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Blog Entry

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

Posted on: March 6, 2012 7:06 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2012 11:00 am
 
MESA, Ariz. -- Ears perked up, perhaps, by new manager Dale Sveum discussing him as a potential cleanup man the other day, beleaguered Cubs veteran Alfonso Soriano sure looked the part Tuesday.

Granted, it was March 6. Yes, the Colorado Rockies essentially are holding tryouts for their rotation and Guillermo Moscoso and Zach Putnam won't remind anyone of Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson anytime soon. And true, making hasty spring training judgments is more dangerous than crossing the desert with no water.

On the flip side, when you've had your ears pinned back with boos while disappointing as much as Soriano has over the past couple of seasons ... maybe a little confidence boost can go a long way.

Batting fourth against the Rockies on Tuesday, Soriano absolutely crushed a Moscoso pitch in the second inning, drilling it off of the scoreboard behind the left-field seats. Then, after doubling against Alex White -- another Rockies' starting pitcher wannabe -- he ripped another homer, this one in the fifth against Putnam. He finished with three RBIs.

"Second game, and I'm starting to feel good with my swing and with my timing," Soriano said. "That made me feel good."

Normally, Soriano said, it takes him somewhere between 20 and 25 at-bats before he begins feeling good in the spring. So you might say he's already in mid-spring form.

"My goal is to have a lot of at-bats and feel comfortable at the plate," Soriano, who batted .244 with 26 homers and 88 RBI last season, said of the spring. "I want to show my teammates and show the Cubs that I'm here to play the game. It doesn't matter if I lead off, I'm here to do my job."

Soriano, a leadoff man in the past, lost that gig in 2009 under Lou Piniella. Slogging along at the plate for too long, Soriano mostly hit seventh (221 plate appearances) last year, with some sixth (186) and fifth (94) mixed in.

Aggressively shopped over the winter by new president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer, and booed at the Cubs Convention over the winter, Soriano said he doesn't care where he hits in the lineup.

"Not really," he said. "I'm just preparing my mind. It doesn't matter to me if I lead off or hit fourth or fifth."

Wherever Sveum thinks he can best help the club, the affable Soriano said, he's happy to hit there.

Sveum has said he'd like to give rookie first baseman Bryan LaHair the opportunity to hit in the cleanup spot in the order. But right out of the gate, that would appear to be pushing it for a rookie. If Soriano can have a good spring and own the cleanup spot, that will take some of the heat off of LaHair as well as give the Cubs a boost.

Plus, the only way the Cubs likely will be able to trade him is if he gets off to a hot start, and a contender impressed with his April, May and June comes calling. Soriano has three years and $54 million remaining on his contract. The under-new-management Cubs have been so desperate to move him that sources say they will eat a significant portion of the contract if they can deal him.

This spring, though, Soriano, 36, will keep his blinders on and prepare for 2012.

He wants to get as many spring at-bats as he can.

"The more I take, the more I feel comfortable at home plate," he said. "If I can get 50, 60, 100 ... my goal is to be ready for opening day."

Last spring, he checked in with 64 at-bats.

This spring, if many more of them go as they did Tuesday, maybe Soriano can write a happy ending yet.

Sunblock day? Nice and hot, in the 80s, with a bright, warm sun and a cloudless, blue sky. Perfect spring training weather. And great convertible day.

Likes: Cool old huge photo of Ron Santo on the door greeting those entering the press box at the Cubs' HoHoKam Park. Very striking, and a great tribute. ... Looking forward to watching Yu Darvish's Cactus League debut Wednesday. ... Every time I visit Scottsdale Stadium, it's reinforced that it's the best thing going. ... Reminiscing about former major leaguers and legendary scouts Pat Dobson and Ted Uehlander with Giants general manager Brian Sabean. Each of those men, special assistants to Sabean before passing away, was a terrific baseball character, and it brightened your day to run into them. I miss seeing Dobber and Ted around the spring training trails. ... The fried calamari at the Italian Grotto in Scottsdale.

Dislikes: Freddy Sanchez, Giants' second baseman -- will he ever again be healthy enough to be the player many thought he would become? Discuss.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Hold tight to your anger
"And don't fall to your fears"

-- Bruce Springsteen, Wrecking Ball
Comments

Since: Jan 15, 2009
Posted on: March 7, 2012 8:31 am
 

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

I agree, not a great column. Two homeruns against AAA pitching isn't the story that I am looking for as a Cub fan. Tell me how Anthony Rizzo looks, about Samardzija (sp?), Josh Vitters, Brett Jackson and a bit about Starlin Castro-the current Cub franchise player!

I'm sure Soriano got a 90 mph straight fastball and he crushed it, if it had been a good breaking ball (not March 6th) I would be mildly impressed.

I will say this though, I hope Soriano hits the cover off the ball to begin the season so we can trade him to anyone who will take him. Playing a 36 year old with a terrible glove, no speed, and an inability to even foul off a decent breaking ball is just clogging up the outfield and hindering the development of our future core of players.

Open the checkbook Theo, and send Soriano anywhere along with paying a hefty portion of his contract-assiming we would have to. As a Cub fan, I would rather watch a youthful group develop and struggle a bit than watch a guy who makes $1 million per home run and to have him smiling ear to ear after making yet another brutal play in left field.

