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james russell cubsWhen I was in law school, I was absolutely terrified of the exams. I doubt that was unusual, but it wasn’t the actual exam taking that bothered me – I actually was a huge nerd and enjoyed the exams, themselves. What scared me was the build up of months of work, the product of which came down entirely to one day and one test (that was the entirety of our grade). I knew I’d put in the effort, and I knew that I was prepared. But, still: what if I forgot something? What if I wasn’t clear in my responses? What if I’d put in months of studying and learning only to wind up with a crappy grade at the end of it?

Suffice it to say, that’s pretty much how I felt yesterday as I clicked publish on the Chicago Cubs financial piece that has consumed my every extra minute for the past month and a half, and for which I started researching last Summer. I was something of a nervous wreck, so you’ll forgive me the indulgence now of telling you how much appreciate your kind words and the generally positive response the piece has received. Sincerely: it made my month.

  • Slipped into a longer piece, Mark Gonzales notes that the Royals have given James Russell “an extended look” this Spring, presumably following the loss of Luke Hochevar (Tommy John surgery), which put a dent in their bullpen. From the Cubs’ perspective, Russell – who has the most appearances in baseball over the last two years – is probably expendable, but would have been far more available if Jonathan Sanchez had acquitted himself a little better this Spring. As it stands, the Cubs are going to want to carry a second lefty in addition to Wesley Wright, and if it isn’t going to Zac Rosscup (sent to the minors) or Tsuyoshi Wada (not really being considered as a situational lefty) or Tommy Hottovy (just don’t hear much about him), then they’ll have to keep Russell. That said, of course if the Royals, or any other team, stepped up with a really intriguing offer, the Cubs could probably make due with one of those guys or Sanchez. Or, perhaps at that point the Cubs would consider carrying Chris Rusin in the bullpen. Who knows? The point, I suppose, is that the Cubs have options if there is sincere interest in Russell, though it would have been a much easier decision if the “electric” stuff Sanchez was reportedly sporting at the outset of camp had manifested itself a little more clearly in the games.
  • Carlos Villanueva, who was great last night, hopes he gets the open rotation spot, but he could not be more emphatic in his position that he wants to do whatever helps the Cubs (Cubs.com). I sure do like that guy – even if he didn’t have the badass mustache.
  • Starlin Castro is still waiting for clearance to play in games (Cubs.com). Minor league games, in which Castro could bat in just about every inning, will probably come first. To have no concerns about Castro missing time to start the year, or starting the year slowly, you’d like to see him getting in-game at bats by … tomorrow? Saturday at the latest? At least Carrie Muskat says that the Cubs have no plans to do another MRI on Castro’s hamstring, so there are no concerns. He just needs time.
  • A profile on new third base and infield coach Gary Jones, who’s working with the Cubs’ infielders and prospects.
  • The Cubs have launched a genuinely cool site to celebrate Wrigley Field and its 100th anniversary. Lots of pictures, stories, etc.
  • Cespedes Family BBQ previews the Cubs in the way only CFBBQ can. Only complaint? How are you going to look at Cubs players eyes and not include Kris Bryant?
  • terencemann

    Russell’s only problem playing for the Cubs is that he’s one of their best relievers so they can’t really save him for lefty-on-lefty situations where he could shine. I think they’re using him correctly considering their reliever situation over the last few seasons but he’s just not very good against RHB (>1.000 OPS last season against him).

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Absolutely. He destroyed lefties last year.

    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

      I just fear his over use the last two years will equal his arm falling off. It’s just not common for a realizer that is used that much doesn’t break down hard quickly.

  • Jr 25

    Russell for Duffy- Done!

  • cub4life

    I agree, as much as I like Russel if someone come with a deal that can’t be refused then well here’s to Sanchez figuring it out.

    • MattyNomad

      I doubt the FO can make a deal come of this. They’re gonna make Russell available, ask for Ventura to start the bidding high and the Royals will look elsewhere. Just like we did with Shark and TOR.

  • waittilthisyear

    brett-

    you’re the most spot-on daily writer i’ve come across in my extensive internetting, but to categorize villanueva’s mustache as “badass” is a misidentification; that my friend, was a gentleman’s mustache, through and through

    • Fishin Phil

      Kind of reminds me of Snidely Whiplash.

      • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

        Snidely is a badass

    • http://www.teamfums.org MichiganGoat

      Well it no Tidrow stashe because there is no equal to Tidrow

  • Norm

    Luke Hochever….the most obvious pitching target next offseason for this front office?

  • josh ruiter

    YES…deal Russell before his arm detaches from his left shoulder!!! Also last night, top scouts from Detroit were in watching (reportedly) Barney and Schierholtz. Send them to Detroit. With AZ calling in on Shark and the rest of the field of teams searching for pitching after the latest injury bug, send him off too!! SELL ALL OUR PLAYERS…not really…but anybody who isn’t controlled long term or on the cheap.

    • ssckelley

      I am probably one of the rare fans that is still holding out hope that they can sign Shark to an extension. He still has TOR stuff.

      • C. Steadman

        Nope, I want a Shark extension, but I *sigh* don’t think one is coming and he’s dealt at the deadline…for a nice hault though!

        • cub4life

          Unfortunately I agree, I wish the Cubs would sign him……….but oh well.

          • brainiac

            unfortunately the cubs wont be signing any serious pitchers or hitters for another 3 years, most likely. it’ll be 8-10 years until the organization decides that it’s going to even attempt to compete. business first. theo will find new scapegoats, i’m sure.

            • gocatsgo2003

              You’re geting worse than Jon.

              • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

                Getting worse??? He left Jon in the rear view mirror a while ago. While Jon is negative, at least some of his ramblings actually make coherent sense

            • C. Steadman

              If this was actually the case, don’t you think Theo would’ve left a long time ago? This is simply not true.

      • http://fullcount1544.blogspot.com FullCountTommy

        I would like a Shark extension, but not at Homer Bailey money

  • Professional High A

    The 5 bold predictions from CFB literally made me laugh out loud. The guys running that site are fantastic.

  • Professional High A

    Also loved that Vogelbach was the first prospect they had in their video. After being at spring training this week Vogelbach is easily my favorite prospect to watch and hear good things about. Guy works hard the whole time at minor league camp but also has fun playing. Nothing would make me happier than seeing him prove all the naysayers wrong and be at least an average defender over at first. Watching him play he seemed to handle first just fine, but I’m also not a scout.

  • dAn

    I am very concerned about Russell, after the way he completely collapsed in the second half last year and had the “dead arm” this spring. I usually don’t put much stock in ST, except when it confirms what I already suspect. Guys who completely fall apart the way Russell quite often don’t come back to what they were. If someone gives them a decent prospect for him, I would jump at it.

    It is a shame that Sanchez hasn’t looked good, and that Rosscup isn’t quite ready, but maybe they could survive with just Wright until June/July, when Rosscup should be MLB ready. I also like Wada, but he needs to get on track down at Iowa. He looks really shaky out there.

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