Cubs

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

8-17yankeesbluejays.png

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?

Cubs executive Jason McLeod reportedly linked to Giants' GM opening

jason_mcleod.jpg
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.