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posted: 5/19/2017 5:19 AM

North: Spotlight on Cubs' Schwarber too glaring

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  • Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, right, congratulates Kyle Schwarber after Schwarber's home run against pitcher Bronson Arroyo on Tuesday.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon, right, congratulates Kyle Schwarber after Schwarber's home run against pitcher Bronson Arroyo on Tuesday.
    Associated Press

 
 

Kyle Schwarber, as the leadoff man for the Chicago Cubs, has made for a fun story, and the situation confirms that the sport of baseball can be played in a variety of ways.

Technically, the leadoff position only comes into play once at the beginning of every game. But I also know that most leadoff hitters should possess speed so they can steal bases or score from first on a double.

Let's forget that skill set for a minute as I explain my take.

Jesse Rogers, who covers the Chicago Cubs for ESPN AM-1000, was on my Tuesday podcast and he asked a very simple, but good question: Why is it only on Schwarber?

And he's right! Where is the media attention on the other players who aren't hitting well, such as Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell or Javier Baez?

Well there are a couple of reasons it's not happening. First, Rizzo will most definitely hit because it's in his DNA and he has history as a very good hitter. Likewise, Russell, is a solid player with a very bright future. Baez still has something to prove.

But I see Schwarber as one of the worst outfielders in baseball, and he'd be better off wearing boxing gloves out there. His body of work as a hitter, though its a short sample size, has been impressive until this year.

Please, don't think I'm a Schwarber hater. I'm not. If he starts hitting over the next couple of weeks and his average rises, I'm cool and happy for Cubs fans. But I happen to believe he'll be a career .230 hitter.

I already have projected that the newest Cubs player, Ian Happ, will take over in left field once he settles in as a regular. But Joe Maddon says Happ may be at third or first, so who knows?

Meanwhile Schwarber is getting plenty of opportunities to get his bat right. Maddon is sticking with him because that was his plan from the beginning of the season. Will Maddon change his mind? I really don't know, but in a way, this team is even more fun to cover than last year's group that won the World Series!

If this team doesn't win this year, what will be the reason? Sophomore slump? Too much too soon? Hangover from last year?

How about all of the above? After all, how realistic is it for a team that hadn't won in 108 years to win two years in a row -- especially when teams are gunning for you?

So far the homestand has started out successfully, and we'll see what happens the rest of the way.

In fairness, though, maybe the spotlight should be less on Schwarber and more on the rest of the team.

• Follow Mike on Twitter @north2north. Check out his podcast Monday-Friday at podcastarena.com, iTunes or audioboom. His column appears each Friday in the Daily Herald. For more, visit northtonorth.com.

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