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Friday, February 21, 2014

Alfonso Soriano ponders retirement after season

Jeterivera Tour Lines laughs at this…

Alfonso Soriano could join Derek Jeter in retirement following the end of the upcoming baseball season.

“It depends on how I feel,’’ Soriano said when asked by The Post if he wants to continue playing. “If I am healthy I will play [in 2015]. If not, I will let it go. It depends how I feel.’’

Soriano will be 39 in July and this will be his 14th big league season. Between the Cubs and Yankees last year, Soriano hit 34 homers and drove in 101 runs proving he wasn’t in decline.

The splits were eerily even. In 93 games with the Cubs, Soriano batted .254 with 17 homers and 51 RBIs. In 58 games with the Yankees he batted .256 with 17 homers and 50 RBIs.

He is in the final leg of a nine-year, $136 million deal that pays him $18 million this season. The Yankees, who acquired Soriano from the Cubs last July, are paying $5 million of this year’s salary.

...The most logical fit for the powerful right-handed hitting Soriano is designated hitter. Yet, Soriano is more comfortable playing the outfield than killing time as the DH.

He has been a DH in 35 games and played left field in 1,043.

“I don’t know,’’ Soriano said when asked where he fit. “They said something about DH and left field. I want to be in the lineup, it doesn’t matter where.’’

Repoz Posted: February 21, 2014 at 10:02 AM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: yankees

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   1. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: February 21, 2014 at 10:15 AM (#4660143)
See, if HE gets a farewell tour, then THAT's something to get pissy about.
   2. BDC Posted: February 21, 2014 at 10:28 AM (#4660150)
The most similar batting careers to Alfonso Soriano, by OPS+ and PAs:

Player             dWAR   PA OPSWAR/pos  SB         Pos
Robin Ventura      17.1 8271  114    56.1  24   
*53H/D641
Bobby Doerr        13.6 8028  115    51.3  54        
*4/H
George Scott       
-1.7 8269  114    36.4  69      *35/HD
George Burns       
-2.5 8252  114    39.4 383     *798/H5
Felipe Alou        
-3.3 7907  113    42.0 107   9837H/56D
Amos Otis          
-4.2 8247  115    42.6 341    *8/H79D5
Tino Martinez      
-4.7 8044  112    29.1  27       *3D/H
Alfonso Soriano   
-10.6 8157  113    28.6 288   *74/HD856
Hal Chase         
-15.3 7938  112    22.9 363 *3/4876H915
Raul Ibanez       
-17.8 7998  113    21.2  47  *7DH93/825 


That's a mixed bag. There are a lot of similars; the range is very narrow. Not having much of a fielding position stands between Soriano and the HOVG. Doerr is the only HOFer on the list, thanks to being an immensely superior second baseman. And then there's (non-Tioga) George Burns, who I always think must be in the Hall of Fame because George Kelly is. For that matter, both George Burnses were better players than George Kelly.
   3. daveywein Posted: February 21, 2014 at 10:47 AM (#4660162)
Soriano is currently in 4th place all-time on the "Double Play Turned by an LF" list. He's just 4 short of tying the record. How is he that high on the list? I'm rooting for him.
   4. zonk Posted: February 21, 2014 at 10:57 AM (#4660166)
As much as his contract was an albatross for the Cubs - and still is, considering they're picking most of the tab this year, too - I have to say that the man did everything he could to fulfill it.

When someone offers you a gazillion dollars guaranteed, I don't think there are many people who would say no.

He slid into averagedom with a lot more grace than similarly well-paid players... he didn't bellyache about moving down the lineup, he accepted more frequent sits, and by all accounts - he worked hard to stay on the field with bad knees, not unlike Andre Dawson before him.

I think that I still wish we'd have spent that money differently, but I have a ton of respect for how Soriano carried himself as a member of the organization... my only beef was the rejection of the trade to SF (because who knows what Sabean was crazy enough to give up for him), but again - it was his contractual right and just like you don't say no to a bushel of guaranteed cash, you don't relocate to somewhere you don't want to relocate to if the option is wholly yours to say no.

So happy trails, Fonsie... you definitely had your moments and I think you turned out to be a pretty good guy.
   5. BDC Posted: February 21, 2014 at 11:02 AM (#4660168)
4th place all-time on the "Double Play Turned by an LF" list

Weird, the more so because the list is almost all old-timers. Soriano has more than twice as many DPs as the second active leader (Ibañez) and almost three times as many as the third (Holliday).

It's one of those leaderboards that features guys both good and bad at the given skill. The two highest active players 30 and under are Alex Gordon and Delmon Young (who have 8 apiece, to Soriano's 30).
   6. