The Chicago Cubs know they will not have their hottest bat, top catcher or cleanup hitter for a long time, and what will the team do during the time Willson Contreras mends his injured hamstring.
The Cubs went out and acquired Alex Avila a veteran of nine seasons in the majors from the Detroit Tigers rather than adding someone to hold Contreras’ place at catcher.
Theo Epstein the team president has said often that it is the responsibility of the front office to upgrade any spot on the 25-man roster, not on the frontline ones.
Avila’s resume is far better than ones of other catchers considered to fill in for Contreras. He has an OPS of .869 with Detroit this season and already a homer for Chicago. The drop off to Avila from Contreras is not as far as it would have been if no trade for the player was made.
Kris Bryant, hitting .309 since returning from the All-Star break, has been quiet since hurting the pinky on his left hand July 19 with an OPS of .769 since that date.
His numbers include just one homer and 8 runs knocked in over that period with a batting average of .220 with runners in scoring position the entire season does not sit that well with Cubs observers. His plays must improve.
As with much of the team this season, Ben Zobrist looks like he will go off, but then slides back. However, signs indicated that he finally might be headed in the right direction. For August he is batting .292 and has an on-base percentage of .414. Working pitchers and earning walks is his thing and that must improve especially when the team is without Contreras.
Zobrist is important as well because he might bat fourth again like last season in place of Contreras which could help to protect Anthony Rizzo. This season has not been so smooth but with six weeks remaining, everyone knows Zobrist has the capability of getting hot for a long stretch. Last May his batting average was .406.
Arizona is the next team on Chicago’s schedule thus making for a tough weekend series, but following the D-backs the Cubs have 24 consecutive games versus teams playing under .500 and the majority of those are at Wrigley Field.
If Chicago cannot beat the likes of the Philadelphia Phillies or Cincinnati Reds without Contreras during the pennant race they have much bigger problems that just their catcher’s hamstring.