We’ve heard it before: the Chicago Cubs’ Kyle Schwarber belongs in the American League as a designated hitter. He didn’t help his cause any today.
It’s hard to go against Chicago Cubs outfielder Kyle Schwarber. He’s a good kid who does everything in his power to be a better player. This offseason, he went and shed a ton of wait to be quicker to the ball in the field. In spring training, he seemed to do well. But we all know that spring stats don’t matter — even in the field.
When it comes to his bat, there’s no question the talent that this young man has. This spring, he had a slash line of .340/.419/.660 with four home runs and six RBI. While he did strike out 17 times, he still trailed the Cubs new leadoff hitter, Ian Happ. It was a strong start to the spring for Schwarber, but the key was going to be how he’d do in the field. Could he make headway on defense?
The always positive Maddon
Joe Maddon, ever a backer of Schwarber’s, thinks so.
“He honestly does,” Maddon said to Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald. “I don’t think it’s just, ‘Oh, he looks thinner so he’s going to be quicker or more nimble.’ He is. I’ve watched him run the bases. It seems everything moves a lot more easily. Having said that, I never thought he was slow. I’ve always thought that he moved pretty well for a big man. I just think that all this is going to help.”
Unfortunately, Maddon might have taken a step back into the shadows as Schwarber misplayed a fly ball in the in the third inning. Shortly after that, he overran a single by Brian Anderson and allowed another run to score.
So where do we stand? Is his weight loss all for not as he still can’t field? Or is he simply a “work in progress” that is going to take time? His solo home run in the seventh helped buoy him a bit, but the damage was done, right? Not so fast.
The Cubs have survived worse outfielder’s in left over time. Dave Kingman, Glenallen Hill and Alfonso Soriano to name a few. These guys had big bats, and we were able to overlook their defensive shortcomings for their stick.
And for Schwarber, he at least cares about his defense and is working on it. He’s not, “Eh, it’s whatever.” He’s actively working to get better, whether it shows right now or not.
Schwarber is a work in progress, and there’s no need to give up him. He going to have his pitfalls along the way, and it’s something the Cubs are willing to deal with. If his bat is anywhere near where it was in spring training, the Cubs have a lot more good to look forward to. We’ll turn our heads for some of these errors as long as he brings the lumber.