Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Soto needs to start

Though I am still holding an inkling of hope, the Cubs making the playoffs is, as everybody knows, incredibly remote. Ken Rosenthal wrote on yesterday that Baseball Prospectus has their odds at 2.7% of advancing to the postseason. Even if they do get in, it is pretty clear this team is not good enough to beat the teams they would be need to get anywhere.

That being said, the Cubs should take all measures they can to do what will best prepare the 2010 Cubs to be a winner, especially since it appears Lou will be around for the remainder of his contract. Now I am not for making moves that completely compromise the 2009 Cubs such as giving starts to minor leaguers like Jay Jackson or Chris Carpenter. Miracle runs do happen (2007 Rockies), so throwing in the towel for this season would be wrong. However, I think there is a move similar to getting Shark some starts, which Justin suggested, that can make them better for 2010 without completely compromising this season.

Geovany Soto has been a total disappointment this season and there is no better way to say it. The .690 OPS plain sucks. The home runs have come at times, but my real power issue with him is that he has only hit 13 doubles in 264 AB's, after putting up a respectable 35 last year. Even a teeny-tiny bright spot such as striking out a little less (down 1.2%), is offset by not walking as much (up 2.2%).

After having witnessed Soto's terrible season like everyone else, I can understand the natural response from a lot of people to want Koyie Hill to start. But to me starting Koyie Hill is far from the right decision. Sure the whole saw-fingers incident and the iron man streak of starts make for nice stories, there is no offensive value to starting him. I will acknowledge that there are defensive upgrages: Hill's 3.69 ERA while catching is lower than Geo's 4.16, and his 40% CS is a lot better than Geo's 30% in relatively similar amount of playing time.

Despite the defensive improvement (which, if both played a full season, I would assume would be roughly equal), Geo still needs to start, and get as many AB's as possible before the season ends. Talent alone doesn't make the player at the big leagues, as demonstarted by Elijah Dukes and countless others. But the fact remains that Geo has a lot more talent than Koyie Hill. Hill may end up being a reliable backup catcher, but he can't provide the kind of lineup depth that Geo has the potential to. Maybe Geo won't even come close to what he did in 2008, but he has proven that he can be that type of player.

Maybe Shark won't ever be a good starting pitcher in the majors, and maybe Geo will never live up to everything we all thought he would be after last year. But the chance that they can be above average players should be enough to allow them playing time now in effort to get better for the future.

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