Saturday, June 18, 2005

I'm Sori



He currently leads the Rangers in Home Runs, 2nd in RBI’s, tied for the lead in Total Bases, 2nd in Slugging, and 1st in Runs Scored. He also has more errors than any player in baseball that doesn’t play shortstop, and for that matter, is 3rd in the big leagues in errors for anyone at any position. He, of course, is Alfonso Soriano.

He is the lightning rod of the Texas Rangers. Whether it is a talk show, a message board, or a conversation around the water cooler, he is the guy who Rangers fans share a love/hate relationship with. Is he the best 2nd baseman in baseball, or is he a dog who needs to be dealt?

Depends who you ask.

At the end of 2005, he will be eligible for arbitration. That means he will likely get a sizeable raise off of his $7.5 million salary. That means he may not be long for the Tom Hicks financially frugal plan. He isn’t home grown. He occasionally reminds people of Juan Gonzalez with his casual play and inconsistent concentration, and he also made it pretty clear he had no desire to play in the outfield here when the Rangers dealt for him last spring.

Can the Rangers invest the future in Soriano? Can they marry him to his beloved 2nd Base position? Many will say that this would not work long-term given his defensive liabilities, but if you don’t like his 11 errors, can you really be eager to give his job to Ian Kinsler who would be the next in line since he has 14 errors in Oklahoma City?

Does he get criticism from fans and media because he really has huge holes in his game? Or, is it perhaps a byproduct of him not being a home-grown son, like Blalock, Teixeira, and Young. Young of course was technically not home-grown, but he has never played an inning in another uniform. Soriano played for the hated Yankees, and seems to not be a stereotypical “Buck guy”. He has flare, he showboats a bit, and he blows the occasional routine play. These are not things his skipper cares for.

I write this today because I am not sure I know the answers. I watch him play, and I think he is a valuable middle-of-the-lineup guy who the Rangers should be discussing an extension with. I do concede that those conversations should include serious discussions about an Outfield or Designated Hitter assignment, and therefore should be held in the off-season so as to not rock the boat in mid-June. But, I read my email or the newspaper, and I am told that he is what is wrong with the Rangers. Is Fraley wrong? Is the Rangers Fan wrong? Or are my own eyes?

Look, I don’t like his defense, either, but I could live with one butcher in the infield, if he will occasionally make a spectacular play (see his throw on Friday night to the plate) and the rest of my infield is gold glove caliber. I could really live with him playing an outfield spot. His bat can carry you through many tough days even if his “Runners in Scoring Position” average is down this year. He can flat-out rake. If he would settle for a 4-year/$40 million dollar deal, I would sign it tomorrow morning.

But I sure get the feeling that I am on my own on this issue. I’ll be interested in your comments.

Links:

The Boys Blog tackles Witten’s place amongst TE’s

Forsberg ready to get back to NHL …And of course, we will need hockey back first, Pete…

The Tattoo I am strongly considering for Tuesday

Speaking of said tattoo, Did you ever wonder who had the “G” first? Grambling, Georgia, or Green Bay? …Your answer is obvious since it is on my blog…

And now, some humor:

14 comments:

MR said...

bob, get the "G" tatoo but dont get the little golden superman thing around it. about soriano, my father hates him, and i think he is pretty important to the lineup. you take him out and you have mench 5th and nix??? 6th or who? i think he he makes the lineup a lot harder to pitch through. you get a break at 7 kind of and maybe 9, but the rest of that lineup is solid. about his D, he is i think underated as a defender. he's not good, but he isnt horrible and his bat makes him worth having there. if you could get him to play right field id give him a 4 yr/50mil contract tomorrow. he is a stud and the rangers need him. his OBP could be better, but...

Anonymous said...

Bob...here are the greatest basketball players ever....www.phatballers.com

Cory in Arlington said...

Bob,

If the Rangers were to trade Alfonso Soriano, we would all look back in five years and shake our heads at what happened. He's the best hitting 2nd baseman in the game today (possibly of all time by the time his career is over?).

I can live with the errors since he can be a 40HR, 100 RBI hitter. Those numbers make up for the unearned runs he gives up. Besides, he does make some spectacular plays.

Also, from watching on tv, it seems that the other players like him. If the team was on the verge of revolt after that spare Ryan Drese was let go, what do you think would happen if an MVP-caliber player like Soriano were traded?

And I agree with the Kinsler assessment. He's pounding the ball in AAA but he can't catch either. What good would that do the Rangers?

I guess I'm saying Soriano can be frustrating to watch, and I could strike him out with a decent slider, but I don't know anyone out there who is a better 5 hole hitter.

I vote for keeping him.

big smooth said...

Bob,

I tend to agree with Cory in that I can live with an occasional error if he can be rock solid in the middle of the lineup. The gold glove talent among the rest of the infielders in my mind, compensates for Soriano's lack of concentration at times. He isn't the typical Buck guy, but how can you argue with the production he's giving you? Has his defense cost the Rangers games? It may have cost them a couple of 1 run games (I don't know), but I contend that his offensive production has done more good for this team than his defense has done bad. His offensive contribution is something you may not be able to fill very easily, so as frustrating as it can be to watch him committ an error, he is still going to get that big hit for you and drive in quite a number of runs. With the pitching as rocky as it is, the ability of the offense to provide run support is crucial to the success this team will have. They aren't going to win in the post season until the pitching is consistent anyways, so the success of the Rangers continues to depend on the offensive end just as it always has.

For Tezas to be a contender long term, Tom Hicks is going to have to spend money eventually. He's going to have to spend money to keep what's here already and he's going to have to spend money to bring in some more help. It will also require trading away some prospects you wish you could keep and see them through making the big league team. If that attitude doesn't change, I don't think he should be owning this ballclub. You need a good mix of home grown talent and some plugs for your holes via trades and free agency, just like it has always been. So if Soriano is getting criticism for being an ex-Yankee and not from the Rangers system, that is absurd. This team came together last year with Soriano, and maybe they did overacheive. But the success they are having this year makes me believe that they didn't and that we could have something special brewing here for a while if Hicks will do his part and the organization has some luck on hitting on these pitching prospects.

One thing about Soriano that cannot be argued is that the guy is a winner. He won pennants and a world championship with the Yankees, and was a part of this team's turnaround from a few years of last place finishes.

So, sign him up long term and try to get him to DH some and play outfield some if you can. If he doesn't want to, sign him anyways......

big smooth said...

However, I'm sure Tom Hicks/John Hart will somehow screw this one up too......

Anonymous said...

I agree with what everyone else has said, soriano's bat is just too valuable in the lineup right now. He does make a lot of errors but as others have said, they dont usually cost the rangers the game, and the other infielders easily makeup for his lack of fielding ability. At the start of the season, I was all for trading soriano, for either prospects, or maybe some pitching, but at this point I say work on a contract with him.

I agree, he may be a better fit in the outfield, or DH, but if he wont play those positions thats fine, leave him at second.

Bottom line is the chemistry in the infield is good, he isnt causing the rangers to lose games, if anything he has helped win his share with his bat, I would only trade him if it was an offer too good to turn down.

Jared in Irving said...

While I agree that Sori's bat is important to this lineup, everyone needs to ease off the gold glove infield. Blalock and Teix are top notch, but Mike Young is below average at SS when it comes to range. Sori on the other hand has pretty good range but misses the easy ones.

I'm just not sure you can have that kind of up the middle defense in a ballpark where the main goal is to get ground ball outs. In a perfect world you would move Sori somewhere else, find a top notch SS, and move Young back to 2nd, where he actually IS gold glove caliber.

JIM said...

Bob,

Here's the key as I see it:

As long as Sori keeps knocking the cover off the ball, the errors will be overlooked.....

Ever since he was placed 5th in the batting order, he's consistently hit homeruns and provided timely offense.

Now, if he struggles, look for the organization to start the rumors that they will be trade him away in the near future.

Remember, Drese was considered a cornerstone to the organization until he struggled...

Which begs the question: Don Nelson has been called "The Godfather of the Mavericks". With the fashion that Ryan Drese and Pedro Astacio were sent away, shouldn't Buck be considered "The Godfather of the Rangers"?

Anonymous said...

Dam, she got knocked the fuggout!

What's the story behind that?

Anonymous said...

I'm almost positive they'll let fonzie get away, and spin it as necessary for resigning tex.

Then they'll let tex get away too.

Anonymous said...

Bob,

For heaven's sake, don't get the tatoo. Twenty years from now you're just going to be embarrassed. I'm the same age as you, find a different outlet for your not yet mid-life crisis, I did.

Speaking of the "G" oval, I know at least one other football team uses essesntally the same logo. The uniquely named Groveport (Ohio) Cruisers. (My humble H.S.)

And for Sori, I've emailed you in the past about him. He's a Cadillac. Anyone with his attitude will wear out his welcome. Deal him while we can get something in return. Remember the Sesame Street song "Can you guess which one of these just doesn't belong?", in this case it's Sori.
KB

keith said...

I am not sure if we should complain about Youngs range, does anybody remember Kevin Elster. As for Sori, I think he is a valuable to a team built around chemistry. Its obvious he is a well liked player on that team, and I would dare to call him a leader. Those Yankee fans sure hated to see him go, alot of that has to do with his personality as well as is game.

By the way, I am so freakin tired of the term "Buck's kind of guy"...vomit. I think Buck is well on his way to wearing out his welcome. At least with me anyway. Can he even take credit for the turn-around of this franchise ? After all most of the young talent on this team is from the Melvin regime, and if no trades are made to help this thing this year. It could be argued that he is preventing this team from getting to the next level. If he is constantly nixing trades because he doesn't seem to know how to handle guys that have talent and star mentalities. I think the bigger question should be, how long does the Rangers orginization stick with Buck ?

Big Dipper said...

jeeez, what's the story with the girl getting thwacked. Was she Ok? Where did it happen?

BK in Plano said...

"One thing about Soriano that cannot be argued is that the guy is a winner. He won pennants and a world championship with the Yankees, and was a part of this team's turnaround from a few years of last place finishes."

Big Smooth is a wise man....Say what you want about the guy's fielding, he's a potential 40-40 guy every year and has a great attitude as long as he can play 2nd Base. And winning seems to follow him around. Gotta keep him.