Cubs

Miguel Montero believes Cubs have what it takes to win big in October

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Miguel Montero believes Cubs have what it takes to win big in October

PITTSBURGH – The Cubs noticed the way Russell Martin helped change the culture around the Pittsburgh Pirates and targeted the free-agent catcher for his clubhouse presence, pitch-framing feel and take-charge style with a pitching staff.

When the Toronto Blue Jays outbid the Cubs last November – locking up Martin with a five-year, $82 million contract – it sort of created a here-we-go-again feeling for another lost offseason.

But the Cubs didn’t build an all-or-nothing team or ignore the weakened infrastructure that couldn’t withstand a 162-game season.

“We can win it all,” catcher Miguel Montero said.

The Cubs looked like legitimate contenders in beating the Pirates three times in roughly 50 hours and winning this four-game showdown series.

[MORE: Devastating injury for Kang, but Cubs are playing with an edge now]

When the Cubs open a 10-game homestand against the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday afternoon, their magic number will be nine, and Wrigley Field might not go dark in October.

“In the playoffs, it’s whoever gets hot at the right time and anything can happen,” Montero said, “so I like my chances with (Jon) Lester and (Jake) Arrieta. It’s random, (but) I still like my chances with my team. That’s it. That’s all I care about. I don’t care about anything else.

“I believe in my team. And I believe we can do something special. You just got to prove it.”    

After losing the Martin sweepstakes, Plan B became acquiring Montero from the Arizona Diamondbacks for two low-level pitching prospects and taking on the three years and $40 million left on his contract.   

Personal catcher David Ross became the $5 million insurance policy to Lester’s $155 million megadeal and a glue guy in the clubhouse.

Kyle Schwarber never stopped hitting from the moment the Cubs made him the No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 draft, bashing his way from Indiana University through five minor-league affiliates and into a pennant race.

[ALSO: Arrieta will keep being a perfectionist]

The Cubs seemingly went from having not enough catchers to having too many catchers (with Welington Castillo getting traded away and Willson Contreras becoming a Double-A batting champion).

Montero didn’t think he would be in different three-catcher rotations at various points of the season or plan on spraining his thumb right before the All-Star break.

But Starlin Castro also doesn’t see a part-time second baseman when he looks in the mirror. And Chris Coghlan doesn’t want to go on vacation against left-handed pitchers.

The Cubs could go 5-11 the rest of the way and still finish with 90 wins because of their diverse portfolio and a star manager in Joe Maddon who has the juice to make it all work.  

“I would like to play every day, too,” Montero said. “But you know what, we can’t control that. It’s been a long year. There (has) been a lot of ups and downs mentally and physically. You got to go over those humps. When you’re winning…you can’t say much.

“You can’t be really mad about it because we’re winning. That’s what we’re looking for – winning. At this point, anything we can do to contribute to help the team to win. We’re all on board.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

“Would I like to play? Yeah, everybody wants to play, of course. If there are guys here (who) don’t want to play, might as well just pack it up and go home.”

To close out the final six innings in Thursday’s 9-6 win over the Pirates, the Cubs used a guy who escaped from Pittsburgh’s Triple-A affiliate (Clayton Richard), a workhorse reliever (Justin Grimm) and a one-time All-Star starter (Travis Wood).    

Montero contributed with a hit, a walk and two runs scored. He’s added some thump to this lineup (15 homers, 50 RBI and a .766 OPS), caught Arrieta’s no-hitter at Dodger Stadium and brought an edge to the clubhouse.

Montero isn’t for everyone – he probably needed a change of scenery and wouldn’t have been an ideal fit for that rebuilding situation in Arizona – but he has helped change a losing environment.

Montero’s messages went viral on Twitter and inspired the “We Are Good” T-shirts you see on TV and around the clubhouse.

“I don’t want people to get down on us,” Montero said. “I don’t want my teammates to get down on us. You’re going to go through tough times.

“You’re not going to be great every day. But as long as you believe that you’re a good player – and you know you can do it – that’s all that matters. It’s about confidence. It’s about belief in your abilities and let it play.”

Cubs option David Bote to Triple-A Iowa

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USA TODAY

Cubs option David Bote to Triple-A Iowa

David Bote signed a 5-year contract with the Cubs at the beginning of the year, but he is headed to Triple-A Iowa.

Bote joins Ian Happ, Addison Russell and Albert Almora Jr. as notable Cubs position players to be sent to Iowa.

Bote's production isn't as bad as the other three. In fact, Bote has respectable numbers at the plate.

In 310 plate appearances this season the 26-year-old is hitting .257/.352/.429. His OPS+ is 100, meaning he has been exactly league average.

The corresponding roster move was not yet announced, but it is expected that reliever Steve Cishek will be activated ahead of Tuesday's game against the San Francisco Giants.

Mark Zagunis was also sent back to Iowa after serving as the 26th man for Sunday's Little League Classic.

 

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Cubs Talk Podcast: Appreciating Jose Quintana

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Appreciating Jose Quintana

Luke Stuckmeyer sits down with David Kaplan, Chris Kamka and Nate Poppen to discuss Jose Quintana's dominant stretch, the importance of this upcoming homestand, and the best moments of the LLWS Classic.

00:00:25

Examining the roller coaster week that ended with the Cubs winning their first road series since

00:02:21

Jose Quintana appreciation: Chris Kamka delivers some spectacular stats to back up Q's tremendous run since June 29th.

00:07:28

If the Cubs make the playoffs... would you pitch Quintana in Game 1?

00:08:28

The guys pick their favorite moments from the Little League World Series Classic.

00:10:03

Since we are talking about Little League... will we ever see a return to "situational hitting" and "small ball" in Major League Baseball?

00:12:53

Since the ball is "juiced" in 2019 - why are Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo not hitting more home runs? Chris Kamka thinks he has the answer to that question.

00:14:57

Chris Kamka examines the Cubs awful road record - which could have more to do with bad luck than people think.

00:18:16

Preview of this week's homestand, keeping in mind that the Brewers and Cardinals will face each other 6 times over 10 days.

00:20:53

Kap gets in his time machine and plays "what if" the Cubs didn't make a few trades/signings before and after the 2016 World Series.

00:24:45

Kap discusses the "level of expectations" that Cubs fans have now.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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