Cubs

MLB Power Rankings: Surging Astros not No. 1...yet

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MLB Power Rankings: Surging Astros not No. 1...yet

May is here and with it comes the biggest shocker of them all - the Houston Astros are a good team, you guys. Like, a REALLY good team. A 10-game winning streak was enough to bump Houston up to No. 2, but not enough to overcome the rallying St. Louis Cardinals, who retain the top spot even without Adam Wainwright.

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

Rank Team
Last Week Comment
1 1

Matt Carpenter (14 2Bs, only 15 Ks) leading the charge as they once again rally following key injury.

2   11

They’re winners of 10 in a row and are projected by FanGraphs to finish with the most wins in the AL West (85). If they can add one more starter during the season, yeah, I’m buying them as a playoff contender. 

3   5

Through 80 2/3 innings, their bullpen has an ERA of 1.00. 

4   4

On a four-game winning streak as Clayton Kershaw goes for win No. 100 Monday night.

5 10

Relievers Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller have combined for 48 strikeouts in 28 innings. 

6   2

Mets have fallen back to Earth a bit, dropping three straight series.

7 3

It’s still way too early, but for the first month of they season they’ve easily won the Yoenis Cespedes-Rick Porcello trade. 

8 6

They're so hot and cold - lost 7 of 8 before sweeping Colorado over the weekend.

9 8

Did you actually think the young guys would just have success without struggles?

10   17

Losing Ben Zobrist for four-to-six weeks is a tough blow. 

11   9

Does it help them sleep at night to know they just dropped three straight one-run, extra-inning games to the Cardinals? Probably not...

12   15

Did well to take two of three from Tampa in a “home” series at the Trop over the weekend. 

13 18

They've won 5 of 6 and actually seem to be hitting their stride.

14 12

Matt Moore continues working his way back from Tommy John and could be an awfully strong mid-season addition barring a setback. 

15 21

Dee Gordon leads Major League Baseball in WAR. I repeate: Dee Gordon leads Major League Baseball in WAR.

16 14

Jose Bautista won’t need a stint on the disabled list, which is welcome news for the Blue Jays and anyone who likes titanic home runs. 

17 16

Is Jered Weaver toast? His already-slow fastball is down to averaging 83.1 mph this year and he’s been rocked in six starts (6.29 ERA, eight home runs). 

18 26

Over .500 but doing it with some awfully shaky starting pitching. If they don’t hang around, they’ll give some AL Central contenders problems in August and September, though. 

19 22

Nelson Cruz has more home runs (13) than the White Sox as a team (12). 

20   7

Pablo Sandoval is fitting in well at Fenway, hitting .326/.400/.438 so far. 

21 23

Went 7-2 against L.A. teams in the last 10 days. Certainly helps their stock.

22 24 Horrible news about Homer Bailey. Shoulda just had Tommy John last year and been done with it.
23   20

Nick Markakis has been great atop the lineup (.394 OBP). Too bad he's slugging just .326...

24 28

Oddly enough, the only series they’ve won this year came against Houston (in the first series of the year). 

25 25

Paul Goldschmidt (.356/.448/.622) would be NL MVP every year if he was on any other team.

26 19

Have favorable matchups with Jeff Samardzija, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana facing the Tigers at home this week. Now would be a good time to start righting the ship. 

27 26

Fortunately for them, there’s no relegation in baseball and they can’t suffer the same fate of their Queens Park relatives in England.  

28 13

Ended the week on a 5-game losing streak, meaning they are officially off all contender lists.

29 30

They get 2 key guys back from injury (Gomez/Ramirez), win two divisional games on the road and THEN fire Roenicke? OK...

30   29

Chase Utley (.108 AVG - .087 BABIP) is the unluckiest player on Earth.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

This has been the offseason of Kris Bryant rumors and with his grievance still unresolved Cubs fans can only speculate what will happen to the MVP. Is Kris Bryant trying to change the system like Curt Flood did? Host David Kaplan is joined by ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers to discuss Bryant's future as a Cub, and the lackluster offseason the Cubs have had.

(1:50) - Why the Cubs have not made any moves so far

(3:32) - Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

(6:26) - Cubs need upgrades, specifically in the bullpen

(9:10) - Will the Cubs make a big move before the season starts?

(11:30) - Does Javy Baez get the big extension?

(14:45) - Will the Cubs get to 86 wins this year?

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Cubs close to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

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USA TODAY

Cubs close to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

The Cubs have made a roster move.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are reportedly close to a deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza.

Souza, 30, missed the 2019 season after suffering a torn left ACL and LCL at the end of spring training. He also missed a chunk of 2018, playing 72 games while hitting the injured list on multiple occasions.

Souza had a career year with the Rays in 2017, slashing .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBIs and a 121 wRC+. Those figures were career-bests for Souza, minus his batting average. He sported a walk rate (13.6 percent) above league average (8.5) that season, though his strikeout rate (29 percent) was worse than the MLB average (23).

The signing of Souza likely rules out a return of fan favorite outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. The Cubs have been linked to Castellanos throughout the offseason, but since they're looking to stay under MLB’s luxury tax threshold, re-signing Castellanos would require some financial maneuvering.

Souza has spent most of his career in right field (3,608 career innings) but has minimal experience playing center (33 1/3) and left (20). He’s above average in right (career 6 Defensive Runs Saved) and posted a career best 7 DRS in 2017.

The Cubs have a five-time Gold Glove right fielder in Jason Heyward, so Souza will see time at all three outfield spots. Heyward moved to center full-time last season after the Cubs acquired Castellanos and has played center at times throughout his career.

Assuming he stays healthy, Souza is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Cubs. He’ll add power to the middle of the order and add a proven bat to an outfield with some question marks. Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ have each struggled offensively at times since 2018. Souza offers another bat in case those two slump again.