View From The Bleachers

Talking Cubs Baseball Since 2003



July 2017



The Kyle Schwarber Conundrum…Or Not?

Written by , Posted in General

Last night the Cubs beat the White Sox 6-3. After giving up a couple of home runs early, Jon Lester had a solid outing and the Cubs bats continued to thrive following the All Star break.

Perhaps the most entertaining part of the game came in the bottom of the sixth inning in which JD had to explain to Len what a fidget spinner is because, apparently, Len Kasper lives under a rock when he’s not at the baseball field or some gig. It was a pretty cringey three minutes of commentary.

On to some thoughts, then:

What Do We Do About Kyle Schwarber?

Last night, Kyle Schwarber looked great. He hit two home runs and had a triple (WHAT!?) in the sixth, but he’s still struggling mightily this year.

I’ve wanted to write about Schwarber and his down year for a while, and I decided I was going to today before he had a great game last night. So, joke’s on me I guess.

I have honestly been skeptical of Schwarber all year.

Think about it: he had a great World Series, but other than that, we have an incredibly small sample size of at-bats for him in the MLB.

Well, until now.

After his first full half-season (plus a couple of weeks) in the big leagues, Schwarber is batting .191 with a .308 OBP. Sure he has 17 home runs, but still. His subpar outfield play with his struggling bat makes me wonder: how long is he allowed to play like this (last night being the exception) until it’s time to move him?

Sometimes I just wonder if the Cubs outfield would be better off if the daily crew was Ian Happ, Albert Almora, and Jason Heyward left to right, with Jon Jay filling in for whomever when necessary.

I know it might be considered heresy, especially after the display of power last night, but I am just starting to feel like dealing Schwarber to an AL team to use as a DH in exchange for a solid, young starting pitcher may be the best option—if not this year, maybe next.

I love the guy and think he may have a high ceiling, I just wonder if he might be better used as a trade chip than an everyday left fielder in the long run. I am interested in what others think here, though, because I’m not sold either way. Last night gave me hope.

Anthony Rizzo Is Hot!

To which most women reply, “Tell me something I don’t know.”

But really, the last couple of games, Anthony Rizzo has really started to hit the ball (finally). He hasn’t had a terrible year, but it doesn’t seem like he’s had quite the pop we have come to expect from him.

Last night he went 2-for-4 with a solo home run. He has been hitting well since after the All Star break and it has been a welcome sight.

Jon Lester Threw to First Base!

Sure, he skipped the ball on the grass like a six-year-old skips rock on a pond, but hey, it hit Rizzo’s glove before the runner’s foot in the bag. Better to one-hop it than to send it over Rizzo’s head like a missile.

Baby steps.

Coming Up

This weekend is going to be awesome. With the Cubs now in first place 1.5 games ahead of the Brewers, the Cubs can go to Milwaukee with the opportunity to defend their lead, rather than trying to take it from the Brew Crew.

The Brewers are coming off of a terribly difficult series with the Washington Nationals.

Should be a great weekend series! Let’s hope the bats stay hot.

  • Kyle

    Coffee tastes amazing this morning. The Cubs did their chores and took out the trash. Now let’s celebrate and put down some Brews.

    • Sherm

      You, sir, are a poet

  • Karen Hirsh

    A month ago I said trade Schwarber to the AL. I still think it’s a good idea if we get something in return. I think Jason Heyward is terrific. He is the best defensive player I have seen in many years. Here’s hoping the Cubs have a great weekend.

  • Bruce Fritz

    It’s going to be tough to trade Schwarber for what he’s truly worth. Earlier this year when he couldn’t hit the ball off a tee, the Cubs would have gotten pennies for the dollar on him. Now since he returned from his timeout on July 6, he’s hitting .280 with a 1.048 OPS. Can the Cubs trade the folk hero while he’s mashing like this, even though he might net a good, young pitcher in return?

    • chrismartin17

      Yeah, this is the sort of internal mental battle I have.

      • Doug S.

        Is it possible to win an internal mental battle and if so, who loses?

    • Bartz

      I was fine with trading Schwarber after the postseason because his value was high and they could’ve gotten a nice arm in return. But since they kept him, they have to ride it out. The bottom line is that management and the fans drank the kool-aid after watching his back-to-back playoff performances. After only playing in 71 regular season games and missing all of the 2016 regular season, he was expected to replace Fowler and hit 83 homers out of the lead-off spot. It wasn’t going to happen and it’s a shame that it took as long as it did for them to realize it.

    • Bruce Fritz

      Obviously the fans and media fell hard for Schwarber, it was hard not to in the euphoria after last fall. However, maybe smart front offices around baseball weren’t so sold on him yet, given the small sample size. Perhaps Thed still wants to sell high but the asking price has been higher than we, the masses, perceived it to be 4 or 5 months ago when we were one-upping our own predictions for his home run totals (I was guilty as anyone of drinking the kool-aid). Maybe this hot streak will be enough to get a desperate AL team to overpay for a guy best suited for a DH role.

