First off, I totally forgot that he played for the Washington Nationals during the 2006 season. The article goes to say that Soriano has fallen out of favor with Lou Piniella, manager of the Chicago Cubs, who will have him bat 5th or 6th after initially being the team's lead off hitter. Having watched Soriano play for the New York Yankees from 2000-2003 (He came up briefly in 1999 and for a few games in 2000), I can see where the frustration comes from.
Soriano initially played second base for the Yankees and almost heroically delivered the game and series winning blow against Curt Shilling and the Arizona Diamondbacks in Game 7 of the World Series (We all know how that game ended so no need for me to re-hash that moment in time, LOL). For two years Soriano lit up the American League, especially in 2002 where he hit .300 and led the league with 209 hits (51 2B/2 3B/39 HR), stolen bases (41), runs scored (102) and both plate appearances (741) and at-bats (696). While he excelled at the plate, Soriano also showed the signs of what would continually plague him during his career. His batting prowess had no room for patience which usually translates into walks. Soriano often struck out 5 to 6 times more than he walked per season. While with the Yankees, Soriano walked a total of 91 times while striking out 430 times (BB/K 1999 0/3. 2000 1/15, 2001 29/125, 2002 23/157, 2003 38/130). This pattern came to a head in the 2003 post-season when Soriano struck out a total of 26 times (11 times against the Red Sox alone) while walking only 3 times. I believe this was the reason for his being traded to the Rangers for Alex Rodriguez.
The pattern would continue in both Texas and Washington where Soriano hit the leather off the ball but also struck out alot and walked very little, though in Washington his walks improved to 66 in that season up from 33 in the season before. And then the big contract came from the Chicago Cubs and the pattern changed. Where before the contract Soriano played over 155 games a season (he played 145 in 2004 with the Texas Rangers), the injury bug started to decimate him.
Instead of Soriano being the cornerstone of the new Chicago Cubs, his three years with the Cubs have been disappointing and full of unfulfilled potential. Here are his numbers while in Chicago:
Maybe a demotion in the lineup will create the spark that is needed to wake up Soriano. It is sad to think that a player of his potential has faltered so badly while playing in the Windy City. Maybe a change of scenery or a return to the American League will be the cure to his ills. The question is, which team would take his hefty contract in which he is owed $95 million dollars in the next 5 years. I guess time will tell whether or not Soriano can become the player people expected him to become or if he will become an also-ran. Shame indeed.
For Further Reading
- Dave Sheinin's article on Soriano at Washingtonpost.com
- Alfonso Soriano's Career Statistics at BaseballReference.com