Cubs

MLB Power Rankings: Mets join rank of NL's elite

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MLB Power Rankings: Mets join rank of NL's elite

With two weeks of the MLB season in the books, we're starting to see some movement from teams we didn't expect to succeed and others we did. Like, for example, the Mets moving ahead of the Nationals -- who could've predicted that, even after two weeks?

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

Rank Team
Last Week Comment
1 1

If Shane Greene can keep up half the success he's already had (0.39 ERA in three starts), their rotation will be in awfully good shape.

2   2

Really hitting their stride now with a 7-game winning streak.

3   4

After something of a slow start, Cardinals imposed their will on CIN over the weekend.

4   5

Clay Buccholz has a solid FIP, but his ERA is concerning given it was over a run higher than his FIP last year.

5 17

8-game winning streak makes them the hottest team in baseball.

6   6

The beanball wars need to stop but this is a team that's been hit 14 times this year, second-most in the majors -- so I can understand why they're tired of getting thrown at.

7 8

A couple of close wins over Cubs shows they're already one of NL's elite.

8 3

Still middling around like a .500 team, but Harper is emerging as a true superstar, not just one with potential.

9 9

Lots of (seasoned) salt over Lawrie's slide this weekend in Kansas City.

10   7

I don't have a calculator handy but I think Nelson Cruz is on pace to hit a billion home runs this year.

11   11

Bryant's promotion just barely outweighs Lester's struggles on the positivity scale.

12   15

Thanks to a curious ejection, Ubaldo Jimenez still hasn't allowed a run this year (in 10 2/3 innings).

13 14

Offense starting to hit its stride coming off sweep of Brewers.

14 10

Will their video game offense be enough to overcome a shaky pitching staff?

15 13

Their lineup, so far, has been Mike Trout and eight other guys who aren't hitting. Erick Aybar, Matt Joyce and Chris Iannetta are all currently hitting below .190.

16 21

Somehow still 4 games over .500. Playing way over their heads right now.

17 27

+11 on run differential and sitting at 7-6 counts as second-biggest shocker in NL behind ATL.

18 25

Currently have the second-best staff ERA (2.81) in the American League.

19 23

Small sample size, etc., but through 12 games Alex Rodriguez has a .711 slugging percentage and more WAR (0.7) than he had in 44 games last year (0.5).

20   19

Kind of surprising to see Grant Balfour DFA'd, but he struggled this year and had a 5.00 ERA with 45 walks against 57 strikeouts since re-joining the Rays in 2014.

21 22

Luster wearing off from great start after being swept by Dodgers.

22 12 No Yan Gomes, and Carlos Santana is the only lineup regular with anything resembling a good stat line.
23   18

The talent -- and Carlos Rodon -- is here, but things just haven't clicked yet through 11 games.

24 16

Wallowing in a stretch having dropped 7 of 8.

25 26

Prince Fielder (.385/.439/.442) is doing some good things at the plate, but concerning that he hasn't homered yet.

26 30

Their position players have combined for an MLB-worst -0.6 WAR.

27 24

Lost 4 straight close games to the Mets and suddenly they're just 3-10 and in last place.Just took 2 out of 3 from the Dodgers and Archie Bradley is already making an impact.

28 20

Lost 9 of 10. Guess they really are only good in even years, huh?

29 28

Starting to play exactly like we all expected, but at least Odubel Herrera looks exciting.

30   29

Didn't think they'd be good this year, but also surprised they're MLB's worst team.

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.