I don’t know that I get this weekend’s unpleasantness between the Tigers and Rays. If there is a backstory I don’t know about, fine, but all I saw was Fernando Rodney buzzing Miguel Cabrera. Which, sure, you don’t guys throwing up and in like that, but it’s not like he hit him or, based on the game situation and their histories, had any reason to hit him.
But Cabrera jawed at Rodney, Jim Leyland jawed after the game and then yesterday Rick Porcello hit Ben Zobrist. This left Joe Maddon in a reflective mood after yesterday’s game:
“I don’t debate, this guy is outstanding,” Maddon said of Cabrera. “He’s wonderful. I just wish he wouldn’t cry so much.”
And it kinda is about the crying, you’d have to think. If Cabrera just walks back to the dugout on Saturday rather than yell at Rodney, I bet Leyland doesn’t say anything after that game and Porcello doesn’t feel obligated to plunk Zobrist. But when your big star does that you get questions asked about you. And when you’re on the bubble like Porcello, you err on the side of abiding by all of baseball’s macho “we protect our own” code because when push comes to shove let no man say you’re not a team player.
In this case, no harm done. But it’s not hard to imagine Zobrist breaking his wrist on a hit-by-pitch. Or someone getting hurt in a brawl after any of it. And it’s just the stupidest thing in baseball.
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.”