“Great baseball players aren’t named Schwarber. Until one is.”
That’s what Fox Sports’ Rob Neyer recently wrote in his piece all about why Kyle Schwarber would, or would not be, a wise choice when the Cubs add another bat for their upcoming interleague schedule.
Except Neyer is talking about just the inter-league schedule; he’s talking about the possibility of promoting Schwarber. For good.
It isn’t surprising that Neyer ultimately concludes that Schwarber is not the Cubs missing piece this season. Despite some offensive statistical raking going on, Schwarber is probably a little too raw to just drop into left field and hope things work out. But for temporary DH duty?
We might be onto something there.
2015 has suddenly become a year that might actually matter for the Cubs. Beyond being the turning of the competitive corner that was initially thought, the Cubs have viable reasons to think playoff berth –thanks to the ridiculous record of the St. Louis Cardinals, that berth may be relegated to that of a wildcard spot, but the Cubs will take it.
Even in the face of all the reasons the Cubs probably won’t have a deep playoff run this season, if their competitiveness holds, making them buyers at the trade deadline, what happens if the Cubs add a big pitching arm? Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta, and…Cole Hamels? David Price? Not to say that’s what is going to happen, but if the Cubs waltz into a playoff series with three arms of that caliber at the top of the rotation, how can anyone legitimately say they wouldn’t at least have a chance?
But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves.
A bit of bad news hit the 2015 Cubs this week when Javier Baez fractured his finger, putting him out 4-8 weeks, right on the cusp of a potential call-up. It’s just one injury, but Baez going down has especially unfortunate timing. The questions around Baez almost entirely concern his bat (he entirely looked the part defensively last season), and it would have been the ideal scenario to see if some of Baez’s offensive adjustments were translating to major league pitching.
While the injury effectively shuts down all speculation of a potential call-up for Baez, it has kicked opened that justly speculative door on Schwarber.
Schwarber has been an offensive monster at every level through Double-A, where he’s currently slashing .324/.445/.580, and is sporting a strikeout-to-walk rate of almost 1-to-1 (45 Ks; 39 BBs). Serious questions about his defense –whether at catcher, or in left field– remain solidly intact, but that just feeds into the speculation of a possible call-up, since he would undoubtedly be used as the DH most, if not all, of his time during a potential promotion.
No service time issues. No defensive worries. Just the bat. The Cubs would have the protection of knowing his promotion would just be a test run. He might not be ready, but then again he might be.
Because great players aren’t named Schwarber. Until one is.