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Monday, May 09, 2022

Cubs option struggling Frank Schwindel to Triple-A

The Cubs optioned struggling first baseman Frank Schwindel to Triple-A Iowa before Sunday night’s game against the Dodgers.

In a corresponding move, the team selected pitcher Adrian Sampson to Iowa.

Schwindel was the Cubs’ top hitter in the second half last summer after the team’s trade deadline selloff, but he’s gotten off to a slow start at the plate this season. He holds a .209/.250/.308 slash line with two home runs and nine RBIs in 25 games.

Over his last 16 games, he’s hit .179/.220/.268.

“Somebody that we believe in but need him to get going a little bit,” manager David Ross said of Schwindel. “Get down there, work on some things, take a little bit of the pressure off and let him continue to get back to what we expect him to be, what he expects himself to be.”

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 09, 2022 at 12:16 AM | 24 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, frank schwindel

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: May 09, 2022 at 12:50 AM (#6075843)
In the 12 games since beating the Pirates 21-0, the Cubs have scored 22 runs. That's not good. They have scored 1 or fewer in 7 games. They've given up 62 runs in that time. No surprise, a 2-10 stretch. The rotation has generally been terrible with the extra whammy that after a very fine game a few days ago, Stroman is now hurt.

A few bright spots -- Nico Hoerner is having a nice season, Wisdom is still hitting for power (120 OPS+ with a low OBP but we'll take it), Suzuki doing quite well, Contreras doing quite well, Rivas hoping to be this season's Schwindel. The bullpen has generally been outstanding but they're throwing a lot of innings and generally entering games already losing 5-1.

And it would be nice if they allowed Cub pitchers to use the new deadened balls ... out-HR'd 33-20 so far. The only thing we can cling to is that we aren't (yet?) as bad as the Reds.

So never too early to look to next year --- err, 2024? 2025? Top prospect Brennan Davis is hitting 195/286/299 at AAA ... oh-oh. #2 prospect Cristian Hernandez is still only 18 and hasn't started playing yet this year. #3 James Triantos is a 2B/22 hitting 260/327/333 at A. #4 Caleb Killian is finally getting some scout's love and doing great with a 1.46 ERA and K>IP at AAA. PCA is off to a blistering start at A with 400/491/600; Alcantara at 250/354/440 at A; Caissie had a great 200 PA last year but 138/200/169 at A+ so far. The future looks a long way away.
   2. Rally Posted: May 09, 2022 at 09:16 AM (#6075848)
Schwindel’s 1.002 OPS for the Cubs last season was better than any of his minor league seasons. He’ll turn 30 in less than 2 months. Looks like the next Brian LaHair.

Does anyone else hear the name “Frank Schwindel” and think its a name of a teammate of Tinkers, Evers, and Chance? Just sounds like an old-timey name. Maybe I’m think of Frank “wildfire” Schulte.
   3. Howie Menckel Posted: May 09, 2022 at 10:01 AM (#6075853)
Suzuki doing quite well

not "the second time around" - .185 AVG, .551 OPS in last 21 days, after a blistering start
   4. God can’t be all that impressed with Charles S. Posted: May 09, 2022 at 10:01 AM (#6075854)
Stroman's "injury" is undisclosed so most likely Covid. Let's hope he's just out for the short-term. Very disappointing to walk into the ballpark last night and see the starters on the scoreboard as Buehler and Steele rather than Buehler and Stroman. Then the game started and it didn't get any less disappointing.
   5. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 09, 2022 at 11:14 AM (#6075862)
Schwindel was so good in his stretch last year that I suppose the Cubs had no choice but to see if he could keep it up. But relying on 30-year-old career minor leaguers because they had a good third of a season in the bigs is just never going to work.
   6. Tom Nawrocki Posted: May 09, 2022 at 11:15 AM (#6075863)
Schwindel was so good in his stretch last year that I suppose the Cubs had no choice but to see if he could keep it up. But relying on 30-year-old career minor leaguers because they had a good third of a season in the bigs is just never going to work.
   7. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 09, 2022 at 12:14 PM (#6075870)

Schwindel was so good in his stretch last year that I suppose the Cubs had no choice but to see if he could keep it up. But relying on 30-year-old career minor leaguers because they had a good third of a season in the bigs is just never going to work.


I don't really blame them, I mean this isn't a true contending roster, I don't see the harm in giving him a month worth's of at-bats. Patrick Wisdom is a similar player, and he's kept it up.
   8. DCA Posted: May 09, 2022 at 12:26 PM (#6075871)
Giving guys like Schwindel and Wisdom (and Rivas, and Ortega, and Hermosillo) a big chunk of PA is exactly what teams in the Cubs position should do. Find one who can be an average regular and that's one position solved for the next 3-5 years.

