaw is back to ace form and yet...Dodgers have lost four of five.

3 3

They have SEVEN players leading AL All-Star voting at their respective positions. Goodness.

4   6

Welcome to The Show, Carlos Correa. Can baseball's next megaprospect help keep Houston atop the AL West?

5 4

Torii Hunter's resurgence has been a big reason for their success: The soon-to-be 40-year-old has eight home runs and a .787 OPS.

6 8

Andrew McCutchen is so good, even Michael Keaton has his back.

7 14

Alex Rodriguez has 11 home runs and a .280/.386/.522 slash line. Keep on trollin', A-Rod.

8 7

Rough week highlights Giants' biggest concern: Will their starting rotation hold up? Matt Cain getting healthy and returning to form would help in a big way.

9 13

Chris Archer is the first modern-era pitcher to have three straight starts of 10+ K's and no walks. That'll do.

10 10

Statement series against the Nationals, but still have only a -1 run differential and a 30-25 record. Their fortunes hinge on continued success in 1-run games.

11   5

Anthony Rendon's return hasn't led to immediate results (see above), but his presence in the lineup and the infield makes the Nationals way, way better.

12 9

To be a real contender, need to do more than 4-6 vs. Marlins, Padres and Diamondbacks.

13 15

Joey Gallo's first big league week: .292/.370/.583, two home runs and nearly half his outs have been strikeouts.

14 12

Ended an eight-game losing streak Saturday and scraped out a desperately-needed series win over the White Sox.

15 19

Back up to .500 after winning 4 of last 5 and emerging in the Wild Card race again.

16 22

Mark Buehrle has thrown back-to-back complete games, the latter of which was a 93-pitch masterpiece of a shutout (otherwise known as a Maddux).

17 16

How soon until we see Francisco Lindor? Not now, but probably sometime this summer.

18 18

Great move to get rid of Trumbo and clear some room in the OF. Tomas and Pollock should play every day right now, no exceptions.

19 19

Albert Pujols has 15 home runs. That's good! What's bad is he has a 5.8 percent walk rate and a .307 OBP.

20   17

Julio Teheran's struggles show just how shallow this starting rotation is, even with Shelby Miller (1.89 ERA, 1.00 WHIP) still shining.

21 21

There's still plenty of time to make a move in the AL East, especially if Ubaldo Jimenez keeps pitching as well as he has (3.02 ERA).

22 26 Can they finally seize some momentum after sweeping Oakland over the weekend at Fenway?
23 20

Not sold on Mark Trumbo being the answer to their offensive woes, but hey, at least they're trying something.

24 23

So Tulo has seemed to wake up a bit, but Carlos Gonzalez is still hitting only .240 with a .697 OPS. Is he just done then? This guy put up a .920 OPS from 2009-13.

25 25

People criticize Joey Votto for not driving in enough runs or slugging enough, but is anybody getting on Brandon Phillips' case for utter lack of power (.387 SLG despite .309 AVG) and no patience (only 10 walks)?

26 24

Even while showing signs of playing better, they've dropped back-to-back series to Texas and Detroit.

27 27

They may have the worst record in the AL, but we're all winners for getting to watch Pat Venditte pitch with both hands in the majors.

28 28

Adeiny Hechavarria (.308/.338/.429) starting to put it together offensively and he's already enjoying a great defensive season, too.

29 29

Package Aaron Harang and Jonathan Papelbon together and the Phillies may actually get a decent return from a trade that doesn't involve Cole Hamels.

30 30

No starting pitcher has an ERA under 4.00 and Garza/Lohse have combined for 5.83 ERA in 137.1 innings.

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

MESA, Ariz. — The first thing Kyle Schwarber told his new hitting coach?

"His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.'"

The Cubs hired Chili Davis as the team's new hitting coach for myriad reasons. He's got a great track record from years working with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, and that .274/.360/.451 slash line during an illustrious 19-year big league career certainly helps.

But Davis' main immediate task in his new gig will be to help several of the Cubs' key hitters prove Schwarber's assessment correct.

Schwarber had a much-publicized tough go of things in 2017. After he set the world on fire with his rookie campaign in 2015 and returned from what was supposed to be a season-ending knee injury in time to be one of the Cubs' World Series heroes in 2016, he hit just .211 last season, getting sent down to Triple-A Iowa for a stint in the middle of the season. Schwarber still hit 30 home runs, but his 2017 campaign was seen as a failure by a lot of people.

Enter Davis, who now counts Schwarber as one of his most important pupils.

"He's a worker," Davis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Schwarbs, he knows he's a good player. His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.' He said last year was just a fluke year. He said, 'I've never failed in my life.' And he said, 'I'm going to get back to the player that I was.'

"I think he may have — and this is my thought, he didn't say this to me — I think it may have been, he had a big World Series, hit some homers, and I think he tried to focus on being more of a home run type guy as opposed to being a good hitter.

"His focus has changed. I had nothing to do with that, he came in here with that focus that he wants to be a good hitter first and let whatever happens happen. And he's worked on that. The main thing with Kyle is going to be is just maintaining focus."

The physically transformed Schwarber mentioned last week that he's established a good relationship with Davis, in no small part because Schwarber can relate to what Davis went through when he was a player. And to hear Davis tell it, it sounds like he's describing Schwarber's first three years as a big leaguer to a T.

"Telling him my story was important because it was similar," Davis said. "I was a catcher, got to big league camp, and I was thrown in the outfield. And I hated the outfield. ... But I took on the challenge. I made the adjustment, I had a nice first year, then my second year I started spiraling. I started spiraling down, and I remember one of my coaches saying, 'I'm going to have to throw you a parachute just so you can land softly.' I got sent down to Triple-A at the All-Star break for 15 days.

"When I got sent down, I was disappointed, but I was also really happy. I needed to get away from the big league pressure and kind of find myself again. I went home and refocused myself and thought to myself, 'I'm going to come back as Chili.' Because I tried to change, something changed about me the second year.

"And when I did that, I came back the next year and someone tried to change me and I said, 'Pump the breaks a little bit, let me fail my way, and then I'll come to you if I'm failing.' And they understood that, and I had a nice year, a big year and my career took off.

"I'm telling him, 'Hey, let last year go. It happened, it's in the past. Keep working hard, maintain your focus, and you'll be fine.'"

Getting Schwarber right isn't Davis' only task, of course. Despite the Cubs being one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball last season, they had plenty of guys go through subpar seasons. Jason Heyward still has yet to find his offensive game since coming to Chicago as a high-priced free agent. Ben Zobrist was bothered by a wrist injury last season and put up the worst numbers of his career. Addison Russell had trouble staying healthy, as well, and saw his numbers dip from what they were during the World Series season in 2016.

So Davis has plenty of charges to work with. But he likes what he's seen so far.

"They work," Davis said. "They come here to work. I had a group of guys in Boston that were the same last year, and it makes my job easier. They want to get better, they come out every day, they show up, they want to work. They're excited, and I'm excited to be around them.

And what have the Cubs found out about Davis? Just about everyone answers that question the same way: He likes to talk.

"I'm not going to stop talking," he said. "If I stop talking, something's wrong."

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Andre Dawson talks about his Cubs reunion

Carmen DeFalco (ESPN 1000) and Jordan Bernfield join Kap on the panel. Anthony Rizzo returns to the Cubs after an emotional weekend home while Tom Ricketts expects another World Series parade. Plus Hall of Famer Andre Dawson joins Kap to talk about his Cubs reunion and how the current crop unsigned free agents compares to his experiences with collusion.