Chicago Cubs: Tag. You’re it.
With Russell taking over for Baez, there’s an ominous sense of dread hanging over fans’ heads. Not just because Russell isn’t as good as Baez, but because he’s not the same player. He’s not the same person. He is the guy who paid child support with quarters and loses his bat into the stands on a regular basis. Baez is the guy who pops bubbles while batting and does magical swim moves to score when there is no chance of him scoring. One is magical, and the other is well, not.
I do not doubt that Russell can play a competent or even excellent shortstop for the rest of the season because we’ve all seen him do it before. What I do doubt, however, is if he can help guide the Cubs to the postseason or put the team on his back with his bat and positive energy.
That bat and energy- that’s exactly what this team desperately needs right now. They need a little bit of a miracle as they head down the stretch and attempt to escape the looming certainty of a Wild Card date with Max Scherzer. They may even need a minor miracle to get to that game. Scratch that- what they need is not a miracle. They need some magic. Alas, pending a miracle of healing, El Mago won’t be there to wave his magic bat.
The Cubs have been dealing with injuries to some of their best players all season with Bryant, Rizzo, Baez, Contreras, and Kimbrel all dealing with injuries at some point in 2019. For most of the year, they were able to stay in or around first place in the NL Central and keep their heads above water. This one is different though, and unless they catch lightning in a bottle with other guys or the team as a whole, it’s going to be extremely difficult to overcome the loss of the most exciting player in baseball.