Alfonso Soriano – who is now officially with the Cubs for the rest of the season – is in the midst of a good stretch. He hit seven homers in August, and his power looks as good as ever.
Unfortunately, his ability to get on base is as bad as its ever been, and his range in the outfield seems to decrease by the day. Everyone has tacitly acknowledged that Soriano’s future in Major League Baseball, if he is to have one, is going to be in the American League as a DH.
Well, everyone except Alfonso Soriano.
‘I don’t see myself as a DH,” Soriano, who will be 36 next season, said recently. “I haven’t thought about it because my legs have been feeling good, and I’ve made progress in left field.”
This is probably what you’d expect any proud player to say, even if he privately recognized his eroding defensive ability. But Soriano continued, and crossed over from understandably resolute to unintentionally hilarious.
‘‘But who knows? They have kids [in the minors], if they want to do something,” Soriano said. “If [the Cubs] don’t want to win next year, and they want to put a young team [and rebuild], next year I’ll be 36, and I want to win.
‘‘I want to be on a team that has a shot to make the playoffs. If it’s not here, and they want to trade me, they could trade me to a good team that has a chance to make the playoffs, so it’s good.”
Let’s be clear on something, Alfonso: if the Cubs trade you, it will have absolutely no bearing on their interest in competing in 2012. In fact, I’d argue that trading you makes it far more likely that the Cubs are going for it in 2012.
Soriano is a pleasant, affable guy. He works hard, despite what people might think as they watch him jogging in the outfield. He’s got life left in his bat. But he’s owed $18 million for the next three seasons and he cannot play below average defense in left field anymore. The Cubs simply can’t afford to go into 2012 – whether they’re rebuilding or not – with Soriano as the presumed starting left fielder.