All Things Baseball

Alfonso Soriano will Make the Cubs Sorry-ano by 2014

Alfonso Soriano will be raking in big bucks for 8 years

There’s two sides to the debate over Alfonso Soriano’s new 8-year 136Million contract from the Chicago Cubs — you either believe he’s worth it, or you don’t.  I’m on the extremist side of the latter argument.  Here’s my two cents on why the Cubs will be sorry when Soriano’s contract expires in 8 years. 

Let’s take a look at the numbers that made the Cubs give Soriano that much money for that many years.  In 2006, Alfonso Soriano hit .277 with 46HR and 95RBI, stole 41 bases, scored 119 runs, and had an OPS of .911 (which is the number GM Jim Hendry will be calling in 2014 when he realizes his mistake).  Even more impressive is that Soriano was able to put up these numbers playing half of his games at RFK Stadium, which is one of the most pitcher-friendly and power-hitter-unfriendly ballparks in baseball (his EqA — equated batting average — was actually .300, for example).  In an offseason whose free agent class has little talent, it’s easy to see why Soriano’s 2006 numbers might make him worth mucho dinero. 

Here however, are some numbers that might make Jim Hendry scratch his head about forking over that much dough…

  1. With RISP (runners in scoring position), Alfonso Soriano had a batting average of .231. 
  2. Soriano struck-out 160 times in 728 plate appearances or once every 4.55 times he came to the plate.  That’s awful for a leadoff hitter. 
  3. Soriano was a model for inconsistency, hitting .308 in April, .287 in May, .207 in June, .368 in July, .304 in August, and .204 in September.  Ups and downs like that are far from desirable for a leadoff hitter.

If those 3 points aren’t enough, consider the following…

As I mentioned earlier, Alfonso Soriano will be 38 when his contract expires in 2014.  Most players start to deteriorate by age 33, and many are in full decline a year or two later.  Perhaps Soriano is an exception to that trend, but that’s highly unlikely and is dependent on luck, something the Cubs lack (the Bartman and Mark Prior are great examples of the Cubs’ un-lucky-ness).  If Soriano does in fact start to deteriorate at age 33, the Cubs will only get $17Million worth (if that’s his true value) for 4 years at most; after that, Soriano will be collecting paychecks, but won’t be paying dividends on the field. 

I mentioned earlier that Alfonso Soriano’s EqA was .300 for this season.  Baseball Prospectus projects that his EqA will decline slowly, bottoming-out at .255 in 2014.  The biggest drop will be between 2007-08 when Soriano’s EqA is projected to go from .291 to .275; in other words, two years from now, the Cubs can already expect to be regretting their decision.  On average, over the next 8 years, Soriano’s EqA will be .271, which is far from desirable for a leadoff hitter, even if he does slam 40 balls out of the yard.  I don’t know if Jim Hendry ever saw these projections, but paying 18-20Million (2014 is the most expensive year of Soriano’s contract) for a .255 hitter who’s 38 years old doesn’t strike me as a particularly smart decision. 

One other thing that might’ve persuaded Jim Hendry to fork over 136Million to Soriano is his speed.  Alfonso Soriano stole 41 bases in 2006, which is terrific; unfortunately, Mr. Hendry overlooked two things about that. 

  1. As players get older, their speed tends to deteriorate.  Many players are able to steal 30+ bases in their early-30’s, but only 5 players have stolen 30+ bases at age 38 in MLB history. 
  2. Soriano was also caught stealing 17 times, for a success rate of about 70%, which is only slightly above-average.  As his speed declines, Soriano can expect to see his CS statistic increase, if he continues to attempt to swipe the same number of bases a year. 

There’s another aspect of speed that probably made Jim Hendry excited — it allows for terrific range in centerfield, which is the position Soriano is expected to play for the Cubs in 2007 and beyond.  As Soriano’s speed slowly leaves him, his range in the outfield will decline as well, which means that by 2014, the Cubs can expect many balls to be hitting the ivy at Wrigley Field, instead of finding their way into the centerfielder’s glove. 


Perhaps Jim Hendry is just incompetent…?

So if all this information was readily available to Jim Hendry and his front office colleagues, why did he still decide to fork over 136Million to Alfonso Soriano?  The most likely answer is that Hendry is not qualified to be a GM.  He has failed to produce a consistently successful team, hasn’t drafted particularly well, and hasn’t made good decisions on the trade and free agent fronts.  Baseball Prospectus prides itself in having correctly predicted that “the Cubs ignorance of On-Base Percentage will be their undoing”; a more accurate description of the culprit behind the Cubs’ recent struggles is Jim Hendry’s incompetence. 

I just hope for the sake of every Cubs fan that the injury curse that has plagued your team doesn’t strike Alfonso Soriano.  Imagine rooting for a team that’s spending $136Million on a player who’s on the shelf for the better half of the 8 years you’re paying him to play.  If the Cubs are in fact cursed, I’d keep my fingers crossed all the way through the end of the 2014 season that Soriano is not the curse’s next victim. 

And here I’ll suggest that the Cubs’ “curse” isn’t a curse at all, at least for the moment.  Yes, I know that Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Derrek Lee, etc… continuously suffer long-term injuries and prevent the Cubs from winning and that the team hasn’t won a World Series in a century, but there’s another reason why Chicago’s NL team can’t contend right now: the front office. 

My suggestion to the Cubs: fire Jim Hendry and rebuild the smart way to put a contender on the field by 2008-09.  Keep him in the GM chair and you’ll be sorry-ano come 2014.   


7 Responses to “Alfonso Soriano will Make the Cubs Sorry-ano by 2014”

  1. […] Alfonso Soriano will Make the Cubs Sorry-ano by 2014 […]

  2. I am already Sorry-ano, about Soriano. Guess what, it’s only 2009.

  3. I was moaning about Soriano and his contract on Facebook today and found this website when looking up his contract.

    My friend, sage words in this article, sage words.

    I hope Soriano comes around but the prospects are bleak.

  4. i’ve been frowning about this contract signing from day one and i will be until 2014 when he leaves.

  5. I said last year that Hendry should’ve been fired for signing Bradley but especially for Soriano who is easily one of the top 2-3 worst outfielders in baseball-hey only 4 more years of this…

  6. buy…

    […]Alfonso Soriano will Make the Cubs Sorry-ano by 2014 « Baseballistic[…]…

  7. fun sms…

    […]Alfonso Soriano will Make the Cubs Sorry-ano by 2014 « Baseballistic[…]…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: