(CBS) As the Cubs continue to wallow around .500 — now at 41-42 and 3.5 games behind the NL Central-leading Brewers — much has been made about what they’ll do ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
In the mind of pitching coach Chris Bosio, one place to start would be simple: add a veteran catcher. That’s a hope that right-hander John Lackey expressed recently, and it’s one that Bosio agrees with after the Cubs recently designated veteran catcher Miguel Montero for assignment after he criticized right-hander Jake Arrieta.
“If you do look back, a lot of the rosters that have success in postseasons, I can’t ever think of one that had two first-year catchers,” Bosio said in an interview on the Mully and Hanley Show on 670 The Score on Wednesday morning. “So yeah, veteran guys know what they’re talking about, because they’ve been around. So I’m not going to disagree with it. It’s really tough to win with a lot of guys that have been here for the first time. Last year, we had an exceptional year with a lot of first-year players, but some of those guys got their feet wet the previous year. So it’s just a little bit different. Some of them were out of necessity with injury. Nevertheless, you still got to go out there and you still got to play, because the other team certainly is not going to feel sorry for you, especially with the kind of season we had last year.”
With Montero out of the picture, the Cubs are relying on second-year pro Willson Contreras and rookie Victor Caratini behind the plate. It’s Contreras’ first full season at catcher in the big leagues, as he spent a fair portion of his 2016 rookie campaign playing the outfield. The Cubs have a 4.05 ERA this season, which ranks seventh in MLB, but that’s largely because their bullpen has been brilliant. Chicago’s starters have a 4.52 ERA, which ranks 15th in MLB.
The Cubs have had preliminary discussions with the Tigers about catcher Alex Avila, MLB Network recently reported, so he could be one target.
“When you throw a bunch of first-year guys out there, there’s going to be a learning curve, whether it’s in the pitching staff or multiple position players that we’ve brought up,” Bosio said. “It’s tough to win a major league game. It’s tough to win a major league game when you’ve got veteran players out there. It’s even tougher when you’ve got first-year guys that don’t know the league, don’t know the pitchers, the umpires. So there’s a lot of stuff that’s going on there.”
“This team will do what we need to do. And if they don’t feel like we need to do anything, then we’re going to have to go with what we have. That’s our job, is to try to win with what we have in that clubhouse.”
Listen to Bosio’s full interview below. He also discusses the belief among many that baseballs may be juiced this season.