Cubs Reportedly Drawing Interest in James Russell and Wesley Wright

Teams are believed to be talking to the Cubs about both James Russell and Wesley Wright. Contending teams are always looking for ways to upgrade the bullpen, especially with left-handed relievers. While Russell and Wright did not fare too well in their most recent outings, both southpaws are having good seasons and are cost effective, plus Russell and Wright have a year of club control left on their contract.

The Braves, Angels and Blue Jays are at least three teams looking to add a lefty to the mix in their bullpen. And while James Russell and Wesley Wright are in the daily rumor mill, neither one of the relievers has been connected to a specific team or teams.

But could the front office be working on a deal for either lefty reliever, or both?

A blurb buried on a report from Cubs.com indicated the Cubs plan on leaving lefty Chris Rusin in the bullpen for now. Rusin was a candidate to fill one of the two spots in the rotation that was vacated by the trade with Oakland. But according to the report, the Cubs do not plan to use Chris Rusin as a starter.

With the two spots on the active roster that have to be cleared for Dallas Beeler and Kyle Hendricks in the next two days, Chris Rusin appeared to be one of the two candidates that would be sent down to open a roster spot. Unless there is an injury, if the Cubs option out Rusin he must stay in the minors for at least 10 days.

PrintChris Rusin would provide Rick Renteria with a long reliever and a southpaw that has pitched much better in the big leagues against lefties (.218/.256/.282) than righties (.306/.382/.502).

James Russell is aware he could be part of the next group of players the front office trades between now and the end of August.

James Russell has fared better against right handers than lefties this season. Overall, Russell has given up 17 hits in 25 1/3 innings over 35 appearances with 11 walks and 21 strikeouts. Right handers are hitting only .114/.231/.113 against Russell this year while lefties have managed a .267/.340/.462 slash line and all three homers Russell has allowed this season have been to left handed hitters.

Wesley Wright’s numbers are similar to Russell’s stats for the season. In 24 1/3 innings, Wesley Wright has given up 20 hits with seven walks and 20 strikeouts over 32 appearances. Wright has fared slightly better against lefties (.263/.293/.244) than Russell, but he’s still had more success against right handers (.182/.267/.262) than lefties.

Zac Rosscup figures to fill the one of the two lefty spots, if the Cubs trade both Russell and Wright. Rosscup has limited left handed hitters to a .059/.238/.235 slash line in the majors, and while it is a small sample size, Rosscup showed a lot of improvement in the four games he’s pitched with the Cubs this season.

While the Cubs return for either reliever might not end up more than a low-level minor leaguer or a waiver claim, the front office might want to see how Chris Rusin and/or Zac Rosscup fit into the mix in the bullpen before September rolls around. Plus any payroll that is saved could always be rolled over to next year’s budget.

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  • Ray Koenig

    Could be an interesting next 3 weeks. At least off the field.

    • BigJonLilJon

      Doesn’t look like it’s going to be all that interesting on the field though.

      • Ray Koenig

        Agreed, just like 2012 and 2013.

        • JasonOfTheBurbs

          a full-time Alcantara promotion would help the interest level, as will seeing if Kyle Hendricks and Beeler can at least be decent SPs.

          Coghlan and Ruggiano have made the OF more palatable lately, but who knows if they sustain it or get traded.

          I think replacing Barney with Alcantara takes out a big offensive issue and replaces it with something new/interesting to check out, and allows Valbuena and Olt to platoon regularly.

          Would be really great if some other position/hitter would come up besides Alcantara though…otherwise feels like 2013 a bit for sure.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          Young pitching up. Tradable assets like Ruggiano playing well. Plenty to be excited about observing.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    I wonder the Bluejays are looking for a second baseman Barney or Valbuena could fill that spot and Russell or Wright could sweeten the deal for a good prospect.

  • cubtex

    I am sure other teams know this but they would be wise to dump Russell sooner rather than later. He gets lit up in the 2nd half of seasons. When the weather heats up and the ball carries….so does his ERA.

    2013
    1st half ERA 2.78
    2nd half ERA 5.29

    2012
    1st half ERA 2.38
    2nd half ERA 4.55

    • DWalker

      by then everyone has also seen his stuff often enough as well. 77 and 74 games those years. he already has 35 this year.

      • cubtex

        His stuff isn’t that good. It catches up to him.

    • triple

      His second half woes are also due in part to his heavy usage in the first half of those two seasons. Things may be different for him this season, but that remains to be seen.

      2012: 41 2/3 IP in first half
      2013: 35 2/3 IP
      2014: 25 1/3 IP

      • cubtex

        http://mlbscoutingreports.com/tag/james-russell/

        Pretty good scouting report on Russell. It is more of a lack of stuff than any workload issues imo.

        • Tony_H

          I am always amazed that MLB teams still employ scouts and send them to see players they want to trade for, when they could just read year old scouting reports from some guy named Gianmarco Faraone.

          • cubtex

            Or for that matter, the opinion of a guy named Tony Hall :) this is a report on his repertoire. Fastball velocity. Delivery, other pitches etc. Not how he is currently pitching. Ignore if you choose. Russell doesn’t have good stuff is my point

          • Tony_H

            Or Cubtex!

            This was a scouting report….that is why they call the site mlbscoutingreports.com. Of course it isn’t about how he is currently pitching, it is a year old.

            Of course his stuff isn’t great, but over exposure is what causes his numbers to balloon. They have controlled his innings this year and he should not have as bad of 2nd half numbers.

            Either way, trade him if you can get anything of value in return.

          • cubtex

            the more innings a pitcher throws with below average stuff…the more chance the league catches up to them. He is not good. It is not about controlling his innings.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Also teams looking for a reliever and OF help could turn to the Cubs In Ruggiano and Russell or Wright.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    This has nothing to do with the article but I think Soriano who was recently DFA’d by NY Y could be a good fit for the Royals and although he has struggled this year he usually turns things around in the second half and goes on a tear. I think he’s got another one left in the tank.

    • DWalker

      bring him back here. would be an ironic twist and if he goes on a tear, so much the better. not like hes likely to do much worse then soem of our outfield options……

  • JasonOfTheBurbs

    Russell and Wright, eh? Well…I just sold my father’s 98 Bonneville in 15 hours after putting it up for sale…so I guess there is truly a buyer for everything.

    • Ripsnorter1

      The difference is the Bonneville is a very good car, and those two pitchers aren’t all that good.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    I really think that is another reason why no bat veteran Eli Whiteside is in AAA IOWA is to help these young pitchers development.

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  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Neil 2 of your links for reports go to Mlb.com.shop For Merchandise
    Just letting you know

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Patrick, thank you. I checked all of the hyperlinks for the reports, and they are going where they should on my end. Please reopen a new window and let me know if you are still having problems.