By George Ofman-
(CBS) I’m a bit flummoxed by those who heaped a whole lot of love on Alfonso Soriano upon his departure. They called him a good influence in the clubhouse and a guy who learned to play left field. And there were actually some misguided fans (and even media folk) who were sorry to see him go.
Now that I think of it, I’m totally flummoxed. Make that stunned.
What Alfonso Soriano were you watching?
Are you talking about the guy who finally bought into being a team player? The one who decided to learn to play left field rather than treat it as if deadly rattle snakes were pouring out of the vines?
Are you taking about the guy whose aggravating hop before he caught a fly ball made him look like a bad circus act? Are you talking about the guy who left his legs in Washington? Are you talking about the guy who in the last two seasons decided to skip the month of April? Are you talking about the guy whose postseason numbers in 2007 and ’08 resembled your financial portfolio during the crash?
You mean that guy?
Alfonso Soriano was not a bust with the Cubs, but he was a major disappointment for a guy who was paid the gross national product of some far off countries. Not that receiving a $136 million bonanza was his fault. I can’t blame him for accepting a handout from people who should have their hands tied and permanently.
He’s precisely the player Theo Epstein wouldn’t have paid at age 31, and the numbers bear that out.
Soriano averaged 34 homers and 93 RBIs the six seasons before he arrived, averaging 155 games per season. He averaged 27 and 79 the next six with the Cubs in 133 games. He scored an average of 70 runs here, 101 there and while we’re at it, his average WAR (wins above replacement) number with the Yankees, Rangers and Nationals was 3.08. The number with the Cubs was just shy of 1.
His first season here was productive but not in the outfield where he had more adventures than Tom Sawyer, who I believed was never booed. Soriano was, despite cranking 33 homers and hitting .299. But his legs began marching to a different drummer, one who lost his foot pedals. He had a better chance of stealing hub caps than bases. He averaged 34 1/2 thefts his first six seasons and just 10 in the next six here. Matter of fact, he swiped 22 from 2009 through 2012. Might as well as had Paul Konerko pinch run.
And can we discuss the playoffs which are how you measure a player of worth, especially one averaging a whopping $18 million per season? Soriano went 2-for-14 in the 2007 series against the Diamondbacks and just to prove that wasn’t a fluke, went 1-for-14 against the Dodgers a year later. This would be composite average of .107. I’m thinking he should have given some of his salary back, aren’t you? Worse yet: he’s on the Cubs payroll next season to the tune of some $5 million!
So, for those who praised Soriano for his professionalism and desire to learn how to cope with the outfield years after he was assigned to it and who believed his more than 6 1/2 seasons here were worthwhile I say, good riddance.
George Ofman is a sports anchor and reporter for WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9FM. Look for him on Facebook and find him on Twitter at @georgeofman.