The merits on batting Soto 7th - or even 8th
Last season the Cubs were one of maybe five teams to get bonafide offensive output from the catcher's spot. Subsequently, there's going to be a fair amount of debate about where to bat Soto in 2009 and an argument can be made for a number of options.
2nd - Not really. But Soto does have a high enough OBP to bat even here. Last year he drew 62 walks in 556 plate appearances. That's an OBP of .364.
4th or 5th - On some teams with less offensive firepower than the Cubs, Soto might have the slugging ability to justify batting either cleanup or protection. He hit 23 homeruns last year and there's no reason to assume that he won't hit even more this year, apart from your typical concerns about how playing catcher grinds you down and can affect your power stroke.
7th - Based on Lou Piniella's early lineup projections, Soto may bat here. Rather than complain too much over sticking such a talented hitter so low in the order, consider the guys who'd be batting directly in front of him. In reverse order - Fukudome, Ramirez (or better yet, Lee), Bradley, Lee (or better yet, Ramirez). The lowest OBP of that whole lot last season was Fukudome's, who still got on base at a .359 clip despite forgetting how to hit for a quarter of the season. In other words, Soto would have a ton of chances to drive in runs from there.
8th - This is just a thought. These days, a lot of smart people would tell you to put your worst hitter here. On most teams that is the catcher, but in this case it's probably Theriot. Then again, there's another school of wisdom which states that teams might actually want to give their catchers fewer at bats over the course of the season to help prevent wear and tear. Regardless, the only reason I'm even suggesting it is because with perhaps Lee, Fukudome, and Theriot directly ahead of him, Soto would probably have a surprising number of RBI opportunities.
Hey, it makes about as much sense as Piniella saying that Soriano's like a second cleanup hitter if he's batting with Fukudome, Soto, and Theriot "ahead" of him with just the pitcher between them. As if a pitcher isn't inclined to ground into double plays, or more likely to face a situation with 2 outs. Anyway, I digress.