also: the Unofficial Goatrider Stance on Banning commenters
Thank you Big League Stew for what should be the Official Picture of Goatriders
Don't Wake Daddy said it was "up to Bradley standards". Sweet Lou remarked that he himself, number 41, "was the calmest person around" after Z's public display. Ted Lilly and Ryan Dempster learned one of the basic tenets of Euchre, "Don't send a boy out to do a man's job!" Dempster merely tore off the front shield of the G Machine; Lilly merely got thrown out of a game. Points to both for their passion; but neither receive any points for panache.
Please don't misunderstand - I do not in the least way CONDONE Z's behavior yesterday. He will most certainly earn a lengthy in-school suspension; he will further muddy an already fluid roster situation; and his lack of participation in what I am guessing will be at least two starts will cost us at least one win. Piniella will have to press both Marshall and Wells in the starting roles, and probably will also have to bring someone else up from Des Moines for a spot start, all of which will over-burden a bullpen already containing the shit-tastic David Patton and the increasingly worthless Aaron Heilman. (thanks to Deadspin for the G abuse pic)
What's more, the play in question wasn't, in my opinion anyway, worth all the hysteria. I've seen at least 10 worse calls already this year. Nyjer Morgan is not many things, but he is quite speedy.
I think we were all hoping Senor Zambrano had matured and gotten past such churlish acts. In lieu of acquiring Certain Staff Ace Jake Peavy, we need Z to show some Positive Leadership, and I don't think THAT was how it was done.
It DID make it in the network nightly news, not to mention SportsCenter.
Now, on to banning:
Outside of malicious acts of spamming or frequent and willful inability to follow the brief, sketchy guidelines of behavior here on the Goat, we will never ban anyone merely for the act of voicing one's opinion. Squelching free speech is a douche-worthy act better left to pollyellons and other such Socialists.
That having been said, I came across a lot of flak when I dared make the statement that the Cute-n-cuddly Geo Soto has just been stabbin' us through the heart since he returned from the Beans-n-Rice Festival, a/k/a the World Baseball Classic. Some of it was somewhat reasoned, hey, if you want to hang the blame on his sporadic activity there, as the third catcher on a roster that barely calls for two. I merely point out that the sporadic activity did not seem to harm Yadier Molina, who also rode a lot of bench for Puerto Rico as the Formerly Swollen Pudge hogged the spotlight in a completely transparent MLB tryout. Not to mention the aforementioned Lilly, who literally gathered moss as less talented men than he got lit up for Our Team.
You want to stick up for our reigning Rookie of the Year? Once again, I implore you to Live in the Now, or alternatively, feel free to go out to a Baseball Reference to look up previous ROYs and consider their contribution in their second year and beyond. Being a ROY many times points to likely future success, but it is not guaranteed. Todd Hollandsworth was a ROY, for God's sake. Wasn't Ben Grieve? If anything, once you become a ROY, you have to worked harder, not less hard.
The point I want to make today, is simply, LEARN TO effin READ!! I never said I hated Soto, and I never said we needed to trade him, or release him, or give his spot to Three-Finger Hill or Beef Wellington on a permanent basis. What I HAVE said is, as more than a casual observer of both the Chicago Cubs and of Human Nature, that he is not working as hard, he has taken his role for granted, and he needs a serious attitude adjustment, now, if not sooner. As the catcher and a middle-of-the-order hitter, he occupies an oversized role in Our Future Success. He is not merely 1/25th or even 1/9th of this team - I would say closer to 1/4. In this day of age, a superior catcher gives his team a clear competitive advantage! I anoited him the Cubs MVP last year, over Clutchy and Mark DeRosa d/b/a the Second Coming!!
But this year, his league-worst OPS+ and GIDP, along with his 22% stolen-base prevention, is a major reason (nay, the biggest reason) why this team with the 3rd highest payroll in the major leagues is one game over .500. As I stated yesterday, this is a simple fact, and honestly, if you disagree with the previous sentence, then not only are you not watching the same ball games I am, you also cannot read and comprehend English.
And if you are a kool-aid drinking, non-reading, deluded sheep-bleating Cubbie Fan who simply CAN'T STAND IT when someone criticizes one of their heroes, well, we aren't gonna ban you, because that just starts a bad precedent. I would, though, ask (just this once, nicely), if it is you (and if your handle starts with the name of a large Asian country, yes, you are amongst them), if you do not want to read criticism of the Chicago Cubs, then go away. This little reststop is not for the likes of you.
