Cubs

MLB Power Rankings: Who can win muddled AL wild card race?

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MLB Power Rankings: Who can win muddled AL wild card race?

Entering Monday, eight teams were within six games of the American League's final wild card spot. Texas currently is in position to face the AL East runner-up -- be it Toronto or New York -- though with so many teams bunched together, all it could take is one late-season hot streak for a muddled wild card race to be cleared up.

With that comes another week of MLB Power Rankings from CSNChicago.com's Tony Andracki and JJ Stankevitz. Stay with us every Monday from here through October for a fresh set of rankings.

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 | Week 11 | Week 12 | Week 13 | Week 14 | Week 15 | Week 16 | Week 17 | Week 18

Rank Team
Last Week Comment
1 1

They could insert a pair of senior citizens in as injury replacements and still somehow play .600+ baseball. Unreal.

2   2

Greg Holland looks mortal (3.55 ERA, 5.45 BB/9), so what would it take for Wade Davis to be their playoff closer?

3 3

In such a tough position where even a mediocre week at any time could have them looking up at Cubs in wild card race instead of gunning for the division.

4   4

You could make the case that they're the most exciting team in baseball, but will they be able to rise above their latest injuries?

5 7

Josh Donaldson: 34 HR, 100 RBI, 7.2 WAR. He's the AL MVP if the season ended today.

6 10

An impressive sweep of the Dodgers over the weekend was bookended by Mike Fiers' no-hitter and Jason Castro's walk-off home run.

7 6

The geriatric trio of Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran has combined for 70 home runs.

8 9

David Wright returning should be a boost, even if he doesn't play. His presence and clubhouse influence has to give them a shot in the arm.

9 5

Clinging to a 1.5 game lead on the Giants in the NL West.

10 8

Suddenly six games back in the wild card and it looks like their best bet into the playoffs is through the division.

11 12

Enter the week leading the race for the AL's No. 2 wild card spot, but do they have the pitching to hang on to it?

12 17

Could've been left for dead in the wild card race before putting together an impressive four-game sweep of Baltimore at Camden Yards.

13 15

Don't look now, but the Diamondbacks are coming up on the Giants and Nationals in the NL wild card race.

14 11

The only team in the race for the AL's second wild card spot with a positive run differential, but that didn't stop them from blowing that disastrous four-game series against the Twins.

15 15

At least Anthony Rendon is starting to hit, but is it too late?

16 13

They don't have a single pitcher with two or more fWAR. That's not good.

17 14

They come across as a pretty mediocre side, but could have good enough pitching to make things interesting in September.

18 20

The offense turned on the jets and coasted to a five-game winning streak before running into the Cardinals' brick wall Sunday.

19 21

Their defense has improved, but it looks like too little, too late.

20 19

Six games under .500, five and a half games out of a playoff spot. Yep, that's the AL wild card race.

21 18

Miguel Cabrera has been incredible, albeit in only 88 games: .367/.472/.601.

22 22 Nelson Cruz is on pace to set a career high in home runs (has 37, career best is 40) and it's done nothing to help Seattle carve out a spot in the playoff race.
23 24

There are a lot of aging, expensive players here, but they've seen encouraging seasons from Mookie Betts, Xander Bogaerts and Brock Holt, at least.

24 27

"It's not that hard, tell him Wash."

25 26

Khris Davis is mashing the ball again, but it's just too little, way too late.

26 25

Considering they're in the midst of a nine-game losing streak, you could make the case they should be No. 30 on this list, but then again, so could any of these bottom five teams (all NL).

27 23

As if they already didn't know they were out of it, seven-game losing streak kicks them while they're down.

28 29

Fast becoming one of the most disappointing seasons in Marlins history.

29 28

They now have the worst record in baseball by percentage.

30 30

It's going to take some time to get used to seeing the Phillies without Chase Utley.

Addison Russell releases statement, calls abuse allegations 'completely false'

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USA TODAY

Addison Russell releases statement, calls abuse allegations 'completely false'

Addison Russell responded to the allegations that he physically and psychologically abused his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy.

In a statement released Friday night, Russell called the allegations against him "completely false," stating that he is confident that an investigation will exonerate him.

"These allegations are completely false. I made that clear to Major League Baseball last year and reiterated it to the Cubs today," Russell said in a statement released by the Major League Baseball Player's Assocation. "I'm confident any full and fair investigation will fully exonerate me. The protection of my children is foremost in my mind so I will have no further comment."

