The Chicago Cubs completed what some may consider a surprising transaction when they sent cash considerations to the Cincinnati Reds for Koyie Hill on May 19, 2012. Hill has a career .211 batting average with eight home runs and 75 RBIs in eight MLB seasons. The 33-year-old catcher was hitting .195 with one home run and five RBIs at the Reds' Double-A affiliate in 2012.
The Cubs are without their top-three catchers now that Welington Castillo has a sprained knee ligament that could sideline him for the next week. Steve Clevenger is recovering from a strained oblique that landed him on the disabled list on April 26. Geovany Soto is expected to miss three-to-four weeks after he had surgery on a torn meniscus in his left knee on May 18.
This seems like an awkward move from a rebuilding franchise. However, I'm guessing that this move was made for the sake of their pitchers. Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and even Casey Coleman would have familiarity with Hill. How much of a hindrance would it be for the pitchers to have to adjust to so many new catchers? They'd probably have little-to-no experience with anybody else in the farm system. That includes Blake Lalli.
The offense shouldn't be harmed by Hill's presence. The Cubs weren't getting much production from their catchers anyhow. Soto has a .161 batting average with three home runs and six RBIs. The Cubs will likely need to wait until Clevenger returns before they get more offensive production from that position.
I wouldn't get upset with this deal. It's basically a bandage that will shield them until Castillo and Clevenger return. That will hopefully occur before the end of May. I look at this transaction as a way to protect their pitchers. Hill is an above-average defensive catcher and should call pitches better than anybody else that they'd use.
I'm unsure what will happen to Hill once Castillo and Clevenger return. Would they demote him to Triple-A Iowa? Would he have any value as a mentor to Clevenger or Castillo? Would they release him after one week? I wouldn't be surprised if he were gone before the end of the month.
Joshua Huffman grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula as a Green Bay Packers and Chicago Cubs enthusiast. He immediately gained an admiration for Cubs fans after watching numerous games on WGN during the mid-90s. His favorite Cubs moment was Kerry Wood's(notes) 1-hitter, 20K extravaganza that was only denied of a no-hitter by Kevin Orie's defensive blunder. As a Packers and Cubs fan, he suffered through Steve Bartman and "4th & 26" in a span of three months. He can be found on Twitter HERE.
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