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  1. The new market inefficiency: making sure your players know how to play baseball.

    Comment by Kinanik — December 3, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  2. He had a lot going for him which I hope they can sell high and take advantage. After this first month his knees looked shot but he kept playing and as stated the not so terrible base running speed was there.

    First switching to the slightly lighter bat and then finding out he was never “properly” coached on how to play the OF. Very circumstantial that in a way that does make a lot of sense.

    Anyway hes won over a lot of Chicago cub fans after just last season. I know many message boarders don’t even want to trade him but he should go personally I don’t see him doing this again.

    Comment by CycloneColin — December 3, 2012 @ 1:20 pm

  3. You left the most interesting question unanswered: if your bat has legs, how do you use ‘em?

    Comment by Paul Clarke — December 3, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

  4. Unless the Cubs plan to reinvest the salary savings on a younger free that fits their longer term plan, or they get a significant return by eating virtually ALL his salary, as a fan, I would rather keep Soriano. Here’s my reasoning:

    - The Cubs are short on major league ready outfielders so it’s not like Soriano is stealing time from a prospect that needs major league ABs.

    - The Cubs don’t exactly need salary relief. Even with Soriano’s contract on the books, the Cubs current payroll (including FA signings thus far) is ~$61M , well below the team average and well below the salary profile for a major market team. For some perspective, the Cubs payroll in 2010 was ~$145M.(http://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/index.php?team=CHN&cyear=2013)

    -Even if the Cubs had an extra $5-$10M to re-invest over the next few years, what would they do with it? It’s not like the Cubs aren’t signing big name free agents because they don’t have salary flexibility (see above) so the team will just be that much harder to watch.

    - According to numerous reports, Soriano sets a good example to the younger players on the team and provides some protection / production in the middle of the lineup. On such a young team, it can’t hurt to have at least 1 veteran out there that knows what it means to play in the majors and be a part of a winner.

    Comment by Tim — December 3, 2012 @ 2:03 pm

  5. “Makes you wonder about some teams. If there was a player that needed outfield coaching, ever, it was Soriano making the contentious move off of second base all those years ago.”

    Actually, this makes me question Soriano’s honesty.

    Comment by LeviDavis — December 3, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

  6. Haha, you say that but baseball is a very skilled sport. Some players just never seem to internalize things like positioning, reading the ball out of a pitcher’s hand, or what pitch to throw in what count. For a pitcher, you can at least let the catcher call your pitches. For a fielder… well, you’re just going to see a lot of adventurous routes trying to get to a ball in play.

    Comment by B N — December 3, 2012 @ 2:58 pm

  7. All good points, Tim. However I would argue there is some urgency here as Soriano is unlikely to come anywhere close last year’s production for the rest of his career so his trade value will never be higher. The timing converges with what’s left on his contract finally palatable assuming the Cubs eat some, if not most. It sounds as if there are a few teams out there who might be willing to risk rolling the dice that he can approach his 2012 value.

    His contract is a sunk cost at this point and in weighing how much to eat it seems like a fairly simple formula to me: Cubs trade Soriano, eat X of his remaining salary and pick up Y player (or more likely, prospect(s)). If the Cub’s FO thinks Y player’s production could exceed the X dollars eaten on Soriano’s contract, the trade is potentially a big win with little downside.

    Naturally they’ll be looking for player(s) that might be around for the next run but, more importantly, have several years of cost-controlled rights remaining. We know that Soriano is owed $36M through 2014 so the math is pretty simple. A Win is worth about $6-7M in today’s market so if we’re conservative and use $6M per Win, the Cubs only need to deal for a player(s) who will exceed 4-5 Wins over the life of how long they remain inexpensive for the Cubs (pre-arb) to retain.

    If you’ll forgive the gross overgeneralization and grant me that a typical 2 WAR player is commonly a very good reliever, #4-5 SP, decent MI/CF or quality corner guy, the bar is pretty low for getting a return on Soriano. Finding a potential 2 WAR guy who’s cheap for 3+ years seems in exchange for eating $24-$28M of Soriano’s contract doesn’t seem too daunting.

    It’s also worth noting that Soriano will be blocking other OF prospects and possibly by the end of this season. The Cubs will likely want to take a look at one or several of Sappelt, Szczur, Jackson, Lake, Ha, Watkins, Soler or Burgess. Unless you’re in the camp that the Cubs have an outside shot of contending in 2013 I just don’t see the upside in keeping Soriano.

    Comment by jmoultz — December 3, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

  8. Won’t play in San Francisco because it’s cold? As if it’s a balmy 85F in Chicago during a September night game…

    Comment by kjheise — December 3, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

  9. The Chicago Cubs were a 61 win team in 2012. Alfonso Soriano will be a 37 year old LF on opening day 2013 and making 36 million dollars over the next 2 years. Soriano is still a good player but he is worth more to marginal playoff team.

    For a team like the Braves it may mean the difference between winning the division and having to play another wild-card play-in game, or between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. For the Cubs next year, realistically, does it matter if they win 63, or 66 or 67 games? Think about how much work it is gonna take to leapfrog the Cards, Reds, Brewers and even Pirates the next couple years. With Houston gone the division is even tougher for the forseeable future.

    Even if the Cubs have to eat a good portion of the contract, if the Cubs can flip Soriano for a helpful contract, save themselves 10 to 15 million dollars, then in 2015 or so that money could be the difference in being able to make a few key mid-season rentals or a nice mid-rotation upgrade. For the Cubs, it makes sense to trade away Soriano and get a nice package now and invest in the future of the organization.

    Comment by Atari — December 3, 2012 @ 3:43 pm

  10. Yeah but it sure ain’t a chilly 58 in July in Chicago. The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in SF – Twain attributed.

