Cubs

'We would like to pay Addison Russell to go away': Cubs fans make a strong statement with fundraiser

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USA TODAY

'We would like to pay Addison Russell to go away': Cubs fans make a strong statement with fundraiser

Cubs fans are rallying together in an effort to try to make Addison Russell "go away." 

Jeff Falk and other "Fans of Cubs Twitter" started a GoFundMe Wednesday in an effort to convince the Cubs to "do the right thing" and release the embattled shortstop, who was tendered a contract in November but will miss the first month of the season to suspension for domestic abuse. 

They created a Twitter account @releaserussell this week to increase awareness and in the first Tweet Wednesday night said The Addison Russell Pink Slip Fund is "a campaign created by a group of Cubs fans who are heartbroken at the idea of seeing this abusive monster in a Cubs uniform in the 2019 season."

The goal of the fundraiser is to get to $4.3 million, which is Russell's projected salary for 2019 in his second year of arbitration. All proceeds will be donated to the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic of Chicago.

Apart from a pair of statements in press releases, Russell has yet to speak publicly since his dismissal from the team Sept. 21 when a blog post written by his ex-wife, Melisa Reidy, detailed the disturbing mental, emotional and physical abuse throughout their relationship. Reidy also spoke with Kelly Wallace of Expanded Roster in December to provide further context.

The Cubs have to exchange arbitration figures with Russell's camp by Friday and historically, Theo Epstein's front office is able to reach deals before the deadline and avoid arbitration hearings.

Here is the entire description for the GoFundMe:


To Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, and any other parties this may concern, 

We would like to pay Addison Russell to go away. 

We offer you his entire projected salary in 2019, to be donated to the Domestic Violence Legal Clinic of Chicago, in hopes that you will release him from your roster. We’ve read in the press that you’re barely scraping by. While we, like most Americans, can’t imagine what it's like to be wealthy and powerful beyond all measure, we’ve come together to scrape our pockets and dig into our couch cushions in hopes that one or preferably all of you decide to find a soul. 

“You go talk to their girlfriend, you go talk to their ex girlfriends…” - said our brave leader, Theodorus Nathaniel Epstein, on 60 Minutes. He promised us that times would change. We were told that character counts. And we’ve already been asked to forgive a lot on that score. We haven’t forgotten Aroldis Chapman.

Now you’ve been presented with a man who has choked his wife in front of his children, who has been delinquent in his child support, who has mentally and physically abused his wife for years, and who has been suspended by Major League Baseball after accepting responsibility for his actions. It’s long past time to do the right thing. 

Release him. He does not deserve the honor of having this position. He is not entitled to a job as a major league baseball player. He is a repeat offender, a danger to any woman around him, and it would spit in the face of every fan of this team to tell us that you respect us so little, that you don’t mind demanding that we clap our hands for a man who has used his to do much, much worse.

As always, all the power rests in your hands, all we can do is wait, and wish, and hope that we’re fans of human beings with souls, and not spineless jellyfish, clinging desperately to a cruel man who would cause millions of us trauma and pain to see in a Cubs uniform again. It’s time for you to give Addison Russell the pink slip. 

Signed,
The Fans of Cubs Twitter

They had raised $665 of their $4.3 million goal in the first 12 hours with donations from 21 people.

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19 for '19: Do Cubs have enough in the bullpen?

19 for '19: Do Cubs have enough in the bullpen?

We're running down the top 19 questions surrounding the Cubs heading into Opening Day 2019.

Next up: Do the Cubs have enough in the bullpen to make another run at the World Series?

It’s 2999. Functioning civilization is but a distant memory, as the cities we once revered are now nothing but ashes and dust. You and your group of survivors are walking down the middle of freeway, littered with abandoned cars and overgrown weeds. Suddenly, movement! Down the ways some, a mysterious figure emerges. The figure approaches, and you cautiously hold your ground. You lock eyes, and after what feels like an eternity passes, the figure finally cries out:

“Kinda worried about the Cubs bullpen this year.”

No one likes their bullpen in March. No one really even likes their bullpen in April. The Cubs are no exception, though there’s reason for optimism — and you don’t even need to look *that* hard!

First, the obvious: right now, on March 23rd, the Cubs’ bullpen is an issue. Brandon Morrow continues to work towards his return from something yucky called an elbow debridement procedure, Xavier Cedeno/Tony Barnette are already out and Pedro Strop is a hard-maybe for Opening Day. Who knows what to expect from Brandon Kintzler and Brian Duensing. All of a sudden we’re at SIX bullpen arms without a sure bet, which is admittedly a bit alarming.

There’s plenty of silver lining, though. Kintzler looked much better with the Nationals early last season than he did with the Cubs, and is still an elite ground ball guy. Carl Edwards Jr. is going to get his strikeouts and Strop filled in admirably as the closer last year; even if he misses Opening Day, it sounds like he won’t be too far behind. Brad Brach was a sneaky good signing. A healthy, strike-throwing Tyler Chatwood is an intriguing long-man, and frees up Mike Montgomery and his elite groundball rate to be used more judiciously. Hell, even Allen Webster and Junichi Tazawa are turning heads in camp.

