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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.”

Oh, Alf.

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.

  • TWC

    I love that Soriano = gazelle picture.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Definitely one of my favorites.

  • durbo55

    I know the Cubs will have to eat ALOT of that salary if we do trade him but at this point its time to move on.  We have some young guys with some pop.  Colvin could hit just as many HR’s as Soriano and we can have him for many more years and he comes with a cheaper price tag.  Its not that I dont like what Soriano can do when it is hot, i just  don’t like seeing that price tag for what we get MOST of the season.  I really really hope to finally see some movement in this organization once we get the GM thing figured out.  I know me and many cubs fans were dissapointed in the lack of movement at both trade deadlines.

    • http://Bleachernation Bric

      Talk about unintentionally hilarious- “I know what Soriano can do when it gets hot” sounds disturbingly like “It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again”. After a second I realized youd were talking about the weather (not him) but it just reads kinda funny.

      • Nomar’s Left Glove

        That’s great, I read it the same way!

      • NyN

        We had a deal, Where’s my auto trader???? Daaaaang

  • Brian

    Clearly Soriano does not realize that the bleacher fans at Wrigley are nice to him most of the time. If he is traded he might obtain the Adam Dunn status of fan support.

  • Cubsfan17

    Shouldn’t the first sentence of the 4th paragraph say “Soriano, who will be “36” next season…” The horrific drop in skills makes me believe we are looking at a player closer to 40 than 35.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s hard to be certain, but, since his age has already been adjusted once, I reckon it’s pretty accurate now.

  • philoe beddoe

    at best… a platoon player in the National League….

    a great site that has probably been referrenced before on here(before my time) is Cot’s Baseball Contracts…every team, every payroll, every contract

    Alfonso gets a suite to himself on all roadtrips, and 4 premium tickets for every game, he also gets a $50,000 bonus if he wins a Gold Glove

    ahhh, I think the Cubs would have been safe to make that a 5 Billion dollar bonus and been just fine…

    probably worst contract signing of all time…that’s why we still don’t know who really did it….I have heard Hendry, Sam Zell, John McDonough, and Crane Kenney…I want to know who really did it!

  • Steve

    Just to play the devil’s advocate, his rngR is at. 5.0 this season (third lowest of his career), and his UZR/150 is at 6.0. Like it or not, Soriano is saving the Cubs 6 runs over 150 games. His inability to make a play is what kills him, not his range or his arm. his errR is and has always cost his team runs, but overall he isn’t as bad as he is perceived. Playing left field helps that. Back to your original point, if he thinks he’s a major contributor he’s officially lost it. His inability to get on base and drive in runs is detrimental to any team’s offense.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m just not a fan of advanced defensive metrics; they vary wildly from year to year, and few pass the “smell test.” I don’t want to sound like a dinosaur, but my eyes tell me there’s no chance Soriano is saving the Cubs runs over an average defensive left fielder. It’s just not possible.

      • Steve

        Sorry, but the stats don’t lie. I’m not saying he’s gold glove caliber, but his defense doesn’t cost his team any runs. I watch him enough to know he is a sub par defender, but he’s not a liability in left field.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          1 for 1 is a stat that doesn’t lie (of course, it doesn’t tell you if that “1” was a dribbler, a screaming liner, or a homer). Advanced defensive metrics might not “lie,” but until a more convincingly reliable set develops, I’ll continue to regard them with suspicion … especially when they say things like Alfonso Soriano’s presence in left field does not cost the Cubs runs. I’m generally a “stat guy,” but sometimes I just have to trust my eyes and my head.

          • Steve

            I feel like you’re confusing runs allowed with being a good defender. Just because a guy is a bad defender doesn’t mean he costs his team runs. UZR is quantitative not qualitative. Like I said, I’m playing the devil’s advocate. Given the choice, I’d prefer Soriano not be the Cubs’ everyday left fielder. Fangraphs has all kinds of good stuff on UZR and other advanced fielding metrics. For the longest time I thought it meant something completely different.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              The only way to distinguish good/bad defense from costing/not costing runs is luck. How could it be otherwise?

              (and I know you’re not saying it, but I’ve familiarized myself with UZR, among many other defensive metrics; I’ve studied it enough to know that a player’s UZR can fluctuate HUGELY year to year, whereas I don’t believe a player actually goes from being the best center fielder in the league one year, to a bottom third the next year, to the top again the next year, etc.)

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                What I mean is, if a metric evaluates only runs allowed (which doesn’t qualitatively evaluate that player’s defensive ability), then what good is it?

                • awesome

                  agree. stats don’t show everything, he is worse than he’s perceived to be. the eye test is the best test to go on. I’ve seen him play a lot, he’s brutal. besides the eye test, many BB experts, players, coaches, managers, have said he never was a good defensive player, anywhere. 2 scouts said he wasn’t a baseball player, he was a guy who hit a BB far.

                • Steve

                  It feeds the need to put a number on something. What matters most? Production. How is production measured? Numbers. Great talk Brett. Hope I didn’t offend you with the fangraphs reference, that was not my intention. Keep up the great work!

            • hardtop

              His errors, miscues, bad judgement, poor speed, and off throws have absolutely cost the cubs runs this year and in the past. I’ve seen it with my own two eyes on more occasions than I’d care to recall. Numbers are great, but its a fact. That said, I dont think he’s been that bad this year… compared to others on one of the leagues worst defenses.

              • Steve

                Yes, those thing have cost the team runs, but his range and arm have saved the team runs. I’m not saying he’s a good defender, I’m just saying the statistics prove he isn’t as atrocious as he is made out to be.

  • Steve

    Ummmm…hey, Alf…I’m sure the Cubs actually wanted to win THIS YEAR. YOU are part of the problem! A “winning” team next year? Trade you there? W….O….W. There’s a reason other teams are winning: you, Mr. Underachiever, are not part of those teams. I have a better idea. How about you PRO-FUKING-DUCE next year, and make the team that’s paying you ridiculous money a winner? Shit!

  • Caleb

    What? You’re suggesting that going younger could make us more competitive? But Fons makes 18 mil a year!! He is, thus by definition, awesome. Plus, his legs feel stronger.

    • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

      Yeah, Ace, when was the last time you felt Fonsie’s legs????

  • RY

    he may be a nice guy and i guess he works hard sometimes, but he is about as dumb as a fencepost.

  • Dick

    Does this tell you about the perils of giving a player over 30 a long term contract? If the Cubs talk about giving Pujols a 10 year contract, they should get a picture of the hobbling Soriano in their minds.

  • Doctor_Blair

    Would love to see him as DH next year….

  • Toosh

    No DH in the N.L. Hopefully ever.

  • Fishin Phil

    Well, at least he quit doing that ridiculous hop!

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