Chicago Cubs News

Chicago Cubs: Potential catching scenarios, now and later

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May 25, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Cubs catcher Miguel Montero (47) looks on against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Cubs won the game 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports
May 25, 2016; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Cubs catcher Miguel Montero (47) looks on against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Cubs won the game 9-8. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports /
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Postseason hero-turned-Chicago Cubs pariah Miguel Montero sealed his fate with his latest off-field comments — but his poor play was also hurting the team.

In May, I wrote about the backup catcher, Miguel Montero, becoming the new, favorable, Chicago Cubs backup catcher in light of David Ross’ retirement.

That didn’t last long.

Speed kills

After Tuesday’s poor play behind the plate, in which Washington NationalsTrea Turner ran wild on Montero and the Cubs, setting a Nats’ record in the process with four steals by the third inning, and seven by the team on the night, Montero was quick to shift blame.

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Montero might have been correct with his comments, that he didn’t have time to throw out potential base stealers. According to ESPN’s Jesse RogersJoe Maddon also stated Arrieta has been working on his delivery to the plate.

"“It’s about time to the plate. He’s a little bit slow … It’s something he works on. There are times he’s quicker and better to work with. The best anecdote is to keep the guy off the base.”"

At the same time, Montero’s comments likely spearheaded out of frustration seeing the Nationals run rampant, should not have been made publicly.

For the season Montero was credited with one caught stealing in 32 attempts. But even that’s disputable.

Don’t run on Willson

Willson Contreras, for what it’s worth, has thrown out 18 potential base stealers against 34 stolen bases. He’s second with five catcher pickoffs.

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Arrieta has 15 stolen bases on him, tied for the most in MLB. In 2016, 23 runners ran on Arrieta, tied for fifth most against in MLB, with only three caught.

Currently Jon Lester has 10 stolen bases on him, and eight have swiped a base against John Lackey. Lester’s struggles holding runners well chronicled, 11 have been caught stealing. In large part to do with Contreras.

Keep it behind closed doors

Yes, Arrieta’s delivery to the mound might have been an issue. The fact Montero reacted the way he did, however, was not the kind of drama the Cubs’ clubhouse, let alone championship clubhouses, needed.

It wasn’t the first time Montero has been critical, publicly, having made comments about postseason playing time last offseason. Even if Montero’s comments and resulting backlash never happened, the Nationals exposed how blatantly evident a liability Montero was behind the plate.

Is the future here?

Victor Caratini (.343 BA, eight HR, 54 RBI) has lit up his first season with Triple-A Iowa in 68 games, 41 appearances behind the plate, 25 at first base. As a catcher, he has caught 12 runners on 43 chances.

It’ll be worth watching this scenario with Caratini play out. If he struggles between now and the trading deadline, could the Chicago Cubs look to make a trade for a veteran backup? Caratini could get more seasoning in Iowa in that event.

It’s also worth noting Caratini’s experience at first base if he can spare Rizzo from time to time. Contreras can play left field to have all available options in play.

Options aplenty

If Caratini struggles or lack of veteran experience appears evident, there are a plethora of alternative options.

Alex Avila (30-years-old), and Jonathan Lucroy (31) are two of the more notable catchers that are impending free agents and could be shopped this season if the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers decide to sell.

Next: Catcher Miguel Montero designated for assignment

While Avila and Lucroy are solid potentials — Avila (10/16, SB/CS), and Lucroy (12/25) — they’re also good enough to start every day.

As is Contreras.

Both Avila and Lucroy will also be in line for a hefty raise. Avila is making $2 million, and Lucroy, $5.25 million. For now, Contreras will look to be that veteran for Caratini and the Chicago Cubs.

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