clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

BCB After Dark: The art of the Schwindel

The swinging-est night spot for night owls, early-risers and Cubs fans abroad asks who is going to be the team’s first baseman in 2022.

Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

Welcome back to BCB After Dark: the late-night music club for night owls, early-risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. So glad you could join us again tonight. We’ve got an open bar this evening—you can drink anything you brought yourself for free. Please let us check your hat and coat. Please tell us if we can get you anything.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

The last time we met the Cubs had just completed a two-game sweep of the Twins. After today’s 4-3 win over the Reds, the Cubs winning streak is now seven in a row. Maybe this current edition of the Cubs aren’t going to win any titles. Certainly six of the seven wins were against bad teams. Perhaps this is just a little hot streak. But man, this has been fun.

The ACL Cubs beat ACL Giants Orange, 9-2 this evening. Miguel Fabrizio was 4 for 4 with three doubles and a home run.

In the last edition of BCB After Dark, I asked you about what the future would and should hold for Cubs outfielder Ian Happ. When I asked “Will the Cubs non-tender Ian Happ?,” only 36% of you thought that they would. On the other hand, that’s a lot of you who think the Cubs would just let Happ go for nothing. But 47% of you thought that the Cubs should refuse to offer Happ a contract and let him leave as a free agent. That’s almost half. That’s kind of the opposite of how I thought you’d vote, as I thought a strong majority would be in favor of keeping him around but that many of you thought that the cheap Ricketts family would cut payroll even more by refusing to pay him.

Of course, I imagine that the vote might be different today as Happ has been 10 for 23 with two home runs since the Twins series ended.

Here’s the place where I talk about jazz and movies. You’re free to skip ahead to the question at the end. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Today’s jazz selection is saxophonist Joe Henderson’s 1980 album, Mirror, Mirror. It’s got Chick Corea on piano, Ron Carter on bass and Billy Higgins on drums. I heard one track from this album in the car today (“Blues for Liebstraum” written by Corea) and I thought that it was good enough to share. Mirror, Mirror is not one of the most famous works in Henderson’s collection, but it’s a strong effort that got good reviews. So enjoy.

I watched a really fine old movie over the weekend that I had never heard of before, despite boasting of a famous director and starring a famous actor. Despite the poor reviews it received when it was released, it’s apparently won over quite an audience over the past few decades and I’ve got to include myself among them now. It’s a hidden gem that has been overshadowed by even greater works by both this director and the male lead.

However, when it came time to write about it today, I decided to spend the Labor Day holiday with my family instead. Or at least the time after the Cubs game ended. So like last week, I’m pushing back my movie essay to Wednesday night/Thursday morning. I figure that most of you probably are relaxing and enjoying the holiday as well, so it might get a better audience later in the week anyway.

So I thought I’d throw a movie question out tonight for discussion. A few weeks ago I made a silly distinction between a documentary and a concert film and I kind of got (very gently) roasted for it. That’s fine. I deserved it. Genre distinctions are always hard to define. I mean, a musical has got to have music in it, but how much music does it have to have for it to be a musical? Does there have to be a crime committed in a film noir? What’s the difference between a romance and a romantic comedy? If a romantic comedy isn’t funny, then is it a romance? (Actually, it’s probably just a flop.)

But I’m going to give those who took exception to my walling off concert films a chance to tell us your favorite concert movies. I know that Woodstock is sort of the Citizen Kane of concert films—the movie that is the best ever because everyone has just decided that it’s the best ever. But I think that while Woodstock is quite good, I think Monterey Pop from two years earlier is even better. Or at least the complete expanded version that gets shown these days. The original version is missing a lot of great stuff, or so I’ve read.

In the early days of cable TV, I used to watch a lot of concert films on the USA Network, which was very different back then than it is today. I’m sure I watched the Neil Young film Rust Never Sleeps at least a dozen times, not so much because I loved it (although I did) but because there was literally nothing else on Friday nights and I was really too young to go out by myself. Urgh! A Music War was another one they showed a lot. Then there is the original The Decline of Western Civilization from the same period.

I’ll also mention the David Byrne films. Stop Making Sense, directed by Jonathan Demme, is rightfully considered a masterpiece. I thought Spike Lee’s production of David Byrne’s stage show American Utopia was a delight to watch as well in quarantine last year.

And no, I haven’t gotten around to watching Summer of Soul yet. I promise I will.

So in the comments, recommend some concert films or other music movies for the rest of us.

Welcome back to everyone who skips the jazz and movie talk. Today’s question is about the first person that anyone in the Cubs family is talking about, our incredible first baseman Frank Schwindel.

