Cubs

MLB Power Rankings: Week 18

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MLB Power Rankings: Week 18

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 Week 17

Tony
JJ Comments 1
Tony: Still the top dawgs, and 'bout to get Joey V. back.
JJ: 16-4 since Votto hit DL July 15. Incredible.
2
Tony: Morse has helped solidify this lineup.
JJ: Forget Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann could win the Cy Young.
3
Tony: Avoided a serious scare with Big Tex's wrist injury.
JJ: Great to see Eric Chavez holding his own: .264.327.478, 10 HR.
4
Tony: Josh Hamilton is not a happy man lately. JJ: Chipper Jones may be retiring, but hopefully his twitter lives on.
5
Tony: Paul Maholm will get his first taste of the playoffs.
JJ: Very talented, will be there in the end, but playing some rough ball.
6
Tony: Not even a 101 mph fastball can take The Cutch off his game.
JJ: Burnett on pace for lowest BB9 & ERA of career.
7
Tony: Lead majors in run differential, Craig is big reason why.
JJ: Youkilis since switching Sox: .260.387.512, 9 HR.
8
Tony: Survived the alien invasion by Trout and Co. this weekend.
JJ: Finally making their run. Gonna be a fun last two months in NL.
9
Tony: Angel Pagan's awakening will be key at top of order.
JJ: Plenty of small mistakes cost them series vs. White Sox.
10
Tony: Fister, Scherzer are key down the stretch.
JJ: An Oakland-Pittsburgh World Series would be awesome.
11
Tony: Think we'll see good ole Karl Welzein at a playoff game?
JJ: Buried Cleveland, but get New York & Texas this week.
12
Tony: Mike Trout can't pitch...or can he?
JJ: Lincecum finally looking better. After AS break: 2.48 ERA.
13
Tony: They're a playoff team right now. For serious.
JJ: Hanley since trade: .238.347.405. Not bad, but not vintage HR.
14
Tony: Could they complete a playoff push? Upton could lead charge.
JJ: Still lurking in AL Wild Card chase, and when Longoria returns...
15
Tony: They need an August trade or something. Need a roster boost.
JJ: Will be tough to compete with SFLA, but not out of it yet.
16
Tony: If Carl Crawford keeps smiling, this is a brand new team.
JJ: After taking care of CLE, is Pythagoras coming for Baltimore next?
17
Tony: Edwin Encarnacion is a bonafide star now, right?
JJ: Dustin Pedroia: .262.318.397. Needs to turn it around.
18
Tony: Seriously don't see how their record is still this good.
JJ: Darren Oliver, 41, is only getting better: 1.34 ERA in 40.1 IP.
19
Tony: Harvey creating some excitement for the future.
JJ: Santana's coming back, but much too late.
20
Tony: Felix likes the concrete jungle where dreams are made of.
JJ: At 55-55, no AL West team has an xW-L of below .500.
21
Tony: Utley looks rejuvenated...but Howard does not. At all.
JJ: Too bad they're in 4th, otherwise Chooch is a legit MVP candidate.
22
Tony: Brewers bullpen has more drama than a Jersey Shore marathon.
JJ: Quietly, Aramis Ramirez has picked things up: .291.353.500.
23
Tony: Worst. Road. Trip. In. Franchise. History.
JJ: Totally agree with Ozzie's rant on coconut water from The Franchise.
24
Tony: Yeah...Zambrano will totally be cool staying in bullpen.
JJ: Entering week, only MIN & KC have worse winning percentages in AL.
25
Tony: Think Mauer's regretting signing that long-term deal?
JJ: Mauer's homer the other night in Boston was pretty cool.
26
Tony: Headley, Quentin, Alonso could be pretty good 3-4-5 punch.
JJ: Quentin at Petco: .728 OPS. Away from SD: .999.
27
Tony: Jeff Francouer is the least valuable player in baseball.
JJ: Making Francouer's situation worse is that he's blocking Wil Myers.
28
Tony: The kids will be fun to watch rest of the way.
JJ: After ERA went over 5, Samardzija has a 2.82 ERA in last 6 starts.
29
Tony: Dexter Fowler quietly putting together a very good season.
JJ: Tyler Colvin: .280.318.556, 13 HR.
30
Tony: Headed toward one of worst road records of all time.
JJ: Lucas Harrell hasn't been a bad pickup: 3.98 ERA in 22 starts.

