Should Jake Fox Get Time As The Chicago Cubs' Starting Catcher?

Michael Wagner@MichaelDWagnerSenior Analyst IJuly 12, 2009

CHICAGO - JUNE 28: Jake Fox #5 of the Chicago Cubs hits the ball against the Chicago White Sox on June 28, 2009 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Cubs 6-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

When Chicago Cubs catcher Geovanny Soto went down with a left oblique strain after Monday's game against the Atlanta Braves, I assumed that this would be the perfect opportunity for rookie standout Jake Fox to find his way back into the lineup.

But I was wrong.

Instead of going with the hot hitting Fox, Lou Pinella decided to insert backup catcher Koyie Hill. Hill has hit poorly, much like the rest of the Cubs lineup.

But Hill is known as a good defensive catcher and bottom of the lineup hitter.

So why has Lou decided to insert Hill over Fox into a lineup that is already struggling to score runs?

The obvious reason would be because Jake Fox has not caught regularly since 2007, for Double-A Tennessee. Despite this, the majority of his minor league experience (, 276 of his 535 games) has been spent at catcher.

Another likely reason for Fox's lack of playing time at catcher is because he has average tools as a catcher—a lack of mobility behind the plate and a below average throwing arm.

In his six minor league seasons, Fox has committed 35 errors in 276 games as a catcher—about an error ever 12 games. Hill is far better in his mobility behind the plate, as he has only committed four errors in his 113 games of major league service.

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Evidence of Fox's lackluster arm is shown through his minor league statistics—He only threw out about 39% of the runners that challenged him. Really, Fox's arm should not be keeping him out of the lineup, because Koyie Hill's arm is not much better.

The final reason that I believe Jake Fox has not gotten time behind the plate is because he does not know the pitching staff as well as Koyie Hill does. Fox has focused purely on getting better in the infield and outfield, so little focus has been paid to his catching.

Yes, Jake Fox has produced a lot much offensively for the Chicago Cubs this season, but he just doesn't possess the tools necessary to be an everyday catcher at the major league level.

The catcher on a major league team must be the field general, and from looking at his progression through the minor leagues, Fox just doesn't seem to have that skill.

This is likely the reason that he has moved from position to position, trying to find a better fit for his bat.

I am a huge fan of Jake Fox, and I believed that he could be the answer for the Cubs behind the plate with Soto out. But through my research, it seems as though Fox does not have the tools to play every day as a catcher.

He will get his opportunity to start tomorrow night against the St. Louis Cardinals in the second half of a double header.

Tomorrow night should allow us to see if Fox still has the ability to sit behind the plate for nine innings. But what we do know is he will be bringing his bat, like he always does.


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