There’s a workable bullpen in there somewhere. How far a “workable bullpen” gets you in October is fair game for debate, but the Cubs have the arms to appease Joe Maddon and his anybody-pitch-at-anytime routine.

If the Cubs want an elite bullpen, the type that sucks the life out of teams after the 5th inning, it’ll be up to the Ricketts to revisit their favorite “we’re out of money” line from this offseason. Maybe Chatwood learns to throw strikes again, and maybe Morrow stays healthy. Kintzler could start breaking bats again and Duensing could be nails against lefties, and people would still be worried. Ultimately, the bullpen’s best case scenario still probably doesn’t preclude the team from shopping at the deadline.

Official prediction: The Cubs will enter the postseason with an established 7-8-9 routine, and one of those three pitchers is on another team’s roster right now.

-Cam Ellis

Bullpens have always been important to a Major League Baseball team's success, but the focus on relievers has never been higher than it is right now. Between the use of openers (which turns into a "bullpen day") and how teams utilize their relievers to shorten games in October, it's a hot-button issue every day now.

It's pretty tough to put together a solid season without a good bullpen and there's no bigger source of frustration for a clubhouse or a fanbase than having the lead late in a game and blowing it. 

All that being said, the Cubs bullpen entering 2019 might be the least inspiring group they've had for Opening Day in years and it's not just because of injuries (though that's a huge factor). 

In 2017, the Cubs left spring training with brand new closer Wade Davis in tow, plus veterans Brian Duensing and Koji Uehara. 

In 2018, it was Brandon Morrow, Steve Cishek and a full season of Justin Wilson.

This year, it's Brad Brach, Xavier Cedeno and Tony Barnette...and both Cedeno and Barnette are expected to miss Opening Day due to injury while Brach is getting over a bout of mono and fighting through a dip in velocity. Oh yeah, and Morrow is still hurt and will miss at least a month.

It's certainly not ideal, but there are worse bullpen situations out there among contending teams. Even the once-mighty Brewers are enduring adversity with their relief corps at the moment.

The Cubs certainly have question marks in their bullpen and while a shiny new toy like Craig Kimbrel would absolutely make things look a while lot better, there's no guarantee this current group is going to struggle. Cishek, Brach, Duensing, Pedro Strop and Brandon Kintzler are all established veterans with a reliable track record and even amid his late-season struggles the last couple years, Carl Edwards Jr. has still posted very good numbers.

Edwards putting it all together would certainly make things run a lot smoother in Joe Maddon's bullpen. Remember, too, that Cishek looked like the MVP of the entire pitching staff last year before seemingly running into a wall in late August — he had a 1.68 ERA and 0.97 WHIP through Aug. 24.

The Cubs can't count on Morrow settling in as closer even when he returns in late-April/early-May given his long injury history and the key will be making sure he — and the rest of the bullpen — is healthy and firing on all cylinders down the stretch in what figures to be a dogfight in the NL. 

Plus, the Cubs finally have some young arms on the cusp of the big leagues who look like they may provide an in-season boost to the bullpen (Dakota Mekkes, Adbert Alzolay, etc.).

As Cam said, bullpens are impossible to predict in March. The Cubs felt great about their relievers in March 2017-18 and both units looked a whole lot different by the time September and October came along.

Could the Cubs have done more to bolster their bullpen this winter? Absolutely, and they probably should've given it's the clear weakness of the roster at the moment. But nobody knows how this will all play out over the next six months.

-Tony Andracki

The complete 19 for '19 series:

19. Who will be the Cubs' leadoff hitter?
18. Who's more likely to bounce back - Tyler Chatwood, Brian Duensing or Brandon Kintzler?
17. How different will Joe Maddon be in 2019?
16. Can Cubs keep off-field issues from being a distraction?
15. How can Cubs avoid a late-season fade again?
14. Is this the year young pitchers *finally* come up through the system to help in Chicago?
13. How much will Cubs be able to count on Brandon Morrow?
12. How does the Addison Russell situation shake out?
11. Will Willson Contreras fulfill his potential as the best catcher on the planet?
10. Will the offseason focus on leadership and accountability translate into the season?
9. Will payroll issues bleed into the season?
8. Will Javy Baez put up another MVP-caliber season?
7. Will Jon Lester and Cole Hamels win the battle against Father Time for another season?
6. What should we expect from Kris Bryant Revenge SZN?
5. Do the Cubs have enough in the bullpen?
4. What does Yu Darvish have in store for Year 2?
3. Are the Cubs the class of the NL Central?
2. Is the offense going to be significantly better in 2019?
1. How do the Cubs stay on-mission all year?

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19 for '19: What should expectations be for Kris Bryant Comeback SZN?

19 for '19: What should expectations be for Kris Bryant Comeback SZN?

We're running down the top 19 questions surrounding the Cubs heading into Opening Day 2019.

Next up: What is a reasonable expectation for Kris Bryant Comeback SZN?

Kris Bryant's Comeback Tour is officially upon us.

