Cubs

Outfield not part of Cubs’ plan for Kyle Schwarber just yet

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Outfield not part of Cubs’ plan for Kyle Schwarber just yet

ATLANTA — As expected, Kyle Schwarber wasn’t in the Cubs lineup Saturday against the Atlanta Braves, with David Ross catching left-handed starter Jon Lester. Manager Joe Maddon said his first thought is to hold Schwarber out Sunday when right-hander Jake Arrieta starts, too, though he'll re-consider it tomorrow given the 22-year-old has 11 hits in 26 major league at-bats.

The Cubs will ease Schwarber into his role as the team’s primary catcher with Miguel Montero (sprained thumb) on the disabled list. Maddon said Friday that Schwarber would be available to catch any starter not named Lester or Arrieta, with Ross serving as Lester's personal catcher and Arrieta having a repertoire the Cubs don't want the 2014 first-round pick handling yet.

But what the organization won’t do is play him in the outfield to keep his bat in the lineup — at least not yet.

[MORE: Cubs will give Kyle Schwarber a ‘soft landing’ at catcher]

“I don’t want to skip forward too quickly,” Maddon said. “There’s a plan in place. Let’s work the plan.”

Maddon doesn’t want to heap too many responsibilities on Schwarber too soon, which is partly why having him play outfield isn’t viable at this point. He’ll have to take some fly balls on days he’s not catching — a small, heavy thunderstorm rolled through Atlanta on Saturday afternoon, wiping out any chance for bench coach Dave Martinez to work with Schwarber in the outfield — before Maddon will feel comfortable considering sporadically moving him off catcher.

The Cubs have a solid defense, too, ranking fifth in team Ultimate Zone Rating. The left field platoon of Chris Coghlan and Chris Denorfia has combined to play above-average defense while Schwarber hasn’t played the outfield since spending 36 games in left last year.

And too, Maddon likes what Coghlan (.245/.341/.407, 1.6 WAR) and Denorfia (.301/.339/.381, 0.5 WAR) have shown offensively. Coghlan is third on the team with 1.6 WAR, for what it’s worth.

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“If there’s a left center fielder, that’d be okay,” Maddon laughed. “But the other guys have done really well too and they’re playing. Obviously if there was an injury involved that might precipitate moving that along a little sooner.”

Schwarber’s shown he can hit at the major league level and eventually the Cubs will have to find a permanent home for him. With the Cubs’ offense lagging for the better part of June and July (3.2 runs/game entering Saturday) the need for a hitting boost is clear.

But the Cubs are still looking at the big picture with Schwarber. Whatever decisions are made — whether that’s having him catch Arrieta or play the outfield — will be the result of a calculated process.

“It’s about what’s best for us and for him,” Maddon said. “We can not forget this guy’s still being developed. He’s being developed on a major league level.”

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Manny Machado’s value and other Cubs offseason wish list items

Did Manny Machado’s value take a hit at all after he openly admitted hustling isn’t his “cup of tea”? Our Cubs team (David Kaplan, Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki, Jeff Nelson) debate that, plus the potential fit of Machado or Bryce Harper for the 2019 Cubs and beyond.

[MORE: The most underrated storyline of the Cubs offseason]

The crew also runs down the top items on the Cubs’ offseason wish list – ranging from bullpen help to infield depth to a set leadoff hitter – in what may be the most impactful winter in Theo Epstein’s tenure in Chicago.

Listen to the podcast here or via the embedded player below: