It’s been well documented that Alfonso Soriano hasn’t given the Cubs what they paid him for. Entering his fifth year with the Cubs, Soriano is off to a loud start (at the time of writing: .257 AVG, 11 HR, 21 RBI), however. Sure, as Cubs fans, we welcome the results, but once again on Wednesday afternoon, Soriano reminded us why we give him such a hard time.
In the middle of the Cubs/Dodgers game on Wednesday, Soriano hit a high, shallow fly ball to left field; by all means routine. However, with a combination of light wind and sun rays, the ball fell in. Where was Soriano? He had just crossed first base because he took the scenic route between home plate and first base; much to the dismay of Cub broadcaster Bob Brenly and to most of Cubs nation I can only imagine. Soriano, in a possible attempt to make up for the blunder; tried, unsuccessfully, to tag up on a fly ball to deep left field and was consequently thrown out at second. In the words of Brenly; “two wrongs don’t make a right.” I’ll make an important note however, the Cubs were fortunate to win on Wednesday via the home run (Soto, Pena, Byrd) because they made a number of base running gaffes; not limited to Soriano alone.
Like all fans in Baseball, people want results. That being said, the amount of time you have from when your cheers shift to boos is considerably longer when you exhibit a degree of good ”¹…”ol fashion hustle, which Soriano has shown considerable inconsistency with. Marlon Byrd -the Cubs center fielder- is beloved amongst Cubs fans because he runs out every single play: infield hits, doubles, triples, defense, and even a sprint around the bases post home runs. Soriano, on the other hand, is guilty of admiring home runs, jogging on hits, and, at times, looking disinterested. Even if it’s an unfair showing, it gives the illusion that the player doesn’t want to be there and is unaware or unappreciative how fortunate he is to be playing baseball for a living.
Did the Cubs make a mistake in signing Soriano to such a robust contract? Yes. The Cubs signed Soriano after he had a monster year with the Nationals in 2006 (.277 AVG, 46 HR, 95 RBI, 41 SB) that would be asking too much of most anyone to be able to duplicate. Granted, he had had a few rather impressive years but he’s never been one for a high average, always had high strikeout rates, been less than stellar defensively (he’s in Left Field because he’s better there than he was at Second Base, that should put things in perspective), and has been questioned before on his lack of consistent hustle. He’s not a bad player; those are just some major detracting qualities for a player you’re planning on paying as much as the Cubs paid.
Soriano’s stay in Chicago hasn’t been completely unproductive. Thus far in his Cubs career, he’s been relatively productive, just not as productive as he was paid to be. All his previously mentioned flaws have remained as well as nagging leg injuries that have drastically reduced his stolen base ability. His age (35) isn’t helping him either.
The Cubs have made some poor roster decisions over the years but it’s not the short fuse or unrealistic expectations of fans that make people get on Soriano. Soriano brings it on himself, the same way every player who dogs it on the field does.
All statistical references from www.baseball-reference.com