Morning News – Javy, Schwarbs, and KB
As spring training (and the World Baseball Classic) roll along full-steam toward the regular season, we will spend most of our time worrying about the regulars’ slash lines and pitchers’ ERAs–worrying about what those things may (or may not) portend for the regular season. Along the way, though, there’s always room for ‘What if?’ type questions:
We learned during the postseason that the secret behind Javier Baez‘s great tagging skills are, at least in part, to his being a natural lefty. However, he throws and bats right-handed–the former more a requirement of the position(s) he plays than anything else. During high school, he evidently was a pinch-hitter, though, until a bad swing from the left side caused an injury, and since he’s been strictly a right-handed batter. Could some consideration be given to trying to get him back to switch-hitting in an effort to maximize his value on offense? You would certainly need Javy on board, but would Joe Maddon make use of him that way if the door was open to do so?
Why not Schwarber at first?
Let’s be honest: Kyle Schwarber, while arguably an upgrade over, say, Alfonso Soriano (toward the end of his time with the Cubs, at least) in LF, he’s not going to be an amazing defensive outfielder by any stretch. His time behind the plate is also more likely to be the emergency catcher type role for at least the forseeable future. Then why not, at least in the spring, get him some reps at first, and potentially look to him as the backup behind Anthony Rizzo when he needs/gets a day off? He certainly won’t be a Gold Glover over there either, but I can’t imagine he would be a huge liability, either. Besides, if you’re going to have a lineup with Schwarbs, but without Rizzo, would you rather a player the caliber of Albert Almora playing in left while Schwarber mans first, as opposed to Schwarber staying in left while Tommy La Stella fills in?
Bryant rakes it in
Thursday, as the team finalized contracts with their pre-arbitration players, word came around that the offer tendered to Kris Bryant was a whopper, at $1.05 million–just shy of twice the minimum of $535 thousand. It certainly is money well earned, given what he has done in just under two years with the team, but also was not required by any stretch of the imagination; at this point, he essentially has to take whatever figure the Cubs put on paper. That changes next year, though, when he gets to arbitration for the first of four years, a period where his salary is almost certain to start skyrocketing. It makes one wonder how this might put financial pressure on the team down the road, or if it might be a maneuver to try and get him under a long-term deal before he hits free agency.