The Rundown: Addison Russell Wants to Get Back to Baseball, Cubs Trade Priorities, Best Thing You’ll See All Day

There have been better high points for newsworthiness in past seasons, but the situation in which Addison Russell finds himself embroiled continues to make headlines. Wednesday’s ledes were generated by a press release — or from a Facebook post by a reporter who’d received said release — from a marketing firm announcing that Melisa Russell had hired a noted Chicago family law firm to represent her in divorce proceedings.

Just as a quick aside, please note the whole “press release” thing, which indicates that this was not a matter of media outlets airing dirty laundry. It was information that was quite literally released to the press in order that it might be shared.

Now, the wording of said release painted a rather unfortunate picture of its subject as seeking out interview requests. It was later clarified that her counsel, Thomas T. Field, would in fact be speaking for Mrs. Russell moving forward.

Also notable about the release was confirmation that Addison Russell’s estranged wife would not be speaking with the commissioner’s office about the incidents detailed in that now-infamous (and deleted) Instagram post. In all likelihood, that means an end — or failure to formally open — any investigation.

Russell spoke to reporters after Wednesday’s loss about the proceedings, or lack thereof.

“I know the process of the next thing that I need to do as far as, you know, if there is something going on,” Russell explained. “But I haven’t heard anything. It’s been sticking out, you know, for a while now. I think that, for me…I just want to get back to baseball.”

That last sentiment is very much what I got on social media in response to writing about the latest developments in the story, namely how they didn’t provide license to spike the football in celebration (is it okay to mix sports metaphors like that?). There were some decidedly more unpleasant opinions as well.

“I have the right support system,” Russell continued. “I have a lot of fans out there that are definitely making me feel better about the whole process.”

This part kind of bugs me, mainly because I’ve seen too much from some of these fans in terms of what they think about this whole deal. Sure, plenty of folks are level-headed about it and others compartmentalize their favorite athletes and pay no attention to what they do off the field. But using just a few comments on our Facebook page as a basis, there’s a strong contingent of people who firmly believe that Melisa Russell is a gold-digging tramp who probably cheated on her husband and is now getting an undeserved payday.

Long story short, I got way too involved in moderating the comments on our Facebook page. At the end of the day, this could well end up being much ado about nothing, at least when it comes to any tangible ramifications for Russell. Even if MLB does continue to sniff around, it’s going to be really hard to pick up the scent without his wife’s cooperation.

So, like one of LOST’s storylines, we’ve got a loose end just hanging around. It’ll probably never be tied up and all parties involved will do their best to move on as if nothing happened, though it’s always going to come up in those “Remember when…” conversations. I guess that means, as one of our commenters put it, we can once again stick to baseball. And so can Russell.

“When it comes down to it, I love playing baseball,” the shortstop said. “I absolutely love this game, whatever happens on the field, I’ll take care of it.”

Trade deadline targets

There’s been simmering speculation for a while now that the Cubs would pursue a guy like the Royals’ Lorenzo Cain to fill the glaring hole at leadoff that had lingered through the first 63 games of the season. But with Anthony Rizzo stepping into that role and surpassing the great Rickey Henderson as the GLOAT — Greatest Leadoff hitter of All Time — the focus can shift squarely back to pitching.

Not that it ever changed, mind you. It’s just that now the Cubs don’t really even have to consider allocating additional resources to fill a perceived need.

“We’re always going to be looking for pitching,” Jed Hoyer said recently “That will be our priority here at the deadline. We’re obviously working hard to assess it, making all the contacts and scouting everyone.”

Whether it’s a matter of jumping out ahead of the upcoming free-agent market or shoring up a rotation that hasn’t been great even when healthy, it’s clear that the staff could use some fresh blood. Mike Montgomery has looked good in three starts and Eddie Butler has been passable, but John Lackey is a back-end guy at best these days and the top three aren’t pitching like the Cy Young candidates they’d all been over the previous two seasons.

There’s been a lot of talk about the Rays’ Chris Archer, but prying him loose would require Eloy Jimenez and probably two to three other known commodities. Oh, and Tampa would also have to be willing to part with Archer, who’s still under contract for up to four more years at an AAV of only $8.5 million. In other words, the Cubs don’t exactly have leverage.

I know we’ve talked a lot about wanting more of those non-rentals, but going after a guy like Jaime Garcia might make a lot of sense as far as a cheap band-aid. He’s only owed a prorated amount of his $12 million salary, which is incredibly palatable, and won’t command much due to his impending free agency. The corner infield situation in Atlanta is far from solid, so it’s possible that a single player gets it done.

I’m speaking, of course, about Jeimer Candelario, who’s got no place to go in the Cubs organization at this point. Matt Adams has been raking for the Braves, but he’s going to be displaced once Freddie Freeman returns from a broken wrist. There was even talk that Freeman could move across the diamond at that point, though that’s too dumb an idea for even the Barves to seriously entertain. So unless they’re sold on Rio Ruiz as the man over there, Candy could net a sweet return.

The problem there is that Garcia doesn’t help the Cubs this winter, when they’re going to need to add at least two starters. Doing so in the free agent market is troublesome on a number of levels, not the least of which is cost. Aside from the effort involved in adding a pair of frontline arms, you’re looking at a commitment of somewhere in the neighborhood $35 million annually, and that’s on the low end. Not great when you’re trying to extend young hitters and avoid luxury taxes.

My point here is that this isn’t some deal where the Cubs just wave a wand and end up with the pitcher of their dreams. Rather than a golden goose, I’m thinking they land a bronze duck and maybe even a silver chicken.

DL weirdness

The Cubs’ DL situation this season has been much like their play on the field, a tentative and halting process that never quite makes sense. Whether it’s Ben Zobrist, Kyle Hendricks, or Jake Arrieta, there are all sorts of chronic issues that guys are trying to play through. The former two are on the shelf now, but only after a little hand-wringing (both literally and figuratively, as is were).

Now we’ve got Jason Heyward and his lacerated palm in limbo, which is very confusing to me. If he’s unable to play, why not just put him on the DL and call up Mark Zagunis or John Andreoli or Jeimer Candelario? This team is deep enough that getting by with a replacement player for a week and a half isn’t a big deal. Besides, even a lesser player at 100 percent is better than a starter who can’t grip a bat.

The most inexplicable part of the whole thing, though, is how a team that has been so proactive when it comes to injury prevention continues to hem and haw about what do with these guys once they experience a few nicks. It’d be one thing if we were talking about a grin-and-bear-it deal that didn’t appreciably impact performance. But when a guy publicly acknowledges that he can’t swing from the left side or when he posts a picture of his flayed-open palm, why the hell is he still on the active roster?

I don’t expect an answer, just throwing it out there.

Best thing you’ll see all day

Don’t even need to say anything here.

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