Cubs cannot rely on Jonathan Villar defensively – period
By Jake Misener
I might take issue with a great many things about Andrelton Simmons off the baseball diamond, but, woo, boy, would I prefer to see a four-time Gold Glover out there instead of Jonathan Villar lately.
Villar, who inked a one-year, $6 million deal with a mutual option for 2023 late this offseason, was brought by the Cubs to be a defensive jack-of-all-trades. And, hey, that made sense. David Bote has no real timetable for a return to action and both Nico Hoerner and Nick Madrigal certainly haven’t been the epitome of health in their brief big league careers.
On Sunday, we saw, yet again, poor glovework from Villar – a pretty big concern given the Cubs’ lack of depth on-hand right now. Simmons isn’t quite ready yet, and recently suffered a small setback with his finger that kept him from hitting for a bit, Bote isn’t a factor and it’s clear David Ross isn’t comfortable going with Hoerner and Madrigal up the middle 140+ times this year (and you can’t really blame him).
Just how bad has Villar been defensively? Like, worst in all of baseball bad.
It kills me that we’re in the first few weeks of a designated hitter-using National League and the Cubs are forced to turn to a guy who, seemingly, has lost his way defensively. I’m not saying the guy has ever been a world-beater with the leather, but I certainly don’t recall him being what he’s been so far with Chicago, either.
After all, we’re talking about a guy who’s clearly athletic – Villar swiped 40 bags as recently as 2019. Right now, I don’t know that there’s a better option. Lean heavy on Madrigal and Hoerner until Simmons is ready? Because it’s not that Villar can’t have value to this team – he’s hitting .350 and is tied for fourth on the team with 8 RBI. But he’s only bringing that value with the bat.
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There’s no good answer right now. I like him more at second than anywhere else – but then if Hoerner needs a day off, are you any more comfortable going with Madrigal at short than you are Villar? I’m not. One way or another, things have to get better for Villar defensively because, as we know, they can’t get much worse.