I have to stop taking those mid-afternoon naps.
I woke up from my mid-day rest to find that Alfonso Soriano is leaving the Nation’s Capital. Oh yeah and the Redskins lost! Shockers galore!
Soriano found a high-paying suitor in the Chicago Cubs, who offered the 40-40-40 man eight years and $136 million to bat leadoff and patrol left field. Here’s the ESPN link as well. All Soriano has to do now is pass the physical and he’ll be a Cubbie Monday. Soriano was looking for a long-term deal starting at $15 million per year. He got his wish. The addition of Soriano gives the Cubs a very formable offensive lineup joining Derrek Lee and the recently re-signed Aramis Ramirez.
As I’ve stated in past columns, Soriano wasn’t coming back to the Nationals despite fan requests/pleas to re-sign the converted left fielder. He wanted to go to a contender with a veteran lineup. He got that too and a new skipper in Lou Piniella thrown in as a bonus. The contender part remains to be seen if the Cubs can’t get some starting pitching contributions from someone who is not named Carlos Zambrano.
The Nationals should be a contender by 2014, when Soriano’s current deal ends, maybe they could win a World Series by that time. It would be hilarious if the Nationals win a World Series before the Cubs won one. Might happen, who knows!
Washington gets two high picks in next year’s draft as a result of all of this, a first-round sandwich pick (hold the mayo) and a second-round pick. Two more chances to build its minor league systems; hopefully, these future picks won’t be busts as the Nationals need all the good draft choices that they get, even moreso now that they’ve increased their scouting department staff.
Obvious statement time: Soriano’s void can not be replaced. Right now, the leadoff options look like Felipe Lopez or Nook Logan, neither of whom will hit 46 home runs combined in 2007 and 2008; although, both men could fill the stolen base void nicely.
Soriano’s plate discipline, while improved in 2006, still needs some work. His free-swinging ways, while productive no doubt, could be very frustrating to watch at times. In the later stages of the season, Soriano was pressing often, a fact that could be contributed to his 40-40 chase and the Nationals exit from the playoff race.
Soriano’s departure will be talked about topic in Washington, one in which a lot of blame/bitterness/resentment will be pointed toward Nationals management.
I don’t think Bowden had a good offer for Soriano at the trading deadline in July. As a Nationals fan, I would’ve been sour if the Nationals unloaded Soriano for pennies on the dollar especially when other teams weren’t offering up high quality young talent in return. Either way, the Nationals were dammed if they do, dammed if they don’t. The trade offer I had in mind for Soriano from late May to July 31 was shipping him to Detroit for Zach Miner and Humberto Sanchez. I’ll leave the trades to the experts
I didn’t mind the Nationals standing pat.
It’s frustrating to know that the Nationals won’t be going after big-name talent in this off-season. My expectations for 2007 aren’t that high which should make watching the games less frustrating. I feel, though, that the big-name talent isn’t looking at Washington anyways so why waste time chasing after talent who won’t come here in the end.
In my conspiracy theory mind, I guess losing Soriano might have something to do with the team not raising ticket prices on 86% of the seats in the cavernous RFK Stadium. I consider it an off-season present from the Nationals-their way of telling us they won’t raise prices next year especially since the chances of the Nationals doing well are remote. They’ll wait until the new stadium opens to do that. So for the rest of the offseason, I’ll watch as other teams grab the talented names out there. I’ll do some light reading on Kory Casto, who did quite well in the Arizona Fall League this year. I’ll continue to work on my new reality show, National Idol, in which a panel of scouts and coaches audition the best pitchers for the prize of being in the National Starting Rotation in 2007. Time to Acta-vate!