MESA, Ariz. -- Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon can talk about his team carrying three catchers to start the regular season until he's blue in the face, but I'm not buying it -- not if the Cubs are serious about winning.
"If you want to create conjecture just think about three catchers and how that's going to manipulate how the rest of the group is going to look," Maddon said Tuesday morning.
That came after a question about outfielder Matt Szczur making the team, so obviously the subject was on Maddon's mind. Maybe the front office is preparing Maddon just in case it actually happens but if Miguel Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo are all actually on the roster next month it would be a big shock. Maddon is having a tough enough time evaluating his team -- and he'll continue to evaluate them into the regular season -- so to hamstring him with three catchers in the National League will just be an extra burden.
"What is probably one of the most difficult spots in all of baseball to find someone that you like?" Maddon asked rhetorically. "I would say catching is among them."
He's right. That's why you try to have two good ones instead of just one. But three catchers, none of which can play any other positions, just won't fly. Maddon mentioned the 2005 Angels as an example of a team that used three catchers -- Bengie and Jose Molina along with Josh Paul -- and went to the playoffs. The only problem with the comparison is that all three were in the lineup at different times as designated hitters while Jose and Paul played some games at other positions as well. We saw the Cubs carry 13 pitchers and 12 position players most of last season and it probably cost them games or at least flexibility within games. That was OK then, but it won't be OK this time around.
"I'm not saying Wely is on the team but you have to think that way," Maddon said. "And if you're thinking that, you have to figure out how it all fits."
Is Maddon keeping some leverage alive for the Cubs by telling the world the team is willing to roster three catchers come April? Perhaps. But teams know Castillo is on the market. Maddon likened having catching depth to the quarterback position, citing the Arizona Cardinals as an example of a team that came up short at that position at the end of the season because of injuries.
"If you're trying to find Welington Castillo, in April you're not going to find him unless you have him," Maddon said.
Then in that case, just keep him. Of course that's not going to happen because they signed Ross to a two-year deal because of his leadership and receiving skills over Castillo's overall better game.
"How does it all fit?" Maddon asked. "It's a jigsaw puzzle."
It will be a lot easier when they move Castillo. That should happen before April 5.