Geovany Soto is Fit Again and Other Bullets

One thing I really hate about this time of year? Every top play on every sports program is a dunk. Sigh. The dunk is, by definition, the easiest shot on the court. Yes, some of them look cool, and involve a high degree of difficulty in terms of getting yourself in position to dunk. But we’ve seen them all. End the love affair with the dunk.

  • Bruce Levine suggests that the Cubs’ payroll – currently around $110 to $114 million when you incorporate payments to players on the 40-man roster and certain medical replacement pay (this is just player payroll) – is about what it’s going to be when the team breaks camp, which sounds about right (depending on the Cubs’ success in landing one or more of the trio of Cuban players, and how their payments will be structured/considered for payroll purposes). That’s a marked drop from the $142 million payroll in 2010, and the $131 million payroll last year. I don’t think it’s a matter of the Cubs going cheap – it’s just a matter of reallocating resources, and patiently waiting for the right time to strike.
  • Levine also suggests that the problem in the Theo Epstein compensation dispute is Red Sox President Larry Lucchino. He wants blood.
  • Tony Campana really wants to make the Cubs out of Spring Training. He’s been working out in Arizona for months, and has put on 10 pounds of “good” muscle. “I’ve been in Arizona since Nov. 1 working out,” Campana said. “I kind of know how to go about doing what I need to do and what I need to get better at. Seeing major league pitching for the first time was something I really needed.”
  • Geovany Soto is also getting in shape this Winter, which, in the past, has proved to be a precursor to his intermittent good years. He looked good at CubsCon, and says he’s been working hard. “I already took my big step in 2009,” he said of a marked weight loss between 2009 and 2010. “I’m just trying to come to camp in the best shape I can. This off-season was great for me. I was training with my personal trainer. It really paid off. I feel absolutely amazing.”
  • Of the extreme spread between his arbitration ask and the Cubs’ offer, Matt Garza said what we were all thinking: “It’s been a business, it’s always going to be a business.” When it comes to players trying to earn as much as they can while they’re healthy and productive enough to do so, I have no beef. Get yours, guy. (But, yeah, objectively, your request was just too high ….)
  • Jayson Stark goes through the remaining DH options for the Tigers, and they are many. Stark doesn’t even mention Alfonso Soriano, so it’s easy to see why the Tigers aren’t interested unless they get him, virtually, for free.
  • According to Twins third baseman Danny Valencia, the Cubs have signed former Twins utility player Matt Tolbert. At 29, Tolbert has been on a backslide offensively for four years, and doesn’t offer much hope of a resurgence. But he can play all over the infield, and offers – you guessed it – additional depth. Though Valencia didn’t say specifically, there is zero chance that the deal is not of the minor league variety.
  • More details on the Wrigleyville West project in Mesa.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

166 responses to “Geovany Soto is Fit Again and Other Bullets”

  1. CubFan Paul

    Brett is a show off ..he dunks all the time during pick-up games at the Y

    1. colocubfan

      Personal opinion-dunks should only count 1 point.

      1. cubs4life

        i like the sound of that rule…each dunk only counds for 1 point, just like a free throw. kinda ironic brett brought up the dunking thing, about three or so days ago i complained about sportscenter and their top plays. you wait to see the top plays of the day and you end up seeing 8 out of the 10 top plays are just a plain old dunk, maybe each was a hair different but ultumatly in the end, its just a dunk….. LAME!

  2. Kyle

    Oh man, the first “rededicated/best shape of his life/really focused on baseball” etc. stories of the year. Spring is just around the corner!

  3. rcleven

    Haven’t we heard that from Soto before? Show me don’t tell me.

    1. hansman1982

      see 2010 and 2008 for your proof of him working out in the offseason

      1. DocWimsey

        Except that Soto worked out in the other off-seasons, too.  People retroactively saw “out-of-shape” to explain performance afterwards.

        Of course, Soto’s bigger problem in 2009 might have been that he wasted a month of spring training on the WBC, where he did nothing but sit on the bench so that the Ballplayer Formerly Known as Pudge could play.

