Since the conclusion of this afternoon's 13-8 Cub victory over the Pirates, I have been trying to think of something I could write that would be different than what I am sure you would read on most every other Cubs blog this evening. I can't come up with anything, so I'm just going to join the chorus:
LOU PINIELLA--SET GEOVANY SOTO FREE!
In case you missed the game or tonight's Sports Central show with David Kaplan on WGN Radio or the Jeff Dickerson program on WMVP (ESPN Radio) in Chicago, here is where the Soto love is coming from:
The big boy went 2-for-4 Friday, connecting for his third home run and raising his season average to .400 (14-for-35) with six RBI. He has contributed defensively as well--no passed balls and no throwing errors in 67 innings behind the plate.
Lou is not blind to what Soto has brought to the Cubs.
"This kid, he's played awfully well, both behind the plate and with the bat," Piniella said. "It's hard to come to the ballpark and not put his name in the lineup."
None of this is to say that Jason Kendall, who joined the team from Oakland on July 17th, has been a bust. Kendall is hitting .284 with a .376 on-base percentage as a Cub, and by all accounts, he is well regarded as a receiver by the Cub pitching staff.
Offensively, however, Kendall is completely without power (1 HR in 162 at-bats and a .377 slugging percentage). Defensively, he is challenged to say the least. Try just 2-of-51 base-stealers foiled; .46 passed balls and/or wild pitches allowed per game vs. .13 for Soto. (Soto has played in just 12 games as a Cub, so it's hardly a perfect comparison, but still...)
I'm glad the Cubs traded for Kendall and the improvement he has offered over what came immediately before him--Rob Bowen and Koyie Hill--is significant. But considering the holes in the 33-year-old Kendall's game and some of the Cubs' shortcomings as a team--e.g., pitchers who can't hold runners and an agonizingly inconsistent offense--I'm thinking that playing Soto more often can only help the Cub cause down the stretch.