Cubs

Why Joe Maddon won’t create a Cubs shortstop controversy with Javier Baez and Addison Russell

Why Joe Maddon won’t create a Cubs shortstop controversy with Javier Baez and Addison Russell

Cubs manager Joe Maddon is trying to defuse any shortstop controversy involving Addison Russell and Javier Baez, framing his lineup decisions with big-picture ideas like rest, rhythm and matchups.

But what if this up-the-middle rotation evolves and Baez becomes a more consistent offensive force to go with his game-changing defensive skills? Where would that leave Russell when – for whatever reason – he’s not playing like an All-Star shortstop? 

“I’m not looking to do that, honestly,” Maddon said Wednesday at Wrigley Field. “The one thing Addison really has and does well is that he does the routine routinely. He normally doesn’t make any mistakes, which I really appreciate that about him. 

“Javy’s got all the flair in the world. He’s really good. I’m not denying that. But it comes down to the nuts and bolts for me. I’ve talked about the first time I saw Addison take groundballs in spring training a couple years ago. I was kind of like going crazy. I asked him: ‘Who taught you?’ Because his mechanics are so good.

“Javy will have his tendency to stay back on the ball. Addison’s always playing through the ball. When it goes to his right, Addie has a really good ability to put his right foot down and make that throw. There are little things that Addison does at shortstop. He’s so perfectly taught.”
 
Baez still started at shortstop for the 12th time that night against the Miami Marlins – after making only 21 starts there all last season. Baez has a more classic shortstop arm than Russell and his instincts and range at second base have drawn comparisons to Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar. 

Russell also isn’t performing like the guy FanGraphs credited with 19 defensive runs saved last year. He’s committed six errors through 50 games this season – after making 14 in 148 games last year – and not throwing with quite the same accuracy. The clutch hitter who put up 21 homers and 95 RBI during his age-22 season is now batting .209 with a .626 OPS. 

“He’s going to be back,” Maddon said. “As long as he’s healthy and well, he’s going to look like that again. I saw it way too much over the last two years. I can’t deny it – he has not played up to his standards to this point. But I have a lot of faith in this guy, because his mechanics, his fundamentals are that good for me.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: David Ross set to be named manager; Bryant service time dispute

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AP

Cubs Talk Podcast: David Ross set to be named manager; Bryant service time dispute

On the latest Cubs Talk Podcast, David Kaplan, Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki react to the news of David Ross becoming the new manager of the Cubs and the upcoming hearing with Kris Bryant regarding his delayed callup back in 2015.

01:30 - Was it always David Ross' job?

04:00 - Ross having to do a mock press conference as part of his interview process

10:00 - Theo and Jed's interview process

13:00 - How will Ross hold his former teammates accountable

17:00 - How active will the team be in free agency this offseason

21:00 - Kris Bryant's grievance over his service time

28:00 - Chances Kris Bryant (or a core player) gets traded this offseason

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

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David Ross' mock speech and press conference helped him land Cubs' manager job

David Ross' mock speech and press conference helped him land Cubs' manager job

After much speculation, former Cubs catcher David Ross is set to become the team's next manager, replacing Joe Maddon.

While we'll know more soon about what went into the Cubs' decision to hire Ross, minor details are coming out regarding the interview process. According to two reports, the team was impressed with Ross' delivery of a mock speech and how he handled a mock press conference.

This isn't the first time the Cubs have asked managerial candidates to partake in such activities. After interviewing for the Cubs' vacancy In November 2011, former manager Dale Sveum partook in an actual press conference featuring questions from the media. He wasn't hired at that point, but the presser was part of the Cubs' interview process. 

No, Ross wasn't named the Cubs' next manager solely on the mock speech and press conference. His clubhouse leadership and familiarity with the organization are two big factors. But the speech points to Ross' strength in the latter category; his ability to represent the organization positively through media relations — one of Maddon's strengths — is important, too.

Whether these strengths lead to wins is to be determined, but Ross clearly impresed the Cubs for a multitude of reasons.

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