Cubs Did Talk Schwarber, the Adjustment Period for NPB Stars, Juiced Balls, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Cubs Did Talk Schwarber, the Adjustment Period for NPB Stars, Juiced Balls, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Bert to the 10-day IL, right trapezius strain. Should be a minimum length stay, able to still do blogging activities while rehabbing.

•   There were obviously a lot of rumors flying all at the same time two weeks ago, but one of them was that the Cubs had been talking to Kyle Schwarber about a reunion. It didn’t wind up working out, whether because the Cubs were able to land Seiya Suzuki instead, or because, although they would have signed both outfielders, they simply had a different number on Schwarber than the Phillies (4/$79M, seems like a good risk to me … ). But Schwarber confirmed that some level of talks did happen:

•   Like a lot of other individual players, Schwarber would not alone have been the difference between the Cubs being an on-paper obvious playoff team and not right now. But that lefty power bat sure would’ve looked nice in the middle of a lineup like the Cubs propose to sport this year and in the next two or three years. Yeah, you’d have to figure out what to do with some of the other outfielders and how to apportion out the DH starts, but if you believe in the breakout, then you wouldn’t really care about any of that stuff – you’d just find a spot for Schwaber’s bat nearly every day. We’ll see how this goes for Schwarber, 29, and the Phillies. But my gut says the Cubs might regret not topping that offer …

•   Remember, MLB has tried de-juicing the ball (and the universal humidors are supposed to help, too). But there remain the continued development trends toward a homer-centric approach *AND* the reduced use of sticky stuff. So, yeah, makes you wonder what we’re about to see:


•   Unsurprisingly, the Pirates will not let Oneil Cruz make the Opening Day roster, as he’s been optioned out of camp. To be sure, Cruz has played a whopping eight games above Double-A, so it’s not UNREASONABLE to want to see him keep the strikeout rate under control for a couple months at Triple-A or whatever in service of his long-term development. He’s a freak of the best kind, though, and is probably much better than almost any other player on the Pirates right now, but again, a development decision would not be absolutely indefensible. So why am I even mentioning it? Because if that whole “get a draft pick if you put top prospect on opening day roster and he gets award votes” provision in the new CBA was ever gonna work, it would’ve been with Cruz, who was already the favorite to win Rookie of the Year, and a top three finish is all it would’ve taken to get the pick. So, yeah, that provision is not going to work. (And also, there’s the provision that a prospect will get a full year of service time if he wins the award or finishes in second place, so the Pirates are now risking that he WON’T win the award or finish in second, otherwise they gave up a full year of service time and NO free draft pick for nothing. So how long are they planning to hold him down? Again, clearly the provision is just not going to work as intended.)

•   I know what you’re wondering right now: since Seiya Suzuki is a rookie and will be on the Opening Day roster, will the Cubs get a draft pick if he finishes in the top three of Rookie of the Year voting? During the feverish final hours of the CBA being finalized – and while on very little sleep – I feel pretty sure I read that international signings who sign outside the IFA rules (i.e., the older, established guys like Suzuki) will not qualify for this provision. I can’t seem to find where I read it, though. I’ll keep looking, but let’s call it 90% sure for now.

•   Speaking of Suzuki, I want to get out of in front of this one, because I already see the rumblins and the grumblins: every THIRD PARTY (i.e., impartial) evaluator I’ve seen write about Seiya Suzuki at length has cautioned that the transition to MLB is likely to involve a learning curve against big league stuff/velocity (and a huge life adjustment!). So if he has a tough April or whatever, that is NOT NECESSARILY unexpected. It wouldn’t be GOOD, of course, but it also doesn’t mean he’s a bust.

•   The write-ups often say Suzuki is the best bat (non-Ohtani edition) to come over from Japan since Hideki Matsui. What I didn’t remember until I just looked is that Matsui didn’t actually have a great age 29 debut with the Yankees, hitting just .287/.353/.435 (109 wRC+). He hit .259/.311/.386 (83 wRC+) over his first two and a half months, and then .306/.379/.468 (126 wRC+) for the rest of the season. And then for the next seven seasons, all in his 30s, Matsui hit a similar .290/.372/.488 (128 wRC+). In other words, even for the guy who was the last great outfield bat to come over from Japan, there was clearly a multiple month adjustment period. I apologize in advance, because I will probably reference this often.

•   (Before you say it, you are correct that Kosuke Fukudome was hot out of the gate when he first came over. True. But it’s also true that he wound up nearly 10% worse than league average overall with the bat in that first year at age 31 (four years older than Suzuki), but then was 10% better than league average the next year, and 18% better than league average the year after that. He was older than Suzuki and Matsui when they first came, and although there are memories that he was a disappointment because he wasn’t a superstar, he did become a good big league hitter after adjusting in that first year.)

•   Get you somebody who loves you as much as Dexter Fowler loves appearing as a mid-Spring Training surprise:

•   (In all seriousness: glad to see he’s still going, and I hope he winds up getting a shot to make that team.)

•   Chris Archer got a guaranteed $3.5 million from the Twins, to which I say, good for him. Things have gone really sideways for him since 2018, between performance and health issues, and maybe he’ll finally turn it back around this year. Archer is 33.

•   Corbin Burnes will get the Brewers’ season opener against the Cubs, so prepare yourself to react appropriately to the offense in that particular game. Burnes makes GOOD offenses look punchless, soooo, yeah. Heck, he might even strike out Nick Madrigal!

•   City Connect is coming back this year, and the first will be the Nationals, who are incorporating the local cherry blossom:

•   MLB now has TWO beer deals, with Budweiser and now also Corona (I approve, insofar as a Corona with a lime is way better than Bud or a Bud Light, sorry if this offends):

•   I love everything I see from the Savannah Bananas:

•   What now for the Bears on the O-line:

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.