Archive | Geovany Soto

Geovany Soto – 2009 Report Card – C-

Posted on 23 October 2009 by Lou

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Over the next month or so, we’re going to give our assessment of the performances of Cubs players at each position in 2009.  This weekend, we’re starting with the catchers.

First up – Geovany Soto

2009 Stats – .218 batting average; .321 on-base percentage; 11 HR’s; 47 RBI’s; 27 runs scored; 50 walks; 77 K’s in 331 at-bats.

2008 Stats – .285 batting average; .364 on-base percentage; 23 HR’s; 86 RBI’s; 66 runs scored; 62 walks; 121 K’s in 494 at-bats.  Awards – NL Rookie of the Year.

Grade: C-.  Overall, a major disappointment for Soto playing in only 102 games with 2 stints on the DL.  After his breakout 2008 year – including an All-Star Game nod – Soto looked lost the entire 2009 MLB season.  He was mentally off after testing for positive for some performance-enhancing drugs during the 2009 World Baseball Classic and he never got back on track.  You’d like to think that he will be able to get back on track during the 2010 MLB schedule, but until he shows it, the Cubs might just have an average catcher behind the plate who had a career year in 2008.  A major factor will be health – if he shows up to Spring Training in good shape, being able and ready to shoulder the load, that could be a good sign for the Cubs.  If not, it’s a good thing they have Koyie Hill.

GM Jim Hendry, Manager Lou Pinella and Cubs fans will be eager to see the 2008 Soto show up at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field in April 2010 – we do too…

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It’s Official – Cubs Sign Hitting Coach Rudy Jaramillo

Posted on 21 October 2009 by Lou

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Hip Hip Hooray – we can finally put the Cubs hitting coach story behind us.  The Cubs have agreed to terms with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo.  The deal is for 3 years and $2.42 million, which will make Jaramillo the 2nd highest paid hitting coach in the major leagues behind the St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach Dave Duncan.  Look out NL Central opponents – we can have a hitting coach gladiator war every time the Cubs and Cards play each other in 2010.

Jaramillo was the Texas Rangers hitting coach for 15 years.  He helped develop some great Rangers hitters during his tenure, and even worked with Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley while the 2 were Rangers players.  Cubs GM Jim Hendry and Manager Lou Pinella hope that bringing someone in from the outside with a different perspective of the Cubs players will help the Cubs offense regain its 2008 form rather than its 2009 form.  In 2008, the Cubs led the National League with 855 runs scored (2nd only to the Rangers in all of MLB).  But in 2009, the Cubs scored only 784 runs, good for only 10th best in the NL.  Not good – sure injuries and poor production from certain players – Bradley, Soriano, Geovany Soto, Mike Fontenot – were the primary reasons, but the lack of clutch hits and hits with runners in scoring position (just a .241 batting average – 2nd worst in all of MLB) is a huge concern going forward.  Hopefully Jaramillo can work out the kinks.

Jaramillo has a simple philosophy.  “I pride myself in situational hitting… It’s not like I’m trying to reinvent the swing.”  He puts an emphasis on finding a good rhythm, staying square on the ball, shifting weight and focusing on the arm release point of each pitcher.  Jaramillo knows there are physical and mental aspects of hitting and he will work with each player to make sure that they are prepared to go up there focused and ready during each at-bat.

It can’t get much worse than it was in 2009.  If the Cubs do start piling on the runs in 2009, Jaramillo is going to look like a genius.  Most likely, it won’t really be his credit to take in the long run.  The Cubs probably aren’t as good as they were in 2008 nor as bad as they were in 2009.  Somewhere in between should have the Cubs – and Cubs fans – smiling in 2010…

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Rudy Jaramillo – the Answer for the Cubs Hitting Woes

Posted on 19 October 2009 by Lou

Cubs Rockies Baseball

Here’s the answer we’ve all been waiting for – the big move for the Cubs this off-season.  Rudy Jaramillo will be the Cubs new hitting coach!  Yippee!

