Over the weekend, a new story surfaced about the St. Louis Cardinals' decision to remove Willson Contreras from the starting catcher role earlier this season, coming from New York Yankees play-by-play broadcaster Michael Kay of the YES Network.
Here is the quote from Kay that caught everyone's attention.
"“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.” "- Michael Kay, YES Network
You're probably wondering why the Yankees play-by-play guy has this kind of information - me too. But it is important to note that Kay has been around Major League Baseball for a long time, and is well respected within the game, and I highly doubt he would drop information like this as a blatant lie. Someone told him this information, and it's hard to know whether or not they really wanted that information out there.
Just because someone from the Cardinals tells that to Kay though, doesn't necessarily make it true. So how would we know whether or not this is the case? And if what Kay said is true, what does this say about Contreras and the Cardinals organization?
Willson Contreras and Oli Marmol both refused to comment on the situation
When asked about the comment by Kay on Sunday, neither Willson Contreras nor Oli Marmol provided any comments about the rumor.
Silence does not mean guilt, but the fact that neither came out and blatantly denied the rumors gives me reason to believe there's at least some truth to this story, otherwise, it would have been something the organization and Contreras denied.
How on earth could this happen? Especially in the age of PitchCom, you would think this couldn't be an issue for Major League teams. Well, Jeff Jones shed some light on how that potentially could have happened.
If it's true that Contreras was calling pitches that his pitchers did not even have in their arsenal, that's a really bad look for the Cardinals' catcher and really vindicates what the Cardinals' front office decided to do. It also makes a lot more sense why the club decided not to unveil the exact issues that Contreras was dealing with, as in all honesty, it's an embarrassing look all around.
Again, if this is true, this also tells me a lot about the leadership of the Cardinals' front office. It would have been very easy for them to call out Contreras for these issues and truly scapegoat him, but instead, they took a lot of bullets for Contreras. It doesn't mean they handled the situation well, but it does tell me they did a lot to protect Contreras.
The blame does not shift away from the pitching staff, though. They are still the main culprits of the Cardinals' pitching issues this season. But it does make a lot more sense now why the pitching staff was getting fed up with Contreras, and it even makes some of the really odd pitch choices early in the season make a lot more sense from the outside looking in.