Wishing on a Real Schwindel, Playing Time, Mets Rotation Duo, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Wishing on a Real Schwindel, Playing Time, Mets Rotation Duo, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I can hold two things in my mind at once: watching yesterday’s come-from-behind win by the Bears was an exciting thing (that Damiere Byrd catch on the two-point conversion to win it was absolutely incredible), but also … it was completely meaningless and shouldn’t impact anything at all that happens from here. If the Bears were going to fire Matt Nagy (and Ryan Pace?) in order to get a head start on the interview process, they should still do so today. The *ONLY* reason not to do it is because you know you’re hiring a new GM/President of Football Operations, and you want that person to lead the head coaching search, but that person isn’t in place yet. (Knowing how the Bears operate, I’m rather concerned yesterday’s win is going to needlessly create a timeline problem. For all we know, they’ll win a couple more meaningless games and then something REALLY concerning will be decided … )

•   When you think about what you hope for the Cubs from here, you mostly think about additional transactions. But when Mike Axisa was going through the list of what ever team wants under the tree this year, so to speak, he actually landed on an in-house wish for the Cubs: “Frank Schwindel to be real. The Cubs had a surprisingly fun offense following their trade deadline sell-off this past season, and at the heart of it was Schwindel, who hit .342/.389/.613 with 13 homers in 56 games after being claimed on waivers from the A’s. No, Schwindel is not a true talent .342 hitter (no one is), but he has long been a stathead favorite given his history of strong contact rates and exit velocities. He’s been stereotyped as a Quad-A journeyman the last few years and he took full advantage of his opportunity in 2021. Schwindel being a bona fide big-league first baseman would go a long way to helping Chicago return to contention.”

•   Obviously landing Carlos Correa (or whatever major move you want to pick) would probably do more to impact 2022 than Schwindel being a true talent .300/.360/.550 guy, but that would still be ridiculous and huge. No one is actually expecting that level of production (i.e., solidly below what he did last year, but All-Star-level raking). Indeed, ZiPS projects him at just .267/.305/.474, which is only 3% better than league average. But if Schwindel DID hit at that raking level, the Cubs suddenly have an impact bat in the middle of the lineup that they weren’t necessarily counting on. It really transforms the lineup quite a bit to have a guy like that.

•   The question for now is how much runway Schwindel will actually get as a regular to open the season. Absent any other moves at first base, DH, or in a corner outfield spot (which would move other guys around), then there are clear everyday starts for Schwindel at first base and DH (even with DH being a little crowded). But what if Anthony Rizzo’s market never develops and a reunion comes about? What if the Cubs pull off the prospect-acquisition trade involving Eric Hosmer? What if Alfonso Rivas takes another step forward and the Cubs want to give him some starts, too? What if Schwindel slumps in April? (What if there *IS NO* DH in the NL after all?)

•   There are scenarios from here that could plausibly cut into Schwindel’s early-season at bats. I don’t particularly want to see it, to be honest, because I’d really like to see what Schwindel could do in a full year if he was truly given a look. The way he was succeeding (so much quality contact on all pitch types, with short-term adjustments), plus the story of his career that makes him being an overlooked bat possible, combine to make me really think there’s a chance he could be A GUY the next few years. And you can’t know if you don’t try.

•   Sometimes an article reminds me that the Mets are going to have BOTH Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer in their rotation. This one from Buster Olney gets into the next steps for new Mets manager Buck Showalter, including figuring out how to manage the workloads of deGrom (arm issues last year, 33) and Scherzer (first signs of physical issues last few years, 37). It’s a problem you’d rather have than not have them at all, but it certainly is going to be something the Mets figure to be devoting extensive research into. You’ve got two guys who are uniquely good at going deep and holding their stuff throughout a start, and yet the more you do that, the more you risk a breakdown at some point during the year. Two true aces on who you may have to artificially pull back the reins from time to time (and maybe that’s part of why Showalter makes the most sense for the Mets as the manager). Still, it’s really nuts that those two are in the same rotation, and outside of any theoretical Wild Card competition with the Cubs, I’ll be excited to see what they can do.

•   Even beyond the front two, the Mets do have a lot of decent depth in the rotation – Taijuan Walker, Carlos Carrasco, Tylor Megill, David Peterson, Trevor Williams – so they should be able to spread around the innings in a reasonable way if everyone else stays healthy. Far from a lock, of course. You can bet the Mets will still be looking to add another arm, at a minimum another bulk guy for the bullpen.

•   The holidays just aren’t the holidays without a shirtless Travis Wood:

•   Bulls are back, and are still back:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.