We all know what Alfonso Soriano is capable of when he gets on one of his hot streaks.
Although he doesn’t do that with quite the regularity he use to, Soriano’s bat is warming up for another blistering streak at the plate, which couldn’t come at a better time given the Cubs are batting less than .200 this month with RISP.
Sori has gone deep in four of his last seven games. His fifth inning blast Monday night proved to be the game winner. Another solo homer on Tuesday, a monster shot to LF, set the tone offensively in the Cubs 5-2 win at San Fran.
It’s the second time this week Soriano has homered in back-to-back games–Atlanta Aug. 23-24–with the recent power surge pushing his home run total to 24 this season.
That mark puts Soriano in rare company as just the third active player to record 20 HR in 10-straight seasons (Albert Pujols & David Ortiz).
It seems popular belief that Jim Hendry was an idiot for signing Alfonso Soriano to a mega-deal in 2007.
I never quite looked at it that way. Rather, I though Hendry was simply willing to take a major gamble on a player, who at the time, was very capable of helping the Cubs win a World Series.
Back to back division championships showed us Hendry wasn’t too far off base, but in typical Cubs fashion, they choked both postseason opportunities away.
For argument sake, had the Cubs won, or at least reached the World Series, Hendry would have been absolved from some, if not all of his sins, including Soriano.
But that gamble, of course, never panned out…leaving the Cubs’ GM stuck with an overpaid LF who’s better fit as a DH than an everyday outfielder.
If that makes Hendry an idiot, so be it. His risk, his responsibility. And if Hendry is fired following the season, the Soriano deal is what he’ll most likely be remembered for.
That said, I had a gut feeling Hendry would find a taker for Soriano at the trade deadline, especially following the Cubs’ decision to eat most of Fukudome’s contract.
Moving Sori would have certainly been viewed as a desperation move, but what’s to be expected from a team bumbling through the season and a GM whose job is on the line?
What the Cubs need is fresh talent, a new start, and a more flexible payroll…not an aging, injury plagued, poor fielding outfielder who’s better served as an ideal short-risk gamble at DH for an AL contender.
Eating Soriano’s contract to move him seemed very logical, but instead is a missed opportunity on Hendry’s part.
Soriano finishing the season with Chicago is yet another reminder of Hendry’s failure to turn the Cubs back into a consistent winner.
Hendry gambled early with Soriano and lost. He’s also had two years to right the ship with Soriano, but to no avail. Now he’s stuck with him, all $51M of him.
So is there any question the Cubs should take another gamble on Hendry?
It’s somewhat strange seeing the Cubs win back-to-back games at Arizona, and not just because Chicago has slumped to an early sub-.500 record.
The desert hasn’t exactly been a stomping ground for the Cubs, who are 20-30 all-time at Chase field.
In fact, it’s Chicago’s second-lowest winning percentage at any current NL ballpark–although New York’s Citi Field is a bit of an exception given the Cubs have played just two series at the Mets’ home park going (2-5).
But with Saturday’s 5-3 win, Chicago has won 5 of its last 6 games played at Arizona. They swept a three-game set at Chase last summer, and look to take three of four Sunday afternoon. Is the law of averages finally sliding in the Cubs direction in AZ?
When Alfonso Soriano is hitting up to par, his defensive liability can be over-looked.
But the problem, as you know, has been Soriano’s decline offensively the past few seasons. He’s seemingly mis-played more balls off the left field wall than he’s hit over it.
This season, however, Soriano is off to a hot start. He’s hit safely in his last five games, hit the ball to right field with consistency, gone deep on three occasions and delivered some timely RBIs. The offense again outweighs the errors.
We know good things happen when Soriano gets on one of his torrid streaks. And I believe he’s still capable of carrying the offense weeks at a time as he did in 2007 & ’08–even from the seven hole.
Alfonso Soriano is quietly putting together a decent season–.261, 21 HR & 66 RBI.
Avoiding major injuries, of course, has been key. His 118 games played is already one more than all of last season, and equals 92-percent of the Cubs’ season thus far.
