Cubs: Three questions the team must answer when play resumes
The Chicago Cubs were addressing many concerns when their season went on hiatus. What are some of the key questions that still need to be answered?
If you asked him, Chicago Cubs rookie manager David Ross would most likely not choose to have to repeat his very first days on the job; even though that is exactly what it will feel like if, and, or when MLB finally returns to the ballpark for big-league competition.
Ross may have thought he was out of the dog-house after wading through hordes of Chicago Cubs team-related questions as spring training began, but the prolonged time away means Ross will have to endure a ‘second’ first day on the job. Here are three questions Ross and the team must answer when play resumes.
Who will fill the universal designated hitter role for the Cubs?
In 1973, the American League adopted the universal designated hitter rule. The National League has never adopted this particular rule but has been talking about bringing it on as early as 2022.
Now with a shortened season, the National League teams according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman will be allowed to use a DH in their lineup. Who will the Cubs elect to the DH? Or will there be several candidates’ available to work as the Cubs DH?
Most writers and fans have already baptized Cubs outfielder, Kyle Schwarber as the right guy for this job but I’m not so sure Cubs fans.
Schwarber, of course, is a maverick with the bat in his hands and draws fear from owners to managers alike when steps up to the plate to face the opposition; but what I’ve been most impressed with, is how well Schwarber has performed in the outfield the past couple seasons. At one point, Schwarber was the best defender in MLB by stats.
We’ve seen some dramatic changes in how Schwarber’s defense has become a staple for the Cubs. No longer is Schwarber the expendable outfielder; he has become an anchor of sorts for the Cubs outfield as a whole. Now might not be the right time to experiment in the outfield.
A much more viable option is Cubs new outfielder, Steven Souza Jr., who shut up plenty of critics during spring training (including yours truly as I openly apologized – right here) the way Souza lit up pitchers with his bat. Souza can be an extremely powerful tool against left-handed pitchers and combined with his right-handed power, we’re looking at a smart, viable option for the Cubs’ new DH.
In 10 games over spring training, Souza had six hits, three runs, two RBIs, and three walks culminating in a .273 BA, .360 OBP, .364 SLG and a .724 OPS all while in recovery mode from last season’s injuries. If Souza can do this in recovery, imagine his impact during the regular season at full-strength?
The Cubs will have to answer this open question as soon as a start date is on the books. There are more questions though, as the team will need to re-evaluate who will finally be named to fill the leadoff hitter role when the season returns.