Cubs

MLB Power Rankings: Week 17

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MLB Power Rankings: Week 17

Every Monday throughout the regular season, we'll be ranking all 30 MLB teams.

Take a look and offer up your thoughts in the comments or to us on twitter @CubsTalkCSN or @WhiteSoxTalkCSN.

Previous rankings: Preseason 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 First Half Week 15 Week 16

Tony
JJ Comments 1
Tony: If they're this good without Votto, imagine when he returns.
JJ: Even sans Strasburg, they're a legit World Series contender.
2
Tony: Strasburg should just play OF when he's done pitching.
JJ: Chapman having an all-time great season for an RP.
3
Tony: Could have put Red Sox away this weekend, but didn't.
JJ: A Cliff Lee return would be nice, but doesn't help lagging O.
4
Tony: What's wrong with Josh Hamilton? JJ: Despite rough stretch, on cruise control in AL East.
5
Tony: Been hot, but nowhere near as hot as CIN.
JJ: Clear favorites for the first Wild Card.
6
Tony: Started the week still with a hole in their rotation.
JJ: Williams appears to be clear trade deadline winner.
7
Tony: Liriano a great move, but what will be done with Sale?
JJ: Desperately need another starter.
8
Tony: Really like the Hanley move for the Dodgahs, you guys.
JJ: They're legit. Run differential on par wloaded Angels.
9
Tony: Hunter Pence? Would put the G-men over the top...
JJ: At this rate, could battle A's in Wild Card playoff.
10
Tony: Fister, Scherzer are key down the stretch.
JJ: Wonder if they'll blink and give up talent for Dempster.
11
Tony: Will Greinke be able to handle the spotlight?
JJ: Go 2-4 after getting Sanchez, Infante.
12
Tony: Can't lose series to Cubs if they have playoff hopes.
JJ: Wonder if they can hang wLA without making a move.
13
Tony: They're in second place. It's almost August. Wow.
JJ: Currently buried by Reds, Pirates. But still hanging around.
14
Tony: Why don't they ever make moves at the deadline?
JJ: If Oakland falters, could re-enter Wild Card race.
15
Tony: Bautista's return on the horizon.
JJ: Loitering on the edges of the playoff race, but still there.
16
Tony: Still alive in the cluster that is AL East.
JJ: Santana's ERA above 5 since throwing no-no.
17
Tony: No way. Just...not gonna make it.
JJ: Bad run differential suggests a crash is looming.
18
Tony: Still have a 17 percent chance of making playoffs.
JJ: Begin big series vs. Dodgers on Monday.
19
Tony: Pretty much done for, I'd say. Will Choo be traded?
JJ: After drubbing at the hands of Twins, time to sell.
20
Tony: Keeping the ball down: How Dickey got his groove back.
JJ: Well, it was fun while it lasted.
21
Tony: Trade Johnson, Zambrano and start over.
JJ: 2012 season just an unmitigated failure in Miami.
22
Tony: Blow it up and start over. Trade Pence, Victorino.
JJ: Bad injury luck and a few down years have done them in.
23
Tony: What would keep fans interested in SEA right now?
JJ: Wonder if they'll field offers on Felix now or in offseason.
24
Tony: Started week only 2.5 games out of 4th!!
JJ: Went from fringe contender to seller in a matter of days.
25
Tony: Come in behind CHC because of awful 1-9 stretch.
JJ: 17-10 since Rizzo's call-up.
26
Tony: Why do they keep locking up best trade pieces?
JJ: Clayton Richard would be a nice pickup for someone.
27
Tony: They really couldn't have gotten more for Liriano?
JJ: Of all the teams to bury Cleveland, it was Minnesota that did.
28
Tony: Hosmer just needs a redo on this season.
JJ: No reason to keep Francouer with Myers crushing it in AAA.
29
Tony: Hey, remember when entire team forgot how many outs there were?
JJ: After a few pretty good years, have come apart in 2012.
30
Tony: Remember when they weren't the worst team in MLB?
JJ: Building a decent farm system, but they're years away.

It might have been just another dinger in homer-happy All-Star Game, but Willson Contreras will remember it forever

It might have been just another dinger in homer-happy All-Star Game, but Willson Contreras will remember it forever

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Willson Contreras’ third-inning home run might not have ended up standing out too much in an All-Star Game featuring a jaw-dropping and record-shattering 10 dingers.

But, obviously, it will always stand out to the guy who hit it.

“I enjoyed every single second that I spent out there.”

Remarkably, Contreras repeated his feat from two seasons ago, when he hit his first big league homer on the first big league pitch he ever saw. Ditto on Tuesday night at Nationals Park, when he launched the first pitch he saw as an All Star out over the wall in left field.

