When Alfonso Soriano was acquired by the Washington Nationals prior to the 2006 season, the club wanted to convert him from a second baseman to an outfielder. The Nats already had a second baseman in Jose Vidro, but Soriano wanted no part of the switch and sat out a few spring training games as a protest.
Eventually, Soriano gave in to the wishes of his manager (so as not to forfeit any salary) and made the All-Star Game as a left-fielder.
Fast forward to May 2009, the Chicago Cubs find themselves in the opposite situation of the 2006 Nationals. The Cubs lack a second baseman, trading away Mark DeRosa in the offseason, and recently losing replacements Aaron Miles and Ryan Freel to injury.
The Cubs' normal second baseman, Mike Fontenot, has been forced to switch to third base due to another injury to Aramis Ramirez, leaving manager Lou Piniella short on options at two of the infield positions.
If Freel goes on the DL, as expected, the Cubs will likely recall Bobby Scales from Triple-A Iowa as his replacement, but the infield depth will still be thin.
In the outfield, however, the Cubs have plenty of options. Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, Reed Johnson, Milton Bradley, and Micah Hoffpauir are all in the mix, with recent call-up Jake Fox looking for at-bats as well.
Until the most recent series against the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Cubs had been in an offensive slump. On a recent six-game road trip against St. Louis and San Diego, the Cubs managed just five runs, losing all six of the games. The team has attempted to solve this problem by calling up Fox, but it means nothing if there is no way to get his bat in the starting lineup.
One solution, albeit a crazy one, is to move Soriano back to second base. Not having played there much over the last three-plus seasons will make him a defensive liability, but no more so than inserting Fox at third base. Soriano does have a great arm in the outfield, but he is not the best fielder out there either.
Moving Soriano to second opens up an outfield slot for Reed Johnson, Micah Hoffpauir, or Jake Fox. It also gives Piniella more flexibility with double switches later in games.
This is definitely not a permanent solution. Once Aramis Ramirez returns there will be no need for it. But Ramirez is anywhere from four to six weeks away from returning, and the Cubs could fall too far back in the division during that time for it to matter.
Unfortunately, the Cubs can't play the Pirates every game, and with the Dodgers in town this weekend and interleague play on the horizon, the Cubs need to do something to wake up their bats in a hurry.