HBT readers are smart

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Mark Runsvold has been reading and commenting on HBT since its inception and before that was reading my old blog, Shysterball.  I always knew he was rather bright based on his comments, but I had no idea that he was going to do something like win $48K in one day on Jeopardy!

But that’s what he did on Friday, his first day on the show.  I’m told it was a single-day record, but I couldn’t confirm that, mostly because Jeopardy! fan sites scare the living crap out of me.

Mark is back tonight to defend his title, so check your local listings.  Of course this was all taped back in March so it wouldn’t do too much good to wish him good luck, but I’m sure you’ll think of something. As a trivia nerd whose one attempt to get on Jeopardy! ended in failure — 1997; I passed the test but sort of wigged the talent search people out because I was fidgety on the buzzer during the practice game — I choose to use Mark’s run, however long it lasts, as a vicarious sort of experience. The marriage proposals included.

Oh, and Mark: if you get “baseball” as a category and you don’t get every clue correct, well, we’re just going to pretend that we don’t know you.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”