Cubs

Fantasy Baseball: What can you expect from Addison Russell?

addison-russell-cubs-csn-fantasy-slide.png

Fantasy Baseball: What can you expect from Addison Russell?

The Cubs' most intriguing Fantasy Baseball prospect made his debut Tuesday night.

No, not Kris Bryant. That was last Friday and it's hard to call Bryant "intriguing" in Fantasy circles because the intrigue is largely over. He was drafted in just about every league, even going as early as the second round in some leagues (seriously). He's here and he's been fabulous so far.

[RELATED - The future is now for the Cubs and Addison Russell]

Addison Russell, however, creates a bit of a dilemma for Fantasy owners. He's a consensus Top 5 prospect in the game and he qualifies at shortstop and will qualify at second base in a little over a week.

But can Russell help your Fantasy team as early as this season? Is it worth it to play him in your lineup or try to acquire him in a trade right now?

The CSN Fantasy crew weighs in:

John "The Professor" Paschall

I've tried to look at ways Addison Russell could be a top option at 2B/SS this year and it's hard to see it in standard leagues. He has a solid .897 OPS in his minor league career but standard leagues don't count OPS. He doesn't steal a lot of bases and doesn't hit for power like an Ian Kinsler-type. Also, there's always the chance of hitting a rookie wall later in the year. He has the potential to be a .300 hitter and score some runs if he plays in the "second leadoff" spot in Maddon's lineup or pick up some RBIs if he is slotted in the middle of the order. The other good attribute that Russell offers is position flexibility (SS/2B and maybe even 3B if Kris Bryant moves to the outfield). He's worth picking up (especially in keeper leagues) but I don't foresee a major impact on your fantasy team if you're in a standard league for the rest of 2015.

Tony Andracki

Addison Russell brings everything to the table for baseball fans of all kind, including Fantasy enthusiasts. First, the good: Russell is extremely polished, with a great approach, an ability to hit line drives to all fields and a career .301/.377/.520 slash line in his minor-league career. He has power and speed and qualifies in the middle infield.

[Rotoworld Fantasy Baseball news & info]

But - there's always a but - he's just 21. As in, he just turned 21 90 days ago. Not even three full months as of this writing. There are going to be ups and downs and he will have plenty of times where he struggles. It's just the nature of baseball, especially at his age. So he's a risk in any league, especially weekly leagues where he may end up mired in a 2-for-20 stretch or something. There's also always the risk that he gets sent back down to Triple-A Iowa if he can't overcome his struggles.

Russell is far from a safe Fantasy option, but he's the kind of high-risk, high-reward that can spark your Fantasy team to a championship. Take the plunge...just make sure you have a backup plan in place.

Mark Strotman

You know, I'm not so sure Russell is that safe of a bet in standard fantasy leagues. I think the fact that he'll earn second base eligibility in the near future would help him out some, and I do like that - for now, at least - he's batting ninth, with a phenomenal order in front of him. But the fact that his call-up this early in the year was as big of a surprise as it was means he's probably not going to light the fantasy world (or baseball world) on fire. True, the talent pool for second basemen is nothing to write home about, but if you're banking on getting some decent average and some runs out of the position, you're not going to be too competitive with Russell. You either need some plus-power or plus-speed, and Russell just doesn't seem ready to contribute in either of those areas. Maybe he's worth a speculative add since we are so early in the year, but don't drop anyone of any real value.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Sitting down with new Cubs coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey

2-21_jim_hickey_usat.jpg
USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Sitting down with new Cubs coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey

Spring training baseball games are up around the bend, but before the boys of summer get into organized action, two of the team’s new coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey sit down with Kelly Crull.

Plus, Vinnie Duber joins Kelly to discuss these baseball conversations including the memorable first words of Kyle Schwarber to Chili Davis, “I don’t suck!"

Listen to the full episode at this link (iOS users can go here) or in the embedded player below. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Changes aren't exactly popular, but Cubs and Sox — except maybe Willson Contreras — will adapt to baseball's new pace-of-play rules

Changes aren't exactly popular, but Cubs and Sox — except maybe Willson Contreras — will adapt to baseball's new pace-of-play rules

MESA, Ariz. — We know Willson Contreras doesn’t like baseball’s new pace-of-play rules.

