As we inch closer to the deadline, measuring it in hours instead of weeks and days, the Cubs trade last week of Alfonso Soriano (plus cash to pay for ¾ of his contract) for a 5-11 pitcher who was a 4th round pick in ’12, still sticks in my craw.
I understand Soriano rejected a trade last year to the Pirates. I agree being right-handed, he’s not the ideal fit for PNC (although his splits there say otherwise). I also concede he’s a suspect outfielder and probably served best in LF. By no means would he have been an ideal fit, again, this is assuming he didn’t rebuke the Pirates again in ’13. With all that said, Soriano still would have been the best fit versus what’s currently on the rumor market.
First and foremost, let me state just getting him off the Cubs and into the AL was a win for the Pirates. Soriano has had a long distinguished career and he hasn’t had more success against anyone more so then he has had against the Pirates. He has 31 HR’s and 80 RBI’s. Both career best splits. He has also posted a career average of .309 with an OPS of .946. Those are heads and shoulders above any team (10 in total) he has played at least 70 games against.
Then there is the intangibles, and this quote from Dale Sveum after the trade to the Yankees:
"He's 100 percent completely different than I thought," Sveum said. "There hasn't been a day of disappointment in his attitude, his work ethic, what he brings to younger players and his professionalism has been off the charts."
Granted, this year he has struggled versus the Bucs but for a guy like Soriano streaks come and go. Like that game on July 6th where he hit two homeruns off of Morton providing all the runs needed in a 4-1 win. And that is the point. Soriano has that ability to change a game by himself even at 36. With this Pirates offense being very inconsistent that type of player would be huge, a guy capable of getting hot and carrying a team a bit. He’s streaky but when he’s running good; there isn’t many hitters more locked in. Surly, his presence despite any warts would be welcomed over another two months of Tabata/Snider. Hell, at this point, who would not be an upgrade?
Again, getting that bat out of the lineup will be a easier for the Pirates who play the Cubs seven times in September but the Cardinals play the Cubs nine times from here on out, so this isn’t even a wash let alone an advantage. Wouldn’t his presence in a Pirate uniform made this five game series vs. those Cardinals that much more interesting, then say an Alex Rios addition come Thursday/Friday versus the Rockies?
If all it took was the Yankee’s 25th best prospect, a guy at 5-11 who has put up pedestrian stats in High-A, a guy destined for the bullpen… to acquire a Soriano AND have the Cubs pick up 75% of his contract, then I don’t want to hear how “tight” this trade market is. Being that all farm systems are not equal, if the Yankee’s gave up their 25th then how far would the Pirates be able to dig to find that type of guy? The Yankees depth doesn’t touch the Pirates.
If Soriano was in no way accepting a trade to the Pirates this year then his addition and much of my point is moot. What still stands is reality. In this case the results versus the chatter. Much has been said of demands and supposed trades that make people think this is a tight trade market. But how much of these demands and rumors are ever true? The results speak for themselves. 1.5 years of Soriano was had for a bullpen candidate, a future Ian Snell maybe at the most. It cost you basically nothing but 5 million dollars over that span. Period. Is this the price of a “tight” trade market? Or this just a case of the Cub’s having few trading partners for Soriano and his demands?
Some might point to the Rangers deal for Garza but the Rangers were over a barrel and desperate for a starting pitcher like nobody else in the race(s). This trade market is perfect for the Pirates brass because they are handcuffed from making any big moves; being nobody of name is being dangled thus they still get help without having to trade elite prospects. With the blackhole in RF and the disappointment of 1B, it won’t take much to improve those two areas and it will be done so at a minimum price. It’s of my opinion that the Pirates will bring in two bats and possibly an arm and it will cost no elite prospects, improving the present team while still preserving the future.