The Chicago Cubs have developed a transparent offseason technique to enhance their run prevention.
The transfer to second base by heart fielder Cody Bellinger and shortstop Dansby Swanson and Nico Hoerner did not go unnoticed by catcher Tucker Barnhart. As he weighed his choices in free company, the Cubs’ investments in run prevention, particularly over the center, made them an attention-grabbing vacation spot.
“It is not the flashiest, most necessary factor to see day-after-day, however pitching and protection win video games,” Barnhart stated Wednesday throughout Zoom’s introductory press convention. “There is a bias as a result of that is how I play, a defense-first mentality, issues like that. I do not assume sufficient individuals emphasize run prevention, pitching, and protection. Listening to how extremely they rated it was key to getting my antennae up as a spot I needed to play.
“Understanding we’ll have Gold Glovers everywhere in the subject is saying one thing. It offers the gamers loads of confidence to know that they do not should be superb and exit for pictures on a regular basis.”
The Cubs plan to separate time between Barnhart and Yan Gomez behind the plate, in response to Barnhart’s dialog with supervisor David Ross, who described the association. Barnhart has contacted Gomez a number of occasions since then signing his two-year contract.
“You want two catchers that you just belief and consider in that may play day-after-day if wanted, and I believe now we have that,” Barnhart stated. “Ian has clearly confirmed that he is an elite-level on a regular basis catcher within the huge leagues, and I believe I’ve performed the identical. I am unable to wait to work with him.
“Over time, one of the best groups that win, it is loads simpler to maintain successful whenever you’re in a position to pitch and play protection because the bats warmth up, they quiet down. it is simply the truth of the sport. When you’ll be able to persistently play good protection and pitch nicely, you are going to win loads of video games.”
In evaluating the Cubs, Barnhart leaned closely on pitcher Wade Miley, regardless that the left-hander solely spent the 2022 season with the Cubs. They turned shut over two seasons in Cincinnati (2020-21).
Barnhart credit Miley with 12 years of massive league expertise spanning eight groups, and Miley could not say sufficient good issues in regards to the Cubs; “It is exhausting for me to choose one other group that has performed it higher,” he advised Barnhart.
Miley’s reward mixed with proximity to her native Indiana added to the match for Barnhart, who turns 32 on Saturday.
The Barnhart-Gomes tandem will not come near replicating what Willson Contreras supplied offensively. The Cubs have not adequately changed his offensive manufacturing and are clearly leaning on their pitching employees and protection to maintain video games shut, low-scoring and winnable. Barnhart brings a profession 82 OPS+ to Wrigley Discipline, a pitch he’s very aware of after spending the primary eight years of his huge league profession with the Redskins.
The Cubs, nonetheless, didn’t goal and signal Barnhart for what he might carry offensively. His profession has been constructed round his play calling and pitching circles. His pitch numbers dipped final season in what Barnhart chalked as much as a downright dangerous yr in Detroit, his solely season with the Tigers. He considers the expertise of working in these conditions priceless.
“I’ve hit all-time low with my efficiency and I’ve taken that as motivation within the offseason,” Barnhart stated. “Everybody will say it, I do know, and it is a cliché, however I’ve loved my work extra this low season and I am trying ahead to getting again.”
The Cubs are taking a low-risk strategy in making an attempt to generate extra offense at first base, the place their picks posted a weighted 86 runs created plus (wRC+) final yr, twenty fifth within the majors. They agreed to phrases with first baseman Eric Hosmer on Wednesday, a Tribune supply confirmed.
Hosmer, 33, is anticipated to obtain a minimal of $720,000 for 2023, because the San Diego Padres are in search of the roughly $37 million he’s owed over the subsequent three years.
Hosmer appeared in 104 video games for the Padres and Boston Pink Sox final season, posting a slash line of .268/.334/.382 with a 108 OPS+. However most of his success got here in April, when he hit .389 with a .457 on-base share and a 1.054 OPS in 81 plate appearances. Over the subsequent 5 months, Hosmer managed a paltry .240/.305/.331 line and a .636 OPS in 338 plate appearances.
Though Hosmer has gained 4 Gold Gloves throughout his profession with the Kansas Metropolis Royals, he’s presently not identified for elite protection. His minus-5 defensive run score (DRS) ranked thirty third among the many 37 first basemen who pitched no less than 350 innings in 2022.
By comparability, Alfonso Rivas, who was designated for task on Dec. 23, led the Cubs in innings at first base and completed with 6 DRS, tied for second in baseball.
The Cubs can hope that Hosmer will recapture a few of his energy by residing off his floor ball pace. The minimal monetary funding offers them the liberty to maneuver on if he struggles or first base prospect Matt Mervis earns a spot on the large league roster and common enjoying time.