Cubs

Fantasy Baseball: What can you expect from Addison Russell?

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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.

Podcast: Albert Almora Jr. dishes on his role and the Cubs’ unsung hero that keeps things loose behind the scenes

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Albert Almora Jr. dishes on his role and the Cubs’ unsung hero that keeps things loose behind the scenes

Albert Almora Jr. joins Kelly Crull on the Cubs Talk Podcast to weigh in on a variety of topics, including his budding bromance with rumored Cubs target Manny Machado, his expanded role and how he spends his time off away from the ballpark.

Plus, Almora has a surprise pick for the organization’s unsung hero, stating the Cubs would’ve never won the World Series without this guy.

Listen to the full Cubs Talk Podcast right here:

How Ian Happ got his groove back at the plate

How Ian Happ got his groove back at the plate

There's a legit case to be made that Ian Happ has been the Cubs' second-best hitter in 2018.

Yes, really.

Happ ranks second on the Cubs in OPS (.895), behind only Kris Bryant (.995) among regulars, though a recent hot streak has buoyed that overall bottom line for Happ.

Still, it's been a pretty incredible hot streak and it's propelled Happ back to where he began the season — at the top of the Cubs order. 

Happ has walked 10 times in the last 6 games and hammered out 3 homers in that span, including one on top of the Schwarboard in right field as a pinch-hitter Tuesday night.

Even more jaw-dropping: He's only struck out 5 times in the last 9 games after a dreadful start to the season in that regard.

"It was just a matter of time until things clicked a little bit," Happ said. "That's why we play 162 games and it's a game of adjustments. At the end of the day, it all evens out.

"Look at the back of Tony [Rizzo's] baseball card — it's the same thing every single year. That's how this thing goes. You're gonna have your ups and your downs and I'm just trying to be as consistent as I can. If I can level it out a little bit and be more consistent over a period of time, that'll be better for our team."

So yes, Happ is on the upswing right now and he'll inevitably have more slumps where he strikes out too much and looks lost at the plate.

Such is life for a 23-year-old who is still a week away from his 162nd career MLB game.

The league had adjusted to Happ and he had to adjust back, which he'd been working hard doing behind the scenes.

"I just try to get him to primarily slow things down," Joe Maddon said. "Try to get him back into left-center. And I did not want to heap a whole lot of at-bats on him. When you're not going good, if you heap too many at-bats on somebody, all of a sudden, that's really hard to dig out of that hole.

"So a lot of conversations — a lot of conversations — but nothing complicated. I like to go the simple side of things. I wanted him to try not to lift the ball intentionally, really organize his strike zone."

Maddon believes Happ had lost sight of his strike zone organization, chasing too many pitches out of the zone — particularly the high fastball.

Now, the Cubs manager sees Happ using his hands more and less of his arms in his swing, working a more precise, compact path to the ball.

The Happ experiment at leadoff was a disaster to begin the year — .186 AVG, .573 OPS and 22 strikeouts in 10 starts there — but all the same tools and rationale exist for why Maddon likes the switch-hitting utiliy player in that spot.

And that's why Happ was leading off Wednesday with both Ben Zobrist and Albert Almora Jr. getting the night off.

"We're gonna find out [if he can stick at leadoff]," Maddon said. "I just thought he's looked better. He's coming off a nice streak on the road trip. [Tuesday night], pinch-hitting. I know the home run's great and of course that's nice.

"But how he got to the pitch that he hit out, to me, was the important thing. Got the two strikes, took the two borderline pitches and then all of a sudden, [the pitcher] came in with a little bit more and he didn't miss it.

"That's the big thing about hitting well, too — when you see your pitch, you don't either take it or foul it off. You don't miss it. He didn't miss it."