Is Alfonso Soriano Baseball's Most Overpaid Free Agent Ever?

Darrell HorwitzSenior Writer IIApril 15, 2010

CHICAGO - AUGUST 28: Alfonso Soriano #12 of the Chicago Cubs misses a catch in the outfield against the New York Mets on August 28, 2009 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. The Cubs defeated the Mets 5-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Sunday, Monday, happy days; Tuesday, Wednesday, happy days; Thursday, Friday, happy days; everyday is a happy day when you're Alfonso Soriano and you're stealing money like he is!

His nickname is "Fonzie" from the show Happy Days, because he always has a huge smile plastered on his face. Wouldn't you if you had a $136 million contract?

But unlike Fonzie, who was a tough guy, the guy who plays for the Cubs is a coward.

After dropping a fly to left on Sunday, he told the press, "I saw it all the way, but at the last moment, I took my eye off the ball and thought about the wall."

Everybody makes an error once in a while, and if that was what happened in this case, I wouldn't make a big deal about it. But this happens all the time with Soriano.

He's been afraid of the wall ever since he started playing the outfield, proving to be just as inept as when he was a second baseman.

Even his manager, Lou Piniella, is starting to get tired of his antics in the field.

When asked about his defense in left and if he plans on keeping him out there, Piniella replied, "You don't have to make the spectacular or great plays, but make the routine plays. That's expected out of basically any major league player."

Unfortunately Piniella's expectations are a little too high for Soriano.

A little leaguer on a traveling team is probably a better left fielder than Soriano.

Any ball to left is an adventure. There is never a sure out if it's hit to him. Never!

Yesterday against Milwaukee, he played a double into a triple in the fifth. He then actually went too close to the wall he's so afraid of on a ball over his head and it caromed far enough way from him to allow the runner on first to score.

There are no designated hitters in the National League, but he wouldn't even qualify for that because he can't hit either.

There are players that have had bigger contracts than him, like A-Rod, Jeter, Manny Ramirez, and others. But they're good, and even though in my opinion no one is worth that kind of money, at least they perform on the field well enough to warrant it.

What does this guy do? If he can't hit, he's worthless. And he's not hitting.

Even when he does hit, at least in the past, he would get in streaks where you couldn't get him out and he could carry a team. That's why he got that contract.

But when he wasn't hot, you would be better off with that little leaguer at the plate, because he's a sure out.

He has no plate discipline and he tries to pull everything. He has no plan when he steps up to the plate other than praying that the pitcher will throw him a fastball in his zone.

He uses one of the heaviest bats in the game, so it's impossible to check his swing, but he doesn't do anything to change things.

Couldn't he go to a lighter bat? Couldn't the Cubs insist that he does, since they're the fools who are going to be paying him for the next five years?

You always hear the media in Chicago speak so highly of him. They say he's a stand-up guy and always faces the music. Because of that, he doesn't get the criticism he deserves from the media for so little performance for so much money.

They also say he's a hard worker.

I find that hard to believe, because if he was, you would think he would at least be an average fielder by now.

How about getting to the park early and taking flyballs for a couple of hours every day until he at least becomes adequate? He might be almost as good as that little leaguer by the end of his contract.

There are other bad contracts in baseball. Barry Zito and Vernon Wells have been busts since they signed their $126 million contracts, though Wells is off to a good start this year and has always been a good fielder, while Zito eats up close to 200 innings every year.

Mike Hampton also failed miserably after signing a huge contract, but at least he had an excuse. He was hardly ever healthy after signing for the big bucks.

If he's not the most overpaid player in baseball, then tell me who is.

Unfortunately baseball is not like football, where they don't have guaranteed contracts and you can cut a guy anytime.

I can't believe I've gone this far and haven't mentioned his lack of hustle. How many times do you see him when he thinks he hits a home run (in the past, because he doesn't hit home runs anymore) and stands and admires the majestic arc of the ball as it hits off the wall, if it even make it that far.

He either ends up with a single, tries for a double and is thrown out, or is safe and maybe pulls a hammy because he has to turn on the jets to beat the throw.

Does anyone remember last year when he botched a fly against the White Sox (I know it's hard to remember which one he botched. It would be easier if I mentioned balls he caught) and trotted back after the ball while looking back at the runner circling the bases.

Sox announcer Steve Stone criticized him and said, "Just go after the ball, don't turn around and watch the runner."

Soriano has had injury issues too, including having arthroscopic surgery in September. Then spring training came and he said he was about 85 to 90 percent.

What was he doing during the offseason? Obviously not rehabbing it.

Soriano's not a hard worker. I say he's a dog. He doesn't care whether the Cubs win or lose because he's getting paid anyway.

Before the season started, he promised that he was going to be worth every penny he's getting paid this year.

What's minimum wage right now?

Forget about it. He would still be overpaid.


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