by user Andrewhintz
When the Washington Nationals took the field yesterday afternoon, Alfonso Soriano didn't go with them. When told it was left field or sit at home, Soriano opted for home, leaving Jim Bowden in quite the precarious situation. After trading Brad Wilkerson, Termel Sledge and Armando Galarraga for Soriano, Bowden's left now with essentially nothing. He has no centerfielder now that Wilkerson is gone, and he has no left fielder now that Soriano won't play the position. All Bowden has now is a malcontent who's trade value is at its lowest possible point.
And all we can do is hope Omar Minaya doesn't get tempted by that bargain basement price.
Soriano has been intriguing New York media for years. Since coming up as an everyday player for the New York Yankees in 2001, and exhibiting a rare blend of power and speed, many writers have fallen in love with the guy. Calling him anything from the next Hank Aaron to the next Joe Morgan, Soriano's talents were boasted during his years in pinstripes. And despite his many, many drawbacks, members of the assorted media have been calling for the Mets to trade for him ever since he left town in the A-Rod Deal of 2004. They wanted the Mets to trade Scott Kazmir for him, or Jose Reyes for him, or even David Wright for him. "These guys are unproven prospects!", they'd say. "Soriano will hit you forty homeruns and steal you forty bases! Will any of those guys do that?"
Now Soriano is riding the pine in Washington with the potential to land on the Inactive list, all because of his own ego and conceit.
While the Mets have an enormous hole at second base right now, especially with Kazuo Matsui out for who knows how long, trading for Alfonso Soriano seems like a sweet deal to most people who look at baseball from a one-dimensional perspective. But trading for him would be an even bigger mistake then letting Jose Valentin take over the position. Though Soriano will routinely go within the first two rounds of your fantasy draft, don't let that fool you into thinking the guy's any kind of elite ballplayer — especially if he would land in Shea.
If you can, take a look at Soriano's seasons with the Rangers — on first glance you'll see some nice numbers. Over his two years he averaged thirty-two homeruns, ninety runs and ninety-eight RBIs. Though he's not returned to his days of forty-plus steals, he still manages to swipe a base with regularity and the guy is definitely rarely caught. And Soriano managed to hit .270+, which while not that great, is not a bad average out of a second baseman.
But if you were to take a look at his numbers outside of Ameriquest Field, you may be surprised by what you see. In 2004, Soriano hit .244/.291/.444 on the road, though sixteen of his twenty-eight homeruns were hit there as well. In 2005, even his power was sapped however, as he managed to go a paltry .224/.265/.374, while hitting only eleven of his thirty-six homeruns outside the confines of Arlington. For a guy who's already averaging thirty-three walks to a whopping one-hundred and twenty-three strike outs, those numbers are scary. And not the good kind of scary.
Even if Soriano could hit, you have to ask yourself if this is the kind of player you're willing to take on. Soriano has shown that he's not willing to put the team first, regardless of how much the move will help both the team and himself. Despite the fact that he's had since the beginning of December to learn how to play left, he's opted to continue to play second all spring. Now, with only a handful of days left until the start of the season, Soriano is refusing to move.
Though the papers and talk radio will no doubt be demanding a trade for their former glory boy after this latest debacle, this is yet another time the Mets should cover their ears and continue to go about business. With Jeff Keppinger and Anderson Hernandez around, there is no need to panic — especially for an overpaid, impatient, self-centered defensive liability who would need to make the switch from AL to NL pitchers. There’s too much wrong and not enough right for Soriano to make sense.
Let the radio talk, let the writers write, and let the kids play ball. And we’ll see who’s playing in October.
Tue 03/21/06, 8:33 am EST