Cubs

MLB Power Rankings: Cubs rising to the top of the NL

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MLB Power Rankings: Cubs rising to the top of the NL

The Cubs are rising to the top of the National League, as they enter play Tuesday with the third-best record in the National League and a season-high eight games over .500. The only two teams above the Cubs are fellow division rivals St. Louis and Pittsburgh. But the Cubs face a true test this week with a four-game set against the Dodgers at Wrigley Field and a three-game series in St. Louis. Though, Kris Bryant and Co. are off to a good start, taking down Clayton Kershaw Monday night.

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 | Week 9 | Week 10

Rank Team
Last Week Comment
1 1

I think the whole baseball world is curious to see what their punishment will be for the hacking scandal. This may ruin the Cardinals' reputation for a generation.

2   3

Lost in their All-Star voting chaos is they’ve consistently been the American League’s best team for nearly the entire season so far. 

3 9

Impressive job by this young team to respond very well after slipping a bit earlier this month. 

4   6

So many people have been talking about Gerrit Cole (1.78 ERA) and A.J. Burnett (2.05 ERA), but Francisco Liriano (3.26 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 10.7 K/9) is having a heck of a season.

5 2

Who would've thought Andre Ethier would be this season's savior?

6 7

No Maddon, no Friedman, no Zobrist, no problem, apparently. And Matt Moore is nearing a return from Tommy John. 

7 8

If the sky Monday night was any indication, Hell is freezing over and the Cubs are a legit contender.

8 11

They've won just four of their last 11...and that includes a three-game winning streak in there.

9 6

Alex Rodriguez isn’t just pulling baseball’s greatest troll job, he’s also a big reason (.282/.384/.524, 14 HR) why the Yankees are right in the thick of the AL East race.

10 5

Josh Donaldson, Russell Martin and Jose Bautista have been worth nearly 10 combined WAR. That’ll work. 

11   16

Lost in A-Rod’s 3,000th hit and Toronto’s home run barrage are these guys, who are playing as good of baseball as anyone in the month of June. 

12 13

Yeah, we all know Bryce Harper is amazing. But what about Yunel Escobar? He's hitting .331 with an .801 OPS.

13 10

Six games over .500 but only a +8 run differential. Hmmm. 

14 14

Not exactly a good sign to lose a series to the White Sox after handing them their eighth straight defeat on Friday. 

15 17

Jered Weaver’s fastball is approaching Mark Buehrle levels and he just hit the disabled list.

16 12

J.D. and Victor Martinez combined for four home runs on Sunday, though Victor hitting one was just as big an accomplishment as J.D. hitting three. 

17 15

Will they even be in contention by the time David Wright returns from his mysterious back injury?

18 18

Addison Reed sent down the minors? Yikess.

19 21

With Freddie Freeman's health is question, the Braves are done for.

20   22

This Pete Rose news is not good, but the silver lining is: Nobody's talking about how much the Reds suck right now.

21 19

This may be the most disappointing season in Padres history.

22 20 The only thing that would’ve made their 17-0 loss to the Cubs last week more fitting were if it came on Browns appreciation night. 
23 24

Mark Trumbo hit his first home run with Seattle over the weekend, which is good! Except he’s still hitting below the Mendoza Line. 

24 27

Plus-35 run differential aided by a 14-run win over San Diego last week. 

25 28

Can we agree to not call this Pablo Sandoval business Instagate? How about Insta-groan?

26 23

Of course, right when Carlos Gonzalez looks like the CarGo of old, he gets hurt.

27 26

Really curious to see how they handle Jose Fernandez when he returns during the midst of a lost season in South Beach.

28 25

Finally started to right the ship with a series win over Texas, but offense continues to slip and hasn’t shown many signs of pulling out of tailspin. 

29 29

Rotation is last in the majors with 5.08 ERA. Yes, even behind the Rockies and Red Sox.

30 30

Maybe they want to draft the first female player and then put her immediately in the big leagues? She can't be worse than half this roster and it would prove the Phils are, in fact, going younger.

Cubs to reportedly conduct second interview with Joe Espada for managerial opening

Cubs to reportedly conduct second interview with Joe Espada for managerial opening

Astros bench coach Joe Espada has two days off before Houston hosts Game 1 of the World Series on Tuesday, but it looks like some of that time will be spent in Chicago.

According to multiple reports, the Cubs will interview Espada a second time for their managerial opening. MLB Network's Jon Heyman reports that the interview is happening on Sunday.

