You hear that sizzling?
Reminds me of when I was young and my mother used to make bacon on sunday mornings…
Bacon always tasted better when mom made it.
But I digress, that sound you hear certainly isn’t your mother whipping up a fresh pack of bacon. No… its the sound of Alfonso Soriano‘s ass hitting the grill. And boy, it sure is hot.
Burns twice as much when you don’t really see it coming either.
Soriano recognizes that after an extremely mediocre 2011 campaign, he needs to turn up his game. The fans may have been the first to make it public that they weren’t happy with his effort when they boo’ed him furiously during the Cubs Convention introductions this year. Posting a half decent .244/.289/.469 triple slash would be great if he was making 750K-1.5 million bucks a year but this is clearly not the case.
Soriano is a highly paid player and the fans want his stats to reflect that. They may be out of luck in this case as he’s starting to age. The man is 36 years old for crying out loud! He’s a fossil in the baseball world. Expect him to make an appearance in a museum near you very soon (unless you live near Cooperstown)
What the average baseball fan doesn’t understand is the kind of presence that Soriano brings to the club house. He’s a natural leader, a positive influence on the young up-and-coming players and was one of the only players to tell Carlos Zambrano off when he became a problem (that’s putting it lightly).
Is being a “positive” worth the salary yet? The answer is a very clear definitive no. If that were the case, we’d all be on an MLB roster sitting in the club house offering positive feedback to every member of the organization for millions of dollars.
I know what you’re thinking: if he’s playing like garbage and only really has an influence in the club house, then WHY on earth are the Cubs paying him so much?!
Enter a man named Jim Hendry. The former Cubs GM felt it necessary to give Soriano a massive 8 year $136 million contract… and a no trade clause. Notably, this was the largest contract in Cubs history.
Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket.
I could go on for days about how Hendry screwed the Cubs but I’d have to post that on a site that allows a massive amount of cursing and childish name calling. I’ll take the high road… this time.
Regardless, should we be mad that Soriano is getting paid all this money to under perform? Yes and no. Its not Soriano’s fault that he was once an extremely powerful hitter with an added touch of speed who could produce numbers that would warrant a massive contract. He’s just getting old and wearing out. Older guys never perform as well as they used to when they were young… its not rocket science.
The blame belongs to Jim Hendry and fans should be directing their boos to New York City (where he’s currently working for the Yankee’s organization).
Its a crummy situation, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
Soriano would have to approve a trade considering he has a no trade clause, and he’s made it public that he would do that for the betterment of the Cubs’ organization. Classy move. The issue is that no team wants to take on his behemoth contract. In order to make Soriano trade worthy, the Cubs would have to eat a massive portion of his salary – somewhere in the ballpark of 15 million bucks. We’ve already eaten enough salary getting rid of Zambrano…
Whats better? Eat the salary and move him for a few young guns or keep him in Chi-town?
For this year (considering that 2012 is essentially a write-off for the Cubs) it seems wise to keep him around as a mentor and guide for the younger guys who still have some pep in their step. This move really cant hurt the Cubs too much either considering their total team salary looks to be roughly $112 million this year; the lowest since 2007 (the year Soriano was signed… fancy that). A deeper look would tell you that the on field salary is a mere $90 million dollars and the rest comes from paying the rest of Carlos Pena‘s contract, the Zambrano move, paying the Cubs’ new brass, a brand new training facility in the Dominican Republic and various other incidental costs.
From a financial perspective, it makes sense to keep him in blue… for now.
And who knows! Maybe he can turn things around. Soriano, who was hitting cleanup in the batting order (4th for our casual baseball fans) did hit two home runs and a double in yesterdays Cactus league game against the Rockies. Not bad for a 36 year old.
He’ll be a reliable source of hits and runs next year, which will be valuable to an otherwise uncertain Cubs squad, but don’t expect his numbers to be bursting at the seams. Any improvement in his stats will most likely be seen as a cry to any AL team to pick him up as a DH.
Enjoy him while you can, because he wont be around forever.