It's guys like Villar, Gomes, and Heyward that need to go. They are probably better players than the Schwindel types, but you know exactly what they are, and they're relatively expensive and will be gone before the Cubs are good again. Heyward is playing out a contract signed many years ago - they should cut him, or pay his whole contract to flip him for some fringe prospects, but I understand the current Cubs didn't choose him - but Villar and Gomes were signed this past offseason and are just wasting $10 million and (more importantly) two tryout slots.

   9. Itchy Row Posted: May 09, 2022 at 02:50 PM (#6075893)
The Cubs and Sox had the same record when they started their series last Tuesday. That seems like a long time ago.
   10. Walt Davis Posted: May 09, 2022 at 04:05 PM (#6075916)
Meh. Gomes and Villar aren't blocking anybody. If they're toast then you move on but too soon to think they're toast. They knew Amaya needed TJS back at Thanksgiving so they needed somebody to backup Willson, somebody to take over when Willson is traded and maybe somebody to begin tutoring Amaya next year (unless his career is essentially done). And it's not like the Cubs had anything better to spend $10 M on.

Find one who can be an average regular and that's one position solved for the next 3-5 years.

I'm with you but few late bloomers last 5 years ... even 3 years is a good run. And the benefits of solving a position with an average player for 3 years when the kids are 2-3 years away is really no higher than solving the position using Villar or Gomes or whoever one year at a time. Wisdom (may he survive) will likely be done ty the time Caissie (may he blossom) has his first season over a 100 OPS+. This year, next year, and probably the year after that is about not embarrassing ourselves too much.

Hopefully Davis can get hot and come up after the super-2 deadline.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: May 09, 2022 at 04:22 PM (#6075918)
The 2012 Cubs tried dozens of such guys and found Luis Valbuena who wasn't around for 2015 but was traded for a year of Fowler. That team also moved Samardzija into the rotation and, to my surprise, he developed nicely, traded at the 2014 deadline.

The 2013 team gambled on a lot of the pitching equivalents of Villar, got lucky with Feldman, got extra lucky when trading Feldman.

The 2014 Cubs began showing some of the young talent. None of the AAAA guys stuck but Coghlan was useful in 2015-16.

Theo tried lots of AAAA types and only Valbuena hit; he tried lots of borderline vets and some (e.g. DeJesus) basically did what they were paid to do and Coghlan was still around when the team got good. But I think the only players in common between 2012 and 2016 were Rizzo and Travis Wood.

There's almost nothing the Cubs will do this year that will affect them in 2025 orther than maybe where we draft next year. Does the new lottery start right away?
   12. Walt Davis Posted: May 09, 2022 at 04:24 PM (#6075919)
And yes, Frank Schwindel is an old-timey name ... kinda looks like an old-timer too ... like an extra in 8 Men Out.
   13. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 09, 2022 at 04:54 PM (#6075928)

The 2013 team gambled on a lot of the pitching equivalents of Villar, got lucky with Feldman, got extra lucky when trading Feldman.


I mean, that's why you try guys out like that. Arrieta looked like fodder - 5.46 ERA in 358 innings. The Cubs gave him a chance and he blossomed. It doesn't happen very often, but the benefits are great when they do, and it beats signing some 36-year old playing out the string.
   14. The Duke Posted: May 09, 2022 at 05:49 PM (#6075940)
It's interesting that suzuki and Stroman signed on with Cubs. What do you think they were told about future spending? Must have been promised a lot more spending. Maybe they will hit the free agent market hard this winter.
   15. Walt Davis Posted: May 09, 2022 at 09:19 PM (#6075965)
I mean, that's why you try guys out like that. Arrieta looked like fodder - 5.46 ERA in 358 innings. The Cubs gave him a chance and he blossomed. It doesn't happen very often, but the benefits are great when they do, and it beats signing some 36-year old playing out the string.

Sure but

1. Arrieta wasn't some AAAA guy the Cubs found bouncing around on the wire. He was a former top 100 prospect ... who might have been on his way to AAAA guy.

2. They got Arrieta for Feldman, a solid but unspectacular veteran they signed for 1/$6 (30-yo, >700 IP) ... as I said, the pitching equivalent of Villar or Gomes or Simmons or Smyly or Wiley ...

The 2022 Cubs' versions of "former pitching prospects who might put it together" are on the IL (Alzolay, Mills, Heuer) or getting smacked around in the rotation (Steele) or dominating in the pen (Thompson, Effross). Not that any of them were ever big prospects as far as I know. In regards the "play the bits and pieces and hopes" strategy, about the only criticism you can make is that the Cubs should just stick Hermosillo in the lineup for a month and see if he can do anything -- he's so far a complete flop as a platoon CF, maybe regular playing time will help. But they've given time to Schwindel, Madrigal, Hoerner, Wisdom, Ortega and Happ hoping either that they'd put it together (Hoerner, Happ), keep it together (Madrigal) or be a welcome surprise. 3 for 6 so far which is good.

