The Cubs had Monday off following the second of three consecutive appearances on Sunday Night Baseball, so someone at the Four-Letter must have felt the need to give the news cycle a little push. Joining ESPN 1000’s Waddle & Silvy to talk about the Cubs and Sox, Baseball Tonight’s Karl Ravech shared a dubious report that the Cubs would prefer for Addison Russell to assume his old role while Javy Báez once again bounced around the diamond.
“A lot of the people I spoke to that know the Cubs intimately, that’s how I’m being told the Cubs internally feel,” Ravech said. “That they are better off when Báez has the ability to go play second base and go play third base. Again, I totally understand the argument that I wanna leave Baez at short. I love him at short, who’s a better shortstop than Javier Báez?
“But I know that the Cubs, a lot of them feel like they are better when Russell is your everyday shortstop and you can take Javy Báez and move him around.”
Such an idea failed to hold water on the basis of common sense alone and its credence was further undermined by the source. Ravech is probably a fine person and he’s obviously got sources in the game, but he’s not exactly Ken Rosenthal on the breaking news front. And when literally everyone else with access to the team — even members of the ESPN family — says they’ve heard nothing at all about it, well…
It’s possible that this was an intentional leak from the Cubs to see who’s sharing things with whom or it could simply be one of those deals where someone failed to provide proper context. Not that ESPN would ever promote such a thing. Well, except for A-Rod basically calling Yu Darvish a clubhouse cancer last year and Buster Olney reporting that the Cubs were openly taking offers on Kris Bryant and could have traded him this winter.
I get it, though, there’s probably a lot of pressure to break news and find titillating angles. We saw it pretty much from the moment Jeff Passan joined ESPN after a successful tenure with Yahoo. His long-form pieces continued to be well written and thought-provoking, but he seemed to be in over his head with the breaking stuff.
Hey, glass houses, right? Anyway, the Cubs categorically denied any desires or plans to move Javy off shortstop during media availability prior to Tuesday’s game in Cincy.
“Javy’s been one of the most dynamic players in the league,” Theo Epstein said, per Patrick Mooney. “So as we talked about a week or two ago, I think it makes sense to give him some reliability knowing he’s going to be in the lineup every day (and) he’s going to be playing shortstop.
“We have so many other players with versatility and moving parts that it makes sense to keep Javy where he is, where he’s doing a great job.”
Move along, nothing to see here. But there is probably a lesson in all this, maybe even a couple of them. The first, as Beck famously warned, is don’t believe everything that you breathe. Another is to make sure you apply whatever manner of critical thinking skills you possess when you hear something that sounds fishy.
Maybe the person giving the report simply had a bad source or the team is floating a trial balloon to see what kind of reaction the news gets. Or maybe it’s just the natural degradation of facts as information is passed along from one person to the next and so on.
As I wrote Monday, I’m sure the Cubs would like for Russell to once again become a legitimate offensive threat who’s also got a Gold Glove and a silver tongue. But his bat has gone wanting over the last few seasons and his UZR/150 (a defensive measure scaled to 150 games) has decreased markedly since his rookie year as health issues have limited his range and arm.
Anyway, the moral of the story is that the Cubs aren’t moving Javy from short unless it’s for the occasional rest day, at which point Russell can take his spot for a game.