If you had asked me at the end of the season about the Chicago Cubs catching situation, I would have admitted it needed help, but at the same time I had no qualms about Welington Castillo being the guy entering 2015. In a whirlwind off-season, the Cubs acquired Miguel Montero from the Diamondbacks, and signed free agent David Ross. Castillo’s future may be up in the air, but Montero is embracing his new team.
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Montero, a two-time All-Star, has caught all types of pitchers – including newly elected Hall of Fame member Randy Johnson. Montero spent only one year with Montero before leaving Arizona to play his final season in San Francisco, but he left him with a solid endorsement.
Montero “is eager to learn” and “listened to me,” Johnson told Diamondbacks beat writers.
"“(Johnson) told me in September that he was proud of me and that I didn’t let him down,” Montero recalled. “He inspired me, and I thanked him for believing in my ability.” h/t Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune"
Montero hit .294 with 16 home runs and 59 RBIs in his first year as a full-time starter. And while he has had a couple of down years offensively, his pitch framing ability was a big draw for the Cubs.
D-backs pitcher Daniel Hudson, who won 16 games in 2011, is another who gives Montero great praise for his ability behind the plate.
"“Those Cubs pitchers are going to love him because they’re going to get a lot of low strikes.”"
His ability to work the zone to get calls will be essential, especially to the young pitchers who won’t generally get the calls. But the staff as a whole is going to benefit from him behind the plate.
And he was hearing about Chicago before he ever left his neighborhood.
Many of Montero’s neighbors in Arizona are Cubs’ fans. “We get along a lot better.”Montero said with a laugh.
They also made sure to fill him in on what the Cubs Convention would be like, which is the pinnacle of Cubs fandom. “I heard a lot about it, but there’s nothing like seeing it,” said Montero, who received a warm reception before a packed audience during the opening ceremony.
The platoon between Ross and Montero will be an interesting one on many levels. Clearly batting from different sides of the plate will dictate a lot, but the Cubs have been clear that Ross won’t catch just Jon Lester. So the rotation is yet to be decided.
The change of scenery could be just what Montero needs to get out of his offensive slump. In the mean time, improving the rotation will be the biggest expectation of him, and one that he’s more than qualified to handle.