Cubs

MLB Power Rankings: Tigers roar to the top

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MLB Power Rankings: Tigers roar to the top

It's hard not to have a knee-jerk reaction after the first week of MLB action, but consider this: We're only 1/26th of the way through the season. Plenty of time for contenders to overcome slow starts and pretenders to sink after playing over their heads for the first few weeks or months.

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

 

Rank Team
Last Week Comment
1 7

Miguel Cabrera entered the week with one of the most absurd small sample size slash lines you'll see: .520/.586/.840. An .840 slugging!

2   1

Adrian Gonzalez's record-setting opening week hides Dodgers' 3-3 start. 

3   2

Off to a rough start (2-5 after Monday's loss in Boston), but no need to freak out.

4 3

Kolten Wong could be a huge key to this team.

5 5

Played a 19-inning game against the Yankees that lasted about seven hours, which is about how long Yankees-Red Sox games usually feel anyways.

6   20

Throttled the White Sox and Angels and played like a team that's a little annoyed it didn't get much preseason respect after winning the American League last year. 

7 4

After losing 12-0 to the A's, came back with two hard-fought, one-run wins in Oakland that featured Nelson Cruz's first two home runs with the club. 

8 6

Proved they were for real after going 4-3 in early test vs. Dodgers, Giants.

9 10

Ex-White Sox infielder Marcus Semien has a solid .345 on-base percentage through the first week of his career in the East Bay. 

10   14

Did well to open the season with road series wins over New York and Baltimore.

11   11

Dexter Fowler's game-winning HR gave a rarely-seen winning record next to Cubs name.

12   9

Were humbled at home by Detroit over the weekend, despite the best efforts of Jerry Sands (!). 

13 8

Club officials haven't exactly handled the Josh Hamilton situation with much tact, and CJ Wilson is letting that be known

14 13

Getting swept by the Reds to open the season hurts.

15 16

Promising first start for Ubaldo Jimenez to prove his contract isn't a sunk cost: 7 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 8 K vs. a powerful Blue Jays lineup. 

16 21

Joey Votto is back and crushing the ball while Billy Hamilton is setting records with speed.

17 19

Matt Harvey looks good, Jacob deGrom picks up right where he left off and David Wright looks happy and healthy. A lot to like in NY.

18 12

Played listless baseball the first four games of the season, but woke up in final two games vs. Minnesota. Big road tests vs. Cleveland and Detroit loom this week. 

19 17

Kevin Kiermaier sees Miguel Cabrera's puny .840 slugging percentage and laughs (he's slugging .942 entering Monday). 

20   15

Defending champs in last place, though it's hard to see them spending even another week there.

21 27

Huh. Really wasn't expecting this, but regardless, they're in full rebuild mode. They won't keep winning.

22 28 Entered play Monday leading the NL West, but once again, they are not built to last.
23   23

Don't look now, but A-Rod has a home run, six RBI and a .300/.417/.550 slash line. 

24 18

Not the start they wanted with all the new pieces, but should be able to right the ship soon.

25 24

I guess you could say the Astros' George Springer had an out-of-this-world catch on Sunday.

26 25

Their alternate jersey should be bubble wrap: Derek Holland is the latest Ranger to wind up on the DL, with a shoulder issue shelving the lefty for two months at the least. 

27 29

Just took 2 out of 3 from the Dodgers and Archie Bradley is already making an impact.

28 30

Out to a big better start than most expected, but it is only one week in.

29 22

Rough go of it early; tied for MLB-low -20 run differential entering Monday.

30   26

Even in a rebuilding year, there's no excuse for dropping two fly balls as they did Sunday against the White Sox. 

Forget 2015, the Brewers are more like 2016 Cubs

Forget 2015, the Brewers are more like 2016 Cubs

With the Milwaukee Brewers about to kick off the NLCS, many Cubs fans and pundits have taken to comparing them to the 2015 Cubs.

At first glance, it's easy to see why — they're in the playoffs for the first time as something of an underdog and "surprise" team — but that's not the recent Cubs squad we should be comparing the 2018 Brewers to.

This Milwaukee team is a lot more like the 2016 Cubs.

Here's why:

1. They're not a surprise.

Nobody expected the 2015 Cubs to win 97 games and wind up in the NLCS. They were expected to compete very soon, but everything went right in a red-hot August, they rode Jake Arrieta's right arm to the NLDS and then toppled the Cardinals to get to the LCS, where they ran into the brick wall that was Matt Harvey and and the Mets pitching staff.

The 2018 Brewers are not — and should not be — a surprise. Anybody who was caught off guard by this team being so good hasn't been paying much attention. The Brewers were leading the NL Central in 2017 for much of the year before a late-season fade that coincided with the Cubs' late-season surge.