Espada is one of the more sought after managerial candidates this offseason, as he's spent the last six seasons with two of baseball's leading franchises. The 44-year-old has been Astros bench coach since 2018, and prior to that, he spent four seasons with the Yankees — 2014 as a front office assistant, 2015-17 as third base coach.

David Ross was the presumed favorite for the Cubs' opening, when the process got underway. However, by landing a second interview, Espada has clearly given the team something to think about. In fact, NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan reported on Thursday the Cubs came away "exceptionally impressed" from Espada's first interview on Monday. 

MLB prefers teams not to make managerial announcements during the World Series. So, it might be a few more weeks before the Cubs announce their decision, unless they do so on Sunday or Monday.

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As he decides what's next, it's clear Ben Zobrist has something left in the tank

As he decides what's next, it's clear Ben Zobrist has something left in the tank

When Ben Zobrist rejoined the Cubs active roster on Sept. 1, it was fair to wonder how much he could provide offensively. After all, he spent the previous four months on the restricted list while tending to a family matter, last playing a big-league game on May 6.

Zobrist did no baseball activities from May to mid-July, only working out to stay in shape. Although he eventually ramped things up, he played in just 12 minor league rehab games in August before returning to the Cubs, a small number compared to the length of his absence.

Even Zobrist admitted upon his big-league return that his timing at the plate wasn’t where he wanted it to be. And yet, what he did in September was nothing short of impressive. In 21 games, he posted a .284/.377/.388 slash line, performing at a level many couldn’t have expected, considering the circumstances.

Zobrist's impact on the Cubs' lineup goes beyond what you see in the box score, however. Not only is he a switch hitter with some pop, but he has a keen eye for the strike zone and frequently puts together professional at-bats.

On a Cubs team that tends to expand the zone, Zobrist’s presence mattered. In his second game back, for example, he went 3-for-3 with two walks, helping the Cubs beat the Brewers 10-5. After the game, Brewers starter Chase Anderson pointed out how different the Cubs' lineup looks with Zobrist in it.

"They play the matchups really well and Zobrist makes that team so much better," Anderson said on Sept. 5. "Just bringing his presence to the top of the lineup, it changes their dynamic a little bit."

Where Zobrist stands entering 2020, though, is currently unclear.

Zobrist is set to hit free agency after the World Series and will turn 39 next May. Therefore, it’s possible that he’s played his last game in the big leagues, as he has little, if anything, left to prove at this stage in his career.

Ahead of the Cubs’ season finale on Sept. 29, Zobrist told reporters in St. Louis that he hasn’t thought about how much time he’ll take before deciding what’s next for him. His family situation will obviously play a big role in his decision, but if September showed anything, it's that he still has something left in the tank.

“I’m 38 but I got that feeling all over again,” Zobrist said following the Cubs’ season finale, a 9-0 loss to the Cardinals in which he pitched a scoreless inning. “Just really fun, you know? It’s a fun game. Sometimes you don’t come out on the winning end, but you still gotta have fun with it and enjoy it. I enjoyed it today."

The Cubs roster is expected to undergo changes this offseason, with center field, second base and the leadoff spot being just a few areas the team will look to address. The latter two spots became revolving doors during Zobrist’s absence, as the Cubs struggled to replace what he brought offensively.

Zobrist is past the point in his career of being an everyday player. However, he still could be a useful asset for the Cubs in a supporting role, bringing his veteran approach to the lineup when he plays while still offering an experienced voice in the clubhouse.

“I take a lot of joy in that role, just being a supporting guy and being a part of winning clubs and part of winning atmospheres and cultures,” Zobrist said on Sept. 29. “The Chicago Cubs have been that since I’ve been around. This year we didn’t make the playoffs — we still have a winning record — (but) the kind of relationships that are built here and the culture that’s been built here is definitely a winning one.”

After the Cubs announced that they wouldn’t retain Joe Maddon for 2020, Zobrist acknowledged that more changes were likely coming in the offseason. Only time will tell what that means for the veteran utilityman — should he continue playing.

Whether he retires or joins a different team for 2020, though, Zobrist will look back on his four seasons with the Cubs fondly.

“(They’re) just the most passionate fans I’ve ever met,” he said of Cubs fans. “They’re very loyal, very passionate and it’s been such a pleasure to be a part of that team that beat the curse back in ’16, so I feel that still, when I see Cubs fans, there’s a lot of them that hug me and thank me for being a part of that.

“I’ll always look back at [my] time here — I don’t know what’s going to happen in the offseason — but look back at these four years and [be] very grateful to be able to be part of a group like this and be able to do what we did while I was here.”

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