Three-headed monster: Why the Cubs catching plan still centers around Montero, Ross...and Castillo

As fans, we’re naturally drawn to offense.  On a team that has been inconsistent with the bats in the early going, we’re looking for anywhere we can get it.  We also seem to be almost as obsessed with backup catchers as we are backup quarterbacks, so when we see Welington Castillo peppering baseballs while Miguel Montero and David Ross are struggling, the whispers that he should be playing more are only getting louder.

And as much as we try to avoid it from an intellectual standpoint, small sample sizes tend to sway us and skew our perspective.  But the Cubs didn’t get Montero and Ross for their offense.  That is expected to come from Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler, Dexter Fowler, and (soon) Kris Bryant.  Montero and Ross are here to get the most out of the Cubs pitching staff, something the Cubs didn’t feel they were getting from Castillo.

That is not to say Castillo can’t pick up the nuances of game management and pitch framing, but the Cubs are no longer just about the future.  They are no longer about developing players at the MLB level at the expense of the team’s overall performance.  Their intention is to win and, specifically, to get off to a good start.  Castillo may indeed end up being a good all-around catcher whose mental part of the game catches up with the physical, but the Cubs cannot wait for that to happen.  And they can’t depend on it to suddenly appear overnight when it hasn’t happened in two years.

The Cubs front office is about winning games on the margins.  They can read a stat sheet, they know Castillo had better numbers than Montero and Ross last year, but the Cubs veteran catchers are not here for their numbers.  They are here as part of a plan to take this team to a different level, to help change the culture from one that focuses on individual numbers to one that focuses on doing those seemingly little things that add up.

Given that he is in his prime years, it’s always possible that Castillo is on the brink of a breakout season on offense, but the more logical explanation is that he is on a good run.  Projections for the season have him finishing the year as essentially the same catcher he has always been.  ZiPS has him at .248/.320/.405 with 13 HRs.  Combined with his above average defense in terms of blocking pitches and throwing out baserunners, that puts him at about a 2 win season.   By comparison, ZiPS Montero at .230/.326/.354 with 11 HRs.  That also is a two win season.  From a purely individual statistical standpoint, the expectation is that there will be a negligible difference between the two.

Where the Cubs expect an upgrade, however, is in terms of how well their pitchers perform.  If they can incrementally add at least a little value to each pitcher by the way they frame pitches and/or manage the staff, then that adds up.  Just from a hypothetical standpoint to illustrate what I mean, what if the veteran backstops add just 0.1 wins to each pitcher?  With 12 pitchers, that adds up to a little more than a win.

Many fans continue to tell me that it is not about Montero, they are okay with that.  It is Ross they have a problem with.  Why not just keep Castillo, platoon him with Montero, and dump Ross?

My question then is how much impact do you expect Castillo to provide if he is playing on the short-side of a platoon when he is already expected to provide just under 2 wins as a projected full-time starter?  Even if he plays a very optimistic 40% of the time that adds up to less than one win.  That is without factoring how he may negatively impact in terms of his framing (which can be measured fairly easily) or his game management (which cannot).  Realistically he will probably be something close to a half-win player in that limited role.  David Ross projects to a 0.2 wins and that does not include the impact he has in terms of framing, game management, and leadership in the clubhouse.  We don’t even have to factor in his relationship with Jon Lester to make a case for him.  The framing alone probably evens them out in terms of how much wins they can add in backup roles.  At the very least, keeping the big ace happy makes it worth the small difference in overall tangible production.

Finally, though we cannot measure them, the intangibles are likely to tip the balances toward the Montero/Ross combination when all is said and done.  That is not to say the Cubs should necessarily trade Castillo.  Even as a 3rd catcher who provides an occasional spark and is a better physical defender than either of the veterans, he has better value for the Cubs than what teams are offering them right now in trade.

When Bryant is up and Mike Olt moves to a bench role along with Alcantara, the Cubs should have enough depth to carry all 3 of them until some team realizes that Castillo is a better option than what they have — and are willing to pay the price to acquire him.

Until then, I like the three-headed monster at catcher.  And I believe Dr. Maddon-stein has the kind of genius to make it work.

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  • Given the value this FO places on metrics and as you say "winning games on the margins". I'm curious if they don't have some new metrics they've created and are tracking in regards to this. They've spent a lot on technology and information systems, and recruited some of the top stat heads (Tango Tiger, etc).

    Similar to their "sign n flip" strategy for acquiring prospects, could they have found another competitive advantage to exploit?

  • I don't mind it when there are 12 pitchers. It's good that they can just take Ross out of a game without worrying about running out of catchers.

    Hands are kind of tied when there are 13 pitchers and some weak sticks in the lineup. This will pass, perhaps as soon as tomorrow, no later than Monday.

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    Great article and insight, but I pretty sure the " doctors of baseball " expected a better stat line from montero in what they expected a change to a winning team/culture would bring his bat back.

    Luckily it's only been a week, and he's got a lot of time to right the ship. I am not worried about ross, as he is who he is. We need montero to produce a lot better then he did last year.

  • In reply to Jim Odirakallumkal:

    Thanks, I'm sure they do and that factors in the equation. As pointed out, their value in terms of tangible production is essentially the same as measured by projected fWAR, they must have had similar internal projections.

  • The Cubs could also use Beef as trade bait at the deadline rather than dealing away prospects.

  • In reply to TD40:

    Very true.

  • at what point is the value behind the plate with montero and ross negated by their lack of offensive contribution? i know, it's a small sample size, but if montero and ross end up being automatic outs the cubs will have a problem. "the Cubs should have enough depth to carry all 3 of them until some team realizes that Castillo is a better option than what they have" - i wouldn't be surprised if at some point that team is the cubs. just hope he's not traded before they realize it.

  • Monty Python and Bob Dylan in the same week John? I would propose marriage but I don't think either of our wives would approve. Seriously though you make an interesting case regarding the value of all three catchers. I think keeping Castillo has clearly been a move of necessity because, as you point out, other teams aren't valuing him the way the Cubs are and they're dumping him to dump him so they'll get value from him as they see fit. Makes sense to me. It also makes sense tto me that they're not ruushing off to dump Ross either. Montero is not going to hit .067 all season so there will be some good games on the horizon. As far as Ross goes it's hard to see an easy out in the lineup but if he makes Lester better, and for the love of pete he needs to be better, than you call that value. Anyway nice job.

  • In reply to TC154:

    LOL! Yeah, the wife would not approve :)

    They're not going to dump Ross. I just don't see that happening at all. It's either Castillo goes or it is the three headed monster. Right now it makes sense to hang on to all 3 until they get a good offer. Castillo at the very least provides a solid bat off the bench and some insurance in case either of the vets break down.

  • Obviously the results speak for themselves but I'm really digging Castillo as a RH bat off the bench. Find a pitch you can hit hard somewhere. If you don't have Ross, you have to exhaust other bench options first.

  • In reply to TheMightyGin:

    He does have the right mentality for hitting off the bench.

  • Great evaluation, John. Bottom line, it's not about offense. Usually, when a team carries 3 catchers the third one can also play elsewhere, but still it's a worthwhile option to a point. Especially if Castillo keeps hitting and the other two do not. It's nice to have that big bat third catcher on the bench. Didn't Yankees have similar 3headed monster back when with Barra, Howard, and Blanchard?

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Thanks!

    I think you are right about the Yanks, but that was before my time so I have to rely on stats.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    Yes, but I don't think the Evil Empire was carrying 12-13 pitchers.

  • In reply to 44slug:

    they did 44, but remember Berra also played LF and Blanchard played both OF and 1b. Stankees had 3 guys who could catch, but 2 of those 3 could play elsewhere if necessary. Remember who the Stankees LF was when Mazeroski hit that game 7 walk-off HR to win the series for the P{irates(Berra).

  • John, you say....Given that he is in his prime years, it's always possible that Castillo is on the brink of a breakout season on offense.....and I say Given that they are past their prime years, it's always possible that Ross and Montero are on the brink of a breakdown season on offense and defense.

  • In reply to TL Lyon:

    Sure. Both are possible, but the odds are neither are true. In baseball you don't have a crystal ball, so you have to play the percentages and trends. The statistical trends say that Montero and Castillo have equal value on the field as starters -- with an edge to Montero if you include framing and intangibles -- and that Ross and Castillo have about equal value as backups. But Castillo has more value in what he can bring in return than Ross can. You maximize best by trading Castillo.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    On offense...Ross and Montero each have 1 hit...in 6 and 15 ABs Neither has a HR or an RBI....Castillo is 2 for 6 with 1 HR and 3 RBI. and seriously, I haven't seen one pitch where I could say...wow, if Castillo was catching...that called strike is a ball. But I could say that there were a bunch of ABs where I believed if Castillo were batting we could easily have scored more runs.

  • In reply to TL Lyon:

    No, but I think that in both Arrieta's and Hammel's first starts Montero saved them from some runs by his tough love and insistence on throwing the pitch he thought was best. Don't think Welly would have done that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    My bad...Montero has 2 RBI

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    I can't argue that Castillo is the best trade option right now but I disagree with the notion that Ross is of equal value to the Cubs as Montero's backup. This is a thorough and well written POV but in my opinion it doesn't address that actual amount of playing time we're talking about with Ross versus Castillo. I'm leaving Montero, who should get the bulk of the playing time on the strong side of the platoon, out of this discussion as I agree with his current usage...and the usage of all three catchers so long as we continue to carry all three.

    What I'm curious about is just how superior Ross' defense (including framing, blocking and controlling running game) is to Castillo's at this point? I accept that Ross was superior in the framing department but I'm not so sure about the other two key elements to catcher defense. He has already allowed four stolen bases this year and only caught one thief. Castillo has likely surpassed him in both regards and might be gaining in the framing department as well given the Cubs' focus on it organizationally. It's tough to quantify their performance with such small sample sizes to work with but it's a safe bet that Ross' bat isn't the only thing declining with age.

    We do know is that Castillo is the far superior bat and have the numbers to back that up, so the crux of my argument is this: who's current (key word) overall skill set better suits the 2015 Cubs? The trend so far is that Ross is only going to catch Lester, so even if you can prove he is a superior defensive catcher, his playing time is mitigated by his weak, right-handed bat. In the first two games he started he was yanked for a pinch hitter when Lester was done, so even if we're generous, he's only going to catch seven or eight innings per week. He's only going to pinch hit when the Cubs need to use the very end of their bench. Is that worth a roster spot? I concede that he might start another game every week or two if he were the sole backup.

    If we turn the tables and pretend Castillo is Lester's caddy, does his perceived inferior defense really matter over seven or eight innings per week? Or, if he were the sole backup, how much more of a contribution could he make versus Ross? How much more would Maddon play him? I know I would be much more comfortable having his bat in the lineup versus nearly every lefty the Cubs face. Ross, not so much.

    Ross is not a defensive wizard so I think we should be careful not to overstate his prowess at 38 years old. I understand the perceived value of leadership/clubhouse presence but count me in the camp that views this as overvalued. If you like him because you think he helped bring Lester to the Cubs, I can accept that but dislike the notion and precedent it sets. He certainly hasn't coaxed a good performance out of Lester yet (yes, I know it's SSS) but at what point does that start to matter?

    Inevitably injuries will strike and this whole debate may prove moot but if I have to chose between a roster spot for Bryant or another needed/useful player by being forced to DFA Ross or Castillo, it's not even close for me. Let Ross become a catching coach if his intangibles are so valuable to the organization and buy out the rest of his cheap contract.

  • In reply to jmoultz:

    i would say the time the really start looking at things is after the draft.. when the trade rumors typically start.

  • In reply to jmoultz:

    well said. the ross signing was a perfect example of a front office doing too much. just like beane at the trade deadline and just like the marlins in free agency a few years ago. i remember john even discussing how effective a montero/castillo platoon can be. now we're just supposed to blindly agree with the FO i guess.

  • for me, it comes down to contract and age. if the overall differences between the two are negligible, then why spend more money on somebody that is 10 years older? especially with castillo's ability to control the running game. i truly love what the front office has done, and i fully accept that they have more baseball smarts than i do, but that doesn't mean they don't make questionable moves. and i'm not talking stewart or ejax, those were acceptable risks in my opinion.

    trading shark is another one that i find to be questionable - i mean, can you imagine the rotation for this season with lester, samardzija, arrieta, hammel, and hendricks? samardzija would've cost a fraction of what he's worth this year, and last year we probably could've seen .500% by year's end (i don't think this team nosedives into a 4-15 spurt in july without that trade, particularly when you consider that they were playing their best baseball up to that point) - something that i think would've been beneficial for the young nucleus. obviously, we wouldn't have addison russell or a top 10 pick in this draft, so i get it. especially with more time passing, and how the offseason played out, i grow more accepting of the trade. but, it was a risky and questionable move, just like signing ross and giving up on castillo.

  • In reply to RizzowiththeStick:

    i agree on everything except the shark trade. he's aimed at testing free agency and the cubs got incredible value out of him, more than they would have on the field.

  • In reply to matt:

    definitely true. they got very good value for samardzija - value that has harvested the roster flexibility that the front office loves so much. and, as i said, i've become more accepting of the trade as time has passed. i just think that the focus on future talent acquisition is now secondary, and i thought it should have been as long ago as 10 months.

    regardless, i still think it was a risky and questionable move. giving up a pitcher with a year and a half left on a team favorable contract, that fans would happily see start a playoff game, when the team is very close to competing is risky and questionable, in my opinion.

  • I'm glad you tackled this topic and addressed the defensive aspects of the game, but there seems to be something more going on at catcher than the fans/media are privy to. Beef really seems to be in the doghouse despite performance. He gets sent to the bullpen as extra catcher/watch for errant balls. Never Ross or Montero. And there needs to be some minimum expectation on offense from the other two. Yesterday Joe did everything to avoid a double play, sending Castro over and over again as Montero kept fouling off pitches, only to hit into a double play. Wood might have been a better bet than Ross last night except that he is pitching today and may have been excused early. I hope we get Beef and Wood teeing up on Marquis tonight to salvage the series. Some pitcher needs to be paired with Castillo, much like Baker was with Hammel last season, as there aren't that many lefties in the division to face. Joe keeps saying that the game has a way of working things out. I wouldn't be surprised if Castillo learns from the others and becomes a more regular part of the rotation--unless he is truly in someone's doghouse for reasons unknown.

  • I think the whole Castillo debate revolves around nuance as John points out; lifelong catchers versus a guy who has been converted and catching for a short period of time. Whereas Beef is more than athletic to make it work, there are subtle aspects that make average catchers better. Metrics cannot directly measure how a game is called pitch by pitch situationally nor where a catcher sets up initially before sliding into the right position to cloak intent from a batter to name a few. It are those intangibles / nuances that Castillo is still learning. I think he is more than capable. But he is having to learn those at the major league level rather than in the minors. I hope with the steep learning curve Schwarber is on that he is able to not only pick up on the mechanics as well as the nuance during his rapid ascent.

  • Would it be out of the realm of possibilities to start giving him some time at 1b as a backup for rizzo when he takes a break, just to find some time on the field for him? They talk about positional flexibility...can he really be so poor in the field that he is worse than some other hit only 1bs?

  • In reply to Pappy:

    I'm not a fan of throwing a guy at first who hasn't had alot of work there. We saw it last year with Jay Bruce and Lecroy. Even a veteran infielder like Valaika didn't look good there in September. I would probably be more comfortable with him at third.

  • The really great thing that we haven't seen in the past from Castillo, he's really stepped up vocally on the field and in the dugout this year. That's the real positive side of having him on the team still even if he's not playing a lot. He's always had great work ethic and a positive attitude, but you can tell he's learned and is working hard at developing relationships and communicating with the pitchers. That's awesome to watch.
    The biggest issue that I try not to be so frustrated with in his catching; stance; pitch calls; locations...
    I really wish Montero or even Henry Blanco would work with him on that stuff anytime they can.
    All of the talk about his framing being so terrible, it is something that can be easily fixed. If anyone has noticed, his framing is pretty darn good when his feet are planted and his stance is balanced. What earns him one of the worst framers in baseball is 80% of the catches he makes, he's off balanced, has one or both knees down and he's doesn't square up with the ball. That results in umpires calling strikes balls. He needs to work on his balance, physically, if he does that it'll show up behind the plate. Having a good balance is huge, if you were to stand behind Castillo and with your fingers push/nudge him, he'd fall over, and a major league catcher shouldn't have that issue.

  • In reply to WJL3:

    It is an interesting perspective and that could well be true, but I would say that the framing issue is not that easily fixed, the Cubs have tried to do it for two years now. The Cubs have worked with him a lot and at some point they have to go with guys who can help them in those areas now.

  • In reply to WJL3:

    he also lets his mitt drift away from the strike zone alot of the time.. and also doesnt "frame" the pitch on alot of balls also.. once he catches it, he doesnt hold it there for the ump for a second.. he just grabs the ball and fires it back.. watch Montero.. every pitch on the edges.. he holds the ball and he slightly pulling it into the zone

  • I admit that I really don't know how WAR and other similar measures are reached, so this may be a foolish question. but when you calculate the WAR value of Castillo playing 40? percent of the time compared to Ross playing 40? percent of the time, does that also take into consideration the value that Castillo creates as a pinch hitter the remainder of the time, as opposed to the value that Ross creates as a pinch hitter the same amount of time?

    I realize that a backup catcher (when the roster only has two catchers) is not used to pinch hit very much, but if Maddon is willing to use Coughlin at second and third base, I wouldn't be surprised if he would be willing to let the backup catcher pinch hit quite a bit and take the chance of a position player (whoever that may be) used as a catcher in an emergency.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    I'd include that, but 40% of the playing time is optimistic. If anything I am overstating his value as a short side platoon guy/pinch-hitter.

  • In reply to DaveP:

    everyones WAR formula is slightly different, but here is how fangraphs formulates theirs..
    http://www.fangraphs.com/library/war/war-position-players/

  • don't forget how much better Castillo is at throwing runners out, he has a way stronger and more accurate throw. Ross and Miggy haven't even been close at throwing the ball well to 2nd base... I think this whole pitch framing is overrated... Castillo is just entering his prime, we didn't need Ross...

  • In reply to Nik0522:

    im pretty sure every front office that is putting so much importance on it, isnt doing it on a whim.. sure they have alot of data on it to support their decisions

  • In reply to Nik0522:

    All of that has already been taken into consideration in this post, though.

  • it's about twtw, forget all this pitch framing nonsense lol... Castillo has a Cannon and I do believe he would continue to get better offensively and being a leader behind the plate. He seems to be a great teammate to me...

  • In reply to Nik0522:

    Again, we are talking about thinking and hoping he gets there when you have guys who are already where the Cubs need them to be. You can't continue to develop guys at the MLB level, at some point you have to move on and make your best effort to win ball games.

    Castillo is a great guy and works hard, but that is not the issue.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    yes, but you act like Miggy and Ross are Perfect catchers, they have positives and negatives too, I think a great defensive catcher who has a cannon for a arm is justified to play more than Ross. I understand Miggy for sure, but I would have liked to see Castillo as the 2nd guy. Like a guy previously said, Ross is on the downside of his career, so a team that is ready to contend doesn't need a guy out of his prime playing more than a guy who is on the upside...

  • In reply to Nik0522:

    the signing and playing time Ross gets over Welly kinda shows how the front office/Maddon are planting their flag on the situation

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    At least for now

  • I understand getting Montero for his "approach" and OBP. But its disappointing that Beef is criticized for his game management skills and framing ability.

    Castillo was the full time catcher for the last two seasons when a number of reclemation projects were signed to one-year, make good deals. Apparently he did quite well "managing the game" for those guys -- indeed, for the entire staff since pitching was the only strong suit the Cubs had the last two years. He is just entering his prime. He is getting better. He will get better. Yet he gets no credit for having contributed to the success of a number of pitchers who threw to him.

    I'm glad the FO is insisting on fair value. I hope they don't get it and Beef sticks around for a long time -- even as insurance and the RH platoon with Schwarber.

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    Great article John. I think it is easier for most fans (myself included) to see the hitting advantage rather than the defensive advantage. Defense and leadership just seems harder to quantify.

    As the year goes on, I would like to see Ross hitting against more left handed pitchers. Looking at splits previous years, Montero vs RHP and Ross vs LHP could be a more effective. Of course, there is also the advantage of Lester being comfortable with Ross. However, with what we have learned about Montero's leadership skills, I think the two could also work well together.

  • With Lester's great command, do you really need Ross's pitch framing over Castillo's rocket arm to prevent runners from taking huge lead offs and stealing 2nd?

    but you guys are right, I should trust Theo and Maddon over my opinion.

  • John, I just constructed a syllabus about your writing skills and the ability to weave historical references and pictures into your articles and how wonderfully intelligent you are and the extensive resources you have at your fingertips and then went on my framing rant and my iPad crashed and my thoughts vanished.

    So I'll try to condense my framing rant and ask the basic questions I was getting to on framing. Either you/I could have earned enormous amounts of saber points for framing in the opening game of the season as the HP strike zone was enormous side to side. Do the saber heads modify their measurements for the umpires strike zone/reputation or do they go solely by a pitch out of the zone called a strike is a framing plus and vice versa?

    Also do you get more framing pints because Lester hits the glove every time when he's on his game and Jackson gets nothing because he's either dead center with no movement or all over the place with his 59' pitches and gets nothing from the umpire.

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    One thing that seems clear to me is that this front office places a very high value on intangible coaching skills behind the plate. Montero and Ross both fit the "future coach" model in terms of their reputation around the game. Castillo really doesn't.

    Another piece of evidence is the decision last year to keep John Baker over George Kottaras in spring training. Kottaras was clearly the better hitter, but I think the Cubs went with Baker purely for the "intagibles" factor.

  • Let's be honest, the only reason Ross is on the roster is to make Lester happy. I don't think you can argue against the fact that a Montero/Castillo platoon gives us the best chance to win. I'm sure Ross is a great leader, but so is Montero, and they have other leadership as well. No way they release Ross, buy in my opinion that would be best for the club....unless they get a nice haul for dealing Welly.

  • In reply to corleone:

    Exactly. There is no way you can tell me the Cubs are a better team with Ross in the lineup and behind the dish than Castillo. Whatever it is that Lester likes about throwing to Ross a'int working out anyway.

    If he's so comfortable with Ross, maybe we should put him at first when Lester pitches nyuk nyuk nyuk.

  • fb_avatar

    These are no longer the Cubs that say Ni! I'm really liking Montero, regardless of his stat line. He's got moxie! The other roster imperfections will work themselves out before too long. And as long as Bryant's still in Des Moines Friday (for purely selfish reasons) then I'm just going to enjoy the ride this season. Wherever it goes!!

  • In reply to BKoons:

    If you like moxie so much......or if moxie trumps everything else...bring up Schwarber NOW!!!

  • I'm sure there will be plenty of teams in need of a catcher throughout the year. Eventually someone will have a need great enough to offer an acceptable price for Welly. In the mean time, he's doing a great job in the opportunities he's been given. I agree that Maddon is just the guy to optimize this situation.

  • John,

    After reading everyone's opinions, again I say, take your time.
    ?'s yet to be answered by time:

    1--Is/will Castillo get Better at catching by having our other two catchers showing/demonstrating the better techniques.

    2--Its been 7 games, Bryant isn't up yet, we don't have an idea of how 3 catchers is a plus or minus yet.

    3--Will Castillo's trade value go up or down by waiting.

    4--It would be hard to trade Ross now, but how about in July when we can say to him, we brought you hear to paly for a contender, but you can play more if we trade you to a contender(because we still have 3 catchers).

    The FO probably would love more data on these questions that time will tell. Do you agree??

  • In reply to rakmessiah:

    Agreed. Not sure what the rush is here. Let it play itself out.

  • Monster ate my homework

  • In reply to stix:

    It does that.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Thanks for freeing it up.

  • This question may have been ask before but what is more beneficial to a team: a catcher that hits .160 and is a good framer or catcher that can hit .333 and is average at framing??? I know that welly will not hit .333 but if he hits .265 ish. What will help the team more???

  • Framing is the Cubs version of Moneyball. The Front Office has done a great job of sticking to their plan of building with prospects. Now, they want to show that they are also great baseball minds, extracting value with the best minds in the game.

    Of course, the Cubs are paying $15M for the two new catchers. So the question is are the 2 catchers worth 2.5 WAR per year? In this case the value of "framing" doesn't seem like such a great deal.

  • I would really love to see Castillo as the backup catcher. He would be a good compliment to Schwarber someday as well.

    Yet I really do like the signing of the catchers and here is why. They had money available to spend, pitch framing is apparantly becoming more important and the veteran leadership for all these young players is critical.

    Going forward I think they feel that Caratini will be Schwarbers backup he is very versatile. Those two could be here as soon as 2017 about the time Ross and Montero's contracts go away.

    So as of now Castillo is the odd man out and yet he has done a great job as a pinch hitter and remember he came up as a 3rd baseman. So they might be able to sneak a few innings out of him there.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    The two best pitched games -- by far, were the ones with Montero behind the plate. I'd say the second Arrieta start with Montero was very good as well except for the bad luck in the 4 run inning when he only allowed one hard hit ball. The fact that Arrieta recovered and pitched deep into the game was huge considering the Cubs were so thin with their bullpen.

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