Morning News: Schwarber, CF, and more cuts
The United States suffered their first defeat last night to Puerto Rico, 6-5. PR put up 4 runs in the first and the U.S. seemed to be fighting an uphill battle the rest of the night. Javier Baez had a great night by going 1-3 with 3 stolen bases. If the Chicago Cubs can get that base running out of him this year, along with a somewhat decent approach at the plate, Javy could see himself in the lead off spot for the Cubs.
Schwarbombs Leading Off
Speaking of lead off hitters, meet Kyle Schwarber. One of the first posts that I wrote for this site was ranking the players who I thought had the best chance to fill Dexter Fowler‘s spot in the lineup. I gave the readers four options with Schwarber being number 4 on that list. On December 13th, when I wrote the post, I would have never thought that a lumberjack such as Schwarber would have a chance to be the top guy. But a few weeks later at the Cubs Convention, Joe Maddon gave the fans the first glimpse of what he thought his lineup would look like…with Schwarber in the lead off role. I gave it some time, but now I can honestly say that I really do love this idea. Look at yesterday for example. The guy goes 2-3 with 4 RBI’s, 2 runs scored, and an absolute bomb to right off of Derek Holland in the 3rd. As I said in my first post, this is not your typical lead off guy. But as readers suggested, he only has to actually lead off once a game before he becomes the guy who has many opportunities to drive guys in. So, here we are on March 18th, and I am all in on Schwarbomb being our lead off hitter.
Center field Up For Grabs
Jon Jay and Albert Almora, Jr. are having a good battle this spring for the right to claim the center field spot for the Cubs. As of now there is very little that separates the two. Jay’s is currently hitting .303 with an on base percentage of .361. Almora is batting .314 and an OBP of .333. Defense was supposed to be the one thing that separated the two with Almora, Jr. having the upper hand. With saying that both players have made their fair share of good plays in the field, so to say that one has an advantage over the other is not making a good case. If one were to ask me my thoughts on who should be the opening day starter (I’m going to give it anyway because this is my post), I am going young and inserting Almora, Jr.’s name into the opening day lineup. I want to see him go with the big boys from the onset. I believe, and know, that we have the firepower to hide his bat early on (look at what we did with Addison Russell early on in his career) and help carry him through the rough patches. Jay would be a great utility player and a decent bat off the bench. I’m all about loyalty…therefore give it to our guy, who we drafted, and who gave blood, sweat, and tears in our minor league system.
The Cubs have a split squad day on Saturday with one team going against the Milwaukee Brewers and the other taking on Japan. Jake Buchanan will go against the Brewers and John Lackey will take the mound against Team Japan. Both games begin at 3:05 CDT.