He isn’t the only one.

“I think it’s a terrible idea. I think it’s all terrible,” Jon Lester said last week at spring training, before the specifics of the new rules were even announced. “The beautiful thing about our sport is there’s no time.”

Big surprise coming from the Cubs’ resident old-schooler.

The new rules limit teams to six mound visits per every nine-inning game, with exceptions for pitching changes, between batters, injuries and after the announcement of a pinch hitter. Teams get an extra mound visit for every extra inning in extra-inning games. Also, commercial breaks between innings have been cut by 20 seconds.

That’s it. But it’s caused a bit of an uproar.

Contreras made headlines Tuesday when he told reporters that he’ll willingly break those rules if he needs to in order to put his team in a better position to win.

“I’ve been reading a lot about this rule, and I don’t really care. If I have to pay the price for my team, I will,” Contreras said. “There’s six mound visits, but what if you have a tight game? … You have to go out there. They cannot say anything about that. It’s my team, and we just care about winning. And if they’re going to fine me about the No. 7 mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Talking about pace-of-play rule changes last week, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said his team would adapt to any new rules. In Chicago baseball’s other Arizona camp, a similar tune of adaptation was being sung.

“Obviously as players we’ve got to make adjustments to whatever rules they want to implement,” White Sox pitcher James Shields said. “This is a game of adjustments, we’re going to have to make adjustments as we go. We’re going to have to figure out logistics of the thing, and I would imagine in spring training we’re going to be talking about it more and more as we go so we don’t mess it up.”

There was general consensus that mound visits are a valuable thing. So what happens if a pitcher and catcher need to communicate but are forced to do it from 60 feet, six inches away?

“Sign language,” White Sox catching prospect Zack Collins joked. “I guess you have to just get on the same page in the dugout and hope that nothing goes wrong if you’re out of visits.”

In the end, here’s the question that needs answering: Are baseball games really too long?

On one hand, as Lester argued, you know what you’re signing up for when you watch a baseball game, be it in the stands at a ballpark or on TV. No one should be shocked when a game rolls on for more than three hours.

But shock and fans' levels of commitment or just pure apathy are two different things. And sometimes it’s a tough ask for fans to dedicate four hours of their day 162 times a year. So there’s a very good reason baseball is trying to make the game go faster, to keep people from leaving the stands or flipping the TV to another channel.

Unsurprisingly, Lester would rather keep things the way they are.

“To be honest with you, the fans know what they’re getting themselves into when they go to a game,” Lester said. “It’s going to be a three-hour game. You may have a game that’s two hours, two hours and 15 minutes. Great, awesome. You may have a game that’s four hours. That’s the beautiful part of it.

“I get the mound visit thing. But what people that aren’t in the game don’t understand is that there’s so much technology in the game, there’s so many cameras on the field, that every stadium now has a camera on the catcher’s crotch. So they know signs before you even get there. Now we’ve got Apple Watches, now we’ve got people being accused of sitting in a tunnel (stealing signs). So there’s reasons behind the mound visit. He’s not just coming out there asking what time I’m going to dinner or, ‘Hey, how you feeling?’ There’s reasons behind everything, and I think if you take those away, it takes away the beauty of the baseball game.

“Every game has a flow, and I feel like that’s what makes it special. If you want to go to a timed event, go to a timed event. I’m sorry I’m old-school about it, but baseball’s been played the same way for a long time. And now we’re trying to add time to it. We’re missing something somewhere.”

Whether limiting the number of mound visits creates a significant dent in this problem remains to be seen. But excuse the players if they’re skeptical.

“We’ve got instant replay, we’ve got all kinds of different stuff going on. I don’t think (limiting) the mound visits are going to be the key factor to speeding this game up,” Shields said. “Some pitchers take too long, and some hitters take too long. It’s combination of a bunch of stuff.

“I know they’re trying to speed the game up a little bit. I think overall, the game’s going as fast as it possibly could. You’ve got commercials and things like that. TV has a lot to do with it. There’s a bunch of different combinations of things. But as a player, we’ve got to make an adjustment.”