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Cub Tracks goes Pi-Eyed

Jason and his granny, and other words and pictures

Philadelphia Phillies v Chicago Cubs
yeah baby
Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Well holy gamethread word! Jason Heyward has clout! Daaaayyyyyyyyyummmmm!

“How about a grand slam right here?” — Anthony Rizzo, as reported by Kelly Crull. Bodes well for the future...speaking of which, in Cub Tracks’ four for the future, we looked at some early draft results, talked about how Jake is coming and how that might effect the series to come, related news of news going behind paywalls, and other bullets. Sometimes old news is good news. Sometimes not.

Speaking of old news, the Sun-Times has paywalled — the Tribune already did. I don’t read anything in either paper except for the occasional stub and it isn’t worth fifteen bucks a month to me to subscribe to both or eight bucks for either. I’ll include pertinent news direct from the horses’ mouths, as it were, and include tweets from people like Gordon Wittenmyer and Mark Gonzales (after my sub runs out) in Cub Tracks in the future — I figure that those of you who want to already read the Trib and the Sun-Times. ESPN Insider is gonna go, too, unless they make me a deal like last year ($12 for the annual sub). There’s just not enough Cub-related content there to make that worthwhile.

I’m trying to include as much as possible that’s not repetitive or from the usual sources, and will continue to provide my own limited analysis of the prevailing narrative(s) as a special bonus. Periodically I’ll even write about baseball. I stay up late every night and fill in the empty spaces like Alfred Bester’s Pi Man (the math nerd story to end all math-nerd stories? Or is this it?) and do the eyechart like Doug Gwozdz.

But enough about Yu. There was a game yesterday, and here’s the news — as always * means autoplay on, or annoying ads, or both (directions to remove for Firefox and Chrome).

Cubs News and Notes:

10 hyped players who are running out of time to become stars

#9. Addison Russell, SS, Chicago Cubs

Stats: .272/.347/.348, 20 BB, 46 SO, 2 HR, 1.4 WAR

Age: 24.134

Peak prospect status: No. 2 (pre-2015) by Baseball Prospectus

Russell is different from the other guys in that he has proved to be a valuable big leaguer -- 11.5 WAR since he came up in 2015, ranking tied for 50th among position players in that span. He has been an All-Star and a World Series champ and Gold Glove-caliber shortstop (although he hasn’t won one).

So this is mostly about his bat. Coming up through the minors, his bat was raved about more than his defense. He popped 13 home runs as a rookie and 21 in the title year 2016, but the power has evaporated this season (although the average and OBP have gone up). He’s swinging a little less this season, but it’s remarkable how his underlying metrics have basically remained unchanged in his four big league seasons. The one exception is he’s hitting fewer fly balls this year and more line drives (which explains the low home run total and the higher average), although his average launch angle is the same.

Basically, this is probably who he is: an elite defender with a so-so bat, not enough power and not enough contact to significantly improve, so he’ll remain on that next tier of shortstops behind Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa and a healthy Corey Seager (no shame in that). He’s under team control through 2021. The defense is important. The Cubs lead the NL in runs scored. Would you trade three years of Russell for three months of Manny Machado? — David Schoenfield

Phillies hitting coach John Mallee is back at Wrigley Field where he had the same job with the Cubs from 2015-2017. He was fired despite helping them to the playoffs 3 straight years as the team wanted to get better in situational hitting -- though Theo Epstein said he was only dismissed because current hitting coach Chili Davis became available: “He felt they needed to take the offense to another level and there was someone else better equipped to do that than me.,” Mallee said. “Do I agree with it? No. Do I accept it? Absolutely.” Mallee also said he is fine with Epstein but paused and showed some awkwardness when asked about Joe Maddon. Maddon has been critical of teaching the use of “launch angles” from youth levels all the way up to pro baseball -- something Mallee stressed often -- though he said on Tuesday the goal is always for a good line drive. — Jesse Rogers.

  • Mike Petriello (*): Cubs are NL’s best team -- here’s why. “Up and down the line, the Cubs stand out.”
  • Paul Sullivan (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs’ coaching purge back in spotlight with John Mallee’s return. “It’s a cold business, and the Cubs aren’t as warm and fuzzy an organization as the “Everybody In” campaign suggests.”
  • Sam Fels (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): What you don’t know about the Cubs offense won’t kill you. “Surely there must be some reason(s) the Cubs have not gone 45-6 as we all expected.”
  • Moshe Wilensky (Cubs Insider): Financial State of the Central, pt. 4: Reds signing of Joey Votto shows dangers of long-term contracts. “...during the heart of the Reds upcoming window of contention, Votto will be in decline.”
  • Michael Cerami (Bleacher Nation): Kyle Hendricks’ start didn’t go well last night, but it probably shouldn’t freak you out. “The first inning I felt good, and the second and third, I just wasn’t repeating my mechanics,” Hendricks said.
  • JL Wall (Wrigleyville-Baseball Prospectus): A tale of two Happs. “I’m talking about Ian Happ—who is…no longer struggling?”
  • Mark Gonzales (Chicago Tribune* {$}): Cubs’ Albert Almora Jr. trying to build on success against right-handers. “I’m growing as a player,” Almora said.
  • James Neveau (NBC Chicago*): Wives of Cubs, Brewers set to square off on diamond. “The game will take place June 12 in Milwaukee.”

Food For Thought:

Thanks for reading.