Monday, June 22, 2015

Goodbye, Kyle Schwarber. See you soon!

The Cubs went 3-3 last week, following a rain out and a home loss to the Indians with a 3-2 road trip to Cleveland and Minnesota. The team remains seven games over .500 (37-30), Starlin Castro won another game, and top draft pick Ian Happ kicked off his minor league career with a huge weekend. Still, the biggest story of the week was the play of catcher Kyle Schwarber, who joined the Cubs from AA-Tennessee to DH in the five games played in American League parks before being "promoted" to AAA-Iowa today.

While the Cubs front office spends the next month or two finding a way to get Schwarber's bat back into the lineup if and when a playoff chase becomes imminent, I'm hoping to be able to see him here in Nashville when Iowa comes to town in late July. But I think his minor league days may be numbered, and depending on injuries and/or what happens at the trade deadline, Schwarber could be back in Chicago very soon.

Taking another look at left field, it's not like Chris Coghlan is playing terrible baseball. He's hitting .252 with eight home runs, his OBP is up to .332, and his OPS is at .772. But even with a tiny sample size of five starts, Schwarber seems like a sure upgrade, hitting .364 last week with a .391 OBP and a .982 OPS. Factor in his career minor league numbers (.333 avg, .432 OBP, 1.042 OPS), and it may not take long for him to dominate at Iowa like he did in Tennessee. Hopefully he can get some innings in left field while he's there.

As players like Jorge Soler, Mike Olt, Neil Ramirez, and Tommy La Stella get ready to return from injuries, the Cubs may not need to trade away a ton of prospects to get a boost at mid-season. I'd like to see the focus on someone like Ben Zobrist and a good starting pitcher, while Sxhwarber gets ready to return and bring some power.

This week's games against the Dodgers and Cardinals will be a better gauge  of just how much the Cubs need to do to compete in the NL this year. Fans should be hoping for at least four wins, although a 3-4 record this week wouldn't be a disaster. In the meantime, we'll keep an eye on Kyle Schwarber and his AAA debut, waiting for the team to bring him back to Chicago.

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