Cubs Catchers and the Future, Franmil and Seiya Have Fun, No Fighting in the Bleachers, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Cubs Catchers and the Future, Franmil and Seiya Have Fun, No Fighting in the Bleachers, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I absolutely will not buy pumpkin spice anything until September *UNLESS* it’s not actually a seasonal product. Like, if it’s a cake from a shop that sells it year-round, then that’s fair game. I mean, I like pumpkin spice stuff! But if it’s arriving for the fall season, then I just cannot do it until September. Feels so wrong.

  • Gonna do some catcher talk. I really loved this play yesterday from P.J. Higgins for several reasons:
  • First of all, Higgins is only a part-time corner infielder, so there’s that. Second, the positioning there was not designed to have a play at the plate. The Cubs were playing back for an out or two. But the ball got on Higgins so quickly that he made a split-second decision to come home, and executed just as quickly. I love the instincts there, especially, again, for a guy who is only part-time at first base.
  • If you were wondering, yes, Higgins’ offensive production has pulled way back of late, and you can actually go all the way back to his third week of the season and not be all that impressed: .215/.277/.398/88 wRC+ over his last 102 PAs. Still, that is hardly “bad” for a back-up catcher, especially one who can also play those corner infield spots when you need him. The thing I still don’t have a great sense of on Higgins, though, is how he performs as a catcher – he has rated pretty poorly defensively this year, but the sample is tiny. How is he at calling a game? Making adjustments on the fly? Monitoring pitchers? Etc. That’s the stuff you mostly want to see out of him if he’s going to enter into 2023 as the back-up or in a time-share with a guy like Yan Gomes (who is regarded as very good at that stuff, and is already under contract for next year).
  • Where that would leave Willson Contreras remains an open question, since he will hit free agency. If his market just isn’t there – again, the lack of a trade market at the deadline may have been telling, plus the Qualifying Offer is gonna hurt – the Cubs could look to bring him back on a reasonable deal (at which point I’d again suggest Contreras get more looks at first base if the Cubs love the player and the bat, but don’t love his ability behind the plate). To that end:
  • I really do believe that Contreras wants to be with the Cubs, not only after the Trade Deadline, but for years to come. As he told The Athletic: “This team, I think we have something special in here, to be honest,” Contreras said. “Every player that comes in, they’re willing to listen. They want to win. That’s why I want to play through my injury. It’s not like there’s nothing that I want to be part of. I want to be part of what’s going on here because in the second half we’ve been playing really good baseball.”
  • As I said, though, the question is whether the Cubs are committed to Contreras as a primary catcher, or if they’re looking to move toward a primary backstop who is more defensively/game-calling-oriented. If so, I would understand it, given the way the game has trended (and given that extending a 30-year-old Contreras to a huge deal to be your primary catcher comes with risks anyway) … but I would still hope for some way to stick together and keep the bat. I’ll have to explore this more in the weeks and months ahead. But, like I said before, I sure wish Contreras was seeing time at first base right now just to get a little more information there. Maybe he doesn’t want to play any first base heading into free agency, for understandable reasons.
  • One last point from Mooney’s piece: “If [Contreras] is at all concerned about his future — what the Cubs not trading him at the deadline says about his market and how a qualifying offer could limit his options — then he is doing an exceptional job of hiding it. Especially since he’s always been someone who wears his emotions on his sleeves.”
  • Contreras, by the way, was feeling stiffness in his left ankle – the one he’d badly turned during the Field of Dreams Game and has been playing through – so that’s why he didn’t play yesterday.
  • Also on Contreras, don’t forget that he’s a hero to players from Venezuela:
  • Nick Madrigal had another multi-hit game last night AND, more strikingly, he took another walk! That’s six walks for Madrigal this month, who came into the month with just five walks on the season. Six walks this month – which started late for him and still has a week remaining – is his most in a month in his big league career so far. Overall on the month, Madrigal is walking 9.2% of the time (the 10.8% K rate is still too high for him), and hitting .321/.406/.357/124 wRC+. More on him later, though, because we kinda need to look under the hood to see if anything is actually different, or if balls just happen to be finding holes this month.
  • This is magical:
  • No fighting in the bleachers! This guy is lucky he didn’t break his neck:
  • Shawon knows his dad:
  • My brain and my eyes can’t figure out the physics of this – look at where his foot is on the bat, which should be flipping the other way?! – and it’s making me feel like an idiot:

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.