The Tao of Soto

**ORIGINAL POSTED DATE 9/06/12**

In the days leading up to this year’s non-waiver trade deadline, Ranger fans anxiously anticipated (and in many instances wildly speculated) who the team might acquire for this season’s stretch drive.  A variety of names were tossed around, most of whom were fairly well-known to even the most casual observer.  But one name you never saw mentioned before the deadline was that of a weak-hitting catcher from one of the worst teams in the National League: Geovany Soto.

Yet he was one of the two players Texas traded for (in separate transactions) on July 31, along with his Chicago Cubs battery mate, Ryan Dempster.  While Dempster led his league in ERA at the time of the trade, generating at least a fair amount of excitement, Soto really had no notable bullet points on his résumé, other than a long-forgotten Rookie of the Year award.  Soto’s batting average in 2012 for the Cubs was a microscopic .199, below the dreaded “Mendoza Line,” and he had only managed to hit six home runs playing in one of baseball’s most HR-friendly parks.

Although his acquisition puzzled (if not actively irritated) many Ranger fans, it should be clearly understood by now that to question the personnel moves of Jon Daniels is a foolhardy endeavor bordering on outright heresy.  And though some of Soto’s more high-profile stats since becoming a Ranger don’t show much obvious improvement over his performance with the Cubs, he’s definitely made a positive impact so far in many other ways.

Perhaps no other single contribution Soto has made to this team is more important than his work with Yu Darvish.  Prior to Soto’s acquisition on July 31, Yu had lost three of his previous four starts, which would extend to a 1-4 stretch (one no decision) with Napoli remaining behind the plate for Yu’s first two August starts.  During those six starts before Soto’s first game catching Yu, the numbers were beyond ugly (24 walks in 30 innings and an ERA of 7.09).

Since then, Soto has been behind the plate for all four of Yu’s subsequent starts, and the results have been nothing short of spectacular.  Yu has gone 3-1 (the only loss being a well-pitched game in a 3-2 defeat) with only nine walks in 27.2 innings and a 2.98 ERA.  This isn’t to suggest that Soto is solely responsible for Yu’s marvelous turnaround, but it seems quite apparent that he is largely responsible for it.

And while he hasn’t revived his bat to its Rookie of the Year form, Soto has managed to increase his batting average and has even exceeded his RBI total from 52 games this season as a Cub in less than half that many (25) as a Ranger.  Even more noteworthy is that Soto’s offensive contributions for Texas have been quite timely, such as a three-run homer that really jump-started the Rangers’ offense in Yu’s latest win, where he took a perfect game into the 6th inning against the Royals.

Soto’s unlikely to ever be an MVP candidate or a perennial All-Star, but he’s already proven to be yet another in a seemingly endless series of brilliant personnel moves by Jon Daniels.

 
Bob Bland is a Staff Writer for ShutDownInning. He can be reached at Bob.Bland@ShutDownInning.com or on Twitter @SDIBob.
Bob Bland

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