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IT'S TIME

[March 20th] -- For the first time since December 7th, a definitive article has been written about the Alfonso Soriano fiasco, covering the moments leading up to the trade to tomorrow's probable showdown. Additionally, Thom Loverro wrote an insightful article for the Times, not quite as "meaty" as Sheinin's but just as powerful. Thank you, Dave Sheinin and Thom Loverro.

I have spent entirely too much time today thinking about Soriano and the team's likely actions, or reactions, to him. You know there is a problem when you're pondering all of the possible Soriano scenarios in your head during a moment of silence in church.

Dave Sheinin reports that Soriano (tied with another player) has the worst fielding percentage of any second baseman with more than 650 + games since the Truman administration. He's not just sub-par defensively, he's as bad as you can be and still have a job playing baseball. Can the Nationals survive with Alfonso Soriano at second base? Well, this spring is a microcosm of just what might happen if the team de-emphasizes defense. The Nationals have committed 35 errors in just 21 games. Their record is 5-15. Nationals pitchers have given up 22 unearned runs in 21 games, more than one per game. When your team is down 1-0 before a pitch is even thrown, it's going to be very hard to win games. Soriano playing second base would only add to the problem. And considering he's never played a regular season game in the outfield, he's probably going to hurt the Nationals' defensively in the outfield, at least in the short term.

I'm afraid that, under any scenario, Soriano will be a burden to the Nationals. Balls will flit under his glove at second base, balls will drop in front of him, and behind him, and to the side of him, in the outfield. He might have been more prepared with some practice, but the WBC took care of that. He'll strike out as often as Brad Wilkerson did, but won't get on base as much. RFK demands "small ball" and sterling defense as ingredients for success. Alfonso Soriano offers a porous glove and an "all or nothing" swing.

Dave Sheinin reports that Jim Bowden was willing to make the trade with the Texas Rangers on the condition of his talking to Soriano personally, to verify his willingness to move to the outfield. The Rangers refused, knowing that if Bowden talked to their second baseman, the deal would instantly fall apart. But Bowden sought the limelight in Dallas, wanted a "blockbuster" trade to his credit, and made the deal anyway. The Nationals are paying for his conceit these many months later.

I'm not worried that Alfonso Soriano will say no. I'm worried that he'll say yes. There is no question that any trade won't bring fair value in return, but at this point, "anything" is better than Soriano in the outfield. And that's all we'll get in trade: anything.

So, tell me Jim, was your "15 minutes of fame" worth the deconstruction of your team?


Comments:
When Bowden made the Soriano trade, he was one of the two finalists for the GM job in Boston (Jim Beattie being the other). With the Soriano trade, I believe it is very possible that Bowden was trying to make a big impression on those doing the hiring in Boston.
 
I agree 100%, Phil. If you bring in a "star," no one remembers who you traded for, or how lopsided the deal was.

Want proof? Omary Minaya traded Grady Sizemore, Jason Bay, Cliff Lee, Javier Vasquez, Chris Young, Cliff Floyd and a host of others during his tenure, but because they were "kids" when traded, no one associates them as former Expos.

The Nats don't have a single player today that was acquired in a trade for any of those guys.

Bowden understood that and was willing to give up almost anyone to be known as the guy who brought Soriano to D.C. (and likely for only one year)
 
I don't know --- I think he's worth 5 wins. Maybe the team should sign him to a "long term" contract on the basis that no one else will want him as a bad fielding second baseman next year.
 
I'd much rather have an outfield of Church - Watson - Guillen with Marlon Byrd as a 4th outfielder who gets 60 starts during the season.

Trade Soriano for prospects and call it good -- he's burned his bridges here in D.C.
 
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