Don't Sleep on Addison Russell for 2016 and Other Bullets

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Don’t Sleep on Addison Russell for 2016 and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

addison russell batting cubsIt’s remarkable how your kids can go through an entire spring, summer, and most of the fall without a single bit of sickness. Then the weather turns just slightly, and boom, enough back-to-back sicknesses to last the rest of the year (I hope).

On the bright side, since I’ve been making healthier choices over the past year and a half or so, it seems like I’m less suceptible to getting everything they get, or being as far under the weather when I do pick something up.

  • Mark your calendars, friends: Cubs single game tickets will go on sale February 26. You are advised in advance that they’re going to go quickly this year, especially for the most attractive games. Last year, the home opener sold out within 10 minutes or so, and the most popular summer weekend games were gone eventually, too. Just be prepared.
  • I enjoyed this read on the boom of young shortstops in the game, in which Addison Russell was naturally included. That got me looking at Russell’s projections for 2016, because I noticed in the article that he was the rare guy whose Steamer projection (2.2. WAR) was lower than his actual WAR in 2015 (2.9). That’s pretty odd, when you consider that he’s a young guy who should, in theory, get better. Digging around, Steamer is projecting a very slight improvement offensively for Russell, but basically flat (he’s going to improve – you can hold me to that), and it isn’t buying that his sublime defense will repeat itself next year. Steamer also has him missing some 30 games, so that dings the WAR total. ZiPS is more optimistic, projecting a more healthy bump in offense (just below a league average bat), appears to buy the defense just a bit more, and gives him a 2.8 WAR.
  • I’d still bet the over, but I do know that you can’t necessarily expect Russell to once again be one of the best defensive players in baseball, and you also can’t necessarily expect him not to go through offensive growing pains. Still: we’re talking about a preternaturally gifted player who barely played at AAA at all, and then more than held his own at 21 in the big leagues. Addison Russell is a stud on a team full of studs, and I don’t want to lose sight of him.
  • Jesse Rogers writes about the Jake Arrieta arbitration case, and I think he’s pretty much spot on in everything he said. Although there’s a significant gap between the Cubs’ offer ($7.5 million) and Arrieta’s ask ($13 million), there’s no reason to believe that’s anything more than each side playing the game, and setting themselves up for an optimal settlement. In the end, I think Arrieta beats the midpoint ($10.25 million), and gets closer to $11 million. Indeed, I suspect that the Cubs’ relatively low offer may have been setting up a situation where they could be in a position to go over the midpoint and still keep things in that $11 million range. Don’t forget: whatever Arrieta makes in 2016 will have a significant impact on his 2017 salary, too – that’s his final year of arbitration.
  • A couple more items on yesterday’s big MLB lawsuit settlement:

  • So, when you read that all together – and, remember, the full and final settlement terms will have to be reviewed before we draw any *hard* conclusions – it seems like the plaintiffs accepted the settlement for two reasons: (1) lowered prices and a single-team option, and (2) eventually, MLB will have to make in-market streaming available by way of *if* you are already an authenticated subscriber of an RSN that otherwise carries the game. In other words, the blackouts are not ending (and it remains to be seen whether the territories will at least shrink a bit), but MLB didn’t want to prevent folks from being able to stream games on their other devices if they wanted to, because, you know, it’s 2016. At the same time, MLB was very sensitive to not selling out the RSN’s that have paid huge money for the rights to broadcast games, because, you know, that’s where the big baseball money is coming from these days. Sorry, friends, as I guessed yesterday: this is not the end of blackouts.
  • I’m glad Michael took yesterday’s DH discussion, because I agree with everything he said, and I know where what he said gets you (beat up by many DH haterz). Well, I should say I agree with almost everything he said – one thing I think is worth considering: if MLB uses interleague games as a DH stepping stone (i.e., all interleague games, regardless of park, feature a DH), that’ll still help the AL teams a bit more than the NL teams, because the difference between an NL pitcher and an AL pitcher (offensively) is still much less than the difference between an AL DH (dedicated position) and an NL DH (bringing a bench guy into the game somewhere). So, while I agree with Michael’s point on that issue – it brings us closer to a full-time NL DH, which I like – I just wanted to add that it could only serve to exacerbate the inequity. But, from my perspective, maybe that’s a good thing, since it could move the discussion along further.
  • A fun read at BP on the “flames” on Fox broadcasts, and how fastball velocity has increased in the past decade.
  • Over at Baseball is Fun, Joey Votto did something strange, and I don’t know why he did, but I very much enjoyed Michael finding it.
  • They say after the holidays is the best time to buy holiday stuff – and clearly it’s true, because a Cubs elf is on sale. Since everyone needs to own a Cubs elf.
  • If you missed it earlier this morning, Luke wrote about one of the best prospect stories from 2015, righty Ryan Williams.

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Author: Brett Taylor

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