Countdown to Cubs Cactus League Opener: 4 Days
Addison Russell is the Cubs shortstop and at just 22 years old, he is the anchor of an infield that includes three All-Stars and three of the top 100 players in baseball. Russell will be on a big league diamond for the first time on Opening Day when the Cubs begin the season in Anaheim against the Angels.
Russell showed last season he can provide Gold Glove defense at two positions and this year his offense should start catching up with his defense.
Jerry Crasnick recently caught up with Russell and posted an excellent report about the Cubs’ shortstop.
Theo Epstein said that Russell may be the player the Cubs worry about the least even though he is their youngest player. Russell is a hard worker and strives to get the most out of his ability.
Ryne Sandberg really likes what he’s seen from Russell. Sandberg thinks “his potential is very good” and reminds him of “a young Barry Larkin.” That’s a pretty big comp from a Hall of Famer. Billy Beane, as Crasnick pointed out, also compared Russell to the Hall of Fame shortstop. And Russell reminds Joe Maddon of Derek Jeter and Gary DiSarcina with the way he picks groundballs.
Joe Maddon is convinced Russell is going to hit and hit for power in the majors. Russell finished his rookie season with a .242/.307/.389 slash line and a .696 OPS. Russell hit 29 doubles, a triple and 13 home runs … a total of 43 extra basehits in 475 at bats.
The Cubs passed over Russell in the 2012 draft. Jason McLeod selected Albert Almora Jr. instead. While the Cubs are very high on Almora Jr., McLeod admitted he missed on Russell. McLeod is glad the trade with the A’s worked out the way it did.
Addison Russell is as smooth as they come in the field … and the only thing he cares about his winning.
News and Notes from Cubs Camp
• Rick Sutcliffe said he saw “more really good stuff from Cubs pitchers in live BP” on Saturday. Sutcliffe picked out Kyle Hendricks, Pedro Strop, Hector Rondon and Andury Acevedo from the group that pitched.
• Rick Sutcliffe said shagging fly balls “was the easiest ever” on Saturday … because Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant, Dexter Fowler and Jason Heyward hit one out of every three balls out of the park.
• And the Red Baron was happy to see Kerry Wood.
Revisiting the Cubs-Rays Trade from 2011
The deal between the Cubs and Rays that was finalized on Jan. 8, 2011 has been the subject of much debate for the last five years. And it is back in the news.
The Cubs acquired Matt Garza, Zac Rosscup and Fernando Perez from the Rays for Hak-Ju Lee, Robinson Chirinos, Sam Fuld, Brandon Guyer and Chris Archer.
At the time of the deal it was believed that Andrew Friedman wanted either Archer or Trey McNutt included in the package for Garza. The Cubs included Archer and went on to finish fifth in the NL Central with a 71-91 record. Jim Hendry was fired in late July that summer.
According to Nick Cafardo, Andrew Friedman actually wanted Chris Carpenter and not Archer. Carpenter ended up being the main piece in the compensation the Red Sox received for Theo Epstein leaving with one year to go on his contract.
Nick Cafardo explained, “If Andrew Friedman had gone with analytics over the advice of his top scout with the Rays, he would have wound up with failed prospect Chris Carpenter over Chris Archer. Friedman’s top scout at the time was Jeff McAvoy, who is now the Marlins scouting director. Friedman was going to make a deal with the Cubs, and analytics showed that Carpenter was a better prospect than Archer. McAvoy insisted that Archer would be the better choice in the long run.”
The Cubs sent Garza to the Rangers two years later (July 22, 2013). Zac Rosscup, Justin Grimm, Neil Ramirez and Carl Edwards Jr. are the four players still in the organization from the two trades involving the now Brewers’ right hander.
News and Notes
• Joe Maddon was asked again Saturday which one of his starting pitchers will get the ball on Opening Night against the Angels. Maddon said he is not ready to name a starter yet. According to Jesse Rogers, he promised “to name an opening starter soon.” Maddon is just delaying the obvious announcement, which is fine. It’s very early in Spring Training.
• No more lazy plays for Jorge Soler according to the Sun-Times. Soler plans to bring playoff focus to season. And Jesse Rogers talked to Jorge Soler. He said will not wear the ski mask when it’s cold this season.
• Ryne Sandberg is on Instagram … @rynesandberg23
• The Cubs are auctioning off the windshield Kyle Schwarber busted a couple of weeks ago. Safelite replaced the windshield but Schwarber autographed the shattered glass. Peter Gesler donated the windshield for the Cubs Wives event that will be held on March 25.
• Jason Heyward could be in an Old Spice commercial according to his skipper. So, Old Spice sent him a gift.
• Carrie Muskat posted a photo of Javier Baez’s gloves … Baez honors his sister, Noley, by having her name stitched on his glove.
• Aaron Brooks provides insurance for the Cubs at Triple-A according to a report from ESPN Chicago. Brooks will be used a starter for the I-Cubs.
• ESPN Chicago reported Cubs’ players attended a domestic violence seminar prior to Saturday’s practice.
• Starlin Castro is wearing No. 14 for the Yankees, the same number Lou Piniella wore during his years with the Yankees. Piniella was the Cubs’ skipper when Castro made his Major League debut. As the Sun-Times pointed out, Castro looks weird in Yankee pinstripes.
• The Pirates tried to cut Gerrit Cole’s salary and he’s upset about it according a report from Rob Biertempfel. Gerrit Cole ended up signing a contract for the exact same salary ($541,000) he made last year, counting the $10,000 bonus he received for making the All-Star team. When Cole didn’t sign the Pirates initial offer ($538,000), they threatened to pay him the league minimum which is $507,500 for this season.
• The Cubs are stocked and in position to land an arm according to Phil Rogers.
This Day in Cubstory
2009 – Cubs signed free agent Corey Koskie
1981 – Cubs traded Dave Kingman to the Mets for Steve Henderson and cash
1930 – Dolan Nichols, born
1885 – Tom Walsh, born