It’s not quite at the level of Brock-for-Broglio or letting Greg Maddux bolt for Atlanta, but the Cubs electing to non-tender Kyle Schwarber after the 2020 season is hurting more and more.
Our former Large Adult Son is headed to his second Fall Classic after the Phillies dispatched the Padres from the NLCS in five games on Sunday.
Schwarber is far from just a dude along for the ride, too. He hit a gargantuan 488-foot Game 1 homer that may still be climbing and went yard again in Saturday’s Game 4 that put the Phillies in firm control of the series. After a slow start to the playoffs, he’s OPSing .832 with three homers, six RBI and nine walks over 11 postseason games.
He’s one of the faces of the Phillies’ first trip to the World Series in 13 years. If they can topple the Astros, he’ll probably be as beloved in Philadelphia as he was on the North Side of Chicago.
It all comes on the heels of a regular season that saw Schwarber hit a National League-leading 46 homers in the first year of a four-year, $79 million deal.
At 29, Schwarber’s clubhouse presence and onfield production could have made him an ideal building block for the “next great Cubs team” had ownership not passed on the $9-10 million he was projected to make in arbitration. (The Cubs ended up signing Joc Pederson for $7 million instead.)
His power also would’ve helped this year’s White Sox team had Jerry Reinsdorf elected to open the checkbook for a player who could’ve helped the lineup.
Alas, their frugality was Philadelphia’s gain and Schwarber helped elevate a previously disappointing Phillies lineup to a championship level.
Would Schwarber be hitting like this if he was still wearing a Cubs uniform? It’s debatable. The former outfielder has said the release “turned out to be one of the better things that could happen for me” and maybe it was a kick in the pants for a player who struggled through that weird 2020 season.
But while it looks like the Cubs may have expertly avoided handing large albatross contracts to Javier Baez and Kris Bryant, letting a World Series hero like Schwarber walk over relative peanuts is a mistake that grows bigger with each big Schwarber swing.
• The Blackhawks, meanwhile, have won three straight games and welcome Florida (Tuesday) and Edmonton (Thursday) to town this week. In tearing down the roster for a tank, GM Kyle Davidson has stocked the roster with guys not keen on giving up. All three victories have included comebacks from two-goal deficits.
• The White Sox reportedly plan to interview Ozzie Guillen for his old managing job this week, but could the World Series break be a good time to announce the hiring of Astros bench coach Joe Espada?
• Here’s a sentence that would’ve blown minds in, say, 1995: Illinois football goes for its third straight win over Nebraska with a 2:30 kickoff on Saturday. The Illini’s Big Ten West title hopes got a nice boost with Purdue’s loss in Madison over the weekend.
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