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Should the Cubs Flip-Flop Baez and Russell in the Infield? And Other Spooky Bullets

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

Oooh, spooky and scary!

https://twitter.com/BleacherNation/status/925327496731611136

  • Speaking of scary, however you formulate the Cubs’ middle infield, that defense is scary between Addison Russell and Javy Baez. When healthy, Russell is right up there with the best in baseball at shortstop, and Baez just took home his second consecutive Fielding Bible award as the best multi-position defender in baseball. But after seeing Baez succeed at shortstop filling in for an injured Russell in August and September, it’s only natural that folks would wonder if the Cubs have their two middle infielders playing the wrong positions.

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  • Patrick Mooney asks that question here at NBC, and gets this concession from Theo Epstein: “I’d be lying if I said those conversations don’t come up from time to time, either just informally in the locker room or strategically behind the scenes. There’s not one person in the organization who’s pounding the table to make the switch, or at least who will voice that opinion …. But there’s also no one in the organization who isn’t sort of like thrilled when Javy is at shortstop and intrigued by what he could do on an everyday basis.”
  • Epstein added that it’s Joe Maddon’s strong belief that the Cubs are best defensively when Russell is at shortstop and Baez is at second base.
  • To be sure, given the relative abilities and the importance of both positions (and the greater use of Baez’s unique tagging abilities when he’s at second base), this is very close to a six-of-one-half-dozen-of-the-other discussion. Shortstop sees a few more opportunities and benefits from a stronger arm. As the steadiness of Baez’s play improves, you could pretty easily see why there’s an argument for his instincts and arm to be at shortstop. Moreover, let’s not forget how ridiculously good Russell was in his time at second base in 2015. If the Cubs made a flip-flop here, it’s not like you’d hear me howling.

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  • That said, Russell has demonstrated the ability to be an elite defensive shortstop at the big league level over the course of nearly two and a half seasons (a whopping 44 DRS at shortstop in that span, despite missing time this year). Baez has looked like he, too, can be an elite defensive shortstop, but we don’t know for certain that would be the case. And Baez has demonstrated elite defensive ability at second base. So … why rock the boat?
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
  • (The actual discussion could really be about which of the two shortstops the Cubs are willing to shop this offseason, since there are several options for second base on the roster. I’d prefer the Cubs keep both of Russell and Baez for a variety of reasons, but I’m just sayin’.)
  • The World Series resumes tonight in LA, with the Astros having a chance to win the whole thing.
  • Michael busted out some MLBits last night if you missed it, including possible contract and usage concerns for rumored Cubs relief target Brandon Morrow.

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  • Thanks perhaps to my overzealous Bryce Harper sleuthing (some serious, some joking), a lot of folks are asking me about the pumpkin-carving picture that circulated yesterday. It’s a very bad photoshop of a Cubs ‘C’ on a pumpkin Harper is holding. No it’s not real. I can’t tell if it was *supposed* to be a bad photoshop and thus a joke, but it kind of toed that line of being not quite horrible enough to obviously be a joke, so it seems some folks were duped. It’s not real.
  • THIS is how you do a horrible photoshop so badly that people can tell it’s not real:

  • Work at Wrigley Field has kicked off again in earnest:

  • Over at The Ten-Yard Line, the NFL trade deadline looms, and long-rumored Bears trade target (before Mitch Trubisky) Jimmy Garoppolo was finally traded.
  • Big-time Halloween deal at Lids (one of our partners, so thanks for checking them out – they often have different stuff than the other shops, so it’s worth a look in my admittedly biased opinion):

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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation.