The Chicago Cubs catching tandem: Miguel Montero and Welington Castillo
The Chicago Cubs might not have an elite catcher, but there’s only a handful of those in all of baseball. What they do have is Miguel Montero, a left handed, two time all-star–and Welington Castillo, who’s still only 27 years old, and a serviceable right handed bat that hits left-handed pitching well. Combined the two could make for a solid platoon behind the plate.
From the right-side we have Castillo, who has been with the Cubs his entire major league career. He finished 2014 with a slash of .237/.296/.389, but ended up in the top 10 in home runs amongst catchers in the National League with 13–that’s the same amount as his counterpart Miguel Montero, but in 109 less at bats. Though his overall numbers were lackluster last season, his .301/.350/.505 line versus lefties was among the best, very comparable to other right handed NL catchers like San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey (.305/.359/.521) and Milwaukee Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy (.304/.374/.464). The Dominican native was also a consistent presence behind the plate in 2014, finishing with a .993 fielding percentage.
On a team filled with primarily young right-handed hitters, Miguel Montero brings a much need left-handed presence to the Cubs lineup. The 31-year old has spent nine seasons playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks, and has had some monster offensive years for the club. The last couple of seasons have been dismal for the D-backs organization–playing for nothing and going nowhere–and may have contributed to his decline in numbers. So a change of scenery was likely needed for the Venezuelan backstop.
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The veteran collected double-digit home runs for the fourth consecutive season, and plated at least 70 runs for the third time in four years. He showed improvement at the plate, slicing his strikeout rate from 23.2 percent in 2013 to 17.3 percent — his best mark since 2009. Montero went ice-cold after the All-Star break, hitting just .212/.303/.293 in 51 games, but that can happen when a team isn’t winning. As opposed to his .262/.344/.416 slashline in 85 games pre All-Star break, which I’m willing to bet is more along the lines of the player the Cubs traded for. Montero is also highly regarded for his excellent pitch framing.
Montero will likely be the primary catcher, with Castillo playing against tough lefties and spelling him behind the plate, which will be crucial with all the day games played on the North Side of Chicago. Both of these catchers are going to be important if the Cubs are to make the playoffs in 2015. Joe Maddon is not new to platoons, tinkering with lineups, etc. With Maddon pulling the strings, undoubtedly putting his players in a position to succeed, Montero and Castillo will make a great one-two punch.