James Russell is the “Best” and Other Delusional Bullets – April 26, 2011

It seems like ages ago, but Starlin Castro made three errors in his Wrigley Field debut last year. Of course, they weren’t all in one inning. At least he didn’t make three errors per inning last night. That would have been just zany, amirite? AMIRITE?

  • Mike Quade says that James Russell remains the “best option” to start today against the Rockies. Let me be clear: I’m rooting for Russell to succeed. It would bring me no greater pleasure than for him to shove a quality start right down my throat. But I simply cannot stand for statements like this from Quade: “If [Russell] becomes the second-best option at some point, then you make a change. A guy with major-league experience that will do anything you ask that throws strikes — I just don’t think we have anyone on this staff that we want to test right now in that role, and nobody in the minor leagues I think is seasoned enough or ready for that.” Again, I say: if that’s all true, it’s an indictment of the organization, not an excuse. But I don’t think it’s true. I think it’s foolishness.
  • In case you needed reminding, the league is hitting .390 off Russell this year, and righties are hitting .469. Best option, folks. Best option.
  • Relatedly, with two more scoreless innings last night, Jeff Samardzija’s scoreless inning streak is up to nine.
  • Still relatedly, Randy Wells and Andrew Cashner are expected to be evaluated again tomorrow. Collectively, let’s pray Cashner is put on an aggressive throwing program, and Wells is scheduled for a rehab start quickly. Both would be very good and welcome signs.
  • Marlon Byrd posts about batting order, and comes off incredibly defensive, which is a bummer. I like Byrd so much as a Cub and a (properly used) player. I don’t want to dislike him as a writer.
  • In case you care to read a review of the Bartman documentary, ‘Catching Hell,’ here’s one by Will Leitch.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

19 responses to “James Russell is the “Best” and Other Delusional Bullets – April 26, 2011”

  1. Michigan Goat

    It becoming obvious to me that one of the following is true 1-Q is inept with decision making (aka Dempster hitting, benching Ramy instead of Pena, keeping pitcher 1 inning too long) or 2-Q is not making decisions without Hendry’s input or at least considering Hendry’s wants over what’s best for the team. I hope it is all #2 but I fear it is a combination of both.

    I’m also seeing Castro not comfortable in the 3 hole, I think the best thing for everybody

    1. Bric

      It’s probably both but much more of #2 (pun intended). It’s funny how Hendry’s hypocritical statements seem to go unnoticed year after year.
      He claims that the Cubs have one of the deepest minor league systems in all of baseball. Not flashy guys (like the ones that the scouts rave about) but deep none the less. So why is it that a guy like Russell can be the “best option” when he couldn’t even make the rotation in ST?
      Because our minors are filled with a bunch of Jeff Bergs, Jeff Stevens, John Gaubs, Thomas Diamonds, Trey Mcnutts, Kyle Smits and others who put up big minor league nunbers and will get shelled in the real deal. Please tell me again why everyone thinks our minor league system is so great and why Hendry still has a job?

      1. Raymond Robert Koenig

        Excellent post! Why DOES Hendry still have a job? Does anybody else remember that the Cubs were on pace for 95 losses last season before Piniella quit? Hendry made few additions to that team. And one could argue that Garza is actually a downgrade from Ted Lilly. I believe the 2011 team might be worse than last year’s. 100 losses? Last place?

  2. Chop

    What do you think about moving Soriano up to bat 3rd? Castro has struggled mightily in the 3rd spot and maybe the move would boost Soriano’s confidence and give him Aramis to back him up.

  3. roughriider

    When Castro is batting 1st or 2nd he is hitting an even .400 when he is batting 3rd he’s hitting .118 and has 5 of his 7 errors. Anybody see a problem here ? Q ?

  4. TWC

    Spellcheck’s up to 9 scoreless?

    Only 50 2/3 more and he’ll pass Orel Hershiser! Get him in the rotation, Quade!

  5. Sam

    Whatever happened to Thomas Diamond? I feel like he could be a decent starting option. Definitely better than what we got now

    1. Ol'CharlieBrown

      I agree. He can’t be any less effective than Russell. Anyone but Russell! Though, I think Diamond has been getting pounded down in AAA.

      1. BT

        why yes, yes he can be less effective than Russell now that you mention it. Seeing as he currently is sporting a 9.92 ERA in AAA, has let up 35 baserunners in 16 innings, and pitched 3 terrible innings 2 days ago, I’d say he is a LOT less effective than Russell.

        1. Ol'CharlieBrown

          Why yes, yes you’re right. Its not like its IMPOSSIBLE for someone to be less effective than Russell. I was more or less trying to be sarcastic. I certainly wasn’t saying Diamond is better, but simply that he cant be much worse. That’s where I disagree with you saying Diamond, or anyone else for that matter (within reason), is a LOT less effective. Matching Diamond’s 9.92 ERA is Russell with a 8.00 ERA along with allowing 18 base runners in 9 innings. Both are essentially allowing 2 base runners per inning. Diamond has given up 18 earned runs in 16 innings and Russell has given up 8 earned runs in 9 innings. Diamond has given up 6 home runs in 16 innings whereas Russell has given up 3 home runs in 9 innings. Diamonds H/9IP: 13.2 and Russell’s H/9IP: 16. Diamond definitely walks more with 11 in 16 innings where Russell only has 1 walk in 9 innings. Its like comparing your right shoe and your left shoe. They both stink. I’m just thinking, if we’re willing to lead Russell to slaughter, why not try leading someone else to slaughter and seeing if they rise to the occasion.

        2. Joe

          No, no he cant.

          Look, Russell just isn’t a starter. Even when he was a full-time starter in the low minors 4 years ago, he couldn’t make it further then 5 innings. Knowing his ceiling is likely 5 innings, lets look at the production side of his starts

          2.2 Avg-IP, 12.71 ERA, 1.6 K/9, 2.647 WHIP with .467/.484/.867/1.351 hit against him

          That is his 2011 starting record (a record against some of the more pitiful offenses I might add). That, along with the with 5-or-fewer innings ceiling, is the bench-mark for an improvement he has provided so far.

          Diamond in 2010
          4.1 Avg-IP, 8.31 ERA, 9.00 K/9, 2.077 WHIP with .347/.444/.490/.934 against

          4.0 Avg-IP, 9.92 ERA, 9.37 K/9, 2.14 WHIP in AAA this year

          That looks to be about what we can expect from Diamond at this point – and while it still sucks, its much better then Russell. Well, its actually similar counting results to Russell just stretched out over an extra inning-plus. And that’s a pretty big upgrade when you consider someone like Mateo is currently filling in the extra, missing inning(s) Russell just cant provide; historically not even having that ability…

  6. Willis

    Diamond is surely not the answer, but Russell is surely not the best option. The guy who is, for now, pitched another 2 good innings last night. So that eliminates him from tonight, where Russell will inevitably give up 5-6 off the bat and be chased before the 2nd is over. Then what?

  7. Hogie

    I’m begining to see why Q spent 17 years in the minors.

    1. jh

      Yea well said. Growing pains are one thing but consistent terrible decisions are another. Hopefully Quade proves that he has begun to learn more from his 60 big league games than his 2378 in the minors.

  8. ed

    I thought J. Jackson would be up for this type of situation. Hendry has some sick love for middle reliever talent.