The former NL Rookie of the Year and MVP missed 60 games last year due to a shoulder injury and even when he was on the field, he was a completely different player. 

He initially hurt his shoulder on a headfirst dive into first base in Cincinnati in mid-May. He left that series hitting .305 with a .427 on-base percentage and .583 slugging percentage (1.010 OPS). 

Even more encouraging, Bryant looked to be addressing his biggest weakness — strikeouts. In 185 plate appearances, he struck out just 15.7 percent of the time which was well below his career line of 23.8 percent. His previous career-best in that category came in 2017 (19.2 percent) and if he continued along that line for the rest of 2018, it would've marked the fourth straight season in which he reduced his strikeout percentage.

Alas, that was not meant to be and Bryant struck out 28.7 percent of the time after suffering the shoulder injury and hit just .252/.338/.382 (.721 OPS) with 5 homers and 28 RBI in 63 games.

There's no saying Bryant would've kept those numbers going all season without the injury, but he was on pace for 34 homers, 100 RBI, 121 runs, 100 walks and 59 doubles — all of which would've either set new career highs or approached his previous best marks.

If he stays healthy in 2019 (admittedly a big "IF"), that seems like a very fair stat line to expect of Bryant over a full 2019 season: 30+ homers, an OPS north of .900 and approaching 100 walks. He also will probably hover around 110+ runs and come near 100 RBI depending on where he hits in the lineup (which will probably be in the 2-hole, but there's a legit case to be made that he should lead off).

Bryant confirmed over and over again this winter that his shoulder is just fine and he's proved it so far this spring, with a couple of homers while playing both third base and the outfield. 

He also has a little chip on his shoulder, soliciting more talk from the haterz to fuel his Revenge SZN, speaking openly about the state of baseball's free agency and even sparking a war of words with all of St. Louis. 

Injuries are impossible to predict, but there's nothing indicating a healthy Bryant is anything less than an MVP candidate.

-Tony Andracki

In the time since Bryant became a mainstay in the Cubs’ everyday lineup, there have only been three more valuable position players in baseball: Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, and Jose Altuve. Before an injury-shortened 2018, Bryant had started his career with 6.1-, 7.8-, and 6.7-win seasons. He has, quite frankly, been the best third baseman in baseball since being drafted.

That’s why the only real way Bryant can “improve” on 2018 is staying healthy. With two actually-working shoulders, he’s not only a legitimate MVP candidate, but a legitimate MVP frontrunner.

Normally, guys with an ISO north of .200 (what FanGraphs qualifies as ‘Great’) come with a lot of strikeouts. In 2017, Bryant’s last full season, there were 48 guys with ISO’s above .200 and 550 PAs (the number generally accepted as an appropriate sample size). Of those 48 guys, Bryant was Top-20 in ISO (19th), lowest K% (19th), highest BB% (6th), and highest OBP (4th). He’s lived up to his 70/80 power grade while arguably outperforming his 50/55 discipline grade. Basically, there aren’t many better pure hitters in the game.

If we wanted to nitpick, Bryant’s defense could improve. After flashing serious leather during his first two seasons, Bryant was replacement-level in the field during 2017, and bad in 2018. Say what you will about the reliability of defensive numbers, but it’s hard to spin a negative DRS. His statcast numbers paint a similar, albeit slightly more forgiving, picture.

Still, it’s hard to judge Bryant’s defensive prowess on 2018. He’s been a net-positive in the field during every season he’s been healthy, and it stands to reason that a shoulder injury -- even one on his non-throwing shoulder -- would impede his defense in some way, shape, or form. Now, if a healthy Bryant puts up monster numbers at the plate all year and is still bad in the field, then maybe it’s worth a discussion.

For now, Kris Bryant Comeback SZN depends almost entirely on health. Even in a shortened season that was by all accounts disappointing, he was still 25 percent better than the average league hitter. If the shoulder’s fine, he’s in the MVP conversation.

-Cam Ellis

 

The complete 19 for '19 series:

19. Who will be the Cubs' leadoff hitter?
18. Who's more likely to bounce back - Tyler Chatwood, Brian Duensing or Brandon Kintzler?
17. How different will Joe Maddon be in 2019?
16. Can Cubs keep off-field issues from being a distraction?
15. How can Cubs avoid a late-season fade again?
14. Is this the year young pitchers *finally* come up through the system to help in Chicago?
13. How much will Cubs be able to count on Brandon Morrow?
12. How does the Addison Russell situation shake out?
11. Will Willson Contreras fulfill his potential as the best catcher on the planet?
10. Will the offseason focus on leadership and accountability translate into the season?
9. Will payroll issues bleed into the season?
8. Will Javy Baez put up another MVP-caliber season?
7. Will Jon Lester and Cole Hamels win the battle against Father Time for another season?
6. What should we expect from Kris Bryant Revenge SZN?
5. Do the Cubs have enough in the bullpen?
4. What does Yu Darvish have in store for Year 2?
3. Are the Cubs the class of the NL Central?
2. Is the offense going to be significantly better in 2019?
1. How do the Cubs stay on-mission all year?

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Cubs easily on your device.