Soriano had a good September, hitting something like 14 home runs. As I noted in another post, both Soriano’s and the Cubs success late in the year was related to the quality of the opposition, a bunch of teams out of the chase, who brought up minor leaguers for a looksee. Look at what Soriano did in the playoffs, against real opposition. Two for twelve.
Even at that, Soriano fell well short of even my pessimistic predictions; and I am definitely not a fan; playing in the friendly confines of Wrigley Field for half his games, Soriano didn’t come close to my prediction of forty HRs. He drove in a feeble 70 runs. He stole some bases, but was either picked off or thrown out 20 times, essentially negating the value of his stolen bases. His on base percentage was pathetic for a leadoff man. Hitting ahead of Lee and Ramirez, any reasonable leadoff man would have scored a hundred and twenty runs. Instead, he scored less than a hundred. I don’t blame Soriano, exactly. He just isn’t a real good player. But his speed and power make some people think he’s something special. But he isn’t. At age 31 he was on the downslope of his career; less production, more injuries are the normal course. But the Cubs decided to pay him 18 million a year and put him in center field, and bat him leadoff. Well, he isn’t worth that much money, he can’t play that position, and he can’t bat leadoff. Soriano’s main contribution to the problem is that he has always been an ass in the clubhouse, refusing to cooperate with the teams plan. So I’m sure that the Cubs were reluctant to bat him seventh or eighth, where he belongs, for fear that Soriano would pout. They did move him to left field under cover of his leg injury. Watching him play the outfield is very strange. He makes catching a fly ball into an adventure, and chasing a gapper becomes a stroll in the park. To his credit, he is able to throw out some runners; but that and his home runs off bad pitching are about all the good things one can say about him.
And that is about what I predicted at the beginning of the year. Soriano is not an All Star, nor is he even close to being the best player at his position or even close to being the best player on the Cubs. He’s one of those guys who traded on the idea that being able to hit forty home runs and steal forty bases makes you the next Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays.
It doesn’t. It doesn’t even make him the next Dwight Evans or Norm Cash or Craig Biggio or even the next Jorge Posada. I watched Soriano do his routine day in and day out while he was in Texas. You don’t get it if you just look at his numbers. He is more like Richie Sexon than he is like Hank Aaron.
But Soriano is getting the big bucks, because the Cubs management don’t know what wins baseball games. But then, you already knew that. What surprised me was that a smart baseball guy like Lou Pinella didn’t get it. Or maybe he did.
I was impressed that the Cubs fans booed him at the end of the playoffs. They are smarter than management. It’s gonna be a long eight year contract.