Would Denny McLain Have Played The Outfield?
[January 11th] -- Since news of the Alfonso Soriano trade shot across the wire services, there was a collective shaking of the head from within the beltway. When we did a little bit of research, we came to the conclusion that Soriano would be defeated by the expansiveness of RFK Stadium. His best attribute, it seemed, was not his talent, but the ballpark he played in.
Soriano is a band-box kind of player, something that is being noted by sportswriters across the country. John Donovan, writing for SI.com, lists Alfonso Soriano as one of five stars who's in for a long season. Says Donovan, "Going from a hitter's park in Texas to the wasteland of RFK Stadium won't be good for Soriano, who slugged only .374 away from Arlington last year and had an OPS nearly .400 points lower on the road. Add to that the switch in leagues and the uncertainty of exactly where he'll be playing -- the Nationals have him penciled into the outfield somewhere -- and Soriano could be in for a disappointing season."
How come the only person in the baseball world who believed that 1) Soriano would be able to hit at RFK and 2) he would willingly move to the outfield was the guy who traded for him, Nationals' general manager Jim Bowden? After more than a month of saying that Soriano would be a National in 2006, Bowden's trade inquiries are burning up his cell phone minutes big time. It's a buyers market right now for Alfonso Soriano, which means that (once again) the team will be taken advantage of.
The last Washington baseball trade this bad came during the 1970 World Series. Senators owner Bob Short traded starting shortstop Eddie Brinkman, starting third baseman Aurelio Rodriguez, #1 starter Joe Coleman and starting pitcher Jim Hannan for Denny McLain and reserves Elliot Maddox, Don Wert and Norm McRae. Short made this trade to worsen the team (and he succeeded) to reduce attendance in 1971 (he succeeded) so that he could move the team the following year (he succeeded).
Short meant to destroy the team. Bowden did it by accident.
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