One Magic Moment, Vic's Stick, Maldonado Love, and Other Cubs Bullets

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One Magic Moment, Vic’s Stick, Maldonado Love, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I want to do a Bullets intro that has nothing to do with the state of things, so I’ll instead say that ‘Better Call Saul’ remains incredible, and what is happening in the Jimmy/Kim storyline this season is absolute torture (but in the impressive TV-making sense). There. Felt normal for a minute.

  • Oh, and also I can feel normal remembering being at Wrigley Field and watching the Cubs win their first pennant in more than 70 years. It was magic, and it was the re-watch last night on Marquee. I cried:

  • Patrick Mooney writes about the solid state of catching in the Cubs’ organization, from Willson Contreras to Victor Caratini to Miguel Amaya to prospects at the lower levels.
  • What stood out to me in particular were the quotes from David Ross on Caratini, effusive in his praise about Caratini’s ability to be a starting-caliber catcher, but also wanting Caratini to know – and be OK with – he’s one of the top bats coming off of the bench: “My main thing for him is you’re one of my most valuable at-bats off the bench. That’s something that I’ve hammered home with him. I was never that guy in my career. I was like the last guy they would pull off (the bench). Vic is in a unique situation where — whether it’s a double switch or just a pure pinch-hit late in the game — he can come in (and impact the game). He has figured out his routine as a backup and knows where he’s at on the team. Everybody wants to be a starter. But those guys that are comfortable in their roles and understand what’s asked of them, there’s some power in that. There’s a lot of comfort in that from a manager standpoint and a team dynamic that everybody knows their role and buys into it. We all, as players, want to play 162 and do great, but it’s just not possible. Vic does a great job of recognizing that.”
  • Of course, the challenge will be in actually deploying Caratini that way if the Cubs carry only two catchers on the roster. If you’ve started Contreras, and it’s a, say, huge 7th inning situation where you want your best bench bat up there, do you pull the trigger on Caratini, knowing you’ll have no catcher available for the final innings if Contreras were to get hurt (or just need a break if the game goes crazy long)? Do you go with Caratini, but then move he or Contreras out into the field so that you can keep them both available, even at the expense of some defense in a late-and-close situation?
  • Joe Maddon was always pretty aggressive in using his back-up catcher as a pinch hitter if the situation dictated it, and I think I tend to agree with that approach – yes, it could wind up putting you in a bind later, but if you’re maybe going to lose the game anyway in that moment, might as well take your best swing.
  • Anthony Rizzo is a leader:

  • Slide slide slide slide TRUCK:

  • A Cubs prospect you might not think about much:

  • It’s not hard to see why Maldonado has had so much success to this point with an extremely simple line drive swing, geared toward all-fields contact. It’s also not hard to see, as you watch him, why he was never a favorite in the draft despite his college production. He just looks like a guy who is hard to project big offensive success at the higher levels. But I am #NotAScout, and I know enough to know that sometimes you just take a chance on a guy who hits, regardless of what it looks like.
  • From our previous write-up on Maldonado: “I sure did love that Nelson Maldonado pick out of the draft. He was a senior who didn’t get much love as a junior in the draft because he hadn’t really hit his first three years, but broke out with the bat in that senior year … at Florida, in the SEC, where he absolutely raked (.343/.408/.575). He didn’t get on many radars because he’s a small guy without a power profile, and who had looked like a corner outfielder type at Florida. That just doesn’t really pop in the draft. Totally get it. But he’s a smart guy with an extreme line drive stroke who was raking in a top-tier college baseball environment. Give him a look in the later rounds! Why not?
(via FanGraphs)
  • And, so far, the adjustment to wood bats went just fine, as he basically did what he did in college: across rookie ball, short-season Low-A, and full-season Low-A, he hit .332/.378/.456, didn’t strike out, didn’t walk, and didn’t hit for power. As a 23-year-old who right now has only a tiny bit of experience at full-season Low-A (where hit hit just .311/.348/.409), you’d actually be a little freaked out by the profile if it was a guy you were relying on as a prospect. Lotta contact, no walks, no power, small guy? The BABIP usually shrivels by the time that guy reaches AA/AAA, and that’s it. But as a 21st round pick? Just take a guy who hit really well at a big college program and consistently squares the ball up. You never know what might happen – at the plate, or at a more appropriate position – when a little development is grafted onto a guy like that.”
  • It’s a tough time for folks to be doing a lot of shopping, which I expect is why both Fanatics and the MLB Shop have been pushing huge sales lately, including right now. If you’re in a position to shop, go for it.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.