The Cubs got catcher Willson Contreras back from the injured list Wednesday and that provides a big boost to the offense. Contreras' activation resulted in the demotion of infielder Addison Russell to the minors.
Russell's demotion, from where I sit, was long overdue. Through 55 games, he's hitting .247/.329/.404 (89 OPS+) and the eye test shows a lot more warts than the line itself.
Bear in mind the off-field baggage Russell carries with him, which in my mind means his leash should be much shorter than others, and now loop in all the on-field mental errors he makes. Here's a list of his mistakes from Saturday alone ...
- Russell didn't take third on a ball that got away from the Padres' catcher Austin Hedges, but he put himself in no-man's land before nearly getting picked off second base.
- Immediately thereafter, Russell got doubled off second on a lineout to left.
- Russell lost a pop up in the sun, leading to a "double" and that runner eventually scored.
- Russell on third base didn't attempt to score on a ball where the shortstop had to backhand a grounder in the hole.
- The next play, a routine grounder to third, Russell did try to score and was thrown out with ease.
- Russell again lost a pop up and simply gave up on it.
These types of issues have been happening through the season. Cubs manager Joe Maddon after the game Saturday even seemed to call Russell out, something he rarely does. Via ESPN Chicago:
"He has to straighten some things out," the Cubs manager said Saturday. "He has to. There's no question. We've talked about his baserunning in the past."
On the positive side, Russell plays good defense for the most part. On the negative side, we have just about everything else. In sticking with just on-field stuff, he's had 2,139 career plate appearances. He's hit .242/.314/.393 (87 OPS+). I'm sure there is someone somewhere who thinks he's going to become a good hitter at the MLB level at some point. I am not, however, sure what that person is looking at. He's long since been established at the major-league level.
What the Cubs have in Russell is a player who is a sub-par hitter, often makes mental mistakes and has a domestic violence suspension in his recent past. He'll take that baggage to Triple-A.