This morning, we have a new cause for Cubbie freak out. It's not a goat or a superstitious thing. At the very least, we give it credit for being tangentially related to the game of baseball. It is Geovany Soto's waistline -- is it getting bigger? And how soon should we go crazy? These are the vital questions of our age.
Phil Rogers has the sneaky news this morning: After Soto returned from the World Baseball Classic, some "eyebrows were raised." Geo needed a quick stint on the Biggest Loser. He looked heavier. Out of shape. A little tubby. You get the idea.
Rogers doesn't name these eyebrows -- we're picturing some big furry buggers, like Andy Rooney's -- but he does have this:
As much as any of his teammates, Soto was responsible for the Cubs' 97-victory season and cruise into the playoffs. He did a great job behind the plate while hitting .285 with 23 homers to earn Rookie of the Year honors. There were some eyebrows raised when Soto returned from a stint with Puerto Rico's team in the World Baseball Classic a few pounds heavier. Was he a candidate for the dreaded sophomore slump?
Rogers rightly corrects the notion, saying Soto is the real deal, he's no fluke, and so on. And he's right. Soto is the real deal. But even if he did put on a bit of weight in the offseason, does it matter? Soto isn't Andruw Jones. His baseball value isn't tied up in how fast he can run or how quick of a jump he can get in the outfield. I'm pretty sure Lou Piniella isn't going to look to Soto to steal bases this season. A slightly heavier Geovany Soto would still be theoretically able to crush a baseball and to crouch behind the plate for 160 pitches a game. If so, no problems.
In the end, Geo will be all right. That offseason weight will probably melt off in a few weeks anyway. It's hot under the catcher's gear, you know? A few extra tubs of Haagan Daas are no match for polyester in the summer.
Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger who wishes he was this confident about his own weight. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, eamonnbrennan.com. Follow him on Twitter.