Cubs

Maddon on Addison Russell: 'We gotta make sure the mental mistakes are curbed'

Maddon on Addison Russell: 'We gotta make sure the mental mistakes are curbed'

Addison Russell had a tough day at the ballpark Saturday.

He was thrown out twice on the basepaths, lost a popup in the sun, let another popup drop behind him in an apparent miscommunication with Albert Almora Jr. and somehow threw his bat into the Cubs dugout in the follow-through of a swing — again. 

Joe Maddon wasn't upset about the issues on the popups, but it was the baserunning issues and mental mistakes that really irked the Cubs manager.

After the game Saturday — a 6-5 Cubs win — Maddon laid it out simply:

"He’s gotta straighten some things out," Maddon said. "He has to. There’s no question. I’m not going to stand here — he’s got to, we’ve talked about his baserunning in the past. 

"… The baserunning, there’s some things there — we’re making too many outs on the bases and we’re missing things on the bases that we can’t to be an elite team."

Russell wasn't in the lineup for Sunday's game with Robel Garcia taking over at second base and before the contest, Maddon doubled down on the baseruninng comments.

"Yesterday was just a tough day and it wasn't even the popups — I don't care because the sun's tough and the wind's tough and it's a thousand degrees," Maddon said. "That's not it. There were other components that we need to make sure he gets back on top of his game with.

"His defense, for me, is still among the best. It's still among the best. He had a tough day. The physical mistakes, I never worry about them. We just gotta make sure the mental mistakes are curbed."

Since returning from suspension in May of this season, Russell rates positively as a defender and has only been charged with two errors. But he's made several other mental mistakes in the field, not to mention the baserunning gaffes that the rest of the Cubs team has seemingly moved past after struggling as a whole in that regard for a few weeks leading into the All-Star Break.

The Cubs are also waiting for Russell to get going offensively.

In Friday's series opener against the Padres, Maddon liked the way Russell was trending against left-handed pitching — an issue for the Cubs lineup in general this year — and put the embattled second baseman in the 5-spot in the order behind Anthony Rizzo. The Cubs pulled off another victory that day and Russell scored the game-winning run, but he also struck out three times.

On the year, the 25-year-old is hitting .243 with a .730 OPS, 6 homers and 16 RBI in 53 games.

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Cubs aren’t trading Yu Darvish this winter, despite reported inquiries

Whether the Cubs trade a member of their position player core this winter — i.e. Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras — is to be determined. Both have been fixtures in rumors this offseason, and the Cubs may make a deal to replenish their barren farm system and retool their roster with the organization’s long-term stability in mind.

Yu Darvish, on the other hand, is a different story.

No, the Cubs won’t be trading Darvish this winter, despite the inquiries they received at the Winter Meetings this week, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.

A year ago, this would be an entirely different conversation. Darvish was coming off a disappointing debut season on the North Side in which he made eight starts and posted a 4.95 ERA in 40 innings. He didn’t throw a single big-league pitch after May 20 due to a lingering arm issue that led to surgery last November.

2019 was only Year 2 of the lucrative six-year contract Darvish signed in February 2018. But between the injury and his struggles before it that season, the narrative entering 2019 was shifting towards Darvish being a potential bust.

The narrative around Darvish is obviously much different now, thanks to the stellar second half performance he put together last season. In 13 starts, the 33-year-old delivered a 2.76 ERA, striking out 118 batters compared to a mere seven walks in 81 2/3 innings.

Not only was Darvish walking the walk, but he was talking the talk. He was determined to turn things around after posting a 5.01 ERA in the first half, asking then manager Joe Maddon to start the Cubs’ first game after the All-Star break. The result? Six innings of two-hit, no-run ball with eight strikeouts and one walk. Darvish's comeback was officially on.

Bust? Darvish is far from it now. He opted in to the remaining four years of his contract earlier this offseason, calling the Cubs "perfect" for him.

If the Cubs were entering a rebuild, fielding Darvish trade offers would make plenty of sense. He's owed $81 million through 2023, a bargain compared to the deals Gerrit Cole (nine years, $324 million — Yankees) and Stephen Strasburg (seven years, $245 million — Nationals) earned this offseason. Darvish's contract is desirable, and trading him would help alleviate the Cubs' notoriously tight payroll situation, freeing up money for them to put towards other needs.

But the Cubs aren’t rebuilding, and trading Darvish would create a tremendous hole in a rotation with plenty of uncertainty after next season. José Quintana is set to hit free agency after 2020 and Jon Lester could join him, if his 2021 option doesn’t vest (he must pitch 200 innings next season for that to occur). Heck, even Tyler Chatwood's deal is up after 2020.

In one season, Darvish has elevated himself to the No. 1 pitcher in the Cubs rotation. The Cubs won't be better next season if they trade Bryant or Contreras, but they'd still be competitive and acquire assets for the future.

One player doesn't make a team in baseball, but the Cubs need Darvish in their rotation, not someone else's. Unless they're absolutely blown away by a trade offer, Darvish isn't going anywhere.

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: MLB 2019 Winter Meetings come to an end

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NBC Sports Chicago

Sports Talk Live Podcast: MLB 2019 Winter Meetings come to an end

SportsTalk Live is on location in San Diego for the final day of the MLB Winter Meetings.

0:00- Chuck Garfien, Tony Andracki and Vinnie Duber join Kap to recap the Winter Meetings. Tony was right-- the Cubs didn't make a move. Plus, should the White Sox have done more in San Diego?

12:00- Legendary baseball writer Peter Gammons joins Kap and Chuck. The talk about the price for pitching and what the Cubs might do with Kris Bryant. Plus, Gammons talks about a text he received saying the White Sox were talking with the Red Sox about Andrew Benintendi and David Price. Would that make sense for the Southsiders?

20:00- White Sox World Series winning closer Bobby Jenks joins Kap to discuss his emotional article in The Players Tribune. They discuss his injuries with the Red Sox, the back surgery that almost cost him his life and then his downward spiral into addiction.

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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