The year was 2014 and Kris Bryant is the buzz of Chicago. It was also justified! The guy with the baby blues was rocketing up the ladder on his way to Chicago. There was little doubt that he would be the face of the franchise very soon. It was just the way it is.
KB ended the year with the Iowa Cubs. His line was .295/.418/.619! He had 21 HR’s and 52 RBI’s in 297 plate appearances. In essence, it was about 1/2 a year of work so fans were drooling to get that bat into the lineup at Wrigley.
There were a few spots of concern. Bryant did strikeout a lot. His K rate was a whopping 28.6%. But this was quickly squashed by many pointing to his walk rate also. His BB rate was 14.5%. There was also some debate as to what position he would ultimately play. Would he play 3B or the OF?
Oh but for the love of God, that bat was something that was needed. We’d worry about the other stuff later. Getting that bat into the lineup was the key. The Cubs needed offense!
Approximately one year later we saw the same thing with Kyle Schwarber. His numbers were almost identical. His line was .320/.438/.579 at Tennessee. He had 13 HR’s and 39 RBI’s in 243 plate appearances. He also had better numbers when it came to walks and strike outs. His K rate was more respectable at 20.2% and his BB rate was higher than Bryant’s with a 17.3%.
Theo just doesn’t like to promote guys from AA Ball to the majors. So Schwarber was promoted to Iowa. About a month later is was obvious that the Cubs needed an injection of offense. So after just 17 games at Iowa, we would never again see Schwarber in a minor league lineup. How could anyone forget how Schwarber practically carried the Cubs with his bat during the 2015 playoffs?
This brings us to our spotlighted player. At about the half way point of the season his stats are just as gaudy as Bryant and Schwarber. His current line is .313/.428/.565 with 15 HR’s and 55 RBI’s in 297 plate appearances. His strikeout rate and walk rate are 19.9% and 15.8% respectively. With #’s like that it should be a forgone conclusion that the player is ready for a new challenge.
The player? Dan Vogelbach
Yes, Dan Vogelbach. Just the name itself gets fans instantly thinking of trade bait. He can only play 1B and there is no way he will replace Rizzo, so let’s just move on. Right?
I’m not here to proclaim anything but one thing. Vogelbach’s bat is ready for a new challenge. Fans have argued with me that prospects don’t mean anything until they prove themselves at the major league level. This same argument wasn’t the battle cry for Byrant or Schwarber.
Why was that? Maybe it was how the media portrayed those guys. It was already assumed that these guys would be very productive hitters at the major league level. Then when they proved themselves at each level in the minors, they were promoted. It happened very quickly.
Why dismiss what Vogelbach has done? I totally understand that fans love Rizzo. But what I hear is fans really just refer to Vogelbach as a “throw in” to any trade proposal they can think up. If the FO felt the same way, Dan would have been traded years ago.
This writer has heard that many teams are drooling to get a guy like Vogelbach. That doesn’t sound like a “throw in” type of prospect. Here’s an ugly thought. What happens if Rizzo is hurt? Many would probably still dismiss the chance that Vogelbach could help. Instead they would rather shuffle guys around to fill the hole.
Just because the Cubs have enough depth on the major league roster to fill voids, it doesn’t mean it is ALWAYS the best route to take. The injuries this year are starting to show their effects on the offense. The team hasn’t been hitting as of late. And the bullpen looks like a 6th grade science project underway with results looking dismal.
One thing that Vogelbach might help with is the offense that needs a bit of help. Rizzo is still having back issues and a lefty bat off the bench seems to be needed each night. It’s not the ideal situation for a young player but neither was the situation that Schwarber was in when promoted to Chicago. Fortunately the Cubs have a manager that isn’t afraid to do the unconventional and find AB’s for his young players.
Let’s be honest. Dan Vogelbach will probably get traded. But he won’t be just some “throw in” that we dump to get him out of our hair. His bat is legit! The kid can play and has what teams are looking for. The next thing to keep in mind is that the Cubs don’t need to trade the big bat until the right deal presents itself.
I still believe a blockbuster trade is developing for the Cubs. It may not be seen until the Winter but when the opportunity comes up, a guy like Vogelbach has a lot of value. He may never wear the Cubbie Blue in Chicago but this doesn’t mean his career is washed up. There are 29 other teams out there and 15 are in the American league where Vogelbach’s skill set is that much more valuable.
I’m a big fan of Dan Vogelbach and wish him nothing but success!