Now I am a strong proponent of waiting for the season to really kick into high gear and get into the meat and potatoes of your schedule before you make a relatively major decision such as this one, but seeing Kyle fail time and time again at the plate is getting incredibly frustrating and I think this is something that has to be done.
The Kyle Schwarber leadoff experiment was outrageous to many when Joe Maddon first publicly threw the idea around. Replacing Dexter Fowler, a key cog in last years championship team, is a tall order. We’ve all heard how much better they were with Dex in the lineup and how well the guys responded to him both on and off the field, and Kyle Schwarber did not seem to be the best replacement. However, despite all of his physical limitations and the concerns with left-handed pitching, Kyle showed some signs of being a serviceable leadoff guy, showcasing his plate discipline by posting the highest walk rate in the majors out of all leadoff hitters as well as starting off the year with a .368 OBP through the first 15 games. But basically ever since then it’s been all downhill. For all of the sabermetrics guys out there, you can take a look for yourself at his numbers to-date compared to the league averages:
Not gonna get into the details of every stat cause its pretty clear he is not doing well. Kyle has a lot of sentimental value to this team, but he is hurting it more than helping it. At this point in the season, sending him down to Iowa for a couple weeks can only do him some good. The Cubs are not at any less of an advantage without Schwarber in the lineup. It allows Maddon more defensive flexibility, and ultimately it gives Ian Happ more innings. Additionally, Albert Almora gets more time which is huge as he is our long term solution at CF. Baseball is a cut-throat business, and only the best players should play. Kyle is not one of the best players right now. It’s quite possible that being a leadoff hitter for a significant amount of time messed up Kyle’s approach at the plate and he hasn’t settled back to what he’s comfortable with. Being over a quarter of the way through the season and being second to the Brewers in the NL Central, not to mention being under .500, is very unsettling for the Cubs fan, and usually I would trust Theo with things like this because why shouldn’t I? But with Schwarber it’s a tad unusual. Kyle is Theo’s golden goose and it seems like he’s almost forcing Kyle to figure it out on the highest level rather than letting him work it out at a more reasonable pace in the minors. Baseball players are chess pieces and you have to move them with acuity rather than emotion, and Kyle Schwarber is just not working right now. I think that briefly sending him down is the best solution for all parties involved, no hard feelings. This team obviously has all of the pieces to repeat, but has yet to work out all of their kinks. Right up there with finding another middle to top of the rotation SP, Kyle Schwarber is among the Cubs top issues they have to get solved before this team can return to top form, and that begins with sending him to Iowa.