Pittsburgh handed Jonathan Sanchez an Opening Day rotation spot despite his being the worst pitcher in baseball last season and predictably after four terrible starts they’ve mercifully decided to designate him for assignment.
Sanchez managed to allow 18 runs in 13.2 innings, get demoted to the bullpen, and draw a six-game suspension for throwing at Allen Craig’s head, so it was a very memorable month.
Dating back to the beginning of last season Sanchez is 1-12 with an 8.73 ERA and more walks (61) than strikeouts (60) in 78 innings while allowing opponents to hit .330 with a 1.057 OPS. He’s still just 29 years old and not that far removed from being a solid mid-rotation starter with a good strikeout rate for the Giants, but that’s about as bad as pitching gets.
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.