  • Junior Von White

    I think part of Schwarbers struggles are because he is stuck playing left field. The guy is a competitor and wants to be the best and he will never be the best left fielder. At best he’s a slightly below average left fielder. I think that damages him mentally as he tries to readjust his game and still sucks. Consequently, the rest of his performance (batting in specific) also suffers. I think he needs to move to 1B or DH. Neither option is available on the Cubs roster, so I agree, trade him. But right now is probably not good because he’s not worth much; give him some time to bounce back and set him up to succeed somewhere else while getting some important pieces back to help the Cubs continue their success.

    • Eddie Von White

      He’s a folk hero in Chicago, but folk heros come and go. Let him go now, I say.

    • Michael S.

      Hypothetically, say a team were looking for a left-handed masher to be a 1B/DH type, but aren’t sold on Schwarber, but would be willing to give up a decent haul for Rizzo (say, to play 1B now, and possibly DH in the future–he’s under contract through ’19 with options for ’20 and ’21). Do you make that trade and see what Schwarber can do at 1B?

      • Bryzzo1744

        No! Because Rizzo is already established.

      • Junior Von White

        No. I don’t think another team can give up enough for Rizzo. I think Schwarber has potential to be better than Rizzo, but that day is not today, or tomorrow. Rizzo is established and a great contributor; also the Cubs are in win now mode, as they should be, so trading away current contributors for the future wouldn’t make sense.

        All that being said, I wouldn’t go so far as to call Rizzo untouchable, but almost untouchable. Say there’s a scenario where max scherzer and Bryce Harper (or some other equivalent) come to Chicago for Rizzo, then yes trade him and move Schwarber to 1B. But I have no reason to believe that would ever happen in a million different scenarios.

  • Eddie Von White

    If only Lester was taking baby steps to improve his defense. The reality is, he’s not.

    • cap’n realist

      Eddie von Realist.

  • cap’n realist

    I don’t believe he’ll ever be worth more to an AL team than he is right now. Trade him and get SOMETHING in return. Dear god, that Lester throw to first was horrifying. Looked like a cricket pitch. Or bowl. Or whatever they call it. Len and JD were in usual form. When Sox pitcher Bummer was warming up, JD drops “I wonder if he dates Debbie Downer.” Compelling comedy. Really. In the city that is home to Second City and comedic greats like Akroyd, Belushi, John Candy and Steve Carrell. Jim Deshais and Len Kasper are a gregging riot. Then they drooled all over Lester after the cricket bowl, like he fixed something. It was like they were reading a memo from the Cubs front office. “Well, JD, Lester’s never shied away from this mental block….and he’s worked on it, and it paid off” What the Gregging Gregg is that? It was the most embarrassing throw he’s made to date. A total burial. It just happened to work out because Rizzo is good.

    All that said, it’s nice that they are winning and the universe seems aligned when they are in first place.

    • Eddie Von White

      I had to mute it at that point. I would call it slobber.

    • Doug S.

      Maybe Rizzo needs to put on knee pads, a chest protector and a mask so that Lester thinks he’s throwing to home.

      • Jerry in Wisconsin

        That might help Lester, but I think it would confuse Contreras, and his interesting throws to first.

      • Eddie Von White

        I think they’re called shin guards.

      • Doug S.

        How about we split the difference and call them leg guards?

      • Doc Raker

        How about ordering another black and tan, they are called shin guards with every baseball team I have ever been associated with. But they call umps refs north of the USA so who knows what shinguards are called at your tavern.

      • Bryzzo1744

        They have both. The shin guards are for that, and they have knee pads, but they’re called knee savers, and they go on the back of the knees to help with the stress of squating.

      • Dork

        Yep I thought this was going In a different direction when I read knee pads

      • Eddie Von White

        Yes. That road needed to be defined immediately.

    • Dork

      Nice job not swearing – Lizzie and KB would be proud

  • King In The Nawth

    Schwarber is going to be a beast. He’s essentially still a rookie. He’ll get it figured out.

  • Colin Kruse

    Please don’t trade Schwarber. His home run against the Cardinals in the 2015 NLDS is my screensaver.

    • Eddie Von White

      We all know those can’t ever be changed.

  • Doc Raker

    I think we are just seeing what Schwarbs can do and he is a monster. He made an adjustment to take pitches oppo and when he goes oppo balls still leave the yard. He is making adjustments and closing up holes in his swing. His trade value is lower than his true DH monster value will be so I would not trade him right now.

    Here is the real question: If Schwarbs is a monster DH is he valuable enough to the Cubs to keep for DH in AL parks and IN THE WORLD SERIES and play LF and 1b (Schwarbs playing 1b for a Rizzo day off is a no brainer to me) in a platoon situation. I say: Yes.

    The Cubs would not have won the World Series without Schwarber. We are on 109 years without tSCHWARBS. Our chance of repeating is much higher with tSCHWARBS. His value is much higher than his current numbers. DO NOT TRADE tSCHWARBS.

    • Eddie Von White

      Would he wear knee pads or shin guards at first?

      • Doc Raker

        Ask the 1st base ref