Monday, February 26, 2007

Barrett Talking New Contract

Michael Barrett is talking about a new contract, but his tone is quite a bit different than Carlos Zambrano’s. Barrett says he’s willing to talk before, during, or after the season. He’s not setting any deadlines and he wants the Cubs to know that he wants to stay as their everyday catcher.

This may not be the strongest negotiating tactic, but I have to say that it is refreshing to hear a guy who feels strong loyalty toward his team.

“I will put no deadline or nothing on anything,” Barrett said. “For me, I feel like I’ve been through a lot as a player, and I feel completely blessed to be a part of this team. For me, if there’s a distraction that keeps you from appreciating putting on a Cubs uniform, then something ain’t right. That’s the way I feel.”

Barrett is one of the premier offensive catchers in the NL (not to mention a fine linguist). During a 2006 season that the Cubs would rather forget, Barrett was a bright spot. He hit .307 with 16 HR and 53 RBI in 107 games. His season was cut short when he suffered an intra-scrotal hematoma, an injury so dire that it actually makes me cringe to write it.

I have mixed emotions about Barrett. Although his defense has improved over the years, he’s still not a strong defensive catcher. He worked some this off season with former Cubs catcher and current coach Jody Davis on his defense, but it remains to be seen what impact this will have.

The last several World Series teams each had a “defense first, offense second” type catcher. Does that mean that is the best way to go? No, not necessarily. Several teams that made it to the post-season and even into the World Series had strong offensive catchers. It seems that the most important attribute a catcher can have is a good working relationship with his pitching staff. Despite his defensive woes, Barrett seems to have a good relationship with his pitchers.

Only time will tell what direction the Cubs decide to go with their catcher. It seems to me that in the end, it will be very difficult to give up Barrett’s offense.

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Nothing new on the Geoff Jenkins – Jacque Jones rumor I talked about at the end of last week. The rumor originated (as far as I can tell) with former Cubs broadcaster Steve Stone. I contacted Tim Dierkes at www.MLBTraderumors.com, but he had not heard anything about it. I’ve been checking his site to see if any of his contacts were hearing anything, but nothing so far.

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Trans at The Cub Reporter posted a terrific article today about why Greg Maddux left the Cubs in favor of the Braves in 1992. For a lot of us, I think we remember the reasons differently than they actually occurred. Trans’ article is both educational and entertaining.

The thing I took away from the article is just how “small market minded” the Cubs were back in the early ‘90’s. Not only did GM Larry Himes alienate Maddux, but he also alienated another future HOF in Andre Dawson. I can’t pin the blame on Himes for institutionalizing the small market mentality, but he certainly did perpetuate it. In fact, it was so well ingrained in the organization that it took nearly $300 million this past winter in off season signings to overcome it, at least temporarily. Only the future will tell us if it’s gone for good.

1 Comments:

At 8:31 PM, Anonymous steve said...

Lets just say that if the Cubs let Barrett walk, I will be pretty pissed. I think that if he is healthy (there is that word again) he could be a real sleeper in the bottom or even in the two hole of the lineup. He's improving his defense but he is probably among the top hitting catchers in baseball, imo. We went far with Damien Miller and the Cards just won a WS with a low .200s hitter, but in the end I'll accept some errors for a .300 average.

 

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