Cubs

2016 MLB Power Rankings

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2016 MLB Power Rankings

There's no question: The Cubs are clearly baseball's best team on paper entering the 2016 campaign. But, of course, there's still six months of baseball to be played, so don't just hand them the trophy yet. Teams like the Washington Nationals, New York Mets, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers are looking to throw their hat in the ring to contend with the NL Central - baseball's best division. And that's not even getting into the American League contenders.

With that comes another edition of MLB Power Rankings from CSNChicago.com's Tony Andracki and JJ Stankevitz. Stay with us every Monday from here through October for a fresh set of rankings.

Rank Team
Last Week Comment
1 -

OK, look, being the best team on paper means nothing, but all we have right now is "on paper" and in that category, the Cubs are (preseason) champs.

2   -

Yeah, yeah, yeah, the Mets have great pitching. We know (and we're not disputing that at all). But the real question marks revolved around David Wright (can he stay healthy and produce amid a career-threatening back injury?) and Yoenis Cespedes (can he duplicate his power explosion from last year?).

3 -

If ever there was a season the Dodgers needed Puig, it's this one.

4   -

 Advanced-stat predictions don’t like the Royals, but we're buying them so long as they continue to field an elite defense. 

5 -

It's an even year, and we all know what that means for the Giants!

6 -

A full season of Carlos Correa and Carlos Gomez is mouth-watering, and Ken Giles was a solid addition to shore up a shaky bullpen. 

7 -

Last year was a disaster after World Series expectations. But if they stay healthy, watch out. This is still a bonafide contender.

8 -

Could be even better than last year. Gregory Polanco looks primed for a breakout, which would give Bucs arguably the best OF in the game.

9 -

Count the Cardinals out at your own risk. As far as we know, they're still under contract with that deal with the devil.

10 -

They’ll still hit a ton of home runs, but who outside Marcus Stroman can be counted on to succeed out of that rotation? 

11 -

David Price was a massive offseason addition, and eventually, this team will stop underperforming — right?

12 -

An under-the-radar contender stocked with baseball’s time-tested recipe for success: Pitching and defense. 

13 -

There certainly are offensive weaknesses here, but a solid rotation and good defense should play well in a wide-open American League. 

14 -

A.J. Pollock injury a huge, huge blow. May knock them out of contention altogether if he misses the entire season.

15 -

Todd Frazier was a crucial offseason add and Carlos Rodon looks primed for a big year. But will the defense and back of the rotation be good enough? 

16 -

If Yu Darvish comes back strong from Tommy John surgery, he and Cole Hamels could power Texas back to the postseason. 

17 -

Getting Jordan Zimmermann and Justin Upton this winter were quality moves, but are they enough to bail out an aging, sinking roster?

18 -

Can be a surprise contender. A lot of talent with Stanton, Fernandez, Gordon, Yelich leading the way.

19 -

Does an offense full of players on the wrong side of 30 have another run in it?

20 -

FanGraphs projects 13 Angels position players to be worth 22.7 WAR this year. Subtract Mike Trout from there and it’s 12 players and 14 WAR (1.2 WAR/player). 

21 -

Desperately need a starter or two to emerge from a group that is projected to have a collective 4.43 ERA by FanGraphs. 

22 -
If Nelson Cruz wasn’t enough to get this team over the hump last year, then where’s the fix?
23 -

Well they certainly didn't win the offseason, so maybe they could contend with low expectations? They do have some decent talent still around.

24 -

A lot to like with Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, but pitching staff needs to take a major step forward to keep 2015 from being a flash in the pan. 

25 -

Outside of Sonny Gray and Josh Reddick, this is a team with a ton of mediocre-to-bad pitching and a ton of mediocre-to-bad fielding. 

26 -

Should be a fun offense to watch once again, but they won't be playing in October this season. 

27 -

The rebuild is on. Still feels weird to see Braves cashing in another season. Millenials aren't used to a world without Braves as contenders.

28 -

They've officially wasted Joey Votto's prime years.