   16. Moeball Posted: May 09, 2022 at 10:59 PM (#6076004)
Can Texas option Marcus Semien? Just kidding. Sort of.
   17. Brian C Posted: May 09, 2022 at 11:03 PM (#6076006)
The disturbing thing about Madrigal is the nagging feeling that his struggles are the Cubs' fault. There was an article in The Athletic a couple weeks ago, the general drift being about how the Cubs were trying to unlock his potential by messing with his swing and trying to get him to drive the ball more, etc. So, he's been awful and has struck out at more than twice the rate that he did previously. Here's a guy who practically never whiffed in over 1000 professional PAs, and now he might set a pro career high in Ks before he reaches 100 PA on the season.

And, well ... the Cubs have had trouble getting consistent offensive production from almost everyone for a long time. Maybe the changes snap into place and Madrigal blossoms over the next few months. But in the meantime, it sure feels like "guy comes to play for Cubs and his production tanks" is getting to be the rule instead of the exception. We'll see about Suzuki also - like Howie noted, Suzuki's good numbers so far are entirely due to an amazing start, and things have been trending in the wrong direction for him lately too.
   18. Brian C Posted: May 09, 2022 at 11:34 PM (#6076011)
On the bright side, good Hendricks showed up tonight. Hard to know what to make of him these days - last year was bad, and this year has been bad overall too, but when he's good, he's still really good. And he's good just enough to make some faith in him regaining form more consistently not seem completely misplaced.
   19. Walt Davis Posted: May 10, 2022 at 04:45 PM (#6076104)
As I've joked in a couple of threads, it's as if Cub pitchers are still using the old baseball -- especially Hendricks who had given up 6 HRs in 30 IP before last night. I'm not sure what he's doing wrong but if he can figure out how to take advantage of a less flighty ball, he should return to form. But although I hope it hasn't come this early, I think we always knew that the demise of Hendricks would be swift. It's been a tough era to succeed as a low-stuff, good movement/location pitcher -- every mistake gets killed so just declining from 1 to 2 mistakes a game makes a big diffrence.

I'd love to see a roundtable of Hendricks, Greinke, Maddux, Tiant, El Duque and Moyer just shooting the #### about that time they got a weak grounder out of (Reggie, McGwire, Griffey, Trout, etc.) on some 65-MPH junk and other tales of the perils of the low-stuff pitcher.
   20. Ron J Posted: May 10, 2022 at 06:53 PM (#6076126)
#19 Ross Grimsley -- who was briefly pretty effective -- said something to the effect that every time they started to get the timing down he'd just go slower. Eventually though he ran into the minimum velocity required to get the ball from the mound to the plate.
   21. Brian C Posted: May 10, 2022 at 08:39 PM (#6076139)
As I've joked in a couple of threads, it's as if Cub pitchers are still using the old baseball -- especially Hendricks who had given up 6 HRs in 30 IP before last night.

True but 5 of those came in two starts - in his other 4, he had only given up 1 HR combined. So to a large extent, this season is still an open question for Hendo - he hasn't really been consistently sharp, but he's been great about half the time, and a couple of bad starts have kind of blown up his overall numbers.

Then again, last year he was all over the place, too - lot of good starts mixed with lots of bad ones. Believe it or not, he actually had a higher percentage of quality starts than he did the previous three full seasons (i.e., excepting 2020). So I'm not sure it's really a case where the decline is all that swift, just that the consistency fades and he's either pretty good or pretty terrible in any given start. It's not like he became useless all at once, but he was previously so consistent that this new high-variance pitcher he's become seems kind of shocking.
#19 Ross Grimsley -- who was briefly pretty effective -- said something to the effect that every time they started to get the timing down he'd just go slower. Eventually though he ran into the minimum velocity required to get the ball from the mound to the plate.

This doesn't really make a lot of actual sense, though - the way to keep hitters off balance is to alternate speeds so that they can't get the timing down. This makes it sound like he just survived off the novelty of being slower than everyone else, which seems unlikely to actually be true.
   22. chisoxcollector Posted: May 10, 2022 at 09:47 PM (#6076153)
Leave it to the Cubs to turn Madrigal into Nicky Three Strikes.
   23. Commissioner Bud Black Beltre Hillman Fred Posted: May 10, 2022 at 09:50 PM (#6076155)
Do the announcers say "schwing and a miss" when he Ks?
   24. Ron J Posted: May 10, 2022 at 10:15 PM (#6076158)
#21 He reinvented himself after coming up as a fairly conventional pitcher with marginal stuff. He lost a little bit (around 1976) and spent a few years as a poor man's Frank Tanana before leaning into a straight novelty act.

It was the year he won 20 that he said the bit about just going slower. Basically he wanted to come in slower than batting practice.

Novelty acts have a limited shelf life in MLB and the end of his career was pretty ugly.

EDIT: But yeah. It was more of a cute quote than an overall strategy. Still, at the point he won 20 his top speed was slower than a typical curve -- and his maximum effort pitch had no movement. Practically the definition of BP. So when he was in a jam he didn't have the option of attempting to do more so he opted to do less.

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