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Who Will Be Catching For The 2008 Chicago Cubs?

Jason Kendall made headlines in Chicago this past week claiming he would like to re-sign with the Cubs following the 2007 season:

" I love it here. How could you not love playing in Chicago? It's awesome,'' said Kendall, who actually was booed in his first game as a Cub after losing a foul pop."

The Cubs acquired Kendall from the Athletics this past July when the Rob Bowen experiment failed.  Bowen of course was traded for Michael Barrett in a move likely caused by Barrett's altercation with Carlos Zambrano.

That's three different starting catchers for the Cubs this season who combined have yielded a .651 OPS; the second worst mark in the National League.

Jim Hendry has done his fair share of wheeling and dealing this summer looking for an offensive catcher to replace Barrett, but the answer may have been within the system the entire time.

Geovany Soto is a 24-year old catcher in the Cubs organization who had just come off a .269/.351/.383 Triple-A season before the year began.  That line certainly doesn't look awful coming from a catcher with a reputation of having a strong arm, but when you consider this was all done in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League, you start getting the idea Soto's future might be suited in a limited role.

He's exploded this season however, hitting .349/.418/.648 with 26 home runs in 385 Triple-A at-bats; his home run total is a career high by a whopping 20 dingers.  His wOBA of .444 leads all PCL players.

Was it really necessary for the Cubs to acquire both Bowen and Kendall when the 24-year Soto is having quite a season.  Kevin Goldstein certainly didn't think so; here's what he wrote in his Monday Morning Ten Pack back in July:

It's probably wrong to criticize the Cubs at this point, as they've turned this around 180 degrees from their awful start and now sit just a half-game out of both the National League Central and NL wild card races. Yet, here I go--Jason Kendall still stinks, Koyie Hill is hitting an unacceptable on any level .163/233/.288, and yet Geovany Soto is left rotting away in Iowa. It makes no sense. Soto went deep on both Friday and Saturday, giving him home runs in four of his last five games, and even with an 0-for-5 night on Sunday, he sits at .335/.408/.602 in 79 games for Iowa. Even those who bleed Cubbie blue should be having a hard time rationalizing why he's stuck at Triple-A, and why the Cubs even traded anything at all away for Kendall in the first place.

Is it just me or does this seem so Cub-like?  

Second baseman Eric Patterson, a PECOTA favorite, is playing very well in Triple-A hitting .297/.362/.455.  He's blocked by Mark DeRosa and the remainder of his three-year deal.

Felix Pie is blocked by Jacque Jones.  Cliff Floyd is chosen over Matt Murton.

The Cubs are developing a pattern of going with the seasoned veteran despite the fact better and cheaper solutions may be available within the system.  Perhaps the team hasn't gotten over Corey Patterson's Cub experience just yet.

Jason Kendall will certainly be considered as a possible solution next season for the Cubs.  He's hit much better than he did in Oakland since joining Chicago hitting .288/.381/.390 in 146 at-bats, but his .771 OPS isn't anything special.

Even if the Cubs consider another to be free agent such as Paul Lo Duca or Jorge Posada, the idea of saving your money and going with the in house solution sounds better.

I'm jumping on the Geovany Soto bandwagon and I hope Jim Hendry follows me this winter.