29 -

Yet another NL team just tanking this season.

30 -

Will be very shocked if they don't wind up with the worst record in baseball. No hope of contention anytime soon.

Cubs executive Jason McLeod reportedly linked to Giants' GM opening

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USA TODAY

Cubs executive Jason McLeod reportedly linked to Giants' GM opening

Is this the offseason that Cubs executive Jason McLeod finally becomes an MLB general manager?

According to Bruce Levine, the Giants are reportedly interested in McLeod, the Cubs senior vice president of scouting and player development, for their vacant general manager position.

McLeod joined the Cubs' front office in 2011 alongside Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. Before the Cubs, he spent six years in the Red Sox front office and two in the Padres' (with Hoyer, who was San Diego's general manager from 2010-2011). 

Of course, the Giants' reported interest in McLeod doesn't necessarily mean that he will interview for the job. However, it's worth noting that McLeod interviewed for the Twins' general manager job in 2016; he also withdrew his name from consideration for the Padres' general manager job in 2014. 

In addition to the Giants, McLeod's name has been linked to the Mets' general manager vacancy. This is more speculation, but the point is that it seems to be only a matter of time before McLeod is hired as general manager elsewhere.

For what it's worth, though, McLeod is under contract through 2021 and has previously said that he is grateful to be with the Cubs. 

“I’m exceptionally grateful,” McLeod said. “All of us are. Look at where we are at this moment in time with this team," McLeod said in 2016. "I can’t imagine a better environment, a better culture to work at in baseball.

"We’ve been together a long time. We’re friends. We’re good. We embrace the fact that we are good. And we challenge ourselves to be even better.”

Cubs have new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

Cubs have new hitting coach in Anthony Iapoce

The Cubs are heading into a new season with a different hitting coach for the second straight winter, but the most recent choice is a familiar face.

Anthony Iapoce is set to join Joe Maddon's coaching staff this week after serving in the same capacity with the Texas Rangers for the last three seasons. The Cubs confirmed the move Monday afternoon shortly after the news broke out of the Rangers camp.

The Cubs fired Chili Davis last week after just one season as the team's hitting coach.

Entering the final week of the season, the Rangers fired manager Jeff Banister, leaving Iapoce and the rest of the Texas coaching staff in limbo.

As such, Iapoce is rejoining the Cubs, where he served as a special assistant to the General Manager from 2013-15 focusing on player development, particularly in the hitting department throughout the minor leagues.

Iapoce has familiarity with a bunch of the current star offensive players on the Cubs, from Willson Contreras to Kris Bryant. 

Both Bryant and Contreras endured tough 2018 seasons at the plate, which was a huge reason for the Cubs' underperforming lineup. Bryant's issue was more related to a left shoulder injured suffered in mid-May while Contreras' offensive woes remain a major question mark after the young catcher looked to be emerging as a legitimate superstar entering the campaign.

Getting Contreras back to the hitter that put up 21 homers and 74 RBI in only 117 games in 2017 will be one of the main goals for Iapoce, so the history between the two could be a key.

With the Rangers, Iapoce oversaw an offense that ranked 7th, 9th and 14th in MLB in runs scored over the last three seasons. The decline in offensive production is obviously not a great sign, but the Rangers as a team have fallen off greatly since notching the top seed in the AL playoffs in 2016 with 95 wins only to lose 95 games in 2018, resulting in the change at manager.

Iapoce has worked with an offense backed by Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Shin-Soo Choo, Nomar Mazara and Joey Gallo the last few seasons.

Under Iapoce's tutelage, former top prospect Jurickson Profar shed any notion of a "bust" label and emerged as a budding star at age 25, collecting 61 extra-base hits with a .793 OPS in 2018.

When the Cubs let Davis go last week, they provided no update on assistant hitting coach Andy Haines, who just finished his first season in that role and is expected to remain with the team for 2019. The same offseason Iapoce left for the Rangers, Haines took over as the Cubs' minor league hitting instructor.