Polar Opposites - Soriano vs. Fukudome
First: Science geeks sip Jeezus Juice with Mr. Cub. Click here.
Also: Byron gets chummy with Bucco Boosters. Click here.
Note: the opinion expressed below is not necessarily that of the entire staff of Goatriders.org. However, disagree at your own peril.
I guess now you know why I beat the drums for this guy all winter?
Of course I don't expect Fooky to hit .400 all year, nor do I expect him to come up with the big play every single opportunity he gets. Eventually, the league will figure out how to get him out with regularity. I figure he isn't going to end up much above .250 in batting average, and I stand by that now, and it won't be the least bit disappointing, his fast start considering.
Because Kosuke also has a .512 OBP, and while this too will drop, it won't drop as much as his batting average. Some things are slump-proof, all things being equal. Provided he doesn't spin completely out of control, start making commericals for everything from ramen noodles to lifetime mufflers to feminine body wash, he will continue to do the following:
- go the opposite way
- bunt well
- show plate discipline
- catch everything he should
- throw guys out and hold them to their bags
- say and do the right things in the house
He doesn't quite have the bat control of Ichiro, but neither does Fukudome have quite the ego of Ichiro. While he shouldn't be considered to be a savior, he is the perfect right fielder for our franchise, and WITH the erstwhile second baseman from Baltimore, would have comprised the most balanced Cubs lineup EVER (ever? forever ever? forever ever ever! You can have your Hack Wilson 191 RBIs and whatever else...)
...but, THAT ain't going to happen, so as Uncle Lou says, we gotta play with what we have. It is important to recognize us for who we are rather than who we are not. THIS...is your team. And Alfonso Soriano is NOT Jimmy Chitwood.
Or maybe he is. As many times as I have watched "Hoosiers", I never say Jimmy playing small ball. Never saw him draw a charge, or guard their best scorer, or set a pick for Rafe or Buddy. Sure, they don't win a state championship without him; hell, they probably don't stay within 10 points of Terhune. Oolitic would kick they ass. But Jimmy wasn't a team player - or maybe, Jimmy was his own team.
And that sums up how I feel about Soriano. I refuse to call him the Fonz, because it would be hypocritical for me to give him a fawning name when I didn't really want him in the first place. (Cannot link back to late 2006 when the trade first went down) He WAS the top free agent in the market that winter, and yes, I wanted the Cubs to, for once, sign the top free agent. It was just unfortunate, in my eyes, that the year they decide to step up, that Soriano was the guy.
He ain't no team player. And no, this is not in response to his slow start. Ramirez is also starting slow, but both are Dominican, both are devoted to cocks when in the Dominican, and both tend to heat up with the weather. That doesn't worry me. I am fully cognizant that without him in August and September, we win nothing in 2007, and at some point this year, he is going to carry the team on his back for about 3-4 weeks.
Of course, Sosa used to do that, too, and management seemed to think that was enough to put us over the top. Thankfully we have a fair amount of offensive balance besides Soriano. (We'd have more if we had Robe....never mind). Whereas in the past, we'd have Delino De (panty) Shields and Curtis Goodwin, who wanted to be treated like a man, to be allowed to wear his jewelry on the field.
Anyway, here's my point...a lot has been said, by me and by all, about the 2008 Cubs Batting Order, and Its Place in the Eventual Success. It is always an important topic, but I believe moreso this year, because there needed to be a justification for trading 3 or more top prospects to the Orioles for You-Know-Who. For if he was here, then as the great western (Pennsylvanian) philosopher Wannstedt once put it, all the pieces would be in place. The value of the Perfect Cubs Batting Order would be worth the extreme cost of making the trade.
But barring the trade, the batting order questions persist, especially after many lackluster Cactus outings and the first two turds we pinched out versus Milwaukee. Soriano is our current and previous leadoff hitter, which I am sure is causing all you saberweenies to grit your teeth as you fall asleep at night. Annnnnndddd, if you take the numbers at their full value, it makes sense to conclude that a man with that power, and THAT plate discipline should be hitting 5th or 6th, but NOT FIRST!
Problem is, Soriano does His Own Thing. The reason why he likes leadoff is, if he doesn't have runners on base for him, he doesn't have to worry about some of the more esoteric points, like moving them along, like hitting behind them, like, um, sacrificing? He just wants to hit away, and for us to let Alfonso be Alfonso. Kind of like Manny being Manny.
But Manny doesn't hit leadoff, they cried, and the Sawx have won two world titles with him in the middle of the lineup! And they have Sir BILL JAMES as a executive! It works for them! Yes, and for the longest time, it didn't, remember. Plus Manny is .313/.409/.592 lifetime (OUCH, babe), and is thus far more productive Being Manny than Alfonso is Being Alfonso. Soriano kills us in the middle of the order by refusing to hit situationally. We need him to carry us at some point, and in the meantime, we limit the damage his style causes by segregating him to the top of the lineup.
To me, having Soriano lead off is like having two lineups, kind of like having two serves in tennis. The first serve, you try to crush the ball, and if it falls in, super! But if it is wide or hits the net, oh well, you then get the second serve over. So we send Alfonso up there right off, to hit one hard somewhere, and then the "team" itself comes up for the purpose of manufacturing runs via batting order dynamics; the second hitter becomes the defacto leadoff man, etc.
So, for now, just leave him there. We don't truly have an optimum option on the roster now. So in the long run, what is it hurting?