To give you a little background on Schwindel, he was an 18th-round pick of the Royals in 2013 out of St. John’s. As you can imagine, 18th-round right-handed hitting first basemen are not often considered top prospects and Schwindel wasn’t. Not once did he make the Baseball America Royals top 30 prospects list. Now the Royals had some very good farm systems in that time, but that still seems pretty harsh. The best I could find in BA about Schwindel in the minors was one writer wishing the Royals would give him a chance to prove that he was more than just an org guy.

And that seems to have been his problem in the Royals system. They really never trusted him. He hit 20 home runs in the minors every year between 2016 and 2018 and the lowest batting average he had in that time was .270. Sure, his OBP wasn’t as great, but it was at least solid.

But instead of giving Schwindel a chance to see what he could do in 2018 or 2019, the Royals decided to keep trotting Lucas Duda out there. They even sold Duda in 2018 to the Braves and then brought him back after he was released by the Twins in Spring Training of 2019. Schwindel went north with the Royals in 2019 out of Spring Training, but after he went 1 for 15 in six games, the Royals released him and started playing Duda again.

Schwindel caught on with the Tigers, but he never made it to the majors with Detroit. They released him after the lost 2020 season and he ended up in Oakland. You know the story from there.

As far as I can tell, the first time Schwindel was mentioned on this site was a game in 2017 when he and Jorge Soler hit back-to-back home runs off the Iowa Cubs pitcher Brad Markey.

So you know what Schwindel is doing right now. He’s the toast of Wrigleyville. He’s also a 29-year-old right-handed hitting first baseman who is doing stuff that is completely out-of-character for the rest of his career. But what he’s doing at the moment is out-of-character for anyone’s career short of Mike Trout. What his numbers do say is that he probably should have gotten a chance like this three or four years ago. Maybe he wouldn’t have been good, but there’s a very good chance he would have been better than the tail-end of Lucas Duda’s career.

Baseball history is full of guys who come out of nowhere and are really good for a short period of time, only for the league to figure them out and for them to return to obscurity. Bob “Hurricane” Hazle was mentioned in the comments of the recap of Monday’s game and he’s perhaps the most famous one, helping the Milwaukee Braves win a World Series by hitting .403 in 1957 and then he was out of the majors for good by the end of 1958. There are many others that you could probably name.

On the other hand, there are such things as late-bloomers. These players don’t have Hall-of-Fame careers, but many players don’t figure out the league until they are in their late-20s and then they go on to have short but productive careers. Although Nelson Cruz didn’t permanently escape the minor leagues until he was 28 and he’s still going at 40.

We don’t know which way Frank Schwindel will go. But we can enjoy the ride as long as it lasts.

So today’s question is: Who will get the majority of games at first base for the Cubs in 2022? Right now, we all hope that it will be Frank Schwindel. But if he turns into Hurricane Hazle, then he’ll be back on the bench or back on waivers in no time.

There’s also Alfonso Rivas on the team, who is five years younger and was more highly-regarded coming up through the minor leagues. He’s also left-handed, which is always nice for a first baseman. Rivas can play a little outfield, but first base is his best position.

There are also several quality free agent first baseman available this winter. The best one in Freddie Freeman, and for the right price he’d love to play with Jason Heyward again. It does seem hard to believe the Braves will let him leave, but you never know.

Another free agent possibility is Brandon Belt. The Giants might want to leave first base open for a Buster Posey or Kris Bryant (if they re-sign them) in the future.

Of course, a reunion with Anthony Rizzo isn’t out of the question either. And C.J. Cron is having a great season in Colorado.

Finally, the Cubs could end up making a trade for a first baseman. The Nationals might look to move on from Josh Bell, for example.

Or the Cubs could move a player currently on the roster, like Nick Madrigal or Patrick Wisdom, over to first next season.

So tell us: Who do you think will see the most time at first base for the Cubs in 2022?


Who will get the most time at first base for the Cubs in 2022?

This poll is closed

  • 76%
    Frank Schwindel
    (183 votes)
  • 12%
    Alfonso Rivas
    (31 votes)
  • 1%
    Another player currently on the Cubs (leave in comments)
    (3 votes)
  • 8%
    A free agent signing (leave in comments)
    (21 votes)
  • 0%
    Someone they traded for (leave in comments)
    (2 votes)
240 votes total Vote Now

Thanks again for joining us. Be sure to pick up your hat and coat before you go and to tip the coat check girl. Please come back tomorrow night when we’ll have a shorter version of BCB After Dark.