Monday, March 07, 2005

Soriano's hamstring 

Alfonso Soriano isn't doing much to dispel the notion that he's a headcase, as he was limping around in the locker room on Monday after coming out an inning ahead of schedule from the exhibition game.

Soriano missed the last couple of weeks of last season with a hamstring injury, which has hobbled him at the beginning of this spring training, and claimed that his hamstring still didn't feel right. According to Showalter, though, "There wasn't anything wrong. He's structurally okay. He needs to build his confidence by playing."

Showalter remains in a precarious situation with Soriano...it seems pretty clear to me that Showalter wants Soriano gone, and there were widespread stories at the end of last season that Soriano was going to be dealt. There apparently was little interest in him this past winter, though, owing to his $7.5 million salary for 2005 and his disappointing 2004 season. Showalter seems to be losing patience with Soriano -- whose hamstring pull occurred almost 6 months ago -- but he can't get negative about him publicly without damaging what trade value Soriano does have.

I still think the Rangers are going to make a serious push to try to move him at the end of spring training -- Houston and the Mets still seem like the most likely candidates -- because if they don't trade him now, they're not going to be able to move him during the season unless they fall out of contention (which is probably a more real possibility than management wants to admit). And if they don't trade him during the season, they're likely going to have to non-tender him after 2005, since he's not going to be worth the $10 million he'll get in arbitration next offseason unless he has a substantial rebound season. Ian Kinsler is hammering the ball and has seemed to have impressed Buck, and he could slide in quite nicely next to Mike Young at second base if need be, although given that he only has a half-season above low-A ball, I'd like to see him spend at least a half a season in AAA, particularly since putting Kinsler on the 25 man roster necessitates clearing a 40 man roster spot.

But if Soriano continues acting squirrelly about his hamstring, no one is going to want him, which is only going to make Buck -- who tends to have little patience with injuries anyway -- more irritated. Soriano has never had a serious injury before, and hamstring injuries can kill a player who relies on speed, so it makes some sense that Soriano is tentative right now. Still, it will be interesting to see how this plays out...

I'd add another name to the Soriano watch list: the Cubs. Baker has no problem with players who profile offensively like Soriano, and that team needs offense in a bad way. I wonder if Sori could be convinced to play the OF for Dusty?
The Cubs are also a team that could get involved. I think Dusty is the type of manager who figures he could make Soriano want to play the outfield for him, and he's the type of speedy power hitter that swings at everything that Dusty seems fond of.

I think the Cubs would be a pretty good fit.
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