The First Hundred
Persistence can mean a lot of different things. It can be a positive. It can be a negative. To be honest it is largely the reason you are getting a post this morning at all. But it is also a trait that the front office has exemplified for a long time. The front office has been known to circle back to targets that were missed previously when making deals, and last night the Cubs did it again. Martin Maldonado was offered a minor league deal by this front office but instead elected to go with the Royals guaranteed offer. The Cubs saved over half the money but lost Mike Montgomery by doing it this way.
What did the Cubs get?
Martin Maldonado is your prototypical defense first, backup catcher. Maldonado has earned a starter's share of playing time the past three seasons, but is probably a second division stater unless you believe strongly in the value of framing. Maldonado is currently slashing .224/.288/.359 which is right in line with his career averages.
Maldonado is a strong defensive catcher with a rocket arm. He is a strong blocker of the plate, and generally draws rave reviews for his defense behind the plate. He had one amazing year framing according to Baseball Prospectus in 2017. He was a positive receiver in 2018 and this year has been neutral.
The Cubs got a defensive first, veteran catcher who is largely going to be a liability at the plate. Maldonado can run into one from time to time. He has six homers this year but averaged double digits in his two years of full time starts.
What did the Cubs give up?
Two and a half years of Mike Montgomery is what the Cubs gave up to make this deal happen. Montgomery had long seemed to be the odd man out with his desire to start and the Cubs' reluctance in a championship to count on Monty every fifth day. The previous three seasons Monty posted a 3.35 ERA over 354.2 innings.
Those were often incredibly valuable innings as Monty served as everything from a spot starter to high leverage reliever and everything in between. However, Montgomery was struggling this year mightily. He hasn't able to retire lefties and generally has been far less effective than Kyle Ryan.
This move seems like the first time that the front office has lived up to its promise of prioritizing performance this year. The Cubs have a bullpen crunch that will likely require them to remove several underperforming veterans. Kyle Ryan has been outperforming Monty for most of the season, but is at best a second lefty in the bullpen.
The Cubs perhaps overpaid in terms of what Montgomery is likely to provide in the future. However, the Cubs cannot afford to wait for Montgomery, like many tall lefties, to find himself later in his career. The Cubs instead traded a player the rest of baseball knew the Cubs were anxious to jettison, and turned it into a player the Cubs had wanted during their frozen offseason.
Why make the move now?
The biggest question is why the Cubs made this move right now. And there are a variety of possible explanations.
- Most worrisome is the possibility that this means the injury to Willson Contreras is worse than thought. And this suspicion was confirmed with Contreras being placed on the 10 day IL. The expectation is that Contreras is only going to miss 10 days, and that wouldn't seem to necessitate going out to add a veteran backup. Taylor Davis would seem like a reasonable fill in for at most a couple of starts. However, if the injury is going to take Willson longer, then adding a truly trustworthy backup option becomes a lot higher priority.
- The Cubs want to carry three catchers as a way to lengthen the lineup. The idea being that with Maldonado on the roster it would allow Maddon to play Contreras and Caratini at the same time. Caratini has long been one of the better options outside of the core as the Cubs have struggled to find hitters at the bottom of the lineup. Caratini playing third and Contreras playing in the outfield would be one way to shake up the lineup.
- The Cubs want to improve defense behind the plate. This seems unlikely, but perhaps the much discussed framing issues of the Cubs catcher duo prompted this move. The front office might think that having a catcher in the mold of David Ross might be a missing piece they can actually afford.
- The Cubs really wanted to get something for Mike Montgomery and needed his roster spot to try to improve the bullpen. The Cubs have needed a high leverage lefty all season, and Monty's reverse split woes have only made him more expendable. The Royals offer of Maldonado might have been a two birds with one stone situation for the front office.
Cubs Common Denominator Lineup
Yesterday's puzzle was a lineup based on a statistical commonality, and as a couple Denizens guessed it did have to do with doubles. Yesterday's lineup is the Cubs career doubles leaderboard. Anson in RF was kind of a clue because I needed to push him to that spot to make the top eighth fit in the same lineup. It is actually in order as you can see (excluding Charley Root of course who led pitchers) in the key below.
Here is your puzzle for today.
|9||Jeff Stevens||Pitcher||6.27 ERA||28 K||25 BB||1 Win||0 Losses|
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