Posted on June 28, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Chicago Cubs catcher Miguel Montero has literally talked himself out of a job. The Cubs designated Montero for assignment on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after he publicly criticized Cubs starter Jake Arrieta. The Cubs have not officially announced the move. But Montero told reporters that Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein called him with the news Wednesday morning.
“Not really,” Montero said when he was asked if he was surprised the Cubs let him go. “I really thought maybe something was going to happen. I understand, I totally understand. If I’m going to take the blame and the team takes off from now, I’ll feel much better. I really want to see them succeed, every single guy.”
Montero’s disparaging comments came Tuesday night after the Nationals stole seven bases against Montero. The catcher was critical of Arrieta for not doing a better job of holding on runners.
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“The reason they were running left and right today because they (Arrieta) were slow to the plate,” Montero said after Tuesday’s game. “Simple as that. It’s a shame it’s my fault because I didn’t throw anyone out. It really sucked because the stolen bases go on me but when you really look at it the pitcher doesn’t give me any time so yeah, ‘Miggy can’t throw anyone out’ but my pitchers don’t hold anyone on.”
Montero says he later apologized to Arrieta for being so critical of him publicly. The catcher says that Arrieta agreed with him that he didn’t do a good job of holding runners on. However, other members of the Cubs were not quite so forgiving.
“We win as a team we lose as a team,” first baseman Anthony Rizzo said in response to Montero’s comments. “If you start pointing fingers that just labels you as a selfish player. I disagree. We have another catcher (Willson Contreras) who throws out everyone who steals and he (catches) Jon Lester, who doesn’t pick over. It’s no secret. Going to the media with things like that, I don’t think it’s very professional.”
The 33-year old Montero has spent the last two and a half years with the Cubs after spending his first nine big league seasons with the Diamondbacks. This is not the first time he’s been critical of his team. After last year’s World Series title, Montero was critical of how manager Joe Maddon used him during the playoffs.
In a series of tweets published Wednesday afternoon, Montero thanked Cubs fans and the city of Chicago.
“It was an awesome ride. Winning the World Series was simply fantastic. Thank you to my teammates – good luck to everyone of you,” Montero wrote. “Thank you also to each staff member, it was an honor to play for the Chicago Cubs organization. Chicago will always be in my heart. #WeAreGood.”
On the season, Montero is hitting .286 with an OPS of .805. He’s started just 28 games behind the plate as the backup to Contreras. However, those numbers and a good track record of performing over the past decade should help get him a new job in short order. Of course, some teams may shy away from him after he was so critical of his team’s pitching staff.
As for the Cubs, they are expected to call up Victor Caratini to be their new backup catcher. Caratini is the team’s 11th best prospect, according to MLB.com. He’s having an outstanding season in triple-A, hitting .343 with an OPS of .923. However, he’s not regarded as a strong defensive catcher and only began playing behind the plate in 2014.
In the long run, changing the backup catcher shouldn’t make a huge impact on Chicago’s season. However, considering the tension and controversy Montero has brought into the clubhouse, parting ways with him may end up being the right move and a potential turning point for the Cubs this year.