You may have seen from various blogs and media outlets that the Chicago Cubs front office were guests on 670 The Score, where they answered a number of important questions leading up to the August 1 trade deadline.
“Our philosophy has been you want to be aggressive in the moment, but at the same time, you have to realize the idea of ‘this is the season’ or ‘going all in’ is exceptionally dangerous in our sport,” Hoyer said on the Spiegel and Goff Show during a fan luncheon. “Because you’re probably only increasing your odds a little bit with any one move to win the World Series. It’s so difficult to get through three (postseason) series in a sport as random as baseball. So the way we look at it is the best way to win a World Series is to get to the playoffs every year with a good team and if you can do that, you hope to have that magic October. I think any one move is probably unlikely to shift your odds as much as people think it might shift them. So you want to be aggressive, you want to address your weaknesses, but you also want to be aware the best way to win a World Series is simply by getting there every single year.”
This reflects the attitude that I have, in that I don’t want to give up on this amazing group of core guys that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have developed that are currently making highlight reels on an almost nightly basis. This also reflects the patience that we have come to appreciate from this front office, as they are not going to mortgage the future for an all-in shot. “All-in,” to this front office, is to make sure they get to October every postseason to increase the odds of ultimate success. There is something to be said for a front office with this amount of patience, it’s actually very refreshing, and one has to feel good about the confidence Theo and Jed have in this core:
“Obviously, there are guys that we’re building around, these core foundational guys,” Epstein said. “We believe in their talent. We believe in their makeup. We believe in everything they’ve done to get us to this point and everything they’re going to do for us over the next many years. We’d be really foolish to be short-sighted and break that up just so we can incrementally increase our chances of winning the whole thing this year. We’re going to do everything we can to win it this year, but as Jed said earlier, we want to get there every year, and we want to do it with guys you believe in, guys that we believe in. And we’re lucky enough to have that group, so to break it up, we’d be really foolish.”
They continued by saying that the injured Kyle Schwarber, who has been implicated in many trade speculation pieces, is one of those core guys, a bat that won’t be easily replaced. I will go a step further:
I think one of the reasons why so many folks are willing to dump Schwarber in a trade is because they see him as a poor defender, who may at first glance look awkward in left field, is blocked by Anthony Rizzo at first base, and likely won’t get too much time behind the dish with Willson Contreras breaking through. But despite a serious knee injury, I don’t think his days as a backstop are over. Recall from when he was first diagnosed:
There is no good reason to believe, at this point, that Kyle Schwarber’s career will be derailed in any meaningful way by this. He will lose this time in his development as a player to rehabilitation, yes, but his knee and the surrounding musculature should be as strong as they’ve ever been once he completes the rehab process. If he wants to (which he likely would), Schwarber should even be able to return to playing catcher. This injury should not derail that from a physical standpoint.
It remains to be seen whether the Cubs would allow Schwarber to continue developing as a backup to Willson Contreras, since someone has to catch once David Ross is gone after this season and Miguel Montero leaves after the next. There are some other capable guys the Cubs have in-house or that can be had from the scrap heap to back up Contreras, so it’s not like Schwarber HAS to catch. The makeup that Theo and Jed talk about, though, and the word of progress during Schwarber’s rehabilitation, encourage me that this is still possible, because Schwarber is a hard worker with confidence and coachability. Even if he isn’t at bat, he’s been active with the home clubhouse, as you recall here, and he also hasn’t lost his ability to baseball just because his legs aren’t 100%.
Baseball teams always need good personalities to help lighten the mood and get through the season, but unlike Jonathan Herrera, Munenori Kawasaki, or even the legendary John Baker, Kyle Schwarber is unlikely to go anywhere. He’s demonstrated his importance to this team, and the words from the front office reflect this. Now, the front office is pretty good at putting up a poker face, so if he gets traded for Mike Trout tomorrow, disregard all this and applaud.