Thursday, July 25, 2013

Farewell to Soriano

Well, once again, due to numerous other projects, I've found it difficult to find time to contribute here at GBS. And although I've been dying to find a few minutes to dedicate to our favorite steroid-user, Ryan Braun, it is, of course, the Cubs who have inspired me to post.

It looks like Alfonso Soriano's Cubs career has ended, with trade rumors swirling and his name being scratched from tonight's lineup. By the time I get to post this, in fact, Soriano could be a New York Yankee. As a lifelong Cubs fan, how do I feel about that?

Well, I've been in the minority. I have not been trying to run Soriano out of Chicago. Up until last week, and the arrival of super prospect Junior Lake, I didn't see the point. Who needed his spot? Are you telling me we needed to see more of guys like Tony Campana, Reed Johnson, Marlon Byrd, and David DeJesus over the last few years? Those are all fine players, but none of them come close to Soriano.

I know. I'm supposed to hate his salary! We paid him as though he were the game's best outfielder, and he never was. Yeah, not my problem. Andre Dawson might not have been the game's best outfielder either (except for maybe 1987, when he was), but I never wanted him shipped out of town. See, I don't care about player salaries. Not only do I not have to pay them, but this game has no salary cap! A player isn't taking money from another player, especially when my team is the Cubs, who have basically as much money as they need to spend if/when they want to spend it.

The fact is Soriano has been with the team for nearly seven years. He is my eight-year-old son's favorite player, with "Soriano" being one of the first baseball words he learned. Despite his bad reputation, we've watched him hustle, run out ground balls, lead young players, and hobble around the outfield on bad knees.

So why has he never been accepted by some Cubs fans? Early on, in 2007-08, he was among the top five offensive left fielders in the Major Leagues. He dealt with injuries for a while, but lately, he has been fun to watch, especially during his hot streaks. In 2011 he ranked third in the league among left fielders with 26 home runs. Then last season, a juiced Braun was the only National League left fielder who was better offensively than Soriano.

But his defense sucks! Really? Because in 2012 he led all National League left fielders with a .996 fielding percentage, making only one error while earning 12 assists. His five errors this season have hurt, but he has not been nearly as bad as you've been led to believe.

Is this a good move? Yes. Lake and others need to be able to play. Also, Soriano deserves another shot at the postseason. But true Cubs fans should not be quite so happy to see him go. His production and leadership will be missed in this lineup. Furthermore, I will miss watching Soriano have fun playing baseball each and every day.