In summary, focus on relevant stories, not stories of guys that played well in their FA year before a desperate GM way-overpayed him and now as Cub fans we have to watch his skills erode while he makes premium dollars for three more years.

Go Cubbies and in Theo I trust!



Since: Jan 15, 2009
Posted on: March 7, 2012 8:30 am
 

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

I agree, not a great column. Two homeruns against AAA pitching isn't the story that I am looking for as a Cub fan. Tell me how Anthony Rizzo looks, about Samardzija (sp?), Josh Vitters, Brett Jackson and a bit about Starlin Castro-the current Cub franchise player!

I'm sure Soriano got a 90 mph straight fastball and he crushed it, if it had been a good breaking ball (not March 6th) I would be mildly impressed.

I will say this though, I hope Soriano hits the cover off the ball to begin the season so we can trade him to anyone who will take him. Playing a 36 year old with a terrible glove, no speed, and an inability to even foul off a decent breaking ball is just clogging up the outfield and hindering the development of our future core of players.

Open the checkbook Theo, and send Soriano anywhere along with paying a hefty portion of his contract-assiming we would have to. As a Cub fan, I would rather watch a youthful group develop and struggle a bit than watch a guy who makes $1 million per home run and to have him smiling ear to ear after making yet another brutal play in left field.

In summary, focus on relevant stories, not stories of guys that played well in their FA year before a desperate GM way-overpayed him and now as Cub fans we have to watch his skills erode while he makes premium dollars for three more years.

Go Cubbies and in Theo I trust!



Since: Dec 7, 2006
Posted on: March 7, 2012 7:17 am
 

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

This is such a stupid story. It's ONE GAME, an EXHIBITION game. But since he got off to such a great start in one spring training game, Miller has him pegged for an MVP year.

Let's face it, Soriano will be Soriano this season, with a .300 OBP and no speed and lousy defense. This was a waste of a column to write drivel like this about a player who is not part of the Cub future. It would serve a better purpose to say how youngsters are doing in spring training, not bums like Soriano. Or maybe tell us how players like Castro are working to improve their fundamentals, if they are.

And Miller, tell us next time Soriano belts one if he poses at hime plate to admire it, and what Sveum does about it. That's more a story than this crud you wrote.




Since: May 22, 2007
Posted on: March 7, 2012 6:23 am
 

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

Let's face it, if the Cubs trade Alfonso Soriano, they will probably have to eat a good bit of his 18 million a year contract. Not many teams out there want to task that risk, not even the Yankees. Starlin Castro certainly deserves the leadoff spot for the Cubs anyway...the many problems with Soriano start with his steel hands. I wonder how much coverage we'll get in Texas for Yu Darvish's spring debut. I hope for the Rangers sake, he doesn't get hammered.



Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: March 7, 2012 12:36 am
 

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

Theo & Jed must pay the media for hog wash like this. Soriano is a windmill, he doesn`t steal bases anymore, is a butcher on roller skates in the OF...basically a one trick DH....but the new Cubs braintrust wants to dupe some buyer...any buyer that it`s the Soriano that once years ago was a dynamic leadoff man and 2B in NY. 
I don't think that Theo & Jed would try to Hype up Soriano by paying the Media, If they hype up anyone it be players they are trying trade like Byrd or Garza. Soriano is playing good in the first 2 games of spring training, there a big difference of playing good in spring training to playing good in regular season.

Last time I heard there is no team that want Soriano, Soriano would have to hit like Kemp or Adrian Gonzalez for any team to become Interested in him.  Right now Soriano salary 18 million a year for 3 years scare most team away, so there no way that Theo & Jed can duped any team to take Soriano.



Since: Jun 13, 2007
Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:53 pm
 

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

Sori's knees are closer to 80 than to 36.  It's no surprise he's a bad defender now (and he was never a great one to start with).

He still can hit and drive the ball when his legs let him.  His pre/post ASB splits the last couple of seasons are telling... he starts strong, then tails off as the season wears on him.  They need to give him a breather 2-3 days a week to keep him effective (and obviously use him as the DH in interleague play).  He'd really be best suited to DHing for an AL team at this point and whether this year or in the offseason he's going to get traded to someone that needs him in that role.  But the Cubs can wait for someone to have a need, so they can minimize the amount of salary they eat to make it happen.



Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:37 pm
 

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

Ya think???????????????????  All the ivy in Wrigley can`t hide the fact Soriano can`t play defense. Start drinkin heavily Cub fans.  



Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:35 pm
 

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

Theo & Jed must pay the media for hog wash like this. Soriano is a windmill, he doesn`t steal bases anymore, is a butcher on roller skates in the OF...basically a one trick DH....but the new Cubs braintrust wants to dupe some buyer...any buyer that it`s the Soriano that once years ago was a dynamic leadoff man and 2B in NY. Stick to hypin Matt Garza, at least he can still bring it. The Cubs are gonn apower suck as usual.



Since: Jan 20, 2012
Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:12 pm
 

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

Hope he does have a come back season this guy deserves it... 



Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: March 6, 2012 9:02 pm
 

Cubs' Soriano stokes the what-could-be embers

I think that Soriano is still a good hitter with some power, but he will always be a liability on defense.


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