What's Wrong With Geovany Soto?

2008 Rookie of the Year not looking the part in 2009

Geovany Soto is not hitting the ball. At all. A year after his breakout rookie campaign, in which he hit .285/.364/.504 with 23 home runs, Soto has fallen off a cliff. In 155 plate appearances, Soto has but one home run and only 27 hits; his splits are as ugly as they come .209/.335/.264.

Which, naturally, has Soto in a very bad mood: He asked Piniella for a one-on-one meeting to discuss why he hasn't been playing as much in recent games (hey Geo, here's a hint: because you're not very good at baseball right now). Meanwhile, Piniella is trying every little mental trick in the book to get Soto back on track:

Piniella said he wanted to "let this guy relax so when he gets back in he can start anew." So will Soto start Friday night in Cincinnati? "I don't know about my plan yet," he said. "My plans are very flexible."

"I'm interesting in winning baseball games, OK?" Piniella said. "And if he swings the bat, he'll play more than he has, no question. The object here is to put a team on the field that can win with consistency. But, obviously, Geo is my No. 1 catcher. I'm just giving him a nice, little mental break, and I probably should have done it sooner."

What's wrong with Soto? It seems to be a deadly combination of everything: injuries, mental block, and bad statistical luck. The injuries are well known: Soto has had issues with his shoulder all season, which seems to be affecting both his swing and his throws down to second, and though Soto has battled admirably through the injury, it still looks bad. Plus there's the mental block that Piniella seems to have identified; by all accounts, Soto seems to be pretty freaked out by his sophomore slump, and is pushing as hard as possible, maybe too hard, to figure it out.

Then there's the luck: Soto's BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is a mere .263 this year. It was .332 last season. So Soto is experiencing the same thing many hitters face at some point in their careers: bad contact, and bad luck.

All three have conspired to make the Cubs's catcher less of an asset and more of a liability in 2009. Let's see if Koyie Hill can do any better. We're not holding our breath.

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. 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.

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