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New report explains why Cardinals removed Willson Contreras as catcher

Willson Contreras in his Cardinals uniform

Mar 14, 2023; West Palm Beach, Florida, USA; St. Louis Cardinals catcher Willson Contreras (40) walks in the third inning against the Houston Astros at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports

A new report helps to explain why the St. Louis Cardinals removed Willson Contreras from the catcher position earlier this season.

The Cardinals made a big splash by signing Contreras to a 5-year, $87.5 million contract over the offseason. The former Chicago Cubs star got off to a good start at the plate with his new team, but things were going poorly at catcher. As of early May, the Cardinals stopped playing Contreras at catcher, though they put him back there a week later.

The Cardinals did not elaborate on the reason for the position change, but now we have a better idea, if one report is to be believed.

The Cardinals had a three-game series with the New York Yankees over the weekend. According to FanSided’s Josh Wilson, Yankees TV play-by-play announcer Michael Kay shared some insight during Saturday’s doubleheader on what happened with Contreras.

According to what Kay said on air Saturday, Contreras was calling for pitches that were not in a pitcher’s repertoire.

“I found out something, I was talking to a lot of the Cardinal people. The reason that they took Contreras out from behind the plate, he was calling pitches that the pitcher on the mound didn’t have… He would be calling for a cutter, for a pitcher that didn’t throw a cutter. The pitchers were going crazy,” Kay said, according to FanSided.

That is a strong accusation.

Many people speculated that pitch-calling was the reason Contreras had been removed from catcher. Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty had ripped Contreras publicly after a bad outing against the Angels in early May that preceded Contreras’ benching.

“That’s frustrating, throughout our whole staff — throwing pitches that don’t make sense,” Flaherty had said, among other tough comments.

It’s one thing to call for pitches in locations the pitchers question, or to call for one pitch when a pitcher would prefer to throw another instead. But accusing a catcher of calling for a pitch that is not in a pitcher’s arsenal indicates the catcher is ill-prepared for the job and a much stronger accusation. Whether these were issues due to simple errors with the new PitchCom technology or due to poor preparation, those are big problems.

Both Cardinals manager Oli Marmol and Contreras declined to comment when asked Sunday about Kay’s report.

The problems with Contreras are just a microcosm of what’s been a brutal year in St. Louis. After Sunday’s 5-1 win over the Yankees, the Cards are still 35-48, which is last place in the NL Central.


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