Chicago Cubs: They’ve stuck with Addison Russell, but with no return
When the Cubs’ Addison Russell came back from his suspension, many were unsure of where he would fit in. The loss of Zobrist made it ‘easier,’ only in the sense that a roster spot was opened up from his departure. Russell hasn’t captured the magic of 2016 when he hit 21 home runs and had 95 RBI. He only batted .238 that season, so it seems like he’s not going to be much better than a .250 hitter. But Russell has one thing going for him that the other two do not. He’s the only natural shortstop on the team aside from Javier Baez.
Up until the end of last season and the beginning of this year, Baez was the second baseman because Russell was the ‘established’ shortstop. Although you could make a case that Baez was the better fit at short because of his arm strength, that’s neither here nor there. Baez is the Cubs shortstop now and moving forward. But when Baez needs a rest, Russell is the only one they have to back him up.
While Baez has risen to superstar status, Russell is just trying to find his place. And in June, whatever his position has been, it’s not been a fun one. Russell is hitting just .167 during the month with one home run and six RBI. While the Cubs need to have Baez in the lineup as much as possible, we don’t want to see Maddon wear him down too soon. Baez plays the game the same way if the Cubs are up 10 or down 10. So just being able to shut it down every few days can’t hurt.
The Cubs extended him a deal this offseason, and questions were surrounding it. The Cubs want to be part of the solution to his off the field issues and will stick with him until he doesn’t follow the protocol given to him by the organization. This could be another faux pas by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.