Ok, I’m being a little cynical here, but it sounds like this guy Jaramillo knows what he’s doing.  He has been the Texas Rangers hitting coach since 1995.  During his tenure, 17 Rangers hitters have won Silver Slugger Awards; 4 Rangers hitters have won MVP Awards; 3 Rangers hitters have won HR crowns and 3 Rangers hitters have won RBI crowns.  The Rangers also led the major league baseball in runs scored in 2008 with 901, but there was a big drop off in 2009 – only 784 runs scored – as the Rangers fell to 10th best in baseball.

The Cubs led the National League in runs scored in 2008 with 855 runs scored (2nd only to the Rangers in all of MLB).  But in 2008, several players underperformed under Gerald Perry and Von Joshua and the club scored only 707 runs total – 9th worst in all of baseball behind such poor teams as the Washington Nationals, Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians.  A move had to be made from outside the system, as the Cubs released Perry and moved Joshua back to his hitting coach role at Triple-A Iowa.

The Cubs have received permission to negotiate with Jaramillo, who was only offered a 1-year contract by the Rangers organization for 2010.  Jaramillo had this to say about his situation – “This is my decision.  I want to go out there and see where I stand in the game.”

If the Cubs do get Jaramillo, let’s hope something improves in 2010.  Given how badly Geovany Soto, Alfonso Soriano and Mike Fontenot hit in 2009 (not to mention Milton Bradley who will likely not be back with the team), it really can’t get much worse.

Cubs Rockies Baseball

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Von Joshua Back to Triple-A Iowa after Failure at Major League Level

Posted on 09 October 2009 by Lou

Braves Cubs Baseball

It’s hard to put all the blame on Von Joshua (or Gerald Perry before him for that matter), but Manager Lou Pinella has decided to go in a different direction for his hitting coach in 2010.  Although Pinella emphasized that Joshua did nothing wrong, because the Cubs offense did not rebound after struggling under Gerald Perry through the middle of June, Pinella thought it would be best to try something different.  GM Jim Hendry had this to say as well: “There’s not blame to be handed out.  We had a lot of guys who didn’t swing the bats like they’re capable of.  When Von came up, we were scuffling, and we never really made a lot of progress in the same areas that we were deficient in the first half.”

After leading the National League with 855 run scored in 2008, the Cubs manages to score just 707 runs in a frustrating 2009 (9th worst in the majors).  The Cubs .255 team batting average ranked 5th worst in all of baseball and the team never seemed to be able to come through with the clutch hit with 2 outs or with runners in scoring position.  Several Cubs hitters underperformed – Milton Bradley hit only .257 after hitting .321 for the Rangers in 2008; Geovany Soto .218 vs. .285 in 2008; Alfonso Soriano .241 vs. .280 in 2008; and Mike Fontenot .236 vs. .305 in 2008.  Basically, save for Ryan Theriot, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez (who missed 2+ months of the season), the Cubs offense was in complete shambles for a good portion of the year.

Let’s hope the Cubs bring in a hitting coach who can simply relate to the players.  And let’s hope the Cubs get a few more clutch hits in 2010…

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Rich Harden Showing Why Cubs Should NOT Re-sign Him to Long-term Deal

Posted on 17 September 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Rich Harden is a streaky pitcher, and right now, he is in one of those streaks where it is clear to me that the Cubs should not re-sign him in the off-season.  In Wednesday night’s loss, Harden needed 72 pitches to labor through 3 innings.  Harden gave up 5 runs (only 2 earned), but he suffered his 9th loss of the season.  5 hits and 3 walks in just 3 innings is never a good line, and he works way too many counts way to deep in order to be an effective pitcher over the course of a long MLB season.

In addition to this poor line, check out his last 3 starts:

Cubs 6-4 win over Reds on 9/11 – 4 innings, 1 ER, but 2 hits and 5 walks with 6 strikeouts – 104 pitches.