    Comment by Pirates Hurdles — December 3, 2012 @ 3:48 pm

  11. he’ll never play the OF on the turf at tropicana field, never. If the cubs eat enough salary to make it $6-8mil a year in salary I could see the rays taking him on as a DH, there are worse ideas. They are not getting hellickson back though, or Cobb. It’d be worth a talk.

    Comment by Bill — December 3, 2012 @ 3:50 pm

  12. NL Central–the new tough division.

    Comment by Baltar — December 3, 2012 @ 4:10 pm

  13. Nothing like veteran presence.

    Comment by Baltar — December 3, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

  14. Hey, I know a sucker who might take on that contract…oh wait, never mind. He got fired for some reason.

    Comment by Vernon Wells — December 3, 2012 @ 4:26 pm

  15. No, probably no shot at Cobb or Hellickson, but perhaps Blake Snell, or Alex Colome, or Ryan Brett, or Enny Romero, or Felipe Rivero…there’s a lot of flyers the Cubs could take on guys in that system.

    Comment by jmoultz — December 3, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

  16. So true. It can be mid-summer and if you stand in the shade, the wind chill will make it feel like winter. It pierces to the bone.

    Comment by Atari — December 3, 2012 @ 4:29 pm

  17. Bowden was the GM of the Nats when they made Soriano move. Personally I think it is plausible

    Comment by Kiss my Go Nats — December 3, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

  18. I’m not sure we needed 1999 & 2000 in the graph. 1999 threw me in particular, until I looked it up – I had no memory of him slugging that year.

    Comment by Jon L. — December 3, 2012 @ 9:17 pm

  19. as a Cub fan, it’s nice to read articles and comments on Soriano that go beyond the tired old assumptions you keep reading elsewhere, made by people who haven’t even seen him play since 2009 – his defense is awful, his knees are shot, he can’t run, he can’t hit, the Cubs would have to eat his whole contract just to get back a bucket of balls.

    Comment by skmd — December 3, 2012 @ 11:42 pm

  20. where was the BIS info on positioning found at?

    Comment by byosti — December 4, 2012 @ 12:42 am

  21. Soriano makes sense for Atlanta if the Cubs would eat about $22M. Otherwise, the Braves don’t have the cash to make it happen.

    Comment by The Rajah — December 4, 2012 @ 9:32 am

  22. While credit is not often given to the manager, I think the shifts and positioning of Dale Sveum have a lot to do with not only Soriano’s improvement, but the others as well.

    Comment by Givejonadollar — December 4, 2012 @ 11:50 am

  23. Defensive improvement, that is.

    Comment by Givejonadollar — December 4, 2012 @ 11:50 am

  24. Is he healthier? I saw very few games last year, I was on the road far too often, but he sure looked limited in 2009 and 2010 and really appeared to be laboring. I respected him for getting out there everyday and read that his teammates appreciated it as well. He seemed to move better in 2011 and again last year and my thinking is that he is healthier, but that good coaching plus better mobility is what led to these improved results. I find the coaching comment plausible, simply because Dusty and Pinella ran old school teams with a hands off style and because the Cubs were bottom of the league on baserunning, fielding, etc. I tried to look at some other long established patterns that might have been influenced by better coaching. Such as pitch selection.

    I was always impressed by how often he swung on pitches that everyone in the country, except him, knew were coming. I would often wonder why coaches couldn’t get him to take those unhittable pitches he flailed away at. On many summer afternoons, Brenly, Santo and others would say that if the pitcher would throw an 0-2 slider, he would get Soriano swinging and then Cubs fans would wait for him to swing for the left field bleachers on EVERY 0-2 slider in the dirt. This pattern seemed to occur less often in the few games I saw last year, but I’d be curious to know if 0-2 strikeouts on out of zone pitches went down as well.

    His O-swing% was the best it had been in a few years, although not as low as it was while really puting up big numbers as a Ranger. He hit the FB better and the slider did not kill him (-1.6 runs) the way it did in 2011 (-16). Other pitch slection metrics were marginally improved to unchanged. Does anyone know of metrics to evaluate coaching other than run margin compared to won/loss or other general markers? If there is way to keep him from swinging at 0-2 sliders, I could save a lot of money in repair of broken items, bar tabs, psychiatrist bills, etc

    Comment by ScottA — December 4, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

  25. I would think soriano makes more sense to a team with a DH need. Atlanta will hit fine if they get a decent LF bat which is very likely.

    Comment by Antonio bananas — December 4, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

  26. 1-Defensive metrics are mostly useless over the short term. Ellebury did not go from a great fielder, to a horrible fielder, to a great fielder (21.2, -9.7, 15.6). Crisp is also all over the map. Carlos Lee is all over the map. Guys will always be a little better or a little worse, but fielding is pretty consistent.

    IRT teaching Soriano how to field, I remember the patch of dirt at Shea named Strawberry Fields, worn out because Strawberry always, always stayed in the identical spot. Dead-pull righties, dead-pull lefties, SS’s with more bunt singles than doubles, all played identically. When his OF coach, Bill Robinson, who couldn’t understand why he didn’t get a manager’s job, was asked about it, he said he didn’t coach the OFs because they knew how to play the OF.

    Now why wouldn’t anyone want to hire someone like that to be their manager?

    Comment by Joebrady — December 4, 2012 @ 3:21 pm

  27. Soriano was not healthier. The numbers were one small sample size. (Where’s the 3-year trend-analysis that we need?) Cubs fan watched his game, saw how ol-Fonzi walked in pain on the basepath, esp. earlier the season. Other days, I guess the pills or injection worked. Cross your thumb that he can rely on his wheels for next season.

    Comment by BillyF — December 4, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

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