For I will keep calling spades spades, I will call Geo Soto a listless, fat prima donna with a sense of entitlement, and I will swarm over him and anyone else that DARES to drag us down to yet another year of defeat and humiliation. And if you don't like it, then scoot out of here and go wack your willy over regression charts over at THT, or suckle at the milky blue teat over at BCB. And leave ME the f**k alone.
I am not going to elaborate; I trust you all will do it for me. But this team would be a lot better, instantly, if these five guys were either released or sent to Iowa, and replaced by the next best five guys we have in the farm system:
Geo Soto, Ryan Freel, Aaron Miles, Neal Cotts and David Patton.
Yeah, Soto. His OPS+ is the LOWEST of all NL regulars. He has grounded into nine double plays, which also leads the NL. He is slugging below .300. He could not be more fat, sassy, and entitled.
Send Soto to Iowa, Patton back to Colorado, release Freel and Cotts, and do what you can with Miles. Replace them with any five names you wish - Jeff Stevens, Mitch Atkins, Jake Fox, Wellington Castillo, and Andres Blanco - and we'll be instantly better. This cannot be argued, this is fact.
Whether or not this would be best in the long term, I personally feel it would. This portion, argue amongst yourselves (or agree amongst yourselves, if need be). But short term, Soto, Freel, Miles, Cotts and Patton are just KILLING us, and we just can't carry them, along with everyone else not named Lilly, Fukudome and Hill, who are slumping right now.
NO, NO, NO, no, no!! You're all doing it all wrong!!!
So, how are you all enjoying your Memorial Day weekend so far? (For Canucks such as Kurt, the fourth weekend in May here in America is set aside for...) Ok, Kurt is actually here somewhere in the lower 48, and of course he grew up in New York, and that's probably the last attempt at humor from me for the rest of this post, because this shit just ain't working. I came out here after the first 20 games, I think we were 11-9, and I pointed out that Geo Soto was fat and sassy, that Milton Bradley completely had his head stuck up his ass, and that Derrek Lee's best days are absolutely behind him, and you all flamed me up one side and down the other, leaving me with a nice charred crust with very little pink in the middle, because by gawd, it's only TWENTY games, give guys a chance, for cripes sake!!
Now, it's forty games in, we're 21-19, which means we've played .500 ball since that last post. I did what you said, I gave them a chance to work things out, and what's happened since?
- Geo Soto still ain't hit dick
- Milton Bradley is still pressing
- Derrek Lee is not only still struggling, but he's now doing it in the cleanup spot
- and, now, we've exposed Mike Fontenot for what HE is, useful as a backup, but not capable of hitting on an everyday basis
- and, as an added bonus, Ryan Theriot has gotten away from what HE does best (go to right field) and he's swinging for the fences, with the predictable result of a plummeting batting average, on-base percentage, and overall usefulness
- and, of course, Aramis Ramirez' shoulder is still fusing itself back into one piece
- and, we now have not one, but two useless utility men burning at-bats and butchering plays in the field. Sometimes, the Orioles aren't stupid, and I know pretty much the Cardinals aren't.
But what worries me the most is looking at Lou Piniella night after night. There is a noticeable cognitive difference in him from 2007 to today. His job is stressful - particularly when he has come so close twice, and have it all slip away so suddenly and completely. This job turns people. When Dusty Baker hit town, he was all California Cool. By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin. When Don Baylor hit town, he was all New Age Enthusiasm. By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin. When Jim Riggleman hit town, he acted like the slimy horndog he was. By his last year, he spoke and acted like someone was spiking him in the groin, which was probably somewhat based in reality, considering his typical nighttime activities. (When he and Mark Grace left town, it left a lot of dental hygenists and flight attendants in their mid-30s unfulfilled)
Now, Lou don't talk like he's in pain, but I have talked to people trained in diagnosing dementia, and they notice how he can't seem to put a coherent sentence together when he is asked a question. He is probably the most confused man in Chicago presently, and not only does that explain why Neal Cotts still has a job, it doesn't bode well for the immediate future of the Cubs. I have backed this man since day one, but I can no longer.
