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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cubs will use restraint to ease Kyle Schwarber into limited catching role - Chicago Tribune

The current plan is for Willson Contreras to catch Jon Lester and start four or five times a week, with Miguel Montero serving as a backup. With Montero in the final year of his contract, Schwarber — who was drafted as a catcher — could move into Montero’s role in 2018 in addition to playing left.

For now, Schwarber will be part of the catching group each morning but will perform physical drills only once or twice a week with coach Mike Borzello, known for his creativity in keeping catchers sharp despite age or injury limitations.

Jim Furtado Posted: February 15, 2017 at 06:59 AM | 6 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, kyle schwarber

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   1. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 15, 2017 at 11:36 AM (#5402137)
Schwarber was officially cleared to resume catching activities. I'm all fine with them giving it a try, but I really don't expect him to be any good back there and would rather he'd just focus on getting better in LF.
   2. JRVJ Posted: February 15, 2017 at 02:21 PM (#5402338)
Having Schwarber as an emergency catcher is not a bad thing.
   3. Kiko Sakata Posted: February 15, 2017 at 02:26 PM (#5402346)
Having Schwarber as an emergency catcher is not a bad thing.


Joe Maddon seems to be very fond of having three catchers on his active roster, such that there was a month or two last season where Tim Federowicz was on the 25-man roster, but practically never played. If Kyle Schwarber can fill the "I need a third catcher in case something goes horribly awry, even if I never actually play him at catcher" role, that would be great! And, honestly, if they want to try to pair him up with one specific starter and let him catch once a week, that would be fine too.
   4. zonk Posted: February 15, 2017 at 03:05 PM (#5402386)
Meh.

I used to be on the bandwagon for "give Joe his flexibility!" -- heck, I love having a "3rd catcher" on the roster who is more than "guy on the roster who knows where we keep the extra catcher's mitt", too.

But, I guess - I go the other direction based on this:

1) Schwarber isn't a finished offensive product. He's done some special things and has some special talent, I think... but let's be honest that the jury is still waaayyyy out on whether he's Jim Thome, Russ Branyan, or somewhere in between. I'd rather not add to his workload by also continuing to develop his defense at far and away THE most challenging defensive position on the diamond.

2) The emergence of Willson Contreras really puts an end to the idea that Schwarber would catch for the Cubs. When Contreras had only a ganbusters AA season under his belt -- after less than exciting production prior -- there was still an open question about the catcher of the future. There's not anymore. Contreras was great in his rookie season. He's got the tools be a top, top defensive catcher. He's the guy.

3) I suppose I'm repeating points 1 and 2 above, just from a different angle -- but Schwarber isn't a good defensive catcher. He's (probably) not going to become one.... and now that we don't need him to become one, what's the point?

...anyway, I guess if this just means we don't carry a crappy "real" 3rd catcher -- that's fine. It's certainly nice if Schwarbs can be a level above, say, Matt LeCroy near the end -- and legitimately catch a few times a month or be available for a double-switch involving the catcher, etc.

I guess I'm just satisfied that Schwarber is going to be a LFer. I'd rather his focus be wholly and totally on becoming Thome at the plate, and league averge in LF.
   5. AROM Posted: February 15, 2017 at 04:00 PM (#5402436)
I guess I'm just satisfied that Schwarber is going to be a LFer. I'd rather his focus be wholly and totally on becoming Thome at the plate, and league averge in LF.


League average defense sounds a bit unrealistic. That means he's got to be better than about 15 of the projected starters out there. A big stocky ex-catcher coming off a knee injury? Keep in mind that about 1/3 to half of expected left fielders are guys who have played some center recently. Not all of them well, but they can at least cover the position. He's not going to be better on D than a Maybin, Gardner, or Dyson. Or even someone like Cespedes.

A realistic goal would be for him to play the position at a non-disastrous level.
   6. Moses Taylor, Unwavering Optimist Posted: February 15, 2017 at 04:05 PM (#5402441)
A realistic goal would be for him to play the position at a non-disastrous level.

In spite of a poor showing in the 2015 NLCS and the solidification of that perception, I think he's already proven that possible. Sure, maybe there's some concern about health after the surgery, but, I just don't think the bar for non-disaster is really that high in LF.

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