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.
2nd in defensive WAR, NL.
6th in NL in RBI
Go complain about something else, like, "they never play good against the good teams", or some other shit.
Addy really has trouble breaking through .250 BA -- after his hot streak got him to .251, he has gone 1-for-17.
Thank goodness for Jansen's 2 WP on Friday -- otherwise this would have been a sweep.
There seems to be a direct correlation with overconfidence in the Cubs offense against mediocre/young pitchers and really poor offense against mediocre/young pitchers. So, let's fear the Pirate pitchers!
Rizzo due for a power surge -- one HR in August so far. He truly does hit them in bunches.
Sometimes I'm not as supportive of Cahill as maybe I should be. There, I said it.
Rough 8th inning all around -- HBP, Cahill error, Javy's poor decision.
Oh well - given that the Cubs didn't look like they were going to score, it's better to lose in 9 innings, save the bullpen and get changed for the PJ trip home.
Baez still learning
heyward with his 3rd multi-hit game since the all-star break (all in august)...2nd in the past 3 games during his 7 game hitting streak.
he's gone from flirting with a sub-.300 ob% to nearing .310 ob% in 3 games (1 game was just a 1 for 1 pinch hit appearance). all 5 hits in the past 3 games have come in a row...neat.
stewart with 7Ks through 3ip...of course.
that 10-13 mph difference in his fastball/change is working today...and they're swinging at his crappy slider.
brock stewart...steven brault...fun times for the cubs hitters vs allegedly competitive teams...maybe.
Maddon would have started three lefties against the Dodgers, Montgomery, Zastryzny and Lester, except that he doesn't have the juice to do that. No manager does. Maddon has a boss, Epstein (and probably Hoyer, too), who gave him a starting rotation of five guys including Hammel. Maddon was asked yesterday about the starting group for next year and basically said, Not my call, that's why I drive away in my RV in the summer and occasionally check in, etc.
video of Maddon.
always nice that he actually tries to honestly answer questions. Does mention that he wanted to give Zastr? a chance in a meaningful spot rather than a mop-up role.
#Cubs Maddon: "I'm not going to make up an excuse for why I did what I did. It has nothing to do with lack of confidence" ... "It was the right thing to do today based on what I saw, what their lineup looked like and Rob Z.'s availability." #Cubs
Hammel not particularly understanding of getting pulled out...as he should. Be curious what Maddon had to say. All I can think of is is keeping arms fresh and maybe wanting to see if Zastr? is worth considering for the playoffs and how he'd do against the Dodgers.
Heyward, Russell, Baez, Bryant, Ross in particular...although Bryant's a bit hard to judge with all the positions.
Fowler and Rizzo in the top half of the NL for their positions as well (per fangraphs)...Zobrist right at the halfway cutoff for 2b in the NL.
I'm sure some luck is involved too, but the Cubs and Maddon knew what they were doing.