Cubs bench coach Mark Loretta reportedly interviews for Padres' manager job

Cubs bench coach Mark Loretta reportedly interviews for Padres' manager job

While David Ross is set to become the Cubs' next manager, a member of the team's 2019 coaching staff has reportedly interviewed for a managerial vacancy elsewhere.

Cubs bench coach Mark Loretta recently interviewed for the Padres' managerial opening, according to MLB Network's Jon Heyman. It's the second known managerial opening Loretta has interviewed for this offseason, as he also interviewed for the Cubs' before they chose Ross.

Like Ross and the Cubs, Loretta has several ties to the Padres. The 48-year-old played three seasons with San Diego (2003-05) during his 15-year big-league career. He also spent nine seasons as a special assistant in the Padres front office, working with general manager Jed Hoyer — who held the same position with the Padres from 2010-11.

Loretta isn't the only Cubs coach to interview for a managerial opening. First base coach Will Venable — who also was a candidate to replace Joe Maddon — reportedly interviewed for the Giants' vacancy last Friday. The 36-year-old joined the Cubs as a front office assistant in 2017 before being named first base coach in 2018.

What this means for Ross' coaching staff is to be determined. Loretta and Venable interviewing elsewhere doesn't mean they'll get hired, but Epstein and Co. handpicked them for Maddon's staff.

Thus, Ross may look to choose his own group as he embarks on year No. 1 as a big-league manager. Loretta and Venable could also seek seek other opportunities, though the latter told the Chicago Sun-Times that his interest is in the Cubs "organization in general."

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Robin Lehner's honest assessment of Blackhawks: 'It looks far away but it’s really close'

Robin Lehner's honest assessment of Blackhawks: 'It looks far away but it’s really close'

The Blackhawks wanted to take advantage of seven straight games at the United Center after kicking off the 2019-20 campaign in Prague, but it hasn't exactly gone according to plan.

They're 2-2-2 through the first six home games as they prepare to host Philadelphia on Thursday for the final tilt of the homestand, but the Blackhawks feel like they've left points on the table. The last two games especially, the feeling around the locker room is that the two losses aren't reflective of the overall performance.

After dominating the Washington Capitals in every aspect but the scoresheet on Sunday, the Blackhawks were 1:33 away from shutting out one of the most dangerous Western Conference teams in Vegas before falling 2-1 in a shootout. That's one point out of a possible four when it easily could've been four out of four for the Blackhawks.

Robin Lehner was fantastic against the Golden Knights, turning aside 33 of 34 shots for .971 save percentage. And he was very honest about his assessment of the team after the game and had an optimistic but realistic viewpoint.

"When I chose to sign with this team, it’s because I really believe in this team," Lehner said. "There’s a lot of great hockey players on this club and we’ve seen it in spurts in the beginning of the season. I think the last few games have been really really good. Small, small details and we’re going to be very dangerous. I’m really liking what I’m seeing from a lot of the guys. A lot of the young guys are playing great and the core guys here, maybe it looks far away but it’s really close. It really is.

"Washington is a good team, Vegas is a good team, and at times we were totally dominating. It should have been 4-0 after two. Couple of posts were in the way, couple of missed bounces. That’s hockey sometimes. If we just keep playing like we’re going, we’re going to get good results and we’re going to have a good season."

Lehner is coming from a New York Islanders team that allowed the fewest goals against last season, and the fact the Blackhawks gave up only three high-danger chances at even strength and were 5-for-5 on the penalty kill against a Vegas team who had a top-five power play going into Tuesday's matchup is encouraging. 

Lehner is as candid as they come and he legitimately believes the Blackhawks are trending in the right direction, despite what the results may show. And if the Blackhawks can play like they have the last two games, the points will even out over time.

"There’s a lot of new guys to this team," Lehner said. "Great core players, a lot of new guys. They’re still trying to implement the system and we’re getting better and better at it. Again, I think we’ve seen it really well in spurts when we manage the puck and when we stick to our details. Such an offensive-talented team. If we just can keep going like this, we’re going to be successful. It really is.

"Honestly right now, I don’t even care about the standings, because we’re going to start getting wins. We’ve played some good teams and I think we’ve dominated them at times and are these small mistakes and we just gotta keep pushing the pace like the third today, we just got to keep pushing. We’ve got to keep pushing. We’ve got to keep attacking."

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