Countdown to Camp: Catching
February, 10, 2014
By Jesse Rogers
Mike McGinnis/Getty ImagesThe Cubs remain hopeful that Welington Castillo's offense can catch up with his defense.With Chicago Cubs spring training set to begin Feb. 14 in Mesa, Ariz., we're taking an early look around the diamond.
Major additions since Opening Day 2013: George Kottaras
Subtractions: Dioner Navarro, Steve Clevenger, J.C. Boscan
Holdovers: Welington Castillo
Best of all, Castillo was a monster behind the plate, ranking at the top of the league in defensive WAR (2.8). His seven throwing errors, however, were too many for a player with a plus arm. Kottaras won’t replace Navarro at the plate but should be better behind it. Catching is the thinnest position in the Cubs system aand they’ve invited three non-roster invitees to camp, including John Baker and Eli Whiteside. Double-A catcher Rafael Lopez could be a help at the major league level if his improvement continues.
Outlook: If Castillo is healthy expect him to play in more than the career high of 113 games he achieved last season. He’s a rock behind the plate and is only getting better defensively. The question is whether he can take his offense to another level. More pop to go along with his rising on-base percentage of the second half last season would be ideal. The Cubs have a good coach for Castillo in Mike Borzello, who was one of the few survivors from the previous coaching staff. He’s key to Castillo’s development.
Kottaras simply hasn’t shown the offense the Cubs could use off the bench, but overall the combination should be better defensively. It’s doubtful the twosome of catchers will rival the job done by Castillo and the departed Navarro last season, but the only thing that really matters for the future of the Cubs is the steps Castillo takes. He should be coming into his own in 2014.