        1. Jim

          I haven’t heard anything about the WBC this year, I thought that tournament was every 3 years?

  4. cubincardinalland

    I hope Garza doesn’t go all the way through arbitration. Seen it before where they say it is business, but when they lose, the hurt feelings come out. And he will lose based on his offer, it is way over the market parameters for his service time.

    1. rcleven

      “it is way over the market parameters for his service time.”

      But not his skill set. He is only asking what his agent has told him he is worth.Kind of like a Realtor telling you what your house is worth, are you going to get asking price? Probably not.It sure lets you know want it will take to extend him thou.

  5. DocWimsey

    Yeah, I gotta agree: the correlation between the shape in which a player arrives and his performance in a season probably is about as good as the correlation between the position of Mars on 1 February and how they perform.

    That leads me to wonder how much of this “in shape” is really relevant to baseball.  It is, after all, a very specialized set of athletic skills, a few of which have to do much more with immediate hand-eye reflexes and/or fine muscle control rather than muscle tone or endurance.  Most of Soto’s physical problems have come from soft-tissue strains in his shoulders: and those might be the sorts of things where a lot of “in shape” stuff is actually counterproductive.

  6. rcleven

    Campana should be working on his ability to strike down on a pitch and his bunting skills.Learn to take advantage of his existing skill sets rather than putting on 10 pounds of muscle to hit it over the infield.

    1. MichiganGoat

      And hopefully increase his arm strength so he can actually throw to reach the cut off man or even challenge a runner who is tagging up or trying to push a double to a triple.

      1. rcleven

        As much as I don’t want to see Sroino starting , one thing he does well is stopping the runner from taking the extra base.

    2. DocWimsey

      But that’s Campana’s problem: batting eye is not part of his skill set, and very, very few players ever “learn” that.

      1. MichiganGoat

        Agreed, and adding muscle does not fix that.

  7. Shawn

    I don’t care if we have fat-Geo or skinny-Geo as long as he can hit around.270 with 18-25 HR’s and 70-85 RBI’s

  8. rcleven

    “But Boston president Larry Lucchino apparently has not gotten back the “substantial compensation” that he said he was promised to let Epstein join the Cubs.”

    What the heck was promised by who and when?

    1. Cheryl

      Good question! Crane???

  9. MichiganGoat

    Brett, might you just be jealous of dunking because you are a member of the lollipop guild?

  10. Cliffy

    Jason McLeod will be on AM 1000 with Bruce Levine live at 930 AM this morning might be worth a listen.

    1. NL_Cubs

      Thx for the heads-up Cliffy!

    2. Kyle

      Good stuff so far, though of course non-committal.

      Flat-out says Rizzo to LF is a non-starter, they see him as a 1b and only as a 1b.

  11. Stinky Pete

    So What if the Cubs decided they can’t get what they want for Garza and sign him to an extension. 5-6 years at what per? I would think it would have to be at least 12.

    1. Kyle

      He’s asking for $12.5 for his second arbitration year. He’s signaled very clearly that he doesn’t intend to take any sort of a discount. I’m guessing he’s going to want at least $18 per for a long-term extension.

    2. rcleven

      Look at what he is asking in arb. Should give you a good clue. Don’t think you will see 6 year offer. Maybe 4 at the most.

    3. hansman1982

      Garza would want something higher than what Danks got – 5/$65
      Cubs would want to pay him less than that, maybe 4/$48 could reach a middle ground of 5/$60M.
      Interesting side note on how poorly the White Sox are run…Danks will be receiving league minimum in 2012 and the remaining $65M will be spread out over the last 4 years. Sounds like something Hendry would do.

  12. Cubsin

    Larry Lucchino wants “substantial compensation” for Theo? Fine, send him a sumo wrestler.

    1. Tommy

      LOL! Nice, Cubsin!

  13. Cliffy

    The verbal body language that Jason McLeod displayed on Levines radio show this morning would indicate that the Cubs will go hard after Cespedes when he becomes available. I don’t expect much from the Cubs parent club this year but I can’t wait for spring training to get started. The future looks very bright.

