Enter the Chicago Cubs and the fifth starter spot.
For two straight “starts” now, the Cubs have sought to fill the spot vacated by injured starter Andrew Cashner with a cadre of relievers, starting with completely-inadequate-as-a-starter James Russell. The results were predictably awful – and they came against the two worst lineups in Major League Baseball, the Astros and Padres.
You would be quite sane to assume that, when the Cubs need a fifth starter again on Tuesday against the (very good) Rockies, they’ll go with anyone – *anyone* – but Russell. But you’d be wrong. The Cubs have been defining insanity for years, and the Mike Quade regime is no different.
Quade yesterday denied that Russell was off the table as a possible starter on Tuesday.
‘‘Everything is on the table,’’ Quade explained. ‘‘I have to sit down with [general manager Jim Hendry] and [assistant GM Randy Bush]. I’ll talk to [Iowa manager] Bill Dancy and the minor-league guys. They have a better feel than I do [of their pitchers].’’
That Russell is even still a possibility at this point is an indictable offense. I can’t even let myself imagine the possibility that the Cubs will *actually* allow him to start on Tuesday. And perhaps it’s the optimist in me, but I don’t think it will be Russell. (See UPDATE below – my optimism was ill-advised.)
I understand that the Cubs were put in a tough spot, what with Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner going down at the same time – and shortly after presumptive 6th starter Carlos Silva jawboned his way out of town. But to suggest that there isn’t an actual, you know, starting pitcher available in the entire Cubs system to take the ball – as the Cubs did by throwing Russell out there *twice* – is nuts.
Obviously I’m not saying that whomever the Cubs elect to call up will be good. I’m not even saying he’ll be better than Russell has been. But we know Russell doesn’t work. It was a terrible decision the first time, and it was an inexcusable decision the second time.
A third time would be nothing short of insanity.
UPDATE: Insanity it is. Mike Quade has said today that the Cubs are “leaning” toward starting Russell again on Tuesday. There aren’t words. Well, other than insanity. Which I’ve already said. Insanity. Did I mention, insanity?