Cubs 5-3 win over Mets on 9/5 – 5 innings, 1 ER, but 7 hits and 1 walk with 10 strikeouts – 102 pitches.

Cubs 5-3 loss to Astros on 8/31 – 5 innings, 5 ER, but 5 hits and 6 walks with 9 strikeouts – 98 pitches.

While his strikeout numbers are impressive – 171 K’s in 141 innings – his 67 walks and high 1.34 WHIP really don’t help him or the team in the long run.  With those numbers comes high pitch counts.  And with high pitch counts comes short outings.  This usually means a tired bullpen and more late innings losses throughout the season because the bullpen gets over-worked too early and too often in the season.

Not having to re-sign Harden to a long-term deal should free up the $8-9 million that the Cubs paid to him in 2009.  That money could be used to find another more “productive” back-end starter or for a full-time starting 2nd baseman since the Mike Fontenot/Aaron Miles experiment failed miserably. Let’s just hope GM Jim Hendry hears what we’re talking about.

Couple of bright spots in last night’s loss:  Aramis Ramirez hit his 13th HR of the season; Geovany Soto had 2 more hits; and Ryan Theriot had 3 hits and a walks in 5 at-bats.  Not great, but not all that bad either…

Randy Wells looks to pick up win #11 in the series finale against the Brewers at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon.  His ERA is still under 3 (@ 2.96), so he looks to keep that number low as well.

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Zambrano’s Messy 5th Costs Him 9th Win; But Lee Leads Way Again

Posted on 16 September 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Carlos Zambrano – what in the world are we going to do with you?  Big Z is simply an enigma.  If somone could work with him to get his head on straight, Zambrano could be one of the best pitchers in baseball.  Instead, we get Carlos Zambrano being Carlos Zambrano.  The 2009 version – 8-6 record in 25 starts.  A good 3.94 ERA, but a startling high 1.43 WHIP.  132 strikeouts in 148+ innings, but also 70 walks.  Not the numbers of the ace of your staff, someone who is set to make $18 million per season for the next 3 years.  It’s not bad enough that the Cubs are locked into bad contracts with Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley and Kosuke Fukodome.  But now we have to worry about how many stints Big Z is going to spend on the DL trying to swing the bat too hard.

Uggghhhh – – it is so frustrating.  Last night, the Cubs offense took advantage of a wild Brewers staff – 11 hits, 12 walks, 3 HBP, 2 wild pitches – and took a 4-0 lead by the end of the 4th inning.  But for some reason, Big Z crapped the bed in the top of the 5th inning.  After getting the 1st 2 outs, Zambrano gave up a hit to the pitcher Giovanni Gallardo and he lost his cool.  Zambrano followed that up with a walk, 2 hits, a wild pitch, another walk and then an error by Ryan Theriot at shortstop that would have ended the inning.  We know how Big Z feels about his teammates making errors, so he let the next batter get a 2-run single to give the Brewers a 5-4 lead.  Now granted, the last 2 runs should not have scored because of the Theriot error, but come on.  Five runs on 6 hits and 4 walks over 5 innings of work – 105 pitches ???!!! – is not acceptable from your alleged ace.  Someone has gotta get through to this guy.

Luckily the Cubs offense rallied the troops for a come-from-behind win, and the Cubs bullpen (save for Jeff Samardzija who has had just a brutal 2009 – 1-2 record, 7.89 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, 26 ER on 41 hits and 14 walks in just 29 2/3 innings) turned in another solid 3 innings of scoreless relief.  Aaron Heilman pitched a scoreless inning of relief and has now given up just 2ER in his last 9 outings (12 innings).  And can you see the 26-year old Esmailin Caridad setting up for Carlos Marmol in 2010?  After a rough major league debut in Colorado on August 10th, Caridad has been lights-out in his next 6 appearances.  And since being called back to the major league level on September 8th, Caridad has pitched 4 scoreless innings, giving up just 2 hits and 1 walk while striking out 2.  I know he is raw and young, but a good off-season could solidify his spot on the 2010 Cubs.

