Chicago Cubs Rumors: Should Javier Baez move to shortstop?

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

This has been a long time coming. Should the Chicago Cubs’ Javier Baez and Addison Russell switch positions? It’s not as easy as you think.

When Chicago CubsAddison Russell first came up to the big leagues, he was behind Starlin Castro at shortstop. Before too long, Russell became the shortstop of the future while Castro was–unfortunately–cast aside and sent to New York. Here we are, a few years later, and could we be looking to switch Russell back with Javier Baez? It’s not as cut and dry as you might have thought.

When you look at the two of them together, they both have skills that can play at short. They can both range to get the ball, and each has a different type or arm. Baez? The man has an absolute cannon. Sometimes he can be errant with the throw, but that’s what you must deal with. Russell, on the other hand, is quick with the ball. There’s no time left to transfer from glove to hand. So it has to happen quickly for Russell.

What’s good for Baez?

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But the same way that it took Joe Maddon time to make the switch to Russell wouldn’t it be the same way for Baez? When Russell went down last season, Baez did an excellent job filling in at shortstop.

In fact, when looking at lgRFG? Baez and Russell had the same range factors at shortstop (4.11). So what might be the only reason to make the switch?

And what about Russell?

First, Russell hasn’t struggled at shortstop. His arm has been suspect at times. But he’s come along, moving up on ground balls to cut down on the distance thrown to first.

So far it seems to be working as Russell’s had just two errors at shortstop. His timing is solid, so there can’t be any issue with it.

And Baez has done fine at second base, as well. And this goes back to the Ryne Sandberg ‘if you can’t get to it, it’s not an error.’ Baez gets to a lot of the balls. His .947 fielding percentage is due to his ability to get to many of them. You can’t fault him for not making the play. Well, you can. But it’s the way things work today. Go figure.

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I see a lot of people down on Russell. His 21 home runs and 95 RBI in 2016? That was a matter of the team getting it done. Not the man. Everyone seemed to have their good days then. The one year that he was good. So maybe we should stop looking at him like a superstar and more like a role player?

There is nothing wrong with being a role player. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. But it also might be time for Maddon to say ‘Hey, maybe I should move these two.’ I mean, it really can’t hurt to make a move.