    1. Toosh

      “verbal body language”?

      1. Cliffy

        “Verbal body language” paints a nice mental picture. Translation of that is I was reading between the lines of things he could not say.

      2. ferrets_bueller

        Sign language? Lmao.

      3. hansman1982

        his e’s sounded like they were flailing around excitedly.

        1. ferrets_bueller

          Hilarious mental picture.

  14. Packman711

    Boom shakalaka…?

  15. Katie

    I’ve said several times that Soto appeared to be in much better shape at Cubs Con. I hope it translates into better performance at and behind the dish.

    1. MichiganGoat

      Katie are you telling us that we can write that down?

      1. Katie

        Yeah, write it down punkasses! Soto looks good and I said it first. Now I will stamp my foot in consternation until you acknowledge meeeeeee!

        1. Tommy

          punkasses. teehee

          1. Katie

            Well, it was originally bitches but I didn’t think a website with mostly male posters would enjoy being called that.

            1. MichiganGoat

              Oh there are some b’s on here

  16. joe

    I don’t know if it was just Quade being crazy, but does anyone remember when he said Soto was the best base runner on the team? Good OBP skills and decent base runner maybe he should hit in the 2 hole in front of castro.

    1. rcleven

      Ya and look where his opinions got him.

  17. die hard

    Soto’s value will be tested this year with new staff….if he can get most out of them and still hit .250 with 15 HR and 75 rbi while throwing out 35% of runners then will be good year for him…..with Ramirez and Pena gone, team will look to him to be leader…one way to unleash this quality would be for Cubs let him call the game instead of Sveum doing so….I hate concentration loss when catchers like him forced to look into dugout each time for the signal…let him do so and if he steps up to the challenge the Cubs will be a better team.

  18. OHBearCub

    There is talk on other Rumors and Gossip sites that the Cubs are in talks with Yankee’s on a Phil Hughes for Ryan Dempster trade. We only have Dempster for a year and that’s only because he forced himself onto the team picking up his controlled option year. If we can throw Dempster to the Yanks get it done Theo. I would give up a prospect and send them something along with Dempster if that is what they are asking for. I don’t see a straight up trade happening. Dempster has “some” value. The Yankee’s like veterans that’s Dempster’s value that and he pitched for a terrible team. I belive if we can get Phil Hughes coming to the Cubs he will be much like Garza was last year. Transitioning from AL East to NL Central is going to make him look very good. Our rotation will improve greatly for 2012 and for the long term IMO. This would let us keep Garza and sign him to a reasonable number of years extension. Phil Hughes is under team control but not sure for how long. I think a move like this shores up our rotation for a longer period of time. Phil Hughes is a stud colt and I would love having him in our stable. If we pick up all 3 of the Cubans we will be in great shape for 2012 rebuilding. I was a nay sayer and a critic of some of Theo’s early moves. But I believe he has acquired some controllable talent this off season. If he gets the Cuban Threesome his off season would have to be considered one of the best in baseball from a total organization perspective. Maybe not the major league roster but the whole organization. We now have the sandwich pick from Pena resigning with the Marlins which will help. Getting Dempster’s salary off our books in 2012 also is a huge upside for the Cubs financially. No way does he stick after this year if in a Cubs uniform. Theo dealt Marshall for the same reason.

    1. MichiganGoat

      Can you provide a link? Would you say this is just fans talking or have actual large sites or journalist made reported this.

    2. MichiganGoat

      If true Dempster would have to waive his NTC, which I’m not sure if he would do- he loves Chicago.

      1. cubs4life

        when dempster picked up the option, does the option year come with the same NTC as the previous contract??

      2. rcleven

        He has said he will wave earlier this winter.

    3. Toosh

      Hughes can become a FA after the ’13 season.

  19. OHBearCub

    If we can trade Dumpster for Hughes I would be a lot happier with this rotation

    Garza
    Hughes
    Maholm

    Then a dog fight in Spring Training for the final two spots between everyone else that has been signed for the 4 and 5 spots. Let them force our new management to decide who wins those two jobs and which slots they fit into. As long as Coleman is not in the mix.

