The arrival of a top Chicago Cubs youngster is an event to be celebrated (COOKIES!), and, the first time Kyle Schwarber came up to the Cubs, it was. Then again, it was a limited call-up, specifically delineated to correspond to a short AL stretch where the Cubs could use Schwarber as a DH. It was exciting, but it wasn’t quite the normal prospect party. Schwarber was up for those AL games, and then he was immediately sent to AAA Iowa to keep on catching
Were it not for an untimely Miguel Montero injury, that would have certainly continued. But injuries happen, tough decisions are made, and now Schwarber’s coming back. Once again, it’s not quite a prospect party, even as it’ll be exciting to see Schwarber in the bigs (especially behind the plate – I can’t wait to see how he looks over a long-ish stretch).
But, nevertheless, it’s Kyle Schwarber Day, Part Two. I’m still pretty into it.
- It sounds like Schwarber won’t be the “everyday catcher,” but, even if he were replacing Montero’s spot on a game-for-game basis, it still wouldn’t make him the everyday catcher, since Montero was sitting against lefties and David Ross was catching Jon Lester regularly. Of the Cubs’ first 87 games, Montero started just 55. If Schwarber catches non-Lester starts against righties, and gets a little time in left field, he’ll draw plenty of starts. I’m not sure he’ll actually be catching quite that much, but we’ll see. Long-term, only occasional catching might be the plan for him anyway.
- As for Montero, that’s the bad part of this story. The Cubs haven’t confirmed the six-week recovery timeline originally reported for his thumb injury (Cubs.com), and here’s hoping Montero’s meeting with the hand specialist today goes well. Even as Montero’s bat slumped, he was inarguably excellent behind the plate, and my concern is that he has been a big part of the Cubs’ pitching success. Best case scenario here? Montero’s out, say, a month, which is enough time for some of the Cubs’ pitchers to become comfortable with Schwarber, and the Cubs can then work with three catchers for the rest of the year, even after Montero returns. The options for Joe Maddon at that point – defensively, offensively, match-ups, substitutions – would be excellent, and maybe, this will all have been a blessing in disguise.
- Oh, I suppose that’s also true if Schwarber just destroys the ball for the next month and proves to be passable behind the plate. You know. Whatever.
- And, on that point, Tommy Birch writes about Schwarber’s readiness for the big leagues. It sounds like the folks in Iowa believe the bat is definitely ready, and the glove – whether it’s behind the plate or moved out into left field for the first time this year – is the question. A regular catcher in the big leagues? Schwarber’s probably not there yet.
- ZiPS currently projects a .238/.303/.432 line for Schwarber over 50 games in the big leagues this year. That wouldn’t be bad for a rookie with so little pro experience (it’s about a league-average bat), but it probably wouldn’t be enough to overcome defensive struggles behind the plate, if there are some.
- PECOTA’s rest-of-season projection is a much more optimistic .272/.353/.489. The lesson here, in large part: it’s really hard to project rookies in the big leagues.
- Before word of the call-up came down, Jerry Crasnick wrote a great profile on Schwarber, with some excellent tidbits from Jason McLeod and a scouting source.
- Peter Gammons with some high praise:
@pgammo His presence reminds me of a young Jason Varitek, whose receiving doubters got him traded to Boston
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 17, 2015
And an interview with Schwarber in a car at the Futures Game? Sure, why not: