Link-O-Rama: Howard, Jaramillo, Guillen, Mattingly

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* Ryan Howard has tied Lou Gehrig as the only players in baseball history with an RBI in eight straight playoff games, although Alex Rodriguez can join them if he knocks in a run tonight.
Gehrig hit .536 with seven homers during his eight-game stretch, and of course did all that damage in the World Series.
* Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo is reportedly close to signing with the Cubs and becoming the highest paid coach in baseball, which makes his decision to leave the Rangers after 15 seasons on the job look pretty smart financially.
* Carlos Guillen and Jim Leyland have apparently settled their differences, so Guillen is now slated to be the Tigers’ starting left fielder in 2010. Until he gets hurt or Leyland decides he needs to get Ryan Raburn into the lineup, of course.
* Los Angeles bench coach Don Mattingly is among the finalists to become Cleveland’s new manager, but likely won’t be able to officially interview for the job until the Dodgers are out of the postseason.

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.