Geovany Soto: the Cubs' Bronx Bomber
In Friday's New York Times, Alan Schwarz profiled Geo
Soto, and we learn that despite being born in Puerto Rico and attending
high school there, Soto played his first "significant game" in New
York. The Cub catcher lived with his family in the Bronx from the time
he was four until age eight.
Soto remembers it very clearly. It might have been just
below the reservoir. Or maybe down near that ice rink. But it was
definitely in Manhattan's Central Park.
"It was awesome," said Soto... "You go with your dad to
the practice field, but never in my life I'd ever put a uniform on and
played with other kids. I felt like, 'Wow, it's really happening—I'm
going to play baseball.'"
Schwarz also writes about Soto's rapport with the Cubs pitching staff.
In part of because of his excellent English, Soto handled
the veteran pitching staff with such aplomb that many Cubs considered
him the team's backbone and most valuable player—despite the presence
of established stars like Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso
Soriano. Soto knew when to talk and when not to.
Regarding Soto's hitting prowess, Schwarz mentions
Soto's significant weight loss leading up to his monster offensive season at Iowa
(.353-26-109) in 2007.
[Soto's weight] ballooned to as much as 250 pounds. It was only after losing weight that he began to emerge...
"Nobody was high on him after 2006, myself included,"
said Gary Hughes, a special assistant to the Cubs' general manager, Jim
Hendry. "But there was a different Geovany Soto out there."
The new Soto had more flexibility through his midsection,
allowing him to turn on pitches, and the stamina to keep calling them
deep into games and seasons.
Soto is hardly the first player to see a correlation
between his weight and his baseball numbers. Still, with all the stats
sites and baseball reference books out there, I can't ever recall
seeing one that tracked changes in a player's weight from season to
season. Maybe it's not possible to get legitimate numbers anyway: teams
in all sports are notorious for fudging those figures to effect.
(Basketball teams, of course, are also known to misstate their players'
But if it was possible to gather this data, I think we
would be able to establish some interesting connections between
particular players and particular performance levels.
As Johnny Bach used to say when it was time for the MJ Bulls to crank up the defensive pressure: "Release the Dobermans!", and Jordan, Pippen, Rodman and Harper would just suffocate the other team.
I'd love to add Carl Jr. to that group - he's got the stuff.
Historically, the Moneyball guys have been great at identifying productive hitters. Not so much with pitchers.
Wow - Pierce Johnson with an ERA of 8.01 in 42IP!
What a stud prospect! Must be pitching with a pierced johnson.
Looks like Ryan Williams is the only legit prospect there. That is sad...
Well it would seem that's all they need now. "Stropy" can have his moments, but he's been more consistent post-asg.
Take THAT, Cardinals -- you beat Fernandez, we beat Sale.
I really like Lackey as a 6-inning pitcher.
Three amigos? Because the Dominican, the Venezuelan, and the Cuban?
Maybe the three-headed dragon?
Who says Contreras can't frame? Stone cold robbery of Eaton with that called third strike for the first out in the eighth
Three amigos time?
he should hit more of those. that would be an ideal outcome. /moneyballs
Russell with 19 RBI in July so far. Grand Slams help.
...and Familia with back-to-back blown saves. Blows a one-run lead vs. Rockies today, gets his 2nd consecutive loss.
I am OK with the Mets missing the playoffs and suffering crushing losses at home --- just want them to beat St. Louis.
He played with fire twice agains the Cubs -- unfortunately, the Cubs couldn't stop swinging.
How about Kyle Farnsworth? I know he was consistently upper 90s.
If he puts up Soriano numbers I will be ecstatic
I think Javy is learning--but he's learning to make contact, not learning to lay off pitches out of the zone. A quick glance at his plate discipline numbers on Fangraphs shows that his contact rate is up, especially his contact rate out of the zone, but his swing rate is up too, especially his swing rate out of the zone.
I definitely saw ballpark radar guns go up to 102 on Kerry Wood back when he was still a starter, but who knows how accurate they were.
They've mentioned Henry Rodriguez (2013), Chris Carpenter, and Andrew Cashner as Cubs who have gone 100+. They said Rodriguez was tops at 100.8. Who knows before 2008?