Cubs

MLB Power Rankings: Cubs, White Sox making major gains

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MLB Power Rankings: Cubs, White Sox making major gains

Finally, we have some stabilization at the top as the Cardinals, Dodgers and Royals hold the Nos. 1-3 spots for the second consecutive week. But as the Blue Jays and Marlins sink, the Cubs and White Sox are starting to make some gains after strong showings last week.

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

Rank Team
Last Week Comment
1 1

Matt Carpenter is on pace for 70 doubles, four triples and 31 homers. What was that about extreme exhaustion?

2   2

They have the highest run differential in the majors and that's with Clayton Kershaw's 4.24 ERA and Yasiel Puig missing more than 20 games.

3   3

Eric Hosmer is hitting ..324/.402/.554 with seven home runs and is still only 25.

4   4

Their six-game lead on the second-place Angels enters the week as the largest in baseball.

5 7

Bryce Harper is on another planet right now. He already has 3.5 bWAR and he leads the league in plate appearances, runs, homers, RBI, walks, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+ and total bases.

6   8

Victor Martinez is owed $68 million over the next four years and has been worth -0.8 WAR so far, tied for third-worst among qualified players.

7 14

Six-game winning streak helps prove to them and the rest of the baseball world that the hot start isn't a fluke: The Cubs are here to stay.

8 6

It's not often a team is swept in a four-game series to the Cubs and yet remains in the Top 10. In fact, that's never happened in CSNChicago.com MLB Power Rankings history.

9 4

While A-Rod's renaissance gets the attention, Jacoby Ellsbury has a .411 OBP and 14 stolen bases after a generally average offensive season in 2014.

10   21

If Brandon Belt keeps hitting like this, the Giants are going to be in real good shape. They need him to finally have a breakout season.

11   12

Get to know Logan Forsythe, a former utilityman with a .670 career OPS, who's hitting .300/.370/.492 through 38 games entering the week.

12   15

Enter the week at 21-17 despite ranking in the bottom 10 in offensive and pitching WAR.

13 18

After an awful April, Erick Aybar is having a positive regression to the mean with a .351/.373/.404 May slash line.

14 10

Wil Myers was a below-average player last year with wrist injuries, so his current wrist issue is awfully concerning given his hot start atop the Padres lineup.

15 11

Still below .500, but they have the 5th best run differential in the NL while Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison are starting to regain their form.

16 24

Winners of five in a row and four series in a row entering a seven-game homestand vs. Cleveland and Minnesota this week.

17 19

Need Robinson Cano to be better than his rough .647 OPS.

18 23

After Shelby Miller's near no-no, is it safe to say yet that the Braves won the Jason Heyward trade? They still have Miller under control for a few more years and Heyward is struggling in STL and becomes a free agent in five months.

19 22

They spent all that money on Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez and pitching still looks like it could be their Achilles' heel.

20   17

Chris Davis has eight home runs in 38 games but his .290 OBP isn't pretty.

21 20

Moving Billy Hamilton to 8th in the order doesn't really do much. Maybe they should pull a Maddon and hit the pitcher 8th and Hamilton 9th?

22 27 Delino Deshields Jr. has a .397 OBP. Feel old yet?
23 9

Entered the week losers of five in a row, though that ended Monday afternoon with a 10-6 win over the Angels.

24 16

How does a 15-21 team have a +4 run differential?

25 25

Corey Kluber's 18 strikeouts were the most by a pitcher since...wait for it...Ben Sheets in 2004.

26 30

Even with a 5-game winning streak, they're still only 16-23 with a -54 run differential.

27 13

Poor Giancarlo Stanton. Sure, he's getting paid, but dude is stuck in the worst situation possible. Marlins run their franchise like a 6-year-old boy playing with those little plastic army guys while making explosion noises with their mouths every three seconds.

28 29

Troy Tulowitzki still has only 2 walks on the season, but Carlos Gonzalez looks to be heating up a bit.

29 26

Were swept by the White Sox at home for the first time since 1997 over the weekend.

30 28

Carlos Gomez the latest Brewer to be plunked in the heard. They're drawing some bad luck in that regard this year.

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.