The young talent for the Chicago Cubs is here. After strong performances on Friday, two players made major statements. The rest of the league is on notice.
The Chicago Cubs are not only the best team in the National League Central, they are a fun team to watch. Young and talented. Energetic while (mostly) humble. There are flashes of brilliance and moments of stunning poise.
With the display of talent we have witnessed this Spring, all signs point to an impressive season. Players, like Albert Almora, are proving their readiness for the big stage of Wrigley Field. Two players showed their prowess on Friday.
After a slow start, Kyle Schwarber is settling into the leadoff spot just fine. In the last four games, he is hitting 6-13 with a triple, home run, four runs scored while knocking in seven more. For the entire spring, he is hitting to a .276/.364/.621 split. I am certain that the Cubs will be pleased if that trend continues in the regular season.
In the game against the White Sox on Friday, Schwarber single-handedly lead the Chicago Cubs to victory. After Sox starter Derek Holland set the first seven batters down, he allowed two walks. Schwarber followed with a monster home run to right field, giving the Cubs a 3-1. He would then end Holland’s day with a RBI single in the top of the fifth. It was a 4-1 lead that team would not relinquish. Schwarber then scored on a 2-RBI single by Kris Bryant.
In addition to Schwarber’s big day, other players showed improvement. Prospects Duane Underwood and Rob Zastryzny both had scoreless outings. As did Carl Edwards. Tommy La Stella scored two of the Cubs 7 runs, both on Schwarber hits.
Thunderbolt and lightning
Teams around the league have one reaction to Javier Baez‘s play during the WBC so far: very, very frightening. We witnessed his flair for the dramatic with the no-look tag on Nelson Cruz. In the second round game versus Team USA, Baez showed off something we have not seen yet. Speed.
Sure, we know that he is ultra-quick in the field, but speed is rarely used on the bases for the Chicago Cubs in terms of steals. Baez swiped three bases on Friday, add it was not even close. Furthermore, all of them off of Buster Posey, who threw out 37% of would-be stealers in 2016.
The performance and energy of Baez may but pressure on Manager Joe Maddon to play him every day. The problem would be moving the pieces around so that the lineup is at its best. Remove Schwarber? No. What about Ben Zobrist? Unlikely? Addison Russell? Maybe if he struggles, but doubtful. However, the passion and play of Baez deserves using.
What we do know is this: it is going to be a fun year to watch these young Cubs go after another World Series title. It could be one for the record books.