In May he led the club with six homers, nine doubles and 16 RBI while batting .308. He reached 15 home runs by the All Star break for the third time in four years while swatting five homers and 17 RBI through July.
Over his last 50 games Soriano has 31 RBI, and more than half (12) of his 21 home runs have come with men on base. He’s been hot of late too, hitting safely in 17 of his last 22 contests.
No question Soriano’s production was hampered by the prolonged slumps of Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez, as well. He’s had little, if any, protection in the lineup for most of the season.
It’s been an admirable campagne for Soriano given the circumstances, but hardly worthy of his $18M per-year contract–a contract that’s likely to keep Soriano a Cub for the remainder of his career, whether he plays up to snuff or not!
Alfonso Soriano takes his fair share of criticism, some of which is deserving, but also comes with the territory of an 8-yr, $136M contract.
No one, however, has ever questioned Soriano’s leadership.
Last year he criticized Milton Bradley’s destructive actions. This weekend he chastised Zambrano for his insane dugout outburst.
In both cases Soriano said what needed to be said…and said publicly what no other Cub would: temper-tantrums are unnecessary and hurtful to the team.
Why not move Soriano to the leadoff spot?
For the past week the guy’s been pacing the Cubs’ lineup from the six-hole…batting 10-for-23 with 5 HR, 3 doubles and 11 RBI.
Maybe it’s the shakeup the lineup needs…maybe it keeps Soriano hot…and maybe it keeps the Cubs in contention a wee-bit longer?
Seriously, what could it hurt? The Cubs scored five lousy runs in three games against one of the worst staffs in baseball…and against three no-name starters, nonetheless.
Getting swept by Pittsburgh rules out any notion of a bad suggestion…and moving Soriano to the leadoff spot wouldn’t exactly be unheard of.
Sure, it’s not popular move, but what’s Lou to do? The Cubs need some offense away from home…Cincy is a great hitter’s park…and a temporary fix of Sori batting leadoff could salvage the road trip, perhaps even, the season.
Don’t tell me the season is early. Leave that for pitchers and catchers reporting in February…and meaningless games in March. That’s early.
Believe me, I understand this is a marathon season…we’re only six games in…there’s plenty of time to turn things around. I get that.
But as of last Monday, these games count…it’s part of the 162…a loss is a loss…a win a win…doesn’t matter how you get there…it all counts in the standings.
There’s no good reason for the Cubs to be 2-4…they’ve had five quality starts in the six games…they’ve held the lead in each outing…and for heaven’s sake, they’ve had plenty of opportunities to score runs.
In the three games at Cincinnati, however, the Cubs left 25 men on base…25…unreal! Collectively the lineup is batting .197…Theriot, Ramirez, Soriano…they’ve all been awful.
First inning, bases loaded, no outs…and the Cubs fail to score a single run against a 22-year-old rookie making his major league debut. Sad, sad, sad.
Very cool that Carlos Zambrano let Kosuke Fukudome pick out the pre-game clubhouse music Saturday.
The Fuk went with the Japanese band Funky Monkey Babys…and no, I’ve never heard of them, either.
Good rebound outing for Zambrano, too. He got down early, 3-0, but settled down lasting seven innings. You bank on that from your No.1…especially given the weak middle relief.
Zambrano’s simply owned the Reds lately…7-1 in his last eight starts…going at least seven innings in each outing.
His career numbers are solid against Cincinnati, as well…30 starts–16 wins…both career-high marks against any opponent.
But as always, the question remains…will Zambrano pitch this well consistently…even when he’s not facing Cincinnati?
I talked about it Friday.
Alfonso Soriano should be shelved for the remainder of the season.
The Cubs, on the other hand, are having a hard time calling it what it is…a season cut short due to injury. Instead, they’re opting to list Soriano under an indefinite leave of absence. Whatever.
What’s the purpose of bringing a guy back for meaningless baseball games on a bum knee, which has clearly troubled Soriano all season while battling through the most prolonged slump of his career: 20 home runs, 55 RBIs in just 117 games?