2010 Player Preview: Alfonso Soriano
Upon reflection, I should have nicknamed Soriano "Albatross." He carries with him one mother of a contract, a toxic debt that the Ricketts family will be paying for five more seasons including this one.
Except it isn't necessarily that toxic -- yet. Soriano is not so old or out of shape or talentless. It is quite possible that he could bounce back from his horrible '09 performance, in which he was plagued with knee problems and eventually required surgery. Think about it like Andre Dawson, circa 1989 -- even though Sori doesn't have the baseball intelligence of the Hawk.
In 1989, a 34-year-old Dawson was suffering from all kinds of knee ailments. He wasn't his normal self. Consequently, he only played in 118 games, hitting .252 with an OPS of .783 while slugging a meager 21 homeruns and driving in 77 RBI.
Soriano last year was 33, he played in 117 games, batting .241 with an OPS of .726 while slugging a meager 20 homeruns and driving in 55 RBI. But the light at the end of this tunnel was that, despite Dawson's dip into mediocrity, he managed to pull it together and give the Cubs three good years before riding off into the sunset in 1993.
If Soriano is able to do the same -- pull it together, stay healthy, and give the Cubs 3 more good season -- then it almost makes his contract worthwhile, even though Chicago will still be on the hook for 2 more years of gut-churning struggles.
So, I say chin up, Cub fans. It isn't necessarily the end for the Fonz. Now that he's been yanked from the leadoff spot, Lou will hopefully emphasize that he save his legs and focus on hitting crushing homeruns. And now that his legs are healthy again, his defense should improve in the outfield (it's no coincidence that his defensive troubles coincided with the collapse of his health) and maybe, just maybe, the Cubs will benefit again from having Soriano on the team.