Monday, June 1, 2009

Geovany Soto Sucks...Again

Well here we are again, for the most part it seems like most of the struggling Cubs offensive players are coming around slowly, and some a bit quicker. Derrek Lee just had a real good May, Milton Bradley just had a .400 home stand, and even Mike Fontenot hit .375 over his last nine games. 

Which means for the time being, there remains one problem, Geovany Soto. Now Soto had a decent month of May .278/.376/.354, but that last number, is the problem. That is Soto's slugging percentage for May, it is a robust .272. Keep in mind I'm not talking about his batting average here. This horrible slugging percentage is unacceptable, considering it is almost half of the .504 he posted last season. 

Earlier I made the comparison of Soto to fellow ROY winner last season Evan Longoria, not on the basis of them being equal players, but rather that both are coming into their second seasons in the major leagues and expected to be at the elite level of their respective positions. Longoria and his 1.020 OPS are obviously headed towards a potential HOF career if he keeps on going. Soto was never on that type of career path, but he was supposed to be an elite catcher, just like Longoria is an elite third baseman. Instead he is posting the numbers of a slap hitting backup. 

What happened? Well some might think Soto was on steroids and was scared off of them, and if you want to think that, fine, but I'm thinking it has something to do with his being fat. His being fat is most likely a three-headed monster. Kerry Wood is gone, Wood's magic diet was picked up by Soto and he started to hit for power. Henry Blanco was Soto's mentor last season and is gone to the Padres now, and there has to be a bit of getting a bit lazy after having some success. 

To me it is unacceptable that Soto goes from power hitting stud to a singles hitter who posts the numbers of a backup catcher. His defense and throwing has taken a turn for the worse too, so much so that I can't help but think his shoulder injury from April isn't completely healed. Odds are I'm just hoping for injury to be the excuse. 

Fact is we are looking at the real possibility that Soto has a career as a weak hitting backup, which means we will be getting a steady dose of Koyie Hill as the season goes on. Not exactly the worst thing considering that Hill has found his way to two homers this season, both of which have come in clutch situations. The good news is there are some options in the Cubs minor league system, though none of them are the caliber player Soto was/should be for us. 

The key right now is hoping that somehow Soto starts hitting for power again. His power stroke is the missing piece right now, especially if Bradley and Lee can keep hitting. Soto needs to be able to drive in the runners who are getting on base in front of him, that way we have a real RBI threat instead of praying that Andres Blanco or Bobby Scales can fall into a hit. 

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