This Milwaukee squad was always supposed to be one of the top teams in the NL in 2018 and they really hit their groove in September to chase down the Cubs. Still, it took a Game 163 to force a changing of the guard atop the division.

2. They greatly improved expectations with a big free-agent OF signing over the winter.

The Cubs had Jason Heyward in between 2015 and '16. The Brewers had Lorenzo Cain.

Cain has provided quite a bit more offense in the first season of his 5-year, $80 million contract but both Cain and Heyward provided leadership in the clubhouse and elite defense in the outfield in the first years with their new teams.

3. The Brewers have the NL MVP.

This one's an easy comparison to make, though Cubs fans will hate it.

Christian Yelich is this season's NL MVP. Sorry, Javy Baez fans. "El Mago" had a great season, but it's impossible to give the award to anybody but Yelich.

Yelich winning the league's most coveted accolade would be another perfect tie-in to the 2016 Cubs, who had Kris Bryant take home NL MVP.

4. They have a dominant LHP out of the bullpen.

Josh Hader has been doing his best Aroldis Chapman impression in 2018 as an absolutely dominant southpaw out of the bullpen. Unlike Chapman, Hader's spent all season with the Brewers, but like Chapman in '16, Hader will be leaned on heavily for multiple innings throughout the rest of the playoffs.

5. They picked up some valuable in-season assets.

The 2016 Cubs dealt for Chapman, but they also traded for reliever Joe Smith and called up Willson Contreras in the middle of the year, who provided a spark for the offense.

The 2018 Brewers have acquired plenty of valuable assets along the way this season from Mike Moustakas to Jonathan Schoop to Erik Kratz (more on him later) to Gio Gonzalez. But one of their most important additions (especially in October) was the promotion of top prospect Corbin Burnes, a flame-throwing right-hander who posted a 2.61 ERA in 30 regular-season games and allowed only 1 hit in 4 shutout innings in the DS.

6. They're on a mission with a chip on their shoulder.

The 2015 Cubs had a little bit of a chip on their shoulder as they attempted to take down the divisional powerhouse that was the St. Louis Cardinals. But again, they were a surprise contender - even within that clubhouse (especially early in 2015). But after falling short in the NLCS, the Cubs retooled over the winter and came back with one goal in mind - to win the World Series.

It was a goal they accomplished. We'll see if the Brewers will be able to do the same, but they certainly came to play in 2018 with a chip on their shoulder and the ultimate goal of winning the final MLB game of the year.

The Brewers didn't lead the division from Day 1 and weren't able to coast into October, but they still wound up with homefield advantage throughout the NL playoffs.

7. They have journeyman catcher who is winning over fans' hearts.

This is a fun one.

The 2016 Cubs had David "Grandpa" Rossy who still elicts deafening cheers whenever he's shown on the giant video board at Wrigley Field. The 2018 Brewers have Kratz, who has become a fan favorite recently and was mic'd up for the final out of the NLDS.

Ross was 39 when he helped lead the Cubs to the 2016 World Series and Chicago was his eighth stop (seventh different team) along his MLB journey. Kratz is 38 and on his ninth stop (seventh different team) along his MLB journey.

In fact, Ross and Kratz are so intertwined, they've already been compared to each other by MLB.com.

But the major difference is Kratz has zero postseason playing experience until a week ago. Will he be able to ride off into the sunset with a championship ring on his finger the way Ross did?

We'll have an answer to that over the next few weeks in the final chapter of the Brewers' 2018 season, though Cubs fans surely wouldn't be too happy to see their division rivals celebrating with a World Series parade just 90 minutes north of Wrigley Field.

Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed for Rangers' manager opening

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USA TODAY

Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed for Rangers' manager opening

The Cubs just lost one coach with hitting coach Chili Davis getting fired. Another opening on Joe Maddon's coaching staff could also open up.

According to report from MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan, bench coach Brandon Hyde interviewed with the Rangers on Thursday.

Rangers farm director Jayce Tingler was the first candidate the club interviewed, but Hyde and Astros bench coach Joe Espada were also interviewed.

The 45-year-old Hyde has been with the Cubs since 2014. He was a bench coach in 2014 under Rick Renteria before moving to first base coach from 2015-17. This past season he moved back to his original role as bench coach.

He played four seasons in the minors for the White Sox.

The Rangers job opened up when Jeff Banister was fired on Sept. 21. Banister won AL Manager of the Year in 2015 and guided the Rangers to back-to-back playoff appearances in 2015 and 2016, but couldn't get out of the ALDS either year. A 78-84 season in 2017 was followed by an even worse 2018, which led to his firing late this season.