Cubs

The future is now for the Cubs and Addison Russell

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The future is now for the Cubs and Addison Russell

PITTSBURGH — Addison Russell became the overnight trending topic on Twitter, the latest mega-prospect dropped into what’s becoming a very interesting Cubs team.

Looking out across the infield at this beautiful waterfront stadium, you saw Russell playing alongside Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro and Kris Bryant. No player is older than 25. Each one is under club control through at least the 2020 season.

The Cubs kept pushing the youth movement they believe will create a perennial contender, fast-tracking Russell into Tuesday night’s 9-8 comeback victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. 

“I’m excited for what tomorrow brings,” Russell said after going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. “I’m just happy to get the first one out of the way, kind of see what it’s like up here.”

[MORE CUBS: Starlin Castro wants to win now with Addison Russell]

In terms of atmosphere, the Cubs (8-5) are trying to create to what manager Joe Maddon would call “the new normal.” The Pittsburgh skyline became the backdrop, but the Cubs think this group can play together at Wrigley Field and deep into October.

“It’s all still theory,” Maddon said. “Theory and reality are kind of coming together. My point is that they have to get out there and play. It’s one thing to look good on a piece of paper — and another thing to go out there and perform.

“I have a lot of faith in this group. I think we are going to perform. But be patient. They are young. They are going to make mistakes. They’re going to have some bad days. It’s not going to be an oil painting every night. But if you have a creative mind’s eye, you can see over the next couple years (what) it’s going to possibly look like.”

This doesn’t definitively answer the long-term questions about Castro, a three-time All-Star shortstop who wants to win a Gold Glove this year and looks energized playing for a team that’s not already buried in April.

The Cubs have options. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein went into this season saying he had no agenda, wanting to see how it all shakes out first.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

Russell might be the best defensive shortstop in the organization. But for now, the Cubs will get him acclimated at second base, where Arismendy Alcantara (2-for-26) didn’t produce and Jonathan Herrera has been filling in with Tommy La Stella (rib cage) on the disabled list.       

“I did not expect this,” Russell said. “I couldn’t even guess that this was going to happen to me. But I’m here now, and that’s all that counts.”

Russell is 21 years old and has played only 14 career games at the Triple-A level. He hit .318 with four doubles, one homer and nine RBI in 11 games at Iowa this month. He entered this season as a consensus top-five prospect for Baseball Prospectus (No. 2), Baseball America (No. 3), ESPN (No. 4) and MLB.com (No. 5). 

To make room for Russell, the Cubs optioned Alcantara to Iowa and transferred third baseman Mike Olt (wrist) to the 60-day disabled list. Whatever happens next, the Cubs have sent a clear message that the future is now, with Bryant and Jorge Soler already making an immediate impact.

“I’m ready to perform with these guys,” Russell said. “Hopefully, if someone else is in my shoes, you’ll be asking them the same question about me. That’s kind of like the goal right now.”

 

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: In light of recent hitting coach turmoil, who’s to blame for Cubs offensive struggles?

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Luke Stuckmeyer and Tony Andracki discuss the comments Chili Davis made after being fired as Cubs hitting coach, ask if the Cubs struggles on offense were Davis' fault or the players and what Anthony Iapoce will be walking into as he tries to gets the team back on track a the plate.

 

Listen to the entire podcast here, or in the embedded player below:

 

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

Texas Rangers hire Cubs' Shiraz Rehman to be assistant GM

The changing of the guard continues for the Cubs this offseason. 

After the team hired a new hitting coach yesterday, it was reported today that they're losing a front office member: 

Rehman, who has been with the Cubs in the same position for the last seven years, will reportedly head up the Rangers' analytics department. According to the Chicago Tribune, Rehman's role was " evaluating existing systems, and recognizing and applying solutions in an effort to create competitive advantages for the organization." 

All reports indicate that he'll be doing similar analytic-based work with the Rangers.