ST. LOUIS – The three-catcher experiment has worked out as well as the Cubs could have expected – solid production and no outward signs of jealousy or complaining through the media.
But the timing still probably isn’t right for the Cubs to deal Welington Castillo. That didn’t stop Twitter from trying to connect the dots after Boston Red Sox catcher Ryan Hanigan fractured his right pinkie over the weekend and got moved to the 60-day disabled list.
Theo Epstein’s front office obviously has a deep understanding of the Boston system after all that time working at Fenway Park.
“There’s typically not a lot of trade talk this time of year,” Epstein said before Monday’s game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. “(It’s) more check-in-type phone calls than anything else.
“Usually this time of year, if (teams) have needs, they look to internal solutions first.”
The Red Sox are turning to Blake Swihart, a blue-chip prospect who’s reportedly been viewed as untouchable in the Cole Hamels talks with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Unless you count Kyle Schwarber at Double-A Tennessee – and that’s probably a reach at this point – the Cubs don’t have that much immediate catching help available in the next levels of their organization.
That’s why manager Joe Maddon pushed for the Cubs to carry three catchers on their Opening Day roster, with Castillo stuck behind quasi-everyday guy Miguel Montero and David Ross, Jon Lester’s personal catcher. Cubs catchers entered Monday leading the National League with a combined .842 OPS.
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“Right now, it helps us win games, in addition to being a real nice sort of security blanket guarding against a potential injury,” Epstein said. “Joe lobbied for it and he’s used it tactically to his advantage. It’s also given guys rest to maybe allow them to perform a little bit better than if they were playing a lot more.
“In Miggy’s case, he’s traditionally been a guy who’s been at the plate every single day. Here, he’s getting a little bit of rest and maybe that will pay dividends over the course of the full season. Wely’s proven to be a dangerous pinch-hitter. He’s come up big in some crucial situations. It’s a great feeling to have Ross here as Lester rounds his way into good form.
“It’s a nice group that complements each other well. I think it works on this roster as opposed to being a hindrance.”