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Poor, Poor, Pitiful Thee

[February 10th] -- Well, that didn't take long. As the two sides packed up their charts and paperwork yesterday, and threw away their empty Evian water bottles, head arbiter Richard Bloch smiled and said, "Thank you gentleman. We'll inform you of our decision by Saturday."

He couldn't wait until then. He just had to wait until he could stop laughing.

For the second time in three tries, the team won and the player lost. I don't think it was ever in doubt. There is nothing in Alfonso Soriano's statistical history that would justify a salary of $12 million dollars. Sure, he hit 36 homers last season, but the great majority of them came in Texas' home park, which has dimensions only slightly larger than the little league field across the street. Sure, he leads all second baseman in homers over the past five years, but he also leads them in errors. Soriano has made 109 errors since 2002; Jeff Kent and Ray Durham are tied for second for the second most with 59.

What worries me the most is that Soriano believes he is worth the $12 million, and might let the "loss of face" effect his play this season. In his mind, he wasn't asking for more than he was worth; he was asking for what he was worth. History is replete with players who "phoned in" their effort after being beaten at the arbiters table.

I'm sure that the Nationals dissected Soriano like a frog in a biology tray. By the time it was all over, he probably wondered why he was even playing the game of baseball. Now, a day removed from the process, he is likely doubly angry; angry for the way the team treated him and angry that the way the team treated him led to his losing the $2 million, money that he believes he deserved.

In an interview with Florida Today, Bowden indicated that Jose Vidro was the team's second baseman, and that his talents and abilities didn't translate to his playing anywhere else. "If he's healthy, he plays second" said a very firm Bowden this morning.

So, let's recap. The Nationals have a second baseman who they want to play a position that he's never played. They have a player who is going to be a free agent at the end of the year, and in hopes of signing him to a long-term contract before then, spent an hour telling him to his face that he compared favorably to Mario Mendoza. Soriano believes he is worth $12 million and the Nationals are the reason he didn't get all of his money. And he vows never to play in the National League after this year.

Did I miss anything?

Soriano's fat salary and the fact that he is a free agent after this season combine to make him virtually untradable. He will be a poison in the clubhouse this season and then he will be gone. This was dumb trade by a very dumb GM. Selig hired Bowden because he knew he would wreck the team just like he wrecked the Reds.
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