Cubs

MLB Power Rankings: Blue Jays, Yankees battling for AL East

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MLB Power Rankings: Blue Jays, Yankees battling for AL East

The Toronto Blue Jays were winners at the trade deadline, but that won't guarantee them an American League East pennant. The New York Yankees rolled into a sold-out Rogers Centre over the weekend and took two of three from the Blue Jays in what looks to be shaping up as baseball's best division race down the stretch.

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 | Week 16 | Week 17

Rank Team
Last Week Comment
1 1

Yep.

2   2

They’re running away with the AL’s best record and could get Alex Gordon back in the next few weeks.

3 3

Jung Ho Kang (.288/.360/.443) maybe most underrated signing of the offseason.

4   4

Yep.

5 6

They should sign this guy up to play some left field.

6 7

Did incredibly well to go into a sold-out Rogers Centre and take two of three from the red-hot Blue Jays over the weekend.

7 5

In a small sample size, Troy Tulowitzki hasn’t been very good (.740 OPS) since coming to Toronto, but this lineup is so good, it’s not a problem.

8 11

Madison Bumgarner has a .763 OPS, which is better than Dee Gordon, Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts, Jose Altuve, Kyle Seager, Hanley Ramirez, Robinson Cano, the list goes on and on.

9 10

Looks like they can beat everybody but the Pirates.

10 8

They’re 40-19 at home this year. Maybe don’t get rid of Tal’s Hill just yet?

11 12

Still have 19 games left against Kansas City, Toronto and the New York teams, which’ll go a long way toward determining if they can hold on to that second wild card spot.

12 15

A mediocre club with a favorite remaining schedule. They play Seattle, Detroit, San Diego and Oakland a total of 26 times in their final 46 games.

13 9

Swept by the White Sox, then lost three of four at Kansas City and are in danger of being caught by the rest of the AL wild card pack.

14 14

Still hanging around the playoff race by default, the two sweetest words in the English language.

15 16

Seriously, why doesn't David Peralta get any fanfare? .304 average, .897 OPS.

16 13

Over the last couple weeks, you could easily make the case that the Nationals are the worst team in baseball.

17 17

22-year-old Miguel Sano is helping keep these guys afloat: .280/.395/.528, 7 HR in 37 games.

18 18

Note to White Sox fans disappointed in Adam LaRoche: Victor Martinez, who is signed for four years and more than double the money, has a .676 OPS and nine home runs this year.

19 23

Jose Abreu has eight home runs and a 1.122 OPS over his last 22 games.

20 24

Well, think it's safe to say this is rock bottom for the Padres.

21 19

No no no no no no no.

22 20 Kyle Seager’s regression from great to merely good (.751 OPS, 2.5 WAR) has been among the reasons for Seattle’s disappointing 2015.
23 21

Shelby Miller dominant once again Sunday and has a 2.43 season ERA...but hasn't won a game since May 17. Baseball is so weird.

24 25

Here’s hoping John Farrell makes a speedy return to the bench.

25 26

Billy Hamilton is on pace for 539 at-bats, but only 20 extra-base hits (10 doubles, four triples, six homers). Dude makes Juan Pierre look like Babe Ruth.

26 28

They are a bad, bad team but at least they've found a gem in Taylor Jungmann.

27 22

An 18-2 blowout loss to Baltimore on Sunday means their run differential finally may dip into the negatives this week.

28 27

Former Cub Chris Rusin just threw a shutout at Coors Field. Huh.

29 30

Phrasing, Marcell Ozuna. Phrasing.

30 29

 Could we still see a Cubs-Phillies trade this year?

Theo Epstein brushes aside rumors: 'There's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs'

Theo Epstein brushes aside rumors: 'There's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs'

No, the Cubs are not currently talking to the Baltimore Orioles about bringing Manny Machado to the North Side of Chicago.

So says Theo Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations who met with the media at Wrigley Field ahead of Friday's series opener with the San Francisco Giants.

Epstein vehemently shot down the notion of trade talks and specified the major diffence between trade rumors and trade talks, while refusing to comment on Machado in particular.

"I'm not addressing any specific rumor or any player with another team," Epstein said. "I would never talk about that in a million years. The simple way to put it is there's been a lot of trade rumors involving the Cubs and there's essentially zero trade talks involving the Cubs.

"There's a real disparity between the noise and the reality and unfortunately, sometimes that puts a player or two that we have in a real tough circumstance. And that's my job to clarify there's nothing going on right now.

"We have more than enough ability to win the division, win the World Series and we really need to focus on our roster and getting the most out of our ability and finding some consistency. Constant focus outside the organization doesn't do us any good, especially when it's not based in reality right now."

The Cubs have presented a united front publicly in support of Addison Russell, whose name has been the one bandied about most as a potential leading piece in any move for Machado.

After all, the Cubs have won a World Series and never finished worse than an NLCS berth with Russell as their shortstop and he's only 24 with positive signs of progression offensively.

Trading away 3.5 years of control of Russell for 3-4 months of Machado is the type of bold, go-for-it move the Cubs did in 2016 when their championship drought was well over 100 years.

Now, the championship drought is only one season old and the window of contention is expected to remain open until through at least the 2021 season.

Epstein likes to point out that every season is sacred, but at what cost? The Cubs front office is still very much focused on the future beyond 2018.

"Everybody's talking about making trades in May — the first part of the season is trying to figure out who you are," Epstein said. "What are the strengths of the club? What are the weaknesses of the club? What's the character of the club? What position is the club gonna be in as we get deeper in the season? What's our short-term outlook? What's our long-term outlook? What's the chemistry in the clubhouse?

"All those things. It's a process to get there and figure it out. If you rush to those kinds of judgments, you can oftentimes make things worse. I think it's important to figure out exactly who you are and give guys a chance to play and find their level and see how all the pieces fit together before you make your adjustments."

So there's no chance we could see the Cubs once again jump the market and make an early deal like they did last year for Jose Quintana or five years ago for Jake Arrieta? Will they definitely wait another five weeks until July to make a move?

"It's just the natural order of things," Epstein said. "We wouldn't be opposed to doing something, but that's not the case right now. It's not happening."

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.

Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th. 

Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.

The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.