Hendry ain't gonna fire him, no way. But I don't believe Lou has an answer for 2009, and in the meantime, we are wasting some decent-to-good starting pitching. Man, I still think getting Jake Peavy would send a message, but Adrian Gonzalez would look a HELL of a lot better in pinstripes. Too bad he ain't available...
Chad Gaudin (0-2, 4.08 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (2-2, 4.98 ERA)
The Cubs are looking for a sweep, which has been rare this season, but totally doable against the lowly San Diego Padres. If you can believe it, the Cubs are only .5 games back of the Cardinals for the NL Central lead. Of course, the Brewers also share the lead, while the Cubs are tied with the Reds (Is that possible?). The Brewers and Cardinals are in action today, and they actually play each other this weekend.
This afternoon also marks the return of Chad Gaudin (or Mr. Crazy Bread Face) to Wrigley Field. Gaudin was terrible in Spring Training, but the Cubs might be able to use him now. At this point, I'm pretty sure I would rather have a veteran rather than David Patton.
Can we stop giving up 2-run home runs to Adrian Gonzalez in the first inning? That is getting a little crazy.
For the Cubs, Ryan Dempster takes the hill once again for the Cubs. He pitched against the Brewers last time out and gave up 5 runs (4 earned) in a loss. He still hasn't been as dominate as last year. At times he has looked solid, but he hasn't been commanding his pitches. His main problem is leaving balls up in the zone, which has been translating into balls that are hit hard. It would be really nice to see him turn in a nice string of starts.
Ryan Theriot - Who cares about two nights ago? An 0-for-5, no big deal. Now, last night, that was the real Theriot. He blasted two home runs and is well on his way to 20+. Theriot is slugging .480 this season. Now, I don't think he will keep slugging that high. But a .400 percentage would career-high for a full season.
Kosuke Fukudome - He might be this season's biggest surprise. He's currently riding a 6-game hitting streak.
Geovanny Soto - Soto hit some balls real hard last night, including his first home run of the season. His average is up to .193. Hopefully he is coming out of the slump, because the Cubs really could use it with Aramis Ramirez out for a while.
Derrek Lee - While Soto is up to .193, Lee has fallen to .194 on the season. Not to mention, he looks totally lost at the plate. I wouldn't be shocked if Lee didn't see some time on DL, or at least get a break to give Micah Hoffpauir a few ABs.
Mike Fontenot - Maybe the Cubs are lucky guys like Ryan Freel and Bobby Scales are on the roster, because Fontenot is back in a slump. He's 1-for-22 in his last 7 games.
The Cubs are primed for a sweep if they can get to Gaudin early, and keep the offense going. I really feel like Dempster was moved up on regular rest to face the worse lineup, so it should mean a Cubs victory (I hope).
Comcast SportsNet Chicago is reporting that Geovany Soto will miss 2-3 games due to his sore shoulder.
Heal up Geo! We're gonna need you this season.
- Soto is ROY, nothing else to report
- 2008 Season Recap: Geovany Soto
- The Merits of batting Soto 7th - or even 8th
I was in Puerto Rico in January, and I learned a few things about the inhabitants. They make any excuse to party, and by party, I mean all the chicks wear the tiniest, thinnest tank tops they can possibly stretch over their bodies, along with the tightest, shortest possible shorts, or perhaps just a skimpy two-piece bikini, or just plain old underwear, and go out in public, drink, and hang all over their thug-looking boyfriends out in the street. It's all about the sexy in teh PR.
So it was unsurprising that Geo Soto was benched in favor of the Ambiguous Pudge in the World Baseball Classic. I mean, Soto is about 5 or 6 times the ballplayer the Ambiguous Pudge iscurrently. But Pudgetrying to showcase himself for a big-league job is a much sexier story than a young all-star catcher doinghis job with quiet competence. And that might be somewhat to blame for the fact that the PR is out of the WBC, the weathered hull ofthe USA team still limps along in the WBC, and that Soto is back in Cubs camp where he belongs. He didn't get much play the past couple of weeks, and I for one could not possibly be happier.
Becausewe do not have the strong, rugged, and devastatingly virile Hank White around anymore. When Mr. Soto cannot answer the bell, we will be relying on eitherThree-Finger Hill or Gabor Bako.
This is why, when Big League Stew was presenting its thoughts about indispensable players the other day, and suggested that we couldleast afford to lose Carlos Marmol, I took the initiative to rebut,to state that THIS young man, Employee 18, our All-Star, Rookie-of-the-year,our middle-of-the-lineup hitter, is going to be counted on more heavily than any other Cub this year.
I mean, if Marmol goes down, we have Kevin.
If Soriano goes down, well...he's been down a LOT the past two years, and we've survived.
If Lee goes down, we got The Hoff.
If one of our starters goes down, we have Heilman in the short term (since Marshall officially claimed the last slot - congrats man!!) and in the long term, Ricketts is forced to make the Peavy trade after all.
If Ramirez goes down...we got some problems, but we can plug Corey Koskie in there, and....what's that? Oh. Maybe not.
It is perhaps a bad thing that we have become so reliant on a kid with so little experience, but as a team, the Cubs really enjoy only a couple of advantages. One is the starting staff, and the other is our catcher. If I can adopt that announcer's voice for a minute: In a world where catching is at an all time low, one man stands out above nearly all others! Geo! Soto! The...Cubs...Advantage!
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.
It would be nice to see the Cubs stay ahead of the curve and lock up Geovany Soto to a long-term deal. A catcher with his ability is hard to come by, where I would argue that he is the best all-around catcher in the game today. In my humble opinion, the cubs should lock-up what they've got right now and sign this kid through his arbitration years with options extending beyond then. The cubs aren't going to find a better catcher anytime soon, and there certainly isn't anyone presently in the system that I see coming to take his job anytime soon either. Instead avoid the arbitration hearings, the strong possibility that Soto could become a super-two arbitration candidate after 09, and just pay the kid what he deserves right now. At this point, giving Soto a 4 or 5 year deal makes sense, as the team would be effectively buying out his arbitration years possibly even his first year of free agency.
Soto is young, at 26, and has caught in only 500-600 games since 2003. Soto is a productive hitter batting near .300 with 20+ HR power while putting up 80+RBI's. He was the unanimous ROY last season earning all 1st place votes except for 1, the starting catcher on the NL All-Star team, and he finished 13th in NL MVP voting. I would argue that he made a strong case for winning the Silver Slugger Award as well as a Gold Glove to go with all the other awards he got. He had virtually identical numbers as McCann offensively, with McCann having a higher batting average. But I would argue even more strongly that he should have won the gold glove over Yadi. Yadi played in less games, had as many passed balls, made twice as many errors along with a lower fielding percentage, but he threw out runners attempting to steal at a better clip than Geo (35% vs 27%). Few players on any team, at any position, can boast being as talented of a player on both sides of the ball as Geovany Soto.
With 31 out of 32 first place votes, Geovany Soto was awarded the National League Rookie of the Year Award today. The single 1st place vote that he didn't receive went to Joey Votto of the Reds.
It's so rare for the Cubs to develop offensively talented players as it is, but Soto is the first home-grown catcher to have any success since the one-year wonder year of Rick Wilkins, and before him probably Randy Hundley. Seriously, when the best catcher of your team's history played in the years of the Great Depression, you know that you're long, loooong overdue.
Not only was Soto the best rookie in baseball this past season, but I won't be surprised to see him receive a few MVP votes as well. Certainly he has no chance of winning, but on the Cubs there was no single player who meant more to the team than Soto. It's hard enough for a catcher to call a good game and to be effective defensively, but Soto also put up some of the best offensive numbers of any catcher in baseball this past season. His OPS of .868 was second only to Atlanta's Brian McCann amongst catchers who had more than 500 plate appearances in '08.
Soto was also 4th among all catchers in fielding percentage in 2008, he gunned out roughly 26% of all attempted base stealers (putting him in the top 10), and his catcher ERA was the 3rd best in baseball.
I'm a bit of a baseball cynic, so I'm not willing to bet that Soto has an equally good - or better - 2009, but it would be hard to expect him to do worse. The Cubs are fortunate to have him for the next half decade, and I'm looking forward to seeing his accomplishments.
I mean, hey, it's like I said - the Cubs almost never develop a hitter, and they haven't developed a catcher since the dust bowl. Soto is special, 'nuff said.