Chicago Cubs: Caratini is a good option moving forward
By Erik Mauro
If you were to look around the major leagues at all the backup catchers, they all specialize in one thing. Defense. Guys such as AJ Ellis, Caleb Joseph, or new Cub Rene Rivera. Heck, a guy like Jeff Mathis has made a career off his defense.
The reason this is brought up is that there is no doubt who the Chicago Cubs’ catcher is at this point. Willson Contreras has gone from prospect with lots of questions to elite on both sides of the ball in such a short amount of time, the development is ridiculous. But, in 2017, the backup catcher spot has been a bit of a revolving door.
Miguel Montero was released after some comments about his pitchers. Caratini was then called up for the first time. Alex Avila was then traded for. Contreras then went down, and Caratini was given another shot. Then, as recently as this weekend, Rene Rivera was acquired, and he made his debut on Sunday.
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Now, back to Caratini. Using catcher metrics from baseball prospectus, we will use framing runs and fielding runs above average. Willson Contreras is -5.2 framing runs, and -1.7 Fielding runs above average. Keep in mind he didn’t start out in pro baseball as a catcher, he will improve.
New guy, Rivera, has 2.7 framing runs, with 2.6 fielding runs above average. Those are perfect numbers for a backup. Rivera can also provide a veteran “mentor” or “voice” for Willy when he returns.
In limited action, Victor Caratini is at -0.9 framing runs, and -0.8 fielding runs. One at-bat I want to look at this past Friday against the Blue Jays. Recently struggling Carl Edwards, Jr. came in to face slugger Jose Bautista. The fastball wasn’t working, so Caratini called for a curve, and CJ executed, leaving Jose way off balance.
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That’s the kind of instincts that a veteran catcher has, knowing when to try something new, and not go to the well one too many times, and Caratini shows those instincts as a rookie. While he doesn’t rate well, he’s shown he has the instincts to turn into a good catcher. Oh, and he has an arm to boot, which is always a nice quality. If the Cubs are looking for a backup for next year, Victor Caratini would be a more than a serviceable option, if they are unable to re-sign Alex Avila or Rivera.