    1. Doc Evans

      So this “Hughes for Dempster” talk is just hypothetical, yes? I feel like I would have seen it reporoted somewhere, even on some of the back-alley Cubs blogs I read.

      **Editor’s Note: Bleacher Nation is not a back-alley blog! I love this site, very happy I found it!

      1. MichiganGoat

        It pure speculation has no validity or sources behind it, just the dreams of some fans that gets reported ny a blog that hugest mentioned on a great site.

        Thats not to say we shouldnt mention these rumors if we see them somewhere else, it’s a great thing about having a discussion boards of quality, connected members.

        1. Cubbiecop

          I would love for that trade to happen, but I think we would have better luck hearing a fart in the middle of a tornado in a trailer park full of antique china….

  20. OHBearCub

    Working on it my browser is locked. It was a Cubs Blog site. Will post that link asap.

  21. OHBearCub

    http://cubsrumorsandnews.blogspot.com/

    link to the post on Dempster for Hughes trade. This guy has had this in his blog for a week now.

    1. MichiganGoat

      Yeah but he doesn’t source where he’s hearing that, I just sent it out on twitter to see if anyone hears anything. Im sure if it was more than just a speculation-type rumor Brett would have mentioned it. I’ll let you know if I hear anything.

    2. LJ

      Your right he has had it on his link for a while, but you will notice that no other site has reported it as even a possibility. He always has some interest, if not creative suggestions, but you will find that he is wrong well over 75% of the time.

      1. MichiganGoat

        Yup, he seems to collect all the buzz and rumors that float around (which has real value) but he doesn’t seem to have inside knowledge or sources.

    3. Tommy

      I’m skeptical of any blogger that breaks news siting his ‘unnamed’ sources, but hey, anything is possible. I’ll believe that trade when I see it, though.

      Same blog also stated that the Cardinals had made a 6 year offer to Prince Fielder. That’s some pretty big news if it’s true, and for that site to be the only place you can find that factoid just adds to my skepticism.

      I do know that last summer, there was a lot of talk about the Yankees trading for Dempster to add him to the rotation, but Hughes name never came up back then from what I can remember. I think they were looking to use Dempster at the back end of a rotation including Hughes.

      If we could get Hughes for Dempster straight up, that would be awesome, but I just don’t see any way that would happen in my personal opinion. If they want Dempster and a prospect, it would most probably have to be a very low level prospect for Theo to pull the trigger. All in all – I think there’s very little chance that this is really even being discussed. If it does end up to be true, I’ll be adding that blog to my favorites. For now, I’ll keep my favorites list to one – Bleacher Nation!

    4. ferrets_bueller

      That site is, err, well….kind of a joke.

  22. OHBearCub

    Michigan,

    I would think that Dempster would approve a trade to the Yankee’s. Loving Chicago can’t replace a shot at WS ring. Dempster is going to pitch his last season in Chicago this year on a team that won’t win. He could go to the Yankee’s and potentially get a WS ring. I love the Cubs but selfishly if my career was in it’s sunset years I would want a WS ring if I could get one. Cubs are too far away for him to be part of a WS team. IMO we don’t want a pitcher we can’t control for a number of years with upside. Dempster being traded is huge upside with Phil Hughes in return even if we have to throw in a pospect to make that happen. Then maybe you don’t trade Garza. That would put a real nice foundation in place for us on our staff. I am willing to bet that Maholm pitches very well for the Cubs and will have numbers close to what Garza had last year. If we can score some runs for him he will look real good on paper and on the field.

    1. MichiganGoat

      I’m not sure if Hughes would be an upgrade, at least with Dempster we know we get close to 200 innings. Hughes hasn’t been healthy in years. I see Dempster as a trade deadline move if that and I’m not sure about that his priority is the comfort of his family.