“When I hit the ball and thought it was gone, I went back to 2016, playing in Chicago. It was the same thing, first pitch for a homer,” Contreras, all smiles, said following the American League’s 8-6 victory. “I’m really blessed with these kinds of situations. Those moments, they’re going to be history and they’re going to be in my mind and my heart.”

Contreras’ long ball was the highlight of the evening for fans watching back home in Chicago. Javy Baez got a hit in his first All-Star at-bat but was outdone by his teammate. White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu was hitless in his two trips to the plate.

And while it will be a highlight on this night for Cubs fans, it will be a highlight forever for Contreras, who enjoyed the heck out of his first All-Star experience.

“‘I did it, I did it,’” he said when asked what was going through his head. “I knew it was something special. And I wasn’t trying to do too much because these guys are nasty, throwing 98 in the first inning. I just tried to get the hit out.”

The nasty guy he went deep against was Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Blake Snell, whose 2.27 ERA on the season made him a very worthy inclusion on the AL roster. But Contreras was more impressed with the guy who started the game for the National League, raving about Washington Nationals ace Max Scherzer after the game.

“He was great, man. Great stuff, he gets so into the game,” Contreras said. “I would like to have him one day on my team or play with him for a few years. That guy is amazing.”

That’s not the current Nationals star Cubs fans are dreaming about, Willy, but point taken.

But it wasn’t Snell or Scherzer or even Baez or Jon Lester, also in the NL dugout, who Contreras was thinking about the most during his home run trot. Instead, Contreras was thinking about his grandfather, Ernesto, who passed away a few years ago.

“My grandpa, he died in 2015,” Contreras said. “I grew up with him.

“He didn’t play ball. But I feel like every time I go out there and step into the box, he’s at my back. It just feels amazing when you hit a homer or do something special, look at the sky and you know that he’s there smiling somewhere.”

It all made for a pretty incredible night for Contreras, who has officially and loudly taken his place among baseball’s best on the game’s biggest stage.

The only thing that was missing? The ball.

Yeah, Contreras didn’t get the ball, not that he really expected to. But if you’ve got it, he wants it.

“I don’t think they’re giving it back,” he said with a grin.

We’ll see. Social media’s a powerful tool. So reach out.

Manny Machado as a Dodger creates a formidable foe out west for the Cubs

Manny Machado as a Dodger creates a formidable foe out west for the Cubs

Well, it's finally happening, or at least it's going to happen. The Athletics' Ken Rosenthal reported during the MLB All-Star game that the Baltimore Orioles had agreed to officially move their franchise player Manny Machado. Neither team has confirmed anything at this time, but the deal has reportedly been as close to a done deal for the last day or so, and it would seem Machado is destined for finish his 2018 campaign in Hollywood. 

Of course, with this addition, the reigning National League champions look primed for another deep postseason run. Though, the club is clinging to a half-game lead in the NL West, with Machado in tow the Dodgers are right with the Cubs and Brewers as the elite squads in the National League. It could be argued the Dodgers didn't necessarily 'need' Machado, with an offense that was already in the top 10 in runs scored, but Machado might be the perfect addition for the Dodgers. 

After losing their young star shortstop Corey Seager for the season with an elbow injury that required Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers were in need of a more permanent solution at shortstop. And despite Machado's defensive metrics showing a steep decline in his glove at shortstop, the Dodgers will welcome his robust slash line of .315/.387/.575 while ignoring any shortcomings on defense. 

But what this means for the Cubs, who are only two games off the 2016 World Series club pace, is the path to another championship will likely require another run-in with the Dodgers. The club's biggest threat has been at this point the Brewers, but it's not hard to envision the Dodgers distancing themselves as the clear favorites in the National League with Machado in the heart of the order.

The good news for the Chicago is at least Machado didn't end up in Milwaukee, but that also could mean the Brewers make a more concerted effort to acquire pitching before the July 30th deadline. The Cubs will also see the return of Yu Darvish, who despite only managing to win one game this season in a Cubs uniform, will be a massive upgrade over the scuffling Tyler Chatwood. If the Cubs pitching can start producing like many expected them to before the start of 2018, and guys like Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant start to hit alongside All-Stars Javier Baez and Willson Contreras, it's not hard to imagine the Cubs separating themselves from the pack in the 2nd half of season. 

The Dodgers are no strangers to blockbuster deadline deals, acquiring Yu Darvish in a similar three-month rental situation, but the Cubs getting a bat like Rizzo right and an arm like Darvish healthy would be better than any deal Theo Epstein could make to improve this team. And if it's not enough, the Cubs have a solid track record of grabbing former Dodger rentals in the off-season. The push for the playoffs starts Thursday for the north-siders.