As for the bats, the Brewers pitching was just awful.  But give Derrek Lee some credit.  Lee was patient at the plate – 2 for 2 with 3 RBI’s and 1 run scored.  He also walked 4 times.  Geovany Soto’s bat has shown some of the pop from his 2008 Rookie of the Year campaign – 2 for 5 with 3 RBI’s and 2 runs scored, including his 11th homer of the season.  Ryan Theriot’s bat has cooled off a little bit of late, but he had 4 walks as well on Tuesday night and scored 3 runs.  Theriot also stole his 18th base of the year.

Not a lot to get excited about, but we’ll take the positives where we can get them…

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Dempster, Marmol, Lee – Different Night, Same Story

Posted on 15 September 2009 by Lou

Brewers Cubs Baseball

Seems like the Cubs have developed a winning recipe long after the season is over…  Good outings by the starting pitcher and Carlos Marmol and a clutch hit by Derrek Lee. I feel like I am writing the same thing over and over when it comes to recent Cubs wins.

I guess I should be happy.  The starting pitching has been solid all year long.  With Ryan Dempster’s win on Monday night (2-0 over the Brewers), the Cubs now have 3 starters with at least 10 victories.  With Carlos Zambrano sitting on 8 wins and Rich Harden sitting on 9 wins, that number should be 5 when the season ends on October 4th.  Dempster had his best start of 2009 on Monday night – he looked like the Ryan Dempster of 2008, focused, throwing strikes, hitting his spots.  Dempster needed just 108 pitches to throw 8 scoreless innings, giving up just 4 hits and 1 walk.  Yeah!

Carlos Marmol rebounded from his non-save situation loss on Saturday afternoon, pitching a scoreless 9th inning with 1 walk and 1 strikeout.  Make it 9 out of 9 for Marmol in save situations since being named the Cubs closer.

And as for Derrek Lee, he just keeps on hitting.  Lee had 2 hits in Monday’s win, including his 33rd home run of the year.  He is hitting .304 on the 2009 MLB campaign and he has his OPS up to .966.  Aramis Ramirez also came through with 2 hits and he now has his batting average up to .324.

Although it is definitely too little too late, I am very happy with the performance by some of these guys down the stretch.  As I have said before, the pitching staff has been mostly good all throughout the 2009 MLB schedule (the team’s 3.85 ERA is still he 5th best ERA in all of baseball).  Even in a year in which the bats completely deserted the club for long stretches at a time, the pitchers never really lost focus, and the team has still managed to win 74 games to date.  The Cubs offense still has the 5th worst batting average in all of baseball.  I’m not sure what the Cubs can do in the off-season to tweak the lineup (with the new ownership situation and limited payroll flexibility) to improve the offense.  But one would think that with a move here or there, and with more productive seasons from Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano and Geovany Soto, there have gotta be a few more wins out there to put the club back into a playoff contender in 2010.  Wishful thinking?  Maybe, but at this point, we gotta do something…

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Crazy – – Carlos Marmol Not Good in Non-Save Situations…

Posted on 13 September 2009 by Lou

Manager Lou Pinella has quickly learned 1 thing about Carlos Marmol – he does not pitch well in non-save situations.  And let’s face it – a lot of closers are like this because of the lack of mental focus.  Carlos Marmol’s control problems in the 9th inning wasted a valiant Cubs comeback.

Trailing 5-0, the Cubs rallied for 3 runs in the 6th inning on an Aramis Ramiez single, a Geovany Soto double and a Bobby Scales sacrifice fly.  And with the bases loaded in the 7th inning, Geovany Soto’s double to deep center field plated Kosuke Fukodome and Derrek Lee to tie the game at 5.  But when 3rd base coach Mike Quade sent Ramirez home to try to score the go-ahead run, but he was thrown out at the plate.

Then came Marmol’s disastrous 9th inning – 2 walks to start off the inning and then a 2-run double to right field by pinch hitter Drew Sutton that gave the Reds the 7-5 win over the Reds.

