Year Three of the Alfonso Soriano Experience has yielded zero playoff wins for the Chicago Cubs, but thousands of headaches and head scratches.
This year is the most frustrating of the three.
Soriano is having the worst season of his career and has not shown signs of breaking out yet.
His .235 batting average is actually less pathetic than his .733 OPS. He has already whiffed 75 times, which for a leadoff hitter is...well, pathetic.
I picked five reasons (though I could have picked 50) why Soriano is a failure as a Cub.
1. Soriano Can’t Walk
It is useless at this point to argue over whether or not Soriano should bat leadoff. He is comfortable there, so just let it go.
But I will call to attention the fact that Soriano can not draw a base on balls.
Soriano averages just 41 walks per 162 games. That's not good by any means. A leadoff hitter should at least have the ability to consistently draw a walk or two.
The problem with Soriano and his inability to draw a walk, is that whenever he struggles to put together hits he is completely useless because he will not get a free pass.
To put Soriano's refusal to walk in perspective, semi-leadoff hitter Craig Counsell averages 63 walks per 162 games played. Craig Counsell is not someone you often associate with an All-Star like Soriano.
Soriano's career high for walks in a season is only 67 (back in 2006, a 'contract year') and has not approached even 50 since.
Get him a bus pass, because he is not walking anywhere.
2. Soriano Can’t Steal a Base
OK so I am exaggerating here, but not by a lot.
Soriano can still run (19 steals in both 2007 and 2008), but clearly has lost a step or two.
Soriano signed a hefty contract because he was viewed as a player who possessed the rare combination of power and speed, among other reasons of course. In fact, Soriano stole 41 bases in 2006, again, his contract year.
How can someone's speed deteriorate so quickly, from 41 to less than 20 a year later?
True, he is getting old, but a 33-year old is younger than 35-year old players like Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu, both of whom already have 17 stolen bases this season.
Injuries have limited Soriano in his tenure as a Chicago Cub, and the true value of a stolen base might be a tad overrated, but this was supposed to be a player that could hit AND run.
So, we have a player who won't walk and can't run. Will he jog? Will he skip? Can he drive or fly?
3. Soriano’s Defense is Offensive
To sum up Soriano's defense, one need only watch the tape from the June 28th game vs. the Chicago White Sox.
Paul Konerko, who is slower than a glacier, hit a ball in the gap that Soriano could not or would not cut off. The ball was left for Kosuke Fukudome to handle.
Konerko slid into second base with a double.
Earlier that game, Soriano hit a similar ball in the exact same place as Konerko's, but only managed a single. Let's recap:
Konerko, who is slow, got a double. Soriano, who is fast, got a single.
In Soriano's mind offensively, the ball he hit was worthy of only a single, so he settled for that.
But Soriano's defensive mind viewed it differently, obviously, because he allowed a slow base runner to advance an extra base.
Was it lack of effort, or did he truly feel Konerko had earned a double? Sorry to pick on you, Paul, but you know you got a freebie there.
This was not the first time, nor will it be the last time, that Soriano has made a mistake on defense.
He loses balls in the sun, drops balls in his glove, bobbles balls in his...I won't say it, but you know what I'm referring to.
It is well-documented that Soriano possesses a very good throwing arm, but you have to wonder how many of his assists are due to the fact that third base coaches do not respect his defense, and send runners no matter what?
His defense has cost Cubs' pitchers added bases and runners, and he makes mental errors that a child would not make.
We have now established that he can't walk or run, and the only thing he can catch is a cab or bus.
4. Soriano is Not Worth the Money He Makes
To be fair, hardly anyone in baseball is worth their contracts. But we're not worried about others, we're just here to pick on Soriano.
Soriano's eight-year, $136 million dollar contract was the highlight of the 2006 off season in Major League Baseball. Only a handful of players make more in today's game.
For that money, one should expect nothing short of Albert Pujols-type numbers. A typical Pujols season of 40+ HR's, 120+ RBI's, 110+ runs scored, and a .330+ batting average would make Soriano's contract easier to stomach.
As you are well aware of, Soriano has not come close to any of those numbers.
For all his gaffes and miscues, Cubs fans deserve more return on their investment.
He frustrates the patient, angers the peaceful, confuses the smart, and saddens the cheerful. He is a multi-million dollar mistake.
This is a man who can't walk, steal, or play defense. He CAN, however, deposit large paychecks into bank accounts.
5. Soriano is Not the Marquee Free-Agent Signing He was Supposed to be
The previous slides detailed his failure as a Chicago Cub, and this slide will criticize Soriano for not being more than he should have been.
Soriano's signing was supposed to signal a changing of the guard in the National League Central and say to the world of Major League Baseball, "Hey We're the Cubs! We're here to win!"
The Cubs had NEVER made such a free-agent splash like this before.
Cubs fans had watched dozens and dozens of big name free-agent players switch teams in the off season, someday dreaming that their beloved Cubs could haul in a jewel like Soriano.
A jewel, he is not.
He is not the changing of the guard, breath of fresh air that Cubs' management thought he would be. Zero playoff wins with Soriano in the fold can not be interpreted any other way.
Soriano has not turned the Cubs into a dynasty or force to be reckoned with. He has not done anything to convince baseball fans that he, or the Cubs, are serious title contenders.
If you look at the Albert Pujols' or Alex Rodriguez' of the world and wonder what separates them from Soriano, just read the previous slides.
Soriano is paid like a king, but performs like a commoner.
He has failed as a Chicago Cub.