The last spot on the Cubs bench has been a bit of a rotating cast of characters. Mark Zagunis got a chance to try his hand there and aside from a few well-timed walks and some spot play that didn’t really work out. For a couple of games Joe Maddon just turned that into an extra bullpen arm, and frankly, I’m a little surprised he didn’t do that more often given the state of the bullpen. Most recently Jim Adduci got a chance to try his hand at that spot, and well, I thought the people asking on Twitter whether the Cubs had a split-squad game in Houston were on point about those particular lineups.
So I wasn’t surprised that they signed Carlos González to a minor league contract when he was released by the Indians. I wasn’t even that surprised that he only played two games for Iowa before being added to the big-league roster, although that seemed like a quick timeline considering he’d hit .210 across 30 games for Cleveland. After all, it isn’t so much a question of whether a .210/.282/.276 slash line was adequate offensive output for a major league team (it clearly is not), the question was whether he was a better option for a fourth outfielder than Jim Adduci, which seemed at least worth exploring since CarGo was an All Star as recently as two seasons ago.
CarGo had a nice offensive game in his Cubs debut. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and a single. But he had an outstanding game defensively where he made one of the best catches I’ve seen in right field at Wrigley in years. Let’s take a closer look at this gem [VIDEO].
That video is titled “CarGo’s nice diving catch.” I’m a little offended by the use of the word “nice” there. That is a ball smoked into the gap that CarGo snagged on the run resulting in a head first dive towards a brick wall barely covered by ivy that he somehow managed to avoid. Here are some words I suggest could have been used instead:
I mean, let’s set the stage:
The Cubs have finally taken a commanding 6-0 lead in the sixth inning and Jon Lester is in trouble in the top of the seventh. The bases are loaded and it’s 2-2 on Jonathan Lucroy. Lester throws him a ball slightly off the outside of the plate and Lucroy sees this ball perfectly:
This ball is smoked. Lucroy knows it. Lester knows it. You can see it in how they react as it leaves the bat:
You can tell a lot about how dangerous a baseball is going to be by watching the outfielders. Both Jason Heyward and CarGo are sprinting as fast as they can to the gap in right center. This ball has “bases clearing double” written all over it. At this point I was honestly thinking the best case scenario would be the ball getting caught in the ivy because then only two runs would score:
I’m not entirely sure how CarGo caught up to this ball, but the moment of relief I had when he did was replaced immediately with a moment of dread because in order to catch this thing he is basically going to have to propel himself at the wall. That may work in some parks, but the wall at Wrigley is solid brick under that ivy and the ivy isn’t exactly the same as padding:
As he started sliding towards the brick wall it reminded me of the time Jason Heyward laid out to save a triple in San Francisco and slid into the wall at the park previously known as AT&T. I was pretty worried that JHey had seriously hurt himself on that play, and that wall is padded. I was downright terrified that the CarGo Era was already over:
Honestly, this deserves a close-up:
I have no idea how he avoided the wall. I’ve watched it a dozen times now and I still don’t know how he avoided the wall. As far as I can tell the best explanation is that CarGo is Neo from the Matrix. This is insane:
This is also worth an alternate view:
Obviously it’s going to take more than one game to know what the Cubs really have here with CarGo, but it only took one game for him to have a moment that I’ll be talking about for years. That catch was a work of art. It reminded me of Reed Johnson making plays in the outfield that left me gasping. And I clearly wasn’t the only one who was impressed, I’ll leave you with Mike Trout admiring this catch as he heads back to the Angels dugout:
Welcome to Chicago, CarGo, and thanks for a remarkable debut.