Tag: Koyie Hill

Chicago Cubs 2011 Season Preview: Behind the Plate

Heading into the 2011 season, catcher is one of the last things that the Chicago Cubs will need to worry about, as long as Geovany Soto is lining up behind the dish.

Soto bounced back from a very poor sophomore season in 2010. After winning Rookie of the Year in 2008, Soto hit just .218 in 2009, with only 11 homers.

The 2010 season saw Soto bounce back from that sophomore slump, posting a .280 average and parking 17 big flies. 

Much of his success in 2010 can be traced back to his work off the field last winter. Soto showed up to spring training in much better shape than he had been playing in ’09. The addition of hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo also appeared to have a strong effect on Soto, as evident by his .280 average.

The biggest concern surrounding Soto is his health. While he was much better in the games he did appear in, the catcher from Puerto Rico still played in just 105 games, three more than that ’09 campaign.

That concern relates directly to the shoulder that gave Soto problems over the summer, particularly in August and September. He had surgery to fix pain in his AC joint, but was expected to be completely healthy by the beginning of January.

Cubs fans should pray for health for Soto, given the options—or lack thereof—behind him.

Koyie Hill has proven to be one of the more frustrating players in a Cubs uniform over the past few seasons, despite the fact that there are minimal expectations from the former Arizona Diamondback.

Hill is entering his fifth season in the Chicago organization, after hitting just .214 last season. While Hill is a serviceable catcher off the bench, mostly due to his glove and his ability to work with the pitchers, his bat has rendered him nearly useless when he is in the lineup.

If Hill should falter, Welington Castillo appears to be the only other option for Chicago behind Soto. Castillo is just 23, but has very little experience at the big league level. He played in 69 games with Triple-A Iowa in ’09, with 13 homers and 59 RBI. He recorded six hits in 21 at-bats with the Cubs, but is best known for the bat that seriously injured outfielder Tyler Colvin

Soto should once again prove to be one of the better backstops in the bigs in 2011, as long as he can stay on the field. If his health should become an issue again, the Cubs would be wise to seek an outside solution to back up Soto, offensively.  

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Chicago Cubs: Team’s Catchers Look To Build on 2010

There’s Always Next Year: Intro

With catcher arguably the most important position on the diamond, the Cubs seem to have found a solid foundation for the future—hopefully.

Geovany Soto proved that he certainly had the talent to repeat and even build upon his rookie campaign after that came into question in the 2009 season.

There is no doubt Soto can hit. The question for the upcoming season—and seasons beyond—is whether or not Soto can stay healthy. Catcher is no doubt the most physically taxing position to field, and the ability to stay healthy is always a crapshoot.

That said, Soto has run into injury problems of his own. He hurt his knee in August, and while he spent a short four days off the field, his ability to hit took a noticeable slide. Considering the pressure on the knees it takes from the catcher’s crouch, this could be a recurring problem. He also had season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder, but this should not be a problem in the future.

Besides the injuries that were dealt to the starting Cub catcher, Soto had a remarkable season at the plate. He hit for a .282 average on the year and improved his patience stats along the way, walking 16 percent of the time. He also showed his 2008 power wasn’t a fluke, as he hit for 17 home runs—five less than 2008, but with 176 less plate appearances, a result of Lou Piniella’s fascination with Koyie Hill.

Given increased playing time from new Cubs manager Mike Quade, look for Soto to continue improving his game with more and more major league experience (only two full years of ML service time).

Hill filled in quite a bit in Soto’s stead, as Piniella tried to incorporate him into the Cubs lineup, seeing him as a better receiver than Soto. The fact is that Hill was a huge detriment to the Cubs offense when he played. Hill hit for a terrible .214 batting average, and his .298 slugging percentage was a figure that reminded Cubs fans of Juan Pierre.

Striking out almost 30 percent of the time, Hill was just downright terrible at the plate. He only walked 15 times in 231 plate appearances, and three of those were intentional. The idea that Hill was just a Jason Kendall-type slap hitter is irrational. Hill hit for a below-average contact rate, and pitchers were not afraid to attack him, throwing an above-average number of first strikes.

Hill was essentially a replacement player, meaning you could find equal value out of the position from a typical Triple-A catcher.

Hill’s arbitration clock has hit three years, meaning that the Cubs may just decide to non-tender him and not give him a pay raise, meaning that they will simply cut ties with him without any penalty to the franchise.

Wellington Castillo would provide an ample backup if the Cubs were to non-tender Hill, as he showed he can essentially provide the same production at a cheaper cost.

Castillo has showed flashes of power in his minor league career and even at the major league level this past summer, smashing five extra base hits in 20 at-bats. His main fault at the plate is a glaring lack of patience, as he walked only 7.7 percent of the time this past summer between Triple-A Iowa and a short showing with the Major League club.

I think Castillo can provide a more than serviceable backup to Geovany Soto and a viable replacement option for Koyie Hill.


This article was featured on TheUnfortunateCubsFan.com

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Geovany Soto Out for Season: Chicago Cubs Glimpse Future at Catcher

Chicago Cubs catcher Geovany Soto will have season-ending surgery on his right shoulder, according to MLB.com. Soto, 27, was baseball’s best offensive catcher when healthy this year, and will be ready for spring training nest February. 

During the team’s final two weeks, however, backup Koyie Hill will see the bulk of the playing time, according to Cubs manager Mike Quade. Here enters the controversy.

Hill, 31, has been predictably abysmal this season. His somewhat overblown defensive prowess has never been enough to offset his offensive helplessness: Over the past two seasons, only two players (well-known stinkers Jeff Mathis and Willy Taveras) have amassed 450 or more plate appearances while hitting worse than Hill. 

In 2010, Hill’s numbers stand at .223/.251/.307. He has only one home run, and has struck out roughly eight times as often as he has walked.

Hill gained his role on the team somewhat strangely, by stepping into the team’s catching vacuum in 2007 and (essentially) getting very lucky. The team went 17-8 in Hill’s 25 starts that season, en route to a playoff berth. Thereafter, Hill gained the confidence of both Cubs manager Lou Piniella and the team’s front office.

It appears that Hill also has won over interim skipper Quade, but the real verdict will be revealed when the team breaks camp under a new regime next spring: By one or another mechanism, Hill must be released by the team this winter.

Aside from the fact that Hill, already arbitration eligible in 2010, could make more than $1 million next season, the Cubs need to take a more serious look at their top catching prospects.

Welington Castillo, 23, is a hulking right-handed hitter whom managerial front-runner Ryne Sandberg managed for each of the past three seasons. This year, Castillo has reached the big leagues, and has two doubles and a home run in just 12 plate appearances. 

Whether Castillo—whose only real tools are his offensive power and arm behind the plate—will be a long-term success as a major-league regular remains to be seen. After he posted a .498 slugging average at Triple-A Iowa this season, however, Castillo is clearly ready for the opportunity to play behind Soto.

To prove that readiness, however, Castillo will need a chance to show his stuff over the Cubs’ remaining 13 games. Quade‘s Q-rating with GM Jim Hendry may rise slightly if he continues to play Hill, but the Cubs will be in serious trouble again next season if Hill returns.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress