Cubs

The Kyle Schwarber offseason circus gets even crazier, but Cubs continue to stand by their man

The Kyle Schwarber offseason circus gets even crazier, but Cubs continue to stand by their man

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The more time that passes, the less it seems likely the Cubs will trade away Kyle Schwarber.

(Feel free to bookmark this story and rub it in my face if a surprise deal gets done with Schwarber this winter.)

When America's Now-Not-So-Large Adult Son showed up to the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort Tuesday, it was easy to see how fans could run rampant with speculation that it may mean he's at the Winter Meetings for a physical or a meeting with another team or anything that could mean a trade is right around the corner.

Jed Hoyer waved that notion off in his meeting with the media in the Cubs suite Tuesday evening.

Schwarber did meet with Hoyer and Theo Epstein for about a half hour, though the Cubs GM joked the slugger's sudden emergence at baseball's hottest offseason gathering was probably more to show off his new chiseled physique.

"Oh, no question," Hoyer said. "There's been a lot of videos out there. He's proud of himself. He's not hiding. He's bummed it's not a little warmer."

Schwarber has kind of a mytical aura around him as a name that instantly engenders a reaction from fans regarding a variety of topics from his weight loss to him leading off to trade rumors to his 2017 struggles or his epic return from a devastating knee injury to play World Series hero.

His Midwest upbringing and blue-collar style resonates perfectly with much of the Chicago fanbase. He clearly also has some staunch supporters within the Cubs organization, from teammates to coaches to front office members to scouts.

To put it simply: The Cubs f--king love the dude.

"He knows how we feel about him," Hoyer said Tuesday.

Epstein admitted Monday there was a lot of interest in Schwarber this winter (his name keeps popping up in Red Sox rumors), though that's not out of the ordinary.

"He's always been somebody teams have interest in," Epstein said. "But we probably have the most interest."

These are just the latest in a long line of public endorsements from Cubs personnel on Schwarber.

The Cubs know Schwarber can handle the trade rumors, in part because this should be old hat for him. He's been linked to AL teams as a DH option for years.

It's also gotta help fuel the Schwarber fire within the Cubs that he's lost 25ish pounds, which will help improve his speed and defense.

"I feel like best shape of their lives becomes this cliche or joke," Hoyer said. "But he actually is. He looks awesome.

"I think Kyle in general is a guy that when you talk to him, he kinda motivates you. I mean, he's so passionate, takes everything so seriously. So Theo and I just sat down with him for like a half an hour and it's hard not to want to play right now listening to him.

"He didn't feel great about his [2017] season, he probably didn't feel great about how he felt all year and give him credit —- he did something about it. It's so obvious when you look at him what great shape he's in.

"I love the fact that he drove over here, in some ways, just to show it off. I don't blame him. I probably would, too."

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 30th homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 30th homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa hit the 30-homer threshold on June 21, 1998 in only his 71st game of the season. For perspective, the 2018 Cubs leader in homers on June 21 is Javy Baez with 14 and Mike Trout leads all of baseball with only 23.

At this point, Mark McGwire was ahead of Sosa, but the Cubs slugger was pulling closer. McGwire had 33 dingers on June 21 while Ken Griffey Jr. had 28 and Greg Vaughn had 25.

Sosa' June 21 homer came off Tyler Green and was his 5th blast of the series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Wrigley Field that year. But the Cubs lost that series, despite Sosa's efforts.

Fun fact: Sosa drove in 10 runs in the three-game series with the Phillies that summer while the rest of his teammates combined for only 9 RBI.

Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of

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AP

Podcast: Wild week at Wrigley wraps up with Cubs showing what they’re made of

The Cubs have been a different team the last six weeks, looking a lot more like the resilient bunch from 2016 than the sluggish 2017 squad that lacked energy. After some wacky circumstances Monday and a tough loss in Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader, the Cubs came out and showed what they’re made of in the last two games of the series against the Dodgers, a team that knocked them out of postseason play last fall.

Kelly Crull and Tony Andracki sum up the longest short homestand (or shortest long homestand?), updating the status of Yu Darvish, Brandon Morrow, the Cubs pitching staff and how the team is rounding into form as the season’s halfway mark approaches.

Check out the entire podcast here: