alfonso soriano hittingIf you missed it, we had a fresh BN Podcast episode yesterday. Consider un-missing it.

  • Alfonso Soriano is on fire over the last few games – he’s 10 for 14 with four homers and a walk, and he’s raised his OPS 53(!!!) points over those three games. This is a thing that he does, and is precisely the kind of stretch the Yankees were buying when they sent the Cubs Corey Black and some salary relief last month. No one in the Yankees’ organization, and no one with even a passing interest in the Cubs is surprised by this stretch. But don’t tell that to SportsCenter – no, I haven’t yet been able to extricate myself from its icy grip – which has gone all SORIANOCENTER this week. Odd … when Soriano was doing this with the middling Cubs, I never heard about it. Now that he’s doing it on the middling Yankees, you can’t miss it. Thank God Soriano wasn’t traded to the New York Jets or ESPN would have a six-truck crew following Soriano around the clock to offer breathless reports about his off-day preference for poly/cotton blend.
  • (That all said: I’m quite happy for Soriano, and believe he deserves all of the praise he is getting.)
  • Cubs relief prospect Armando Rivero is rocketing up the ladder after finally arriving in the States (he was a Cuban defector whom the Cubs signed in the offseason for $3.1 million). His recent stop in High-A lasted all of 3.1 innings, which was apparently enough time for the Cubs to know that he was ready for another challenge in AA (he’s striking guys out like it’s nothing). Rivero is 25 and believed to be fairly polished, so the rapid ascent was probably always the fingers-crossed plan. He could factor into the bullpen discussion as soon as next year.
  • Speaking of Rivero, Mark Gonzales writes about other Cuban efforts by the Cubs, and an increasing focus on international value. Patrick Mooney also discusses the Cubs’ international approach.
  • Tony Andracki writes about some of the top Cubs pitching prospects.
  • Minor league promotions continue to be all kinds of awesome: the Kane County Cougars are having another Star Wars Night on August 31. You can see details here, but it’s pretty much what you’d expect (in a good way): costumes, contests, Star Wars fireworks, a strangle Jabba the Hut competition. Ok, maybe not that last one – this is a family-friendly event. You can get your tickets at the Cougars’ site or box office, or by calling (630) 232-8815.
  • Vine Line interviews Cubs’ bullpen catcher Andy Lane, which proves to be a very interesting read.
  • Javier Baez is turning into one of those prospects that you would know about even if he wasn’t on the Cubs. After last night’s explosion, he’s a 20-year-old who has put up 30 homers and 30 doubles in just 113 games between High-A and AA, is hitting .288/.347/.614 at AA … and is playing shortstop. Between Baez, Xander Bogaerts, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa, there are so many super elite shortstop prospects that you want to find a way to cram them all into the top 5 prospects in baseball. Because of the existence of Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Oscar Taveras (and those are just the positional guys), it won’t be possible. If and when Javier Baez winds up outside of the top five prospects in all of baseball after the season, it won’t be because he’s not one of those uber prospect types. He’s there. It’s just that there are so many studs in the minors right now.
  • Spoda17

    Brett, I stopped watching SportsCenter all together. I pretty much watch MLB TV and get my other sports news on the internet… Kinda sad…

  • X the Cubs Fan

    Any more of this and it’s Sori for MVP. I think I would love that because he would be a Cub and Yankee MVP.

  • Jim

    “off-day preference for poly/cotton blend”


  • Rafael R

    You gotta stop watching ESPN for sports news. I just go on for laughs and they’re heavily bias and looking from the outside. They’re like that crazy person staring at everyone in the cafeteria in highschool writing about everyone in their diary. It’s not real news. On MLB TV they actually said they’re not surprised about this and that he can hit and always has. It’s just because he’s on the Yanks that he’s getting the attention. Also…don’t forget that Yankee stadium is easy for guys with power to hit honeruns. I’m so happy for Soriano though…he deserves praise!

  • Ian Afterbirth

    What cap will Sori wear in the hall of fame?

    • Cubbie Blues

      Good question. He has 300 more games with the Cubs than with the Yankees, but he came up with the Yankees and will retire while with them as well.

    • Spencer

      I know this comment is probably facetious, but he’s getting closer and closer to that discussion, and I think deservedly so. I don’t think his numbers are quite there yet, (his WAR is being hampered by a terrible -10.0 dWAR (but that of course would assume that the BBWAA looks at sabermetrics while voting)) but if he reaches the 400/300 club, he’ll be in VERY elite company. This is a good trivia question: how many 400/300 guys are there in the history of baseball?

      I wouldn’t be so sure that he retires after his current contract expires with NYY. If he plays 3-4 more years, ~450 homers is a real possibility, and would certainly strengthen his case.

      • Cubbie Blues

        Ha, I totally missed the HoF part and read it as retire as a Cub or Yankee. I guess reading skills need a little workout this morning.

      • MichiganGoat

        The 400HR/300SB club is only three – Andre Dawson, Barry Bonds, and Willy Mays. Yeah that’s quite the exclusive club. The question is if Sori can get 19 SB before his career ends. I’m sure he is aware of this stat and we might start to see him running more. He should easily reach 400 HR this season.

        • Jason P

          You’re forgetting A-Roid. He has 648/318.

          • MichiganGoat

            Good point the article I saw must have been a few years old.

      • Ian Afterbirth

        I wasn’t being ENTIRELY facetious.

  • ssckelley

    The Indians have to be kicking themselves for passing on Baez. Lindor has the better glove but it is not very often you can get someone with that kind of offensive fire power at shortstop than you get with Baez.

    • bbmoney

      I think the Indians are stiil ok with their pick. Baez may not stay at short, and while he has near limitless offensive upside, it’s not like Lindor is struggling and is an OBP machine at 19 in A+ and AA this year himself.

      I’d rather have Baez, but to be honest, you’d have to be happy with either.

    • Brett

      Maybe – but Lindor is still very, very good at the plate (a different kind of hitter), and very, very good in the field. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s still regarded as the better prospect. He’s younger, too.

      • EvenBetterNewsV2.0

        I am glad it was one of those situations where we got the left over. Either way we were going to be happy. They will be left second guessing if Lindor struggles. I am with you though Brett. I think as of now he still has to be barely ahead of Baez, but Baez is now in that uber prospect mold, with the likes we haven’t had for a while.

        • X the Cubs Fan

          I want to believe that If Cleveland took Baez we would’ve went with Jose Fernandez, but I don’t think that’s the case.

    • sclem21

      Yea, a 19 year old SS with Vizquel type glove skills who is hitting .303 across two levels…I think the Indians are and should be every bit as excited about Lindor as Cubs are about Baez, and presumably less worried about risk, too.

      Just an add-on to what Brett said about SS being stacked with uber-prospects…Addison Russell ought to be mentioned in that group too.

  • Good Captain

    I wonder if a few other teams who apparently declined on Sorriano are wishing for a do-over?

  • Spencer

    I don’t think Soriano ever went 10-14 with four homers and 14 RBI in a three game span when he was with the Cubs. 13 RBI in two games was the third most by a player, ever, in two games. Had he done that with the Cubs, I daresay it would’ve got some attention.

    • Brett

      No, it wouldn’t have – not the kinds of regular updates we’re seeing the last few days.

      Soriano had a stretch just a few weeks ago where he hit five homers in four games with the Cubs – it didn’t even make the highlights.

      • itzscott

        The bottom line is that Soriano was an entertaining clown with the Cubs simply because he probably felt that was his role and he could get away with it. I live in NYC and East Coast fans (NY, Boston, Washington, Philly) aren’t nearly as forgiving (if at all) or adoring as Cub fans and the local media isn’t coddling to athletes as they are in Chicago. It’s just different here in that regard and Soriano would absolutely know this.

        He’s focused as he never was when in Chicago and he’s ditched the clown act simply because he knew it wouldn’t fly here. He came thru prior with the Yankees and Washington but he never really came close to what he was or could’ve been when he was with the Cubs.

        • Edwin

          Yeah, cause Cubs fans are soooooooooo forgiving. It’s not like Soriano was ever booed as a Cub, right? And it’s not like the local media ever went after players ( I mean, other than Ramirez, Jaque Jones, Soriano, Bradley, Zambrano, Dempster, Castro.)

          What a joke.

        • TOOTBLAN Time

          I imagine Soriano was “focused” when he went 15-28 with 7 HR and 13 RBI between May 12-17, 2008. He was slightly less “focused” when he went 18-33 with 6 HR and 9 RBI from June 2-8, 2007, but still pretty focused.

          This, or course, is silly – but so is making sweeping pronouncements on absurdly small sample sizes.

          And if you think 2006 Washington Nationals fans were more unforgiving the Cubs fans of recent years, I don’t know what to tell you. They were just happy to have a team at that point.

        • frank

          itzscott–you probably didn’t have to tell us that you live in NY. We would’ve guessed as much by your blatant mischaracterization of Cub fans, the Chicago media, and Soriano’s time here.

      • waittilthisyear

        i was amazed that soriano’s 2000 hit, a home run off verlander, was only mentioned and not shown on sportscenter. sometimes i wonder if i was a dumb kid, or if sportscenter just got really shitty

        • MichiganGoat

          It’s a little bit of being a dumb kid, SportsCenter is and was essentially a highlight show designed to be an expanded version of the evening new sport segment (raise your hand if you remember those and staying up to watch them). So the highlight aspect is still the same but where they’ve lost their edge was when Tebow became the story that would not die and now they continue to latch on any sensational stories they can discover. If Tebow (and actually embracing Skip Bayless) never happened happened the show would have become as annoying as it is today.

    • hansman1982

      Soriano had over 100 RBI last year on a team that lost 100+ games. (Since ESPN cares about RBI) How ESPN wasn’t doing backflips in his honor is beyond me.

      I get their homerism with the Yankees. They are the most successful and followed franchise in baseball. Add in the proximity to ESPN headquarters, meh. I just don’t watch them.

      • The Dude Abides

        hansman how you feeling about Baez now? You still down on the guy?

        • Norm

          I thought about this last night. He’s basically Chris Davis in my eyes (offensively speaking).
          He could be the MVP caliber 2013 Chris Davis, the merely good 2012 Chris Davis, or even the bad 2009 Chris Davis.
          That wide range of floor to ceiling force me to keep my expectations in check.

          • On The Farm

            I could see that as a good comparison. Kudos to you

        • hansman1982

          I still have major concerns about that K rate in AA ball. With that said, he is growing. In his last ~100 PA he had an 18% K rate and was still on pace for 15 homers over a full season.

          If he can keep his BB rate around 8%, I think 200 K’s a year at the MLB level would be livable with that power but I think he is going to have some major slumps.

          • Eternal Pessimist

            Only 15 homers over a full season?

    • Cubbie in NC

      I am not sure that the Cubs ever had that many guys on base in front of him to get that many RBI’s… Which makes me sad. I am glad he is getting some meaningful at bats and success for guys like he and Garza should help the Cubs in future trades.

  • Jon

    Am I only one who thinks Oscar Taveras is a tad overrated?

    • Cubbie Blues

      No, but that still doesn’t mean you aren’t wrong.

  • auggie55

    I didn’t watch any of the highlights from the Yankees loss to the Angels last night, but according to one person’s comment on CBS Sports Soriano pulled one of his stunts. He hit a ball deep to LF and instead of running until it left the park, he stood there and admired it. When the ball didn’t leave the park, Soriano tried for 2nd but was thrown out. He’ll never change.

  • Frank

    Brett, Shame on you for watching ESPN. Everyone knows that they have their lips locked on the Yankees ass 24/7.

    • Jon

      Wait, I thought ESPN kissed Puig’s ass 24/7?

      • Cubbie Blues

        They are multi-lipped.

        • N.J. Riv

          The Red Sox, Yankees, Puig and the Dodgers, LeBron and the Heat, Kobe and the Lakers, Tom Brady and the Pats and Tim Tebow. So yeah, multi-lipped.

  • ClevelandCubsFan

    How does Soriano finishing as a Yankee improve his HoF chances?

    Imagine this… 2013, riding Soriano’s bat and some great pitching the Yankee’s squeak into the 2nd wildcard spot and manage to get into the ALCS.

    Next year, with a free agent acquisition or two and some newfound health and a big July deal, the Yankees–still old and rough but clearly playing better–make an easier trip to the playoffs They push into the world series, which they win in 7 to the dismay of baseball fans everywhere. Soriano is not incredible, but he gets a lot of at bats at DH, and he puts up a .275/29/95 season. In the playoffs, he’s on a hot streak and hits .390/6/22 and is voted WS MVP.

    Soriano finishes his career (in Yankee pinstripes, mind you) with with 450 home runs, 1250 RBIs, 300 SBs, and an .835 OPS.

    This is all very speculative, but…. does the combination of New York, a championship, some hardware get Soriano any closer?

    To clarify: This is a random, what-if game for fun. I don’t expect Sori goes to the Hall nor do I think he’s probably of that caliber. But I”m curious what we think the effect of New York can do for a guy….

    • X the Cubs Fan

      I think if/when Sori gets 400 (HRs) and 300 (SB) he should be in the H.O.F. because he deserves it for playing clean baseball. But he most likely won’t.

      • Jon

        How can you assume he was “clean”?

        • Cubbie Blues

          How can you assume he wasn’t?

          • Jon

            His argument was that if Soriano got those numbers he HAS to get in because he was clean.

            I would say let him in because they are good numbers. But I think every player in this era operates under the fog of suspicion, you have to make your judgments based on accomplishments on the field.

        • bbmoney

          It’s easy to assume things. Lots of people have been assuming Pujols isn’t clean. They’ve been assuming Vitters is on PEDs.

          Assuming is easy. Meaningless, but easy.

        • Cheryl

          How can you not?

    • Cizzle

      I don’t see Fonzi hitting 54 HR, 142 RBI and swiping 19 SB in 200 games (mostly when he’s 38). If he did that, MLB would be waiting after every game for him to piss in a cup.

      • Nate

        I think, since Cleveland said next year Sori would hit 29 homers that another year is expected. Not sure if that’s happening though. Maybe, he’s on pace for 32 HR’s this year and if he really hits 29 (the scenario above). They may give him another year or two even and he could realistically be over 450. If that was the case I could see him playing until say 42 and possibly getting to 500. I think he gets in then but only if he gets by the steroid era bias and assumption that ‘everyone was doing it’. Not that I agree or think that’s fair

        • ClevelandCubsFan

          No I didn’t imply an extra year. I think my mental math was just off. Still, if Sori wanted to keep playing after at .275/29 year, he’d have plenty of opportunities. If we JUST count next year and Sori hit 29, he’d need 25 the rest of the way out this year, which is absurd. So let’s revise that to 435 HRs. That’s him hitting 10 more this year and 29 next year.

          As for MVPs and stuff like that, that’s exactly why (in this wild speculation) I have Soriano on a tear and winning a WS MVP. That gives him some (very memorable and exciting) hardware just 5 years before a vote.

          For what it’s worth, I think the BBWAA will be kind to Sori. Here’s a guy who–outside his first 2 seasons, which were mostly in the minors, averaged 141 games per year because of numerous injuries that wrecked havoc on his legs and knees. You could argue that his late resurgence is due to him getting healthy and better shape by way of PEDs, but I think that’s a stretch on several levels. Not saying this gets him in. Look at Fred McGriff. But McGriff looks better and better every year it seems. (No red herrings. No Fred McGriff rabbit trails please!)

    • Pat

      I think his chances are slim to none regardless of who he retires with. .826 Career OPS and 113 Career OPS+ just doesn’t meet the threshold considering his era. Seven all star games, but only finished in the top five in MVP voting once.

  • NotJimHendry

    ESPN is to sports as MTV is to music.

  • chrisfchi

    The only reason I will even turn on ESPN tonight is one of my friends from high school is boxing at us cellular tonight.

  • FastBall

    How long do you let Baez make this MILB pitchers look bad? After AFL I bet he starts the season in Iowa for about April and May. Then he is a Cub at Wrigley the rest of his career. He and Alcantera aren’t far off now. Next June we could have a very different infield.

  • Robert Johnson

    One of the biggest moments the Cubs have had Is when they cheered Im the club house for Sori’s first Yankee homer. They miss him badly & their performance of late shows it!

  • TOOT

    The FO has put itself in a precarious situation. Rizzo’s average is creeping ever so closely to the Mendoza line and Castro is following. These were to be centerpieces on the team going forward? At some point the FO has to admit this is NOT working.

    • willis

      A little much. But they haven’t had near the season that I had hoped. Both have struggled plenty which, although it sucks, may as well get it out of their system this year.

      Now, next year at this time if both are still in the same numbers boat they’re in now, then you begin to really worry and look for replacements.

      • Mike

        The above is why the Cubs need to add impact pieces via free agency. Never know when/if their minor league dominance will click at the major league level. Cano and Ellsbury they are already proven. Yes, you can say that their numbers are going to fall off, but if at the time they start to fall back you have your young guys breaking out, you can offset it. You catch lightening in a bottle if the young guys are breaking out while the veterans are producing at an all star level.

        • N.J. Riv

          I hope the Cubs make a run at Ellsburry, but how much is too much? And for how long? 4-5 years?

          • another JP

            Anything is too much for Ellsbury with the current make-up of the Cubs and his age/injury history. The incremental value of adding Ellsbury over Sweeney isn’t worth the $100M contract JE will demand. The calvary will arrive from the minors soon enough.

        • On The Farm

          “Yes, you can say that their numbers are going to fall off, but if at the time they start to fall…while the veterans are producing at an all star level.”

          Seems like you are contradicting yourself here. You accurately point out that the Free Agent signings production is going to fall. This is because all of the FA class is on the wrong side of 30. So you say we should sign these guys and offset their falling production with the young guys, how do we do that? What do we do with an albatross contract (like with Cano) where no team will take him, he is eating a 40 man spot, for millions of dollars, all so we can have a “decent” 2014.

    • another JP

      Rizzo’s fine. For a player his age to put up his numbers and provide the defensive ability he has far exceeds the BA- which is nowhere near the Mendoza line yet. Plus his charitable work makes him a fabulous leader and example for all the other young players to emulate. Now Castro & Barney are a different story, and I see both being gone in the next two years if their results/approach at the plate fail to dramatically improve.

  • ruby2626

    Personally I don’t think AS will make HOF, seems like he only about the numbers. Not enough All Star appearances, MVP candidate years etc. How about Adam Dunn, he’ll probably end up the first 500+ non steroid HR guy to not make the Hall. Wonder where he’ll end up all time in walks also.

    Not that anyone cares but I’m not surprised at Armando Rivera’s rapid rise. I watched him warm up at KC and was amazed. Sweet breaking ball along with the mid 90’s fastball. The guy’s build looks just perfect for a pitcher.

  • Caleb

    In all my years of BN fandom, your Soriano comments were the snarkiest writings you’ve ever posted. Lolz!

    And totally spot-on. “Extricate myself from its icy grip.” Wow. You’re a wordsmith my friend.

  • another JP

    Soriano is awesome when hot, which is not news to Cub fans. And he’ll be a 2.8-3 WAR player this year; maybe also 2014. It’s not his fault Hendry & his agent signed him up for $19M/yr, and that’s the issue for a non-competitive team looking more for production value than star power. The guy just isn’t worth that kind of money anymore.

    • frank

      That’s the thing–would anyone have been complaining all this time if he were being paid $10/12 million instead of $19 million?

    • DocWimsey

      Well, it’s also a question of the pitch selection. I was watching the highlights of one of Sori’s monster games, and the Yankee announcers had become incredulous after Sori hit another rocket: why in the world were the Angels’ pitchers trying to get fastballs by Sori? Sori’s problems with the Cubs came when pitchers would constantly get him to swing a outer half “fastballs” that really were 6-12 inch outside sliders.

      You can understand this in the case of a newby like Lake: one of the first rules of thumbs is, let’s see if the new guy can hit an MLB fastball. However, as bad as the NL has become relative to the AL, it’s still MLB, not AAAA!

  • ramy 16

    Soriano went yard again! Amazing

    • wilbur

      I bet Cashman is glad he came out and publicly stated he didn’t want Fonsi and it was all the owners idea. Maybe now he’ll come and publicly and say “now you can see why the owner has to intervene and make decisions for me,” Too funny, and who could guess in all of this who is Jim Hendry’s boss? Course Hendry doesn’t need the yankees job, he probably has a permanent offer to be Sorianos Cabana boy back in the Dominican, which should be nice for Jim.

      • mdavis

        he didn’t say that he did not want sori. he said he wanted to wait the cubs out to drive down the asking price, because he did not want to give up an arm like Black. but he said he wanted sori. big difference.