Filling in for the injured Miguel Montero, Kyle Schwarber had three hits Friday in his return to the majors, but he also committed two errors in the Cubs’ 4-2 loss to the Braves.
Schwarber’s first error came a Nick Markakis steal in the bottom of the first, with his throw going to the outfield and allowing Markakis to take third. It was just Markakis’s second steal attempt in 89 games this season. He came around to score on Kelly Johnson’s single.
The other error came on catcher’s interference in the sixth, allowing Johnson to reach. Johnson didn’t go on to score.
Of course, the Cubs well know than Schwarber’s bat is well ahead of his glove. He had more than a third of the Cubs’ seven hits on the night, including their lone extra-base hit, a double off Julio Teheran in the fifth. Unfortunately, that came immediately after Dexter Fowler grounded into a double play, leaving no one on base.
The Cubs don’t believe Schwarber is ready to be an everyday catcher right now, which is why they’re carrying three backstops in Montero’s absence. However, they also haven’t given Schwarber a single inning in the outfield at any level this year, suggesting that Schwarber won’t contribute as more than a pinch-hitter when he doesn’t start at catcher. They still might want to change their minds about that one and start having Schwarber work out in left. If could take away from his practice time behind the plate, but Schwarber’s bat can be a big help to the team this year, even after Montero returns.
Braves President of Baseball Operations John Hart gave a particularly candid interview to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Especially in this day and age when GMs are partial to businesspeak that borders on cloudspeak.
Among the highlights was his response to a question that followed up on Hart talking about his expectations heading into the season:
Q: So it’s not as if you expected a better record.
A: I’ve never made any false promises that we were built to win this year. We felt we had an energy and a good makeup. But you don’t trade your closer opening day, trade for draft picks, trade middle-of-the-order bats and expect to win. I won’t lie to fans.
He is also pretty candid in saying how surprised he was that the Padres were willing to take Melvin Upton’s contract in the Craig Kimbrel trade:
Q: But was your only chance to get rid of B.J. Upton’s contract.
A: That was obviously the intent. We had 10 calls on Kimbrel in the winter, but we just hung up because they wouldn’t take an off-load. San Diego was one of the clubs that came up early.
Q: Did it shock you when they said they would take Upton?
A: Yeah, it did. They put all of their chips in.
Q: Like the Braves two years ago. It didn’t work for them, either.
A: Yeah, I know.
He’s also straight-forward in (a) calling out catcher Christian Bethancourt, who was supposed to be a big part of this year but who struggled and then got sent down, as unprepared and not evidently committed, thus resulting in his demotion; and (b) praising Fredi Gonzalez. Though, notably, he does not say whether or not Gonzalez, who is in his last year under contract, will be back in 2016.
I take issue with many of the things the Braves did this past offseason — particularly signing Nick Markakis, which Hart does not address here — but you have to hand it to Hart for giving straight-forward answers to questions most GMs would duck, dodge and spin.
Braves right fielder Nick Markakis saw his record errorless streak come to an end this afternoon against the Nationals when he bobbled a ball off the bat of Denard Span in the first inning. The error allowed Span to reach second base. You can watch the play here.
Markakis had gone 398 consecutive games without an error, the major league record for a non-pitcher. His last error came on August 10, 2012 as a member of the Orioles.
Markakis just set the record a week ago by passing Darren Lewis, who went 392 games without an error from 1990-1994 with the Athletics and Giants. It’s an interesting tidbit, even if errors only give us a very limited perspective on how good a defender actually is.