Reidy released a blog post late Thursday night detailing years of physical, emotional and psychological abuse that she experienced while married to Russell. The Cubs released a statement early Friday, saying they would "cooperate with the League's investigation so the appropriate action can be taken."

Cubs president Theo Epstein and owner Tom Ricketts held a press conference before Friday's game against the White Sox, saying that while the timing of the situation is not ideal, it does not matter.

"Any time there are accusations of this nature, they have to be taken very seriously and timing or inconvenience doesn't play into it," Epstein said. "All parties have an obligation to get to a just and fair resolution and if that includes discipline if appropriate, then so be it. If it doesn't, then so be it.

"But the important thing here is that justice and fairness is ultimately found. Timing is not ideal, but it doesn't matter. What matters is getting to a just and fair resolution and we're supportive of the league's step."

Baseball comes second for Cubs in Addison Russell situation

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USA TODAY

Baseball comes second for Cubs in Addison Russell situation

Two years after Theo Epstein sat in the visiting dugout on the South Side addressing the Cubs' trade for Aroldis Chapman in the same season he was suspended by Major League Baseball for domestic violence, the president of baseball operations once again had to touch on a similar topic in the same ballpark.

Addison Russell was placed on administrative leave early Friday afternoon, hours after a blog post surfaced from his ex-wife detailing physical and psychological abuse throughout their relationship.

"Disturbing" is how Epstein described Melisa Reidy's account when he saw it late Thursday night and said he immediately reached out to MLB's investigative body to see if they could verify any of the details.

Epstein and Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts had a phone call with MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and the league office Friday morning, during which it was revealed the league would be placing Russell on administrative leave.

Russell can remain on leave for up to seven days and that leave can be extended by the league if need be after that time.

Epstein and Ricketts then met with Russell to inform him of the league's decision and questioned the shortstop on the details in Reidy's post.

"He reaffirmed his stance that he did not do what he is accused of having done," Epstein said.

The Cubs have no idea if Russell will play again this season as the team is in the midst of a tight pennant race in the final 10 days of September. But they also acknowledge baseball comes second in a time like this.

"Any time there are accusations of this nature, they have to be taken very seriously and timing or inconvenience doesn't play into it," Epstein said. "All parties have an obligation to get to a just and fair resolution and if that includes discipline if appropriate, then so be it. If it doesn't, then so be it.

"But the important thing here is that justice and fairness is ultimately found. Timing is not ideal, but it doesn't matter. What matters is getting to a just and fair resolution and we're supportive of the league's step."

There's not much the Cubs can do over the next week, as the matter "is in the league's court to do the investigation," Ricketts said.

Joe Maddon addressed the team with Epstein and Ricketts before Friday's game and has shifted his focus toward trying to win ballgames with the rest of the roster, stepping back to let the league handle the matter.

Between Epstein, Ricketts and Maddon, the word "process" was brought up over and over again in more than 20 minutes of press conferences.

Step 1 in that process was Russell being placed on administrative leave. Step 2 is the fact-finding mission as the league attempts to verify the "disturbing" claims.

The league opened an investigation on Russell last June after a domestic violence allegation was brought to light in a comment by Reidy's friend on an Instagram post. The comment was later deleted and Reidy did not cooperate with the MLB investigation, though the investigation remained open and Epstein admitted he has checked in with the league from time to time about the matter.

Russell spent only a couple days away from the team last June and was not placed on any official leave.

There is no word yet on if Reidy will cooperate with MLB's investigation this time around.

"Last year, it was a third-party accusation on social media," Epstein said. "And now, this is a direct accusation from the accuser, from the potential victim. The situation has changed. He was not placed on administrative leave last year. He was away from the team briefly, but we think this step is appropriate in light of the post."

Despite the accusation last June, reading the comments from Reidy's blog post was jarring for everybody involved.

"It always is," Maddon said, "whether it's on the baseball team, in your own personal family, wherever you may work. That just seems to be the way things are today."

The Cubs distanced themselves from making any sort of statement on Russell's character away from how they know him in a professional setting - as a ballplayer at the ballpark.

The next few days will determine Russell's standing with the Cubs and in the league for the rest of this season and possibly beyond.

"That balancing act that comes with an accusation and validating the rights of the accuser and providing an appropriate forum is something that's really difficult," Epstein said. "We don't have the answer for that, except that we know we have to take it as seriously as we possibly can to follow the process, because the process is designed to defend everyone's rights and to lead to a fair and just outcome."