March 20, 2006

The Soriano Saga

Excellent piece in today's WaPo that fills in the backstory on the Alfonso Soriano deal. It's a must-read for anyone not familiar with Soriano's history and the machinations surrounding the deal that sent him from Texas to DC. It's also the rare story that makes everyone involved look simultaneously sympathetic and incompetent.

Trader Jim gets justifiably flayed for his desperation to make a "splashy" deal at any cost. The Rangers screwed us by refusing permission for the Nats to speak to Soriano before the trade, but that should have been a huge red flag. It seems everyone involved, including Cap'n Hook, was seduced by Alfonso's undeniable offensive gifts.

Those same gifts have made Soriano indifferent to the fact that he's just a bad infielder. There's anecdotal evidence from his days in New York that he might be a very good outfielder. But conflicting reports from Texas suggest that Alf has concentration problems... and the last thing we need is a narcoleptic patrolling the canyons at RFK.

Who's to blame here? Everyone, with a slight edge going against the Nats because they ignored volumes of evidence that A-Sor was openly hostile to the idea of changing positions. Nevertheless, Alfonso has to move to the outfield. Having Alfonso replace Cristian Guzman at shortstop is a superficially attractive idea, because it allows us to jettison The Royce Clayton Experiment, but at this stage of his career Soriano has about as much experience at short as he does in left. And if he's a bad second baseman, there's no reason to think he won't be a worse shortstop.

I do feel bad for Soriano, he was by all accounts happy in Texas. (Who wouldn't be happy hitting in that park?) But I don't feel bad enough to excuse him from buckling down, cashing his $10M paycheck, and suffering through one season in the outfield before heading back to the American League to DH and boot routine grounders. It's time to cowboy up, A-Sor. If Michael Tucker heads north with a starting job, you will be held to account.

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