As we’ve discussed and the Cubs have all but conceded, Javy Baez has done absolutely everything you’d want out of a big league starting shortstop, and pulling him off of that position to be replaced by a guy who is coming back from a domestic violence suspension seems a terrible idea for so many reasons.
To that end, it seems more and more likely that, if and when Addison Russell comes back up to the big league Cubs, it’ll be in something closer to a utility role than as a dedicated starter at any one position – shortstop or otherwise.
Tonight, presumably in service of that role, Russell is working at, and will start at, second base for the Iowa Cubs:
Addison Russell taking some grounders at 2B right now. Here’s a look at why he could get some playing time there in Chicago. https://t.co/La2dH9YYnl
— Tommy Birch (@TommyBirch) April 29, 2019
Here's how we line up for our first ever meeting with San Antonio! Come catch the game starting at 6:38 over at Principal Park. pic.twitter.com/w1Am3gmZrL
— IowaCubsGameDay (@IowaCubsGameDay) April 29, 2019
Russell, 25, was a shortstop as a prospect who ultimately joined the Cubs at a young age at second base, where he adjusted quickly and well. I don’t doubt he will be able to play second base very well defensively.
Can he take another step forward with the bat to justify taking away starts from guys like David Bote, Daniel Descalso, and Ben Zobrist? Does the fact that he has been away from the team for so long, by his own doing, mean the Cubs should be extra careful how they dole out his playing time, vis a vis the guys who’ve been there all along?
If Russell has to be back at all – and, let’s be clear, the Cubs have made absolutely no indication that he won’t be, probably very soon after his suspension ends later this week – then I see his fit right now as a defense-first middle infielder, who certainly need not start every day.