Before you start coming at me with pitchforks and whatnot, let me explain: he isn’t there yet. Next year, I’m all in on him being Willy’s backup, but the Cubs need a veteran to fill that void this season. Contreras has been fantastic, and it is very clear that he is the starter, but despite that, he has only been in the majors for about a year. He needs a veteran to help guide him through the ins and outs of being the leader behind the plate. On his days off he needs to be relaxing, not walking Caratini through scouting reports and things like that.
The biggest issue with Caratini is his lack of experience. Prior to this season, he had never played in the majors. He has 22 career MLB at bats. His batting statistics aren’t good, but you can’t say much about that given the incredibly small sample size. The Cubs are in a playoff race, and their only backup catcher (no, Schwarber doesn’t count) has 22 major league plate appearances. Contreras will need days off, and that is where a veteran comes into play.
AJ Ellis is the man for the job. I know, calm down, no need to get so excited. Ellis, currently with the Marlins, has hit .232 this season in 82 at bats. He is an experienced catcher, being 36 years old and in the league since 2008. Ellis has playoff experience with the Dodgers in the past, and he won’t kill you when he’s on the field. He has a career caught stealing percentage of 33%, and is sitting at 43% this season, which you can compare to Montero at 27% for his career and an abysmal 5% this year (frankly, I’m shocked he got to 5%). Ellis is serviceable and has been around the game long enough to help Willy grow as a player.
All in all, I can’t say one way or another whether the Cubs will make this move. Throw in that Ellis would be cheap to get and is a free agent after this season, which makes this a great deal in my eyes. Caratini is the backup of the future, but I think the Cubs need a veteran backup to help both of these young catchers along, and I think AJ Ellis is the man for the job.
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