Alfonso Soriano has seen most of his stats diminish every year since his career season with the Nationals in 2006. Because he had a decent 2007, his first season as a Northsider, some have argued that his Cubs career, thus far, could be described as a wash or even a mild success.
His statistical trends, however, show that his Cub career has been poor, and is getting worse.
Soriano has not been up and down for three seasons, he has been consistently down every year. Here is a list of offensive statistics that have decreased in every year since 2006: Runs, hits, extra base hits, home runs, OBP, OPS, and Total Bases.
Should this be surprising? Not really. His OBP, Slugging Percentage, and OPS were better than his career average in 2007 and 2008. Before last year's abysmal season, which every player has once or twice, Soriano was performing just like the Cubs should have expected.
The problem is that they expected performance, less on par with his career averages, and more like his monster 2006. While somewhat dissapointing, his numbers (before las year) have been kind of average.
Why then is he potentially on his way to becoming the worst signing in club history? If he has had average stats so far, how could you compare him to the farces that were Todd Hundley, Milton Bradley, LaTroy Hawkins, etc?
The difference between Soriano and those players is the size and length of his contract, and how it completely has handcuffed the team from doing anything else.
Soriano was the ninth highest paid player in baseball in 2009. Even if you generally defend Soriano, you cannot make an argument that he is in the top 10 players in the game. There is no chance.
Even if you argue that his production has been mediocre. 16m dollars cannot buy you mediocre. If it does, your team will not be successful.
Back to the title, and the real issue with Mr. Soriano. His production as a Cub thus far has not earned him the title of "Worst Signing Ever." The title says, "Could..." become the worst. Our issue: the trends.
Production since '06 has gone down every year. His salary since '06? Up every year, and climbing. What did his awful 2009 earn him? A 2 million dollar raise for 2010. A season, that based on the trends, is likely to see even less production.
Worse still. He is going on 34 years old (so he says; it could be even older) and still has five years left on his contract? Do we really expect him to bounce back on the wrong side of 35? Since steroid testing, we are seeing less and less production out of players in their upper 30's.
I hope that he does bounce back. I am rooting for him and the Cubbies, like always. The trends are disturbing, however, and we still have five years and 90 million more dollars to go.
Let's all hope my prediction is wrong, but I'll bet its not.
Soriano will be the worst signing in Chicago Cub history.