MARINERS AND TIGERS AND ANGELS, OH MY!
[July 18th] -- Man, I love Alfonso Soriano, and I'm going to miss him. With every monster home run, with every runner he throws out at home plate, with every base he steals, he proves to me that he's one of just a handful of select players with "game-changing" talent. I am resigned to the fact that Soriano is going to be traded now. Last week, when he said that he wanted to remain in Washington, I thought that maybe, just maybe, something could be worked out. I really didn't believe that Soriano, no more than a two-month rental player, would bring enough in trade to warrant making the deal. However, after seeing what the Tigers et. al. are offering for the 30 year old, I don't see any way that Jim Bowden can justify hanging on to him. Speaking on ESPN News, Jayston Stark said that there are two groups of teams after Soriano's services. In the first group, there are six teams, all waiting for Bowden's asking price to go down, and in the second group, there is the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers, shut out of the post season for so many years, and the laughing-stock of baseball for almost as long, has the opportunity without Soriano to have one of those once-in-a-decade special seasons. With Soriano, the Tigers would have to be the team to beat in the World Series derby. Stark said that he's sure a deal can be worked out that would feature Tiger's pitching phenom Humberto Sanchez. Sanchez, 23, is 6'6" and 230 pounds. Prior to this season, his career minor league numbers were a very so-so 20-25, 4.73. This season, however, he has blossomed. Splitting time between 'AA' Erie and 'AAA' Toledo, Sanchez has a 10-5 record with 121 strikeouts in 113 innings. He had a dominating 1.76 ERA at Erie, and a still solid 3.19 ERA at Toledo. Some Detroit bloggers were blaming the jump in the ERA due a too-soon call up.
It'll be interesting to see how much more the Tigers will offer other than Sanchez. There are dozens of names being mentioned, some minor leaguers, and some currently on the Tigers. I've seen Craig Monroe's name (good), but never with Sanchez (bad). The worst "rumor" I've seen was Craig Monroe, Dmitri Young and a low-level minor leaguer for Soriano. Blah! Now, if it's Monroe, Young and Sanchez, pull the trigger Jimbo! Monroe is becoming a .280-20-80 outfielder, and he could replace Soriano nicely while Sanchez continues to get seasoning at New Orleans. Dmitri Young? No thanks. While several Tigers' blogs love Soriano, many are pleading with Detroit not to make the deal. Why? Because they are afraid that Sanchez is going to be the next "John Smoltz." From what I hear, he just may be. But, Tiger fans, I can guarantee you that Soriano won't be the next Doyle Alexander. He's a young 30, and will give you 30-30 numbers for another five or six years assuming you resign him. Hey, Tiger fans, listen up: You are where we were last December. We knew the name, we saw the stats. But to love Alfonso, you have to watch him play. He's amazing.
Don't you just love Ryan Zimmerman? I thought that double he hit in the 9th inning was gone (and probably would have been in a "real" baseball park), but that's not why I'm loving him so right now. He erased Endy Chavez' name from the team's record book. With that two-bagger, Zimmerman now holds the team record for longest rookie hitting streak at seventeen. I watched the Marlins' feed on MLB.tv tonight, and they were lamenting that, while they believed the Rookie-Of-The-Year award winner for 2006 was playing at Dolphin Stadium last night, it would probably be Zimmerman taking the award because "all of the Marlins rookies will split the vote," giving the Washington 3rd baseman the prize. I agree 100% How can you choose just one Marlin as their top rookie? Prince Fielder is still playing well, but I think his inconsistency could make for a long second-half.
Any chance that Alex Escobar is really this good? Any chance that Jim Bowden really did know what he was doing when he traded Jerry Owens to Chicago for Escobar in the fall of 2004? Zimmerman began the rally in the 9th with that double, but it was Escobar, batting because Nick Johnson was intentionally walked, drove in the winning run with a single up the middle. If he's really this good (not .480 good, just "not .240 bad"), then the Nats have yet another piece of the puzzle in place right now.
It was nice that the Nationals won, but I'd be a hypocrite if I said that this game mattered when yesterday's loss didn't.
NATS NOTES: We saw history last night. Both team's leadoff hitters hit first inning home runs for only the 28th team in major league history .... Nick Johnson got three more hits and is now batting .303 .... Jose Guillen threw one of the worst balls from the outfield I've ever seen last night. He was removed from the game shortly thereafter with a sore elbow. Wow, that's going to help move him in the next two weeks ... Austin Kearns got one hit and is now 1-27 with the Nationals. Don't sweat it; Zimmerman was 1-25 before his hitting streak began ... Robert Fick is beginning to prove himself a valuable reserve catcher. He got two hits (one a game tying homer) and blocked a ball with the bases loaded that could easily have allowed the go-ahead run to score ... Poor Mike O'Connor. It looks like the NL has figured out that weird motion of his. Too bad; I like the guy ... I thought long and hard about the "little league" home run the Nationals gave up last night, and whether I wanted to cover it. Nah. I don't ....
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