Chicago Cubs: Javier Baez injury proves how valuable team’s depth is
By Jake Misener
Baez-Russell combination could be lethal – if healthy
I’ll admit. Cubs fans are way higher on Addison Russell and Javier Baez than fans outside the Windy City.
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Once a 40-homer projected slugger, Baez continues to struggle with plate discipline at the big league level. Russell, meanwhile, just two years ago mentioned with the likes of Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor, has fallen out of favor with national writers and pundits alike. His off-field domestic issues last year also hurt his stock in more ways than one.
But when they’re both on the field together, they form one of the best middle infield combinations in all of Major League Baseball. Baez set multiple career-highs offensively last year. Russell needs to show he can hit at a steady clip to take that next step.
But what happens when one of these guys tweaks something? The Cubs have a few options in-mind. First, and foremost, Ben Zobrist. The veteran utilityman seems to be the insurance policy at darn-near every position and after a tenacious offseason in which he focused on being ready for the year, he’s a safe one at that.
Tommy La Stella slots into the picture, as well. But this is where the insurance drops off in a monumental way. David Bote or Mike Freeman won’t cut it on a team with World Series aspirations. So, for now, you hope Baez and Russell stay healthy – and for a resurgent Ben Zobrist in 2018.