Looking yesterday at the St. Louis Cardinals’ ZiPS projections for 2023, it was unattainable to not assume once more about the Chicago Cubs’ choice at catcher.
A very long time in the past – manner earlier than free company and even the 2022 Trade Deadline – the Cubs determined that Willson Contreras was not fairly their most popular route at catcher. That is not to say they did not love his vitality, his management, his arm, and his bat, however the Cubs made it crystal clear via their actions that they might a lot choose to have a cheaper, extreme-run-prevention- targeted catcher, after which spend the would-have-been-Contreras cash elsewhere on the roster.
The Cubs had been intent on betting that they may replicate the TOTAL worth offered by Contreras in different methods. Maybe even exceed it.
The jury goes to be out on the choice for a very long time. We’ll have to look at Cubs pitcher outcomes relative to expectations *AND* Cardinals pitcher outcomes relative to expectations, and even then, there’s a lot of noise that has nothing to do with the catcher.
All that mentioned, I appreciated a part of a current article at The Athletic from Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney, which gave readers no less than a small trace at the sorts of issues they need the catching place to be about in the years forward.
It’s about their free agent catcher signing, Tucker Barnhart, and it reveals fairly clearly how he sees his main function together with his new staff, whereas seeming to reiterate what the Cubs care about most in the catcher place now:
This anecdote from Jameson Taillon provides a sense of what the Cubs need out of their catching place after letting Willson Contreras go as a free agent and pairing Yan Gomes with two-time Gold Glove winner Tucker Barnhart.
“I really met Yan over the All-Star break final yr,” mentioned Taillon, who’s at the starting of a four-year, $68 million contract with the Cubs. “We had been staying at the similar lodge and I launched myself and now it is simply happenstance that we’re on the similar staff. I went to dinner with a few guys (Friday evening). Tucker and Yan had been each there and we already began speaking baseball and pitching. Tucker, I’ve interacted with him after I needed to hit and he was catching for the Reds. He texted me a week in the past whereas I used to be in Mexico. I used to be on the seashore ingesting a margarita, and he sends me a screenshot of like all my scouting experiences. He’s like, ‘Dude, I’m doing a deep dive on you proper now.’ I used to be like, ‘We’re not the similar…'”
Taillon continued speaking about the laughter from reporters: “In all seriousness, although, seeing the care that he has, once we’re in the thick of a huge sport in the center of the summer time, that second goes to form of be in the again of my thoughts, pondering like, ‘This man cares for me. He’s finished his analysis. Let’s simply belief and go along with what he says.'”
Tucker Barnhart, having simply been signed by the Cubs, poring over Jameson Taillon scouting experiences as a result of he merely felt like doing a deep dive on his new teammate. Because he’s clearly obsessive about that a part of the sport. That’s enjoyable. And that positive appears to matter to the Cubs.
No one goes to say that Willson Contreras wouldn’t do the similar factor. Or it would not be the similar manner. Nobody wherever desires to say a cross phrase about Contreras, as a result of there was a lot that he did WELL. We cherished the man. He was all the time my favourite to observe.
But going again to the very starting of Yan Gomes’ arrival with the Cubs final offseason, up and thru that Barnhart anecdote, the issues that have not been mentioned about Contreras have been deafening. Again, none of it has been introduced as a “Gomes is like this, the place as Contreras is like this,” and I do not assume anybody would intend a unfavourable phrase about Contreras. But when Gomes is highlighted repeatedly by pitchers and the teaching workers and the entrance workplace as a man who’s solely targeted on making the pitching workers higher, it is unattainable to not discover the dichotomy being arrange.
Whether it is the game-calling, the pitch-framing, the in-game changes, the conferences on the mound, the work with the teaching workers throughout video games to optimize, the constancy to the game-planning that preceded a begin, the participation IN that game-planning, or the work with the pitchers between begins (or in the offseason whereas the pitcher is in Mexico), there are issues the Cubs need the catching spot to be about. Yes, the bat issues. And in fact the protection issues. But it is all that different stuff – the stuff that might make the pitching workers simply a little bit higher every day – that the Cubs wish to prioritize, particularly if it comes at a decrease value than, for instance, catcher offense. So they’ve been completely happy to go along with Gomes and Barnhart.
As I mentioned, we’ll simply have to look at the way it works out for them, and for Contreras and the Cardinals, this season.