So, There's a Dubious Report Out That Cubs Internally Prefer Addison Russell As Starting Shortstop

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So, There’s a Dubious Report Out That Cubs Internally Prefer Addison Russell As Starting Shortstop

Analysis and Commentary, Chicago Cubs News

“Addison is going to play some shortstop, and Addy’s also going to play second base. He’s also not back yet, so it’s a question for another day. But Javy is obviously right at the very center, along with some other position players, of everything good that we do. Risking interrupting that when we don’t have to would be a questionable move.”

That’s straight from the horse’s mouth, Theo Epstein to the Sun-Times, on how the Cubs would coordinate the middle infield, before Addison Russell returned to the Cubs from his suspension for domestic violence. Since then, Russell has yet to impress on the field in any particular way, and Baez has only played even better.

In other words, nothing should have changed about the Cubs’ perspective on who should be their starting shortstop.

And yet, today, there’s this:

Being appropriately shocked by that, I listened to the interview to make sure I didn’t miss something, and nope. Here’s the direct quote from Ravech:

“That’s how I’m being told the Cubs internally feel. That they are better off when Baez has the ability to go play second base and go play third base …. I know that the Cubs, a lot of them feel like they are better when Russell is your everyday shortstop, and you can take Javy Baez and move him around.”

Even if we ignore what Epstein has said and pretend there is something there, I’m trying to come up with a context in which this report could be accurate. To the extent what Ravech is trying to convey is that the Cubs would like Russell to be viewed *by the rest of the league* as a starting-caliber shortstop, then sure, this report is probably true in spades! To the extent the report is saying that there are some in the organization who feel like Russell – at his tip-top best – is the better defensive shortstop, and thus if it had no impact whatsoever on their respective offensive performances, you would prefer last year’s setup? Then, once again, I suppose I can understand.

But to the extent the report is indicating that the Cubs’ dream world scenario is that they are somehow actually able to transition Javy Baez, who is performing at an MVP-caliber level right now as an everyday shortstop, into a super-utility role so that Russell can reclaim starting shortstop duties? That the Cubs *want* that to be the next step in this process? I just cannot conceive of a world where that is a more enviable outcome – when you consider everything – than Baez continuing to dominate, and Russell emerging as a quality bench bat/part-time second baseman (whom they can trade).

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

And, of course, none of this even contemplates the very real and legitimate beef that half the fan base would have in seeing one of the most likable, popular, successful players “replaced” in his position by a guy who missed 40 games on a domestic violence suspension.

I just don’t see this. Are some people in the organization wishcasting that they could have their cake and eat it, too? A breakout offensive performance from Russell, playing elite shortstop defense, while Baez continues to rake at an MVP level and plays star-caliber defense all over the infield? I mean, OK, sure. There are probably some people associated with the Cubs who think that. But does the front office hope that’s what happens next? Does Joe Maddon? Would they ever actually make those plans as we sit here today?

No way.


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Author: Brett Taylor

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