Is Epstein Already Selling Alfonso Soriano?


The Chicago Cubs front office has undergone sweeping changes throughout the past two weeks. With President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, General Manager Jed Hoyer, and Jason McLeod now in place as the brain-trust of the Cubs’ front office, the Cubs’ roster is next in line for sweeping changes. The World Series will conclude tonight, and after the final out is recorded, the focus for Epstein and company will be how to improve a team that lost 90+ games last season.

The first order of business for Epstein and the rest of the Cubs’ front office will be determining whether or not Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena return next season to the Cubs. Ramirez, who publicly voiced his displeasure with the Cubs’ front office during the latter portions of the season, told ESPN Chicago’s Bruce Levine that he likes the fact that the Cubs brought in Epstein, and is open to returning to the Cubs in 2012. Meanwhile, Carlos Pena is a fan of Epstein’s, and the two have some level of respect for one another considering Pena was with the Red Sox in 2006. Ryan Dempster falls under the same category as Ramirez and Pena, but unlike the two, the decision to return will be solely on Dempster who holds a $14 million player option for the 2012 season.

While the decisions to bring back Ramirez or Pena will not be easy, Epstein is facing a much more difficult decision. That difficult decision would be deciding the fate of Alfonso Soriano. Towards the final months of the 2011 season, many reports surfaced suggesting that Soriano’s days with the Cubs organization are coming to an end.

There are 3 years, $54 million remaining on Soriano’s contract, and if the Cubs are going to move Soriano this winter, it is likely that the front office will have to be prepared to eat a significant portion of that contract. Epstein is no stranger to trading away veteran players with bloated contracts, with the trade of Manny Ramirez being one of his biggest successes. Epstein watched Soriano in his prime while the outfielder was with the New York Yankees and Texas Rangers, but having been from afar, Epstein believes there could still be some potential for Soriano.

“From afar he still brings a lot to the table,” Epstein said Wednesday on “The Waddle & Silvy Show” on ESPN 1000. “He had 26 bombs, and he is still a threat offensively.

“Yeah, there are other areas of the game where he hasn’t quite performed up to expectations the last few years. I think it’s the good quality of an organization to look at every player and ask how can we get the most out of this guy. And I look at Alfonso and I think there is still more in there.” ESPN Chicago

If Epstein has proved anything over his career, it is that he is one of the game’s most intelligent minds. This would be why I think that these comments made by Epstein is the beginning stages of a process that ends with Soriano no longer being with the Cubs’ organization. One of the basic rules of shopping a player is that you never actually admit that you are shopping said player. The Cubs have been burned by that rule in the past with the likes of Milton Bradley and Carlos Silva, and Epstein and Hoyer will likely take different approach then the one former General Manager Jim Hendry took while shopping both Bradley and Silva. The Cubs were so eager to trade Silva that no team took the bait and waited until the Cubs bit the bullet and released Silva.

However, saying things like “he still brings a lot to the table” and “there is still more in there” in regards to Soriano may be Epstein’s way of selling the veteran outfielder. Have the word put it out to other teams that you are not inclined to move Soriano and that he still is a valuable middle of the order run producer, and with Epstein’s reputation, there may be teams that believe Soriano can still be successful. Then, begin to develop a market for Soriano, and hopefully the Cubs will receive an offer that is better than what most baseball insiders currently expect. It sounds crazy and a tad optimistic, but if someone were to tell me in September that Epstein would be the top man in the Cubs’ front office come October, I would have thought they were crazy.

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Tags: Alfonso Soriano Aramis Ramirez Carlos Pena Carlos Silva Chicago Cubs Jason Mcleod Jed Hoyer Manny Ramirez Milton Bradley Ryan Dempster Theo Esptein

  • Professor P. B.

    CHICAGO CUBS radio/TV WGN employees are NOT the best source by which to discus Soriano, since they are missing these simple facts: Soriano ‘s RBI per at bat this year, despite batting near the bottom of the order, and early at the leadoff spot is superior to that of ARAM. Soriano 475 AB, 88 RBI = an RBI each 5.4 ABs, ARAM w/626 AB’s, 93 RBI an RBI Rate of 6.8. Home runs Soriano 26 in 475 AB = an HR each 18.4 AB, Aram, at 636 AB an HR each 23.8 AB. Soriano lifetime scores a run each 6.9 AB, Aram 8.5. Other lifetime stats are even better for Soriano and keep in mind he was seldom IN A POSITION TO BAT IN RUNS, after I suggested in August to MGN to move him up to 5th, and have Byrd bat behind him he batted in 26 runs in the last 27 games. While they were keeping records of it Soriano Led the Cubs, even when injured, in batted in the game winning run for 5 seasons. I was writing the same stats which Bill James made famous in grad school. Winning games is about runs batted in and scored, not about BA. At the top of the lineup OBA is important and when batting lead off scored 1.5 more runs thatn did Aram and Soriano lacked a power hitter batting behind him for protection. If he leaves the Cubs he hopefully will be with a team which understands math better than did the Cubs.

    Professor Emeritus Peter Bagnolo

  • Professor P. B.

    CHICAGO CUBS radio/TV WGN employees are NOT the best source by which to discus Soriano, since they are missing these simple facts: Soriano ‘s RBI per at bat this year, despite batting near the bottom of the order, and early at the leadoff spot is superior to that of ARAM. Soriano 475 AB, 88 RBI = an RBI each 5.4 ABs, ARAM w/626 AB’s, 93 RBI an RBI Rate of 6.8. Home runs Soriano 26 in 475 AB = an HR each 18.4 AB, Aram, at 636 AB an HR each 23.8 AB. Soriano lifetime scores a run each 6.9 AB, Aram 8.5. Other lifetime stats are even better for Soriano and keep in mind he was seldom IN A POSITION TO BAT IN RUNS, after I suggested in August to MGN to move him up to 5th, and have Byrd bat behind him he batted in 26 runs in the last 27 games. While they were keeping records of it Soriano Led the Cubs, even when injured, in batted in the game winning run for 5 seasons. I was writing the same stats which Bill James made famous in grad school. Winning games is about runs batted in and scored, not about BA. At the top of the lineup OBA is important and when batting lead off scored 1.5 more runs thatn did Aram and Soriano lacked a power hitter batting behind him for protection. If he leaves the Cubs he hopefully will be with a team which understands math better than did the Cubs.

    Professor Emeritus Peter Bagnolo

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  • greyone

    Thank you, I’ve been saying this for a couple of years now. When they dropped AS from lead-off, buried him in the basement, and essentially forgot about him his game began to decline, along with his interest. Even in games when the light-hitting Pena was out, did Soriano get a promotion to clean-up? Not a chance, Quade replaced him with that great feather-weight, Jeff Baker.

    I’ve often said, it’s a good thing Cub management (GM and field manager) don’t clean guns for a living, there’d be missing toes and feet everywhere.

  • greyone

    Thank you, I’ve been saying this for a couple of years now. When they dropped AS from lead-off, buried him in the basement, and essentially forgot about him his game began to decline, along with his interest. Even in games when the light-hitting Pena was out, did Soriano get a promotion to clean-up? Not a chance, Quade replaced him with that great feather-weight, Jeff Baker.

    I’ve often said, it’s a good thing Cub management (GM and field manager) don’t clean guns for a living, there’d be missing toes and feet everywhere.

  • Professor P. B.

    @greyone We chuckled at your gun cleaning comment. I did the math on constantly juggling the lineup, it is counter intuitive. It shoots the hell out of the laws of averages. You have to have a consistent lineup every day (with minor exceptions, here and there) or you miss the consistency of the team’s inevitable rhythm. The cubs don’t have the Yankees of the 1950′s where all 24 men later became regulars on other teams. Quadi was in WAY over his head. Having years of being in the game is far away from knowing how to do the simple math. It is almost as though Quadi and Kaplan never opened a math book in their lives. Epstein said a few days ago that he thought Soriano still had a lot to give the Cubs, so he would not rush into selling him. These guys still think that Steroids caused the home run record. Read my math on that story and most of my colleagues agree. When Ruth had his first 50+ HR years in ’20/’21 the two leagues hit 600 HRS. That level, because of the livelier balls, tested at several universities, closer fences , lower mound and again way livelier balls showed a stead rise with bubbles here and there for 90 years, and a few ears ago both leagues hit 5600+ HRS almost ten times what the hit in Ruth’s heyday, even then they hit 3 times as many as in Cob’s early years. The Radio commentators aren’t mathematical types, and are stubborn. Read my article : http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/6825316-steroids-do-not-cause-home-runs-redux

    It has been published on several science mags and a baseball online publication as well as several news sites and the NYT, you might like it. Thanks for the reply.

  • Professor P. B.

    @greyone We chuckled at your gun cleaning comment. I did the math on constantly juggling the lineup, it is counter intuitive. It shoots the hell out of the laws of averages. You have to have a consistent lineup every day (with minor exceptions, here and there) or you miss the consistency of the team’s inevitable rhythm. The cubs don’t have the Yankees of the 1950′s where all 24 men later became regulars on other teams. Quadi was in WAY over his head. Having years of being in the game is far away from knowing how to do the simple math. It is almost as though Quadi and Kaplan never opened a math book in their lives. Epstein said a few days ago that he thought Soriano still had a lot to give the Cubs, so he would not rush into selling him. These guys still think that Steroids caused the home run record. Read my math on that story and most of my colleagues agree. When Ruth had his first 50+ HR years in ’20/’21 the two leagues hit 600 HRS. That level, because of the livelier balls, tested at several universities, closer fences , lower mound and again way livelier balls showed a stead rise with bubbles here and there for 90 years, and a few ears ago both leagues hit 5600+ HRS almost ten times what the hit in Ruth’s heyday, even then they hit 3 times as many as in Cob’s early years. The Radio commentators aren’t mathematical types, and are stubborn. Read my article : http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/6825316-steroids-do-not-cause-home-runs-redux

    It has been published on several science mags and a baseball online publication as well as several news sites and the NYT, you might like it. Thanks for the reply.

  • shermap1

    I love the idea of praising Soriano rather than slamming him and publicly say he’s finished. What better way of luring another team into our devious plan!!!

  • shermap1

    I love the idea of praising Soriano rather than slamming him and publicly say he’s finished. What better way of luring another team into our devious plan!!!