Randy Wells had a rare bad start –

The Cubs try to win the series on Sunday with Ted Lilly on the mound…

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Cubs Tie Record with 7-Run 1st Inning; Lee, Baker Raking @ the Plate

Posted on 09 September 2009 by Lou

Cubs Pirates Baseball

The Cubs tied a major league record on Tuesday night when the 1st 8 batters all reached base on hits (6 singles and 2 doubles).  The Cubs scored 7 runs in the inning en route to a 9-4 win.  The Cubs were the 1st team to accomplish the feat way back in the 1920’s.  The New York Yankees were the last team to do it in September 1990.

Ryan Dempster picked up his 9th win of the season.  It was not a great outing – 6 1/3 innings, 4 ER, 8 hits and 2 walks, with 4 K’s – but a win is a win at this point of the season.

2 Cubs players have quietly put together solid seasons thus far.

After a slow start in April (a .189 batting average at the end of the month), Derrek Lee has been the Cubs most consistent hitter all season long.  With 2 hits in the win, Lee’s batting average is now right at .300.  He has a .379 on-base percentage and a .573 slugging percentage.  Lee leads the team in HR’s (31); RBI’s (96); and runs scored (74).  He has even dealt with neck/upper back spasms for much of the season, but has still managed to play in 122 games and hit 464 at-bats.  Especially with Aramis Ramirez missing 2 months with a dislocated shoulder and the under performance by several key players – Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley, Geovany Soto – the presence of Lee in the lineup each and every day has been invaluable.

Mid-season acquisition Jeff Baker has also been a pleasant surprise for the Cubs in the infield.  Since coming over from the Rockies in July, Baker has played in 47 games, getting 126 at-bats along the way.  Baker has played 3 infield positions – 2nd base, 1st base and 3rd base.  Baker has a .341 batting average with a solid 399 on-base percentage.  In a limited role, Baker has hit 3 HR’s, driven in 13 runs and scored 18 runs.  Baker has had 3 multi-hit games in the last 5 games played and at age 28, he is making a case that he could be the Cubs starting 2nd baseman of the future.

It’s great to see some of these guys still giving it their all day in and day out down the stretch here in 2009.  At 70-67, even though the Cubs still trail the Cards by 11.5 games and the Rockies by 8 games, these guys still realize there is a lot to play for – at least personally.  Good luck!

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Weekend Update – Disappointing Series Loss Against Mets in NYC

Posted on 07 September 2009 by Lou

The Cubs lost the weekend series to the Mets in NYC.  Here’s a brief re-cap:

Friday 9/4 – Mets 6, Cubs 2.  Mets blew game open with a 5-run 8th inning to break a 1-1 tie.  Carlos Zambrano finally looked good – 1 ER (a solo HR by Corey Sullivan on 3 hits and 3 walks in 6 innings.  Kevin Gregg (2 ER on 2 hits) and John Grabow (3 ER on 4 hits and 1 walk) did not retire a single batter in the 8th inning.  Jeff Baker had 3 hits and an RBI in the loss.

Saturday 9/5 – Cubs 5, Mets 3. Rich Harden picked up his 9th win of the season – 1 ER on 7 hits and 2 walks and 10 K’s in 5 innings.  Carlos Marmol picked up his 9th save and 5th straight save since being named the club’s closer.  Derrek Lee was the offensive hero – 3 for 4 with 2 home runs, 3 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.

Sunday 9/6 – Mets 4, Cubs 2.  Randy Wells 1 ER on 7 hits and no walks over 6 innings.  Kevin Gregg was awful in relief – 2 ER on 3 hits and 1 walk in just 2/3 of an inning.  Cubs manage just 6 hits and 2 walks.  Geovany Soto had 2 hits and 2 RBI’s in the loss.

Cubs are 68-67 and they trail the Cardinals by 11.5 games in the NL Central and the Rockies by 8 games in the NL Wild Card race.

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