  23. OHBearCub

    Hughes would be someone we would want to extend almost right away. Get both he and Garza done before the season starts. Or wait til this coming off season and get a deal done with him. controlling Hughes for 2012 and 2013 is the same as what we have with Garza right now. I say go for it. We are not going to be able to find all of our key players with 4 or 5 years of team control left. We don’t have a deep stable of minor league pitching. Hughes and Garza both are young enough to keep around for a while. Chicago is a big market club and needs to have a big market pitching staff by 2013. This would be a trade for Theo to really brag about. Plus he has never done business with Cashman and the Yankee’s. This would be a great way for these two guys to make nice and build a bridge from Chicago to New York IMO.

    1. MichiganGoat

      If Hughes has the potential to be worth an extension why would the Yankees want him gone in place of Dempster. The reason must be the Yankees now he cant stay healthy. He’s a big risk.

  24. OHBearCub

    Wasn’t aware of his reputation. Thanks for the input. I hit his site about 2 or 3 times a week to see what he has to say. I browse a lot of Cubs sites everyday.

    I would love it if he was right on this one though :)

  25. OHBearCub

    The Yankee’s are saying he is healthy as a mule.
    Moving from the AL East to NL Central same as Garza did. I think Hughes would be a huge upgrade over Dempster. We call him Dumpster at our house. We’ve kinda been over him for a while now. We means all the Cubs fans in our large family. I agree he does get his innings but I hate watching him pitch. I can almost predict when he is going to get bombed everytime out. He has once, maybe twice through the lineup stuff now at best. That’s perfect for the Yankee’s their bullpen can handle a starter like Dempster they have been doing it for years successfully.

    1. MichiganGoat

      If he’s healthy why trade him for one year of an aging pitcher who would likely have an increased ERA in the AL East. It doesn’t add up and looks less and less like a valid rumor.

  26. loyal100more

    ive heard that one of the rules of being named geovany is that your at least 20 pounds over weight so there maybe mafiosos looking for him right now.

  27. loyal100more

    hey lets all talk about another trade that will never happen, and get into a topic that has no lagit source. by the way i heard were signing prince fielder to a 1 year deal worth all the hotdogs he can eat.

    1. MichiganGoat

      Ah it’s a slow news day so we might as well discuss the merits of something that isn’t even valid

      1. loyal100more

        okay…lets start off by saying that fielder frequently eats 45 dogs per sitting so not sure were getting a great deal on this guy..but former team mate ryan braun says that he doesn’t use much mustard or sour kraut… so there is upside and thats what theo and jed like about this deal

        1. MichiganGoat

          Okay point proven its a silly discussion, but if something is actually reported on a Cubs news site (regardless of reputation of said site), having a discussion here makes sense where the best Cub fans can actually confirm/deny such reports.

          But a hot dog discussion is just silly for silly sake.

          1. Quintz

            Y’all should back off. Rosenbloom gets all his ideas for columns at that site.

          2. loyal100more

            okay im done with it… i kinda figured the hughes discussion was silly so i was just chiming in.

    2. Kansas Cubs Fan

      Thats cute.

      Fielder is a vegitarian.

      So they would have to be veggie dogs.

      1. loyal100more

        well that does certainly complicate any deal that was gonna happen.

      2. loyal100more

        man that guy must eat buckets of potatoes… thats the biggest vegitarian ive ever seen.

  28. loyal100more

    my source? oh i was in a hotdog chatroom so it has to be true!

  29. Tommy

    I don’t know. I don’t think Theo would be willing to trade 45 hot dogs per day for Fielder. This cuts down on club revenue to be spent other places that are much more needed, say, middle relief or concessions. I do think that he’d be willing to go 25 hot dogs per day, with possibly some condiment laden incentives IF, and only if, he were willing to waive a no trade clause.

    All in all though, I don’t see any way that the Cubs give up 45 dogs (assuming you’re discussing the all beef variety) for ANY 1B, especially one that has shown that it is well within his ability to eat the entire 45 dogs every sitting. No way this deal happens at that price. No way.

    1. loyal100more

      it is an uphill battle but one i feel the FO will get done. also this source is telling me that were trading soriano for 100 barrels of relish!

  30. loyal100more

    also prince has been quoted saying”the hotdogs in texas are thicker and are made with 100% beef…umm!” so we just might be entering a bidding war with texas