Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals as champions of their respective leagues. The World Series was a good one which I felt the umpires did an excellent job. In the end, the Red Sox were able to win their first World Series at home since 1918. Congrats to Boston and their fans.
Now, it’s time to begin the off-season and it’s going to be an exciting one. Some of the big names in free agency are Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-soo Choo and Brian McCann. There are also several names being floated around already in trade rumors. The Angels’ Mark Trumbo, Dodgers’ Andre Ethier, Rays’ David Price and the Reds’ Brandon Phillips.
I really don’t see the Cubs making any major moves after any of those names as of today. The Cubs will probably have another season of spending on guys like Edwin Jackson or David DeJesus. I don’t see Theo & Co. trading the farm away for someone like David Price either. Instead, I think Rick Renteria will be the next manager and there will be a few minor moves after that, but nothing earth shattering.
There is also the issue of Jeff Samardzija. Do we sign a contact extension or do we go to arbitration? Or does he get traded? This is one player I will be watching closely.
I’m already looking forward to the winter meetings so I can learn what direction the Cubs will be heading this off-season.
I do this every year. I come up with a “TO DO LIST” for the Cubs. Each year, I am a little ambitious in my list. This year, will be somewhat similar. So, let’s do this!
1. The Cubs need to hire a new manager. Some of the names that have been floated around are Dave Martinez, Rick Renteria, A.J. Hinch, Mike Maddux and Manny Acta. I would prefer Mike Maddux, but I have a feeling the Cubs will go with Rick Renteria. Just think, we could have had Ryne Sandberg a couple of years ago, but Theo & Jed went with Dale Sveum. We see how that worked out!
2. The Cubs have a lot of holes on their roster. Free agency cannot fill all of them realistically. Yet, there are some potential moves that could happen.
Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-soo Choo are both viable options to sign and become our new leadoff hitter.
3. As much as I like Welington Castillo the idea of signing Brian McCann is enticing. His bat in the lineup as a catcher would be an upgrade. Yet, no matter if the Cubs make a big splash in free agency, we do not have the depth at pitching needed to compete with the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds in the NL Central at this point and time.
4. Trade options. Trading for David Price would cost the farm…..literally! But it is an option. Heck, trade Starlin Castro and Jorge Soler in a deal for him. I know it would take more than just those two, but it is a start. Don’t trade Javier Baez or Albert Almora though. Those two have too much talent to lose.
5. Stay patient and wait til our younger players arrive. Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant all have high ceilings and are not that far off from playing in the big leagues.
Basically, the Cubs have a lot of money available to spend. It’s hard to believe that the Cubs were 3rd in payroll in 2010 at just under $150 million. Since then the Cubs no longer have to pay the huge contracts for Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Silva, Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly and Derrek Lee. The farm system has been restocked with hitters at every level. Pitching is still a little bit thin, but it is improving. I truly believe the Cubs are not that far off from competing. But it’s going to take some work. The Cubs have too many holes to fill in free agency this off-season. I say let the young players earn their way to the big league roster and get their feet wet. Our infield could have Javier Baez at SS or 3B, Rizzo at 1B, Barney at 2B and Castro at SS or OF. The outfield could consist of Almora CF, Bryant LF or 3B and Soler in RF.
Whatever decisions are made I’m still a Cubs fan. First things first though. Let’s hire a manager. I want Maddux but am predicting Renteria.
It’s amazing how much a catcher can mean to a team. The Cubs used to have a decent hitting catcher in Michael Barrett, but he was definitely not liked by all his pitchers and wasn’t known for his defense. The Cubs used Barrett, Koyie Hill, Rob Bowen, Henry Blanco and Jason Kendall last season before the emergence of Geovany Soto in September. Since, then Soto has demonstrated the ability to hit with authority, play solid defense and have the respect of his pitchers. Those qualities put Soto into the All-Star game and have made him a fan favorite at the friednly confines known as Wrigley Field. He has played a grueling position this season including a lot of day games at home. He should immediately be mentioned as one of the top catchers in the National League and in my opinion, all of baseball. He’s only 25 years old, but acts like a 10 year veteran. He already has post-season experience, including a homerun, despite being a rookie. There is no doubt in my mind that he is quickly becoming a cornerstone for the Chicago Cubs.
Now, some of you may say that this is my Cubbie bias. Well, below I have stats of the every day starting catchers in the National League. Offense and defense. Compare the stats for yourself and come to your own conclusion.
As of today, 8/18/08, Soto is hitting .286 with 18 homers and 69 RBIs. Listed below are the guys that catch everyday in the National League. There are other players that don’t play consistently or play additional positions besides catcher that I decided not to mention. But here’s how Geo stacks up against other catchers in the National League.
First, I will start with offense. Brian McCann of the Atlanta Braves is probably the best hitting catcher batting .303 with 21 homers and 69 RBIs. Russell Martin of the L.A. Dodgers is batting .291 with 11 homers, 54 RBIs and 12 stolen bases. is hitting .284 with 9 homers and 68 RBIs. The Cardinals’ Yadier Molina is hitting .301 with 5 homers and 47 RBIs. Then there is the light hitting Jason Kendall of the Milwaukee Brewers. He’s only hitting .242 with 1 homer and 35 RBIs. Soto’s stats are solid and justify him being an All-Star this season.
Now for defense. Remember, I am comparing Soto to the everyday catchers from the National League only. Those guys are Jason Kendall of the Brewers, Bengie Molina of the Giants, Brian McCann of the Braves, Russell Martin of the Dodgers and
Jason Kendall is leading all catchers with just over 1000 innings played. Russell Maritn is second with 966.1 and Soto is third with 921.2. McCann is at 892.1, Bengie Molina is at 864 and Yadier Molina is at 860.1 innings played.
Soto has made the fewest errors with 4. Yadier Molina and Russell Martin each have 9 errors. Jason Kendall and Bengie Monia each have 5 errors. Brian McCann has committed 6 errors.
Jason Kendall has caught 42.5% of those attempting to steal a base. It’s by far the best percentage of any of these catchers. Yadier Molina is the catcher that has the fewest attempts of stolen bases and when players do try to run on him he’s thrown of 35.4% of them. Bengie Molina is next at 33.3%, followed by Soto at 29.3%, McCann at 21.9% and Martin at 19.4%. McCann has had the most attempted stolen bases on him with a total of 96.
The final defensive statistic that I want to take into consideration is CERA(Catcher’s earned-run average).
Russell Martin is the best with 3.67 followed by Soto at 3.75, Kendall at 3.88, McCann at 4.10, Yadier Molina at 4.14 and Bengie Molina at 4.21.
When looking at the overall offensive and defensive stats, I think Soto is the best catcher in the National League. He’s not the best hitter or the best defensive catcher, but his overall game makes him the best. He’s playing for a winning team, handling a veteran pitching staff as a rookie and slugging the crap out of the ball. This is not an insult to any of the other catchers. Kendall has never hit for power and now he doesn’t hit for much average. Brian McCann has a great bat but I look for him to eventually move to another position in the future. Probably, first or third base. Russell Martin is not as good defensively as Geo. Yadier Molina doesn’t slug the ball and drive in runs the way Soto does. Bengie Molina is almost 10 years older than Soto.
It should be obvious that Geovany Soto is going to be a perennial All-Star and one of the most important players for the Chicago Cubs over the next 5-10 years. He has a great relationship with the pitchers and other players on his team. He is well respected in the clubhouse and is already becoming a team leader. I look forward to watch his career progress.