Results tagged ‘ Soto ’

Back to it: Cubs acquire Kevin Gregg

There’s no slowing down in baseball’s off-season: General manager Jim Hendry has been working the phone for a couple weeks coming out of the team’s organizational meetings, and he made his first major move today by picking up Marlins right-handed reliever Kevin Gregg for hard-throwing prospect Jose Ceda.

Gregg is a 6-6, 238-pound flame-thrower, who has been effective against both left- and right-handed batters. With the Marlins in 2007 and 2008, Gregg pitched in several late-inning roles, including closer. He features a mid- to high-90s fastball and a splitter.

More updates to come

Thanks to all of you who have stuck with the Vine Line blog during the off-season. We’ll be updating regularly over the coming months, including with updates on the magazine as some of you have requested.

In the coming days, look for extended comments on Geovany Soto and Lou Piniella on their awards as well as the year ahead.

A season of small tweaks and big results

Everyone in the front office was buzzing today after yesterday’s win over the Nationals put the team 30 games over .500, with the best record in the majors.

DeRo with homers in four straight games (and a career-high 18) … Geovany finding the bleachers for his 19th home run, tying a franchise record for a rookie catcher … Harden throwing 109 pitches over seven innings, allowing just a solo home run.

And perhaps topping it all was Kosuke slugging a pinch-hit, no-doubt home run down the rightfield line. He said after the game that what made him feel so good about the home run was how much it mattered to his teammates.

Interesting tidbit from Pat and Ron yesterday: Kosuke worked with Lou and hitting coach Gerald Perry on his swing this weekend. They recommended he spread his feet a little more so that he doesn’t have to take such a large stride for his swing. The hope was to help him shorten his swing. Sure enough, yesterday’s home run stroke on Steven Shell’s 2-0 pitch looked pretty compact …

Some around the office have argued that this team reminds them most of the 1984 Cubs. What do you think?

Tonight’s lineup

Soriano, LF
Theriot, SS
Lee, 1B
Ramirez, 3B
Edmonds, CF
DeRosa, 2B
Fukudome, RF
Soto, C
Lilly, LHP

Right-hander Jeff Karstens (2-2, 2.25 ERA) pitches for Pittsburgh. It’s the second time the Cubs will have faced Karstens since the Pirates acquired him from the Yankees in July. Let’s also hope this time is better than the first: Karstens threw six shutout innings Aug. 1 despite allowing nine baserunners.

Did you know?

Yesterday’s victory gave the Cubs eight straight series wins. …

The Cubs pitching staff became the first to 1,000 strikeouts on Saturday on Ryan Dempster’s second-inning strikeout. The team has led the majors in strikeouts for seven consecutive seasons (since 2001). …

The team’s +175 run differential is tops in the majors by over 60 runs.

14.9 miles per hour

Ever wonder how fast a catcher can run? Last night, Geovany Soto answered that question, circling the bases in just 16.5 seconds on an inside-the-park home run:

View Soto’s home run

Doesn’t 14.9 mph sound pretty fast for a guy who has been crouching behind the plate for 41 of the team’s 45 games? That’s probably a conservative estimate, too, as I didn’t have a way to add distance for taking wide turns around the bases.

It’s a pretty impressive speed even compared to world-class paces in the 100-meter dash: American sprinter Maurice Green averaged 22.8 mph on June 16, 1999, with his then-record time of 9.79 seconds. Consider that Green got to start off racing blocks, run straight ahead and sprint at least 10 meters less than Geovany did.

Of course, Ryan Dempster was there to congratulate Geovany in the dugout by asking, “Do you need oxygen?”

Vintage Edmonds

Though skeptics doubt the range Jim Edmonds has left in centerfield, he apparently still does have an incredible ability to track a ball, particularly over the last half-second of its flight.

Last night, he broke straight back for a ball hit deep over his head, then readjusted at the last second to turn and catch the flyball on his glove side. Check out the video if you missed it:

Jim Edmonds’ brilliant play in center

That makes a trifecta for phenomenal plays by Cubs’ centerfielders this season: Reed Johnson made the full-extension, diving catch into the left-center wall, and Felix Pie perfectly timed a leaping catch to rob Ken Griffey Jr. of his 598th home run. You can find videos of both of those catches by searching “Reed Johnson” and “Felix Pie” on MLB Video through the links above.

— Sean Ahmed

Next test: the Padres

More news and notes to come from a great weekend, but until then, here’s tonight’s lineup:

Soriano, LF
Theriot, SS

Lee, 1B

Ramirez, 3B

Fukudome, RF

Soto, C

DeRosa, 2B

Johnson, CF

Zambrano, RHP

Big Z was a late scratch from yesterday’s rain-delayed game, allowing him to start today. It was a big performance by Sean Gallagher to help the team win without using its ace. Soto has been hitting so well (.314, 6 HR) that he finds himself climbing the order.

Left-hander Randy Wolf starts for San Diego.