Cubs

MLB Power Rankings: All-in Blue Jays starting to show they're for real

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MLB Power Rankings: All-in Blue Jays starting to show they're for real

The Blue Jays had one of the biggest trade deadlines of all-time, acquiring two of the best players in the game in David Price and Troy Tulowitzki. Behind Price's stellar outing Monday, Toronto is showing it's for real as the AL pennant race heats up. 

Meanwhile, in the National League, the Cubs are finally taking advantage of a soft schedule and the NL wild card race is setting up to be one for the ages as the Cubs battle the Pirates, Giants and Mets.

With that comes another week 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.

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 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15

Rank Team
Last Week Comment
1 1

Underrated moves (Brandon Moss, Steve Cishek) at the deadline, but will it be enough?

2   2

Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist should help them not only cruise to the playoffs, but have a better shot at reaching the World Series again.

3 3

Extremely rough blow with the Burnett injury, but they do have some solid pitching depth to help absorb his loss.

4   4

Sweeping the Angels and holding off the Giant's latest run helps prove they're worthy of a Top 5 slot in these rankings.

5 7

Almost quietly, they’re five and a half up in the AL East and with a deep lineup and good enough pitching should stay there throughout August and September. 

6 8

Remember when everyone assumed they were still going to be rebuilding this year? Nobody could’ve seen Scott Kazmir and Carlos Gomez coming. 

7 5

This is gonna be a fantastic battle for the two wild card spots.

8 11

Finally starting to take advantage of the soft part of their schedule.

9 9

Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth returning to form would be a major wild-card for this team moving forward.

10 12

Lucas Duda is red-hot, as are the Mets, who just swept the Nats.

11   13

Add David Price and Troy Tulowitzki, then take three of four from Kansas City. Could a first playoff appearance in 22 years be at the end of the road?

12 6

Losers of six in a row and nine of their last 10 entering the week. All of a sudden, they’re only 1.5 games ahead of the second wild card spot. 

13 14

Ubaldo Jimenez hasn’t leveled out since the All-Star break and has a 10.61 ERA in his last four starts. 

14 10

It looks like their Cinderella playoff bid is crumbling, but in an aggressively mediocre American League, they definitely could still make a playoff appearance. 

15 15

Chris Archer vs. Chris Sale on Tuesday night. You’re gonna want to watch that one. 

16 16

Cole Hamels isn’t in Arlington for just 2015, obviously, but he could be a reason why they’re playing in the wild card game come October. 

17 18

Why didn't they do anything at the deadline then? So bizzare...

18 17

Smartly sold at the deadline (Daniel Norris was a great pickup) but enter the week still in the wild card race.

19 20

Welington Castillo with the D-Backs: .293/.379/.585 (.964 OPS) with 9 HRs and 9 2Bs.

20 19

Need to right the ship against Tampa Bay with a weekend trip to Kansas City looming. 

21 23

If they had given their pitching staff an above average defense behind them, this year might be a different story. 

22 21 Ten games under .500 and even in a parity-rich American League don’t look to be a playoff team again. 
23 24

Joey Votto in July: .405/.549/.667 (1.215 OPS) and a ridiculous 26:16 BB:K ratio. 

24 22

This lineup looks sad. Seems like they're going to be gunning for the Phillies and the No. 1 pick, eh?

25 26

Fenway Sports Group has way too much money tied up in underperforming players. Pablo Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez, Rick Porcello, Mario Balotelli…

26 25

Doesn’t look like they have a patented August hot streak in them to get back into the playoff race.

27 27

Happy to see Carlos Gonzalez tearing it up again. Baseball is better with him as a premier player.

28 29

Carter Capps and his weird motion have emerged as an elite setup man, averaging 16.84 K/9.

29 28

They're in full rebuild mode after Carlos Gomez trade, but they need to get a ton of pitching this offseason to get back on the map.

30 30

They pulled off a nice haul on the Hamels deal, but still unsure if that move will pay any immediate dividends at the big-league level.

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.