Cubs catcher situation

This offseason the Cubs were rumored to be in the hunt for an upgrade at catcher. The most prevalent rumor revolved around a Matt Wieters acquisition in some sort of Jeff Samardzija deal. It was a curious storyline to me; Castillo isn’t exactly an All-Star in the making but he provided decent offense last year and has turned himself into a better defensive backstop over the course of the 2013 season.

Originally the carrying tool with Beef was his power as a look into Castillo’s prospect history shows us a catching prospect with a good bat and sloppy defensive skills on the whole. He’s always had a strong arm but his blocking ability was questioned early in his career. My eyes told me that his catching ability improved by a fair margin in 2013 and Harry Pavlidis’ catching numbers do support that idea (at least as far as blocking runs is concerned).

The pitch framing could use some work; red negative numbers seldom mean anything positive. I don’t think he’s a good bet to hit for a lot of power but PECOTA’s projection of 16 homeruns and a .409 SLG (PECOTA is conservative so keep that in mind) are more than enough for me when it comes to a catcher. Castillo isn’t a finished product but I don’t think he’s going to go through a major growth spurt at this point.

In the short term the Cubs signed George Kottaras (Greek Dog of Walks) to play the role of veteran backup. It’s a role that Kottaras should fill ably as a left handed patient hitter who won’t kill you behind the plate in short spurts. I like the signing for 2014.

In terms of the future of the position there just isn’t much there down the line. John wrote this about the long term prospects. I like Wilson Contreras as well; he’s just a long shot to make it to the major leagues at any point in his career.

I think this is one of the few spots where the Cubs short term output looks a lot better than their long term future.

Filed under: Analysis

Tags: Baseball, catchers, mlb


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  • Is there any team with too much catching talent that needs a SS or OF? I can't think of one.

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    with vogelbach's weight loss, has he gained enough mobility to maybe try catcher? You don't exactly need twinkle-toes back there.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I think it would be hard to convince him he isn't a first baseman, especially with a big year this summer.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    I would disagree. You need athleticism behind the plate to block balls in the dirt and to come out of your crouch to make throws.

    Usually you move players off of C, rarely do you see someone move to that position.

  • In reply to IrwinFletcher:

    I think you do as well. The better defensive catchers have some solid athleticism. They may be slow-footed in general, but they need to be able to react and move quickly, show good arm strength. I think of it as being a good offensive lineman in football. Yeah, you may not win any races, but they do have quickness within a small space -- and the ones that don't have that don't last very long.

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    In reply to John Arguello:

    That's why I mentioned the weight loss - taking a 30 lb back back off your shoulders has got to make you more agile, I'm just wondering if it helped him much.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Possibly. I still think we should be happy if he can become adequate at 1B.

  • In reply to SKMD:

    Vogelbach barely has an arm strong enough for left field or first base.

    Catcher is totally out of the question, as is third base.

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    I was thinking about this the other day. There's a part of me that would absolutely love Weiters if he bounces back this year. However, with him approaching 30 and given that catchers tend to break down before other positions, I think it's best letting someone else take that risk.

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Wieters is 27.

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    In reply to Ray:

    28 for most of this year and, since I'm only interested in him if he has a bounce back year, 29 by the time I'd seriously consider a trade.

  • Good article, Mauricio! I like the term for Kottaras, GDoW LOL. But with Castillo being only 26 years old, don't you think his slugging will continue to improve into the .425-.450 range eventually? If he can do that, we've got 5-6 good years, maybe more, at the catcher position. So why aren't you convinced the Cubs are solid long-term at this position?

  • If your big trade chip is Samardjia, then;

    How could you pass up a premium pitching prospect.
    And how much are you gaining on that 30 year old over Castillo? Is that talent gap worth the price of Samardjia? I don't think so. For me, I like Wood better than Samardjia because I know what I am going to get. So keep Wood and trade the "I'm a no. 1 who pitches like a no. -3 for a pitcher of the future. We will have the talent outside of pitching to acquire a catching prospect down the road.

  • I think Castillo is very close to all-star caliber and if he continues to progress he certainly is. As far as prospect catchers go we have potential with Lopez in tennessee and several at the lower levels like
    Brockemeyer,Malave,Contreras & Remilliard plus some additional converts.

  • I am sorry but I can't get behind or support him as a back catcher. He may draw a walk or two but dang don't strike out so often. I like a back up catcher to be a avg defender and have some pop in his bat. That way he can be a late inning threat. Nobody cares if your back up catcher takes pitches.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    And he struck out 3 more times today.

  • At least there's Charlie Cutler in the mix somewhere down in AZ isn't he? He's gotta be a distant cousin to me & Jay. Since my last name is Cutler too. Anyone find out what Cutlers number is yet? I want to get a Cutler Cubs jersey. I gotta get rid of my Kosuke Fukudome jersey, altho it's quite the hit up here in Minnesota with the Metrodome going down. Their Target Field is NOTHING like Wrigley. They even have Heaters in the ceilings by the concession stands...Wimps!

  • I don't see a big need for offense at catcher once the Cubs young hitters come of age. Defense and to meld with the pitching staff will be the key.

  • Beef seems to be progressing well with both the bat and the glove. I think he's a possible future All-Star. Posey and Molina are locks for two spots in the short term, but Castillo should outlast Molina and Posey might move to 1B. Remember, Joe Girardi was once an All-Star catcher. Also, Welington Castillo traded one of the letter "l"'s from his first name to Willson Contreras for future considerations.

  • These guys do this for free man, is there really a reason for that comment out loud, that if I may be frank is the kind of comment a DB makes , see what I did there , didn't call you a DB only called the action or comment one consistant with a DB.

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    I'm a big fan of Mauricio's writing. He is up there John in his ability as a wordsmith.

  • In reply to Mike Moody:

    *with John

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    In reply to Mike Moody:

    Just something you should consider, Jonathan:

  • Is J.R. Murphy someone we would want to give up a second baseman for? He went to Princeton.

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