The Chicago Cubs Should Start Dioner Navarro Over Welington Castillo at Catcher

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | So many things a catcher does beyond what is seen go entirely unnoticed and often unappreciated -- how he calls a game, how many balls in the dirt he keeps from being wild pitches. Just taking a cursory look at usual statistics -- batting average, home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage -- will assuredly not tell the whole story of how a catcher is performing.

The Chicago Cubs are a pedestrian 10-13 when Dioner Navarro catches. They are an equally pedestrian 28-35 when it's Welington Castillo behind the plate. Percentage wise, those numbers are about the same. Neither catcher seems to have the magic hand in calling games. And with the Cubs 10 games under .500, you can't really blame the catchers for all of the team's woes.

But when you look Navarro's numbers (.291 AVG, 8 HRs, 18 RBIs, .536 SLG), he's well-above his career averages. While he has been an invaluable pinch hitter, the Cubs should be considering starting the veteran catcher over Castillo.

This argument is probably coming a tad late. It should have been made a few weeks ago when there was still a large chunk of time before the trade deadline. Navarro has been hitting the cover off the ball. It is admittedly in a small sample size, but with Castillo's numbers only respectable and without bite (.274 AVG, 2 HRs, 15 RBIs), Navarro should be started until he stops hitting. His 10-year history tells you he will more-than-likely level off, but the Cubs should be riding the wave until he does.

Castillo is only 26, so it makes sense that the Cubs want to give him the playing time in a down year, but Navarro might command a nice, modest return on the trade market. And even Navarro is only 29, so he presumably has plenty of gas left in the tank if the Cubs want to keep him around.

If Castillo were a Buster Posey or a Joe Mauer, then I would understand continuing to start him. But even in the midst of the Cubs' rebuilding extravaganza, no one seems to talk like Castillo is the long-term answer at catcher. If he is, then I guess keep starting him. If he isn't, why not start Navarro? He'll either level out and will remain a backup catcher, or he'll get hot and command more-than-his-value in the market.

The Cubs certainly don't have a whole lot to lose on that gamble.

Brian is a lifelong Chicago Cubs follower. Living in Illinois his entire life has given him a chance to closely follow and report Chicago sports as a freelance writer through Yahoo! Contributor and Yahoo! Sports . He is also a senior in college majoring in English and Creative Writing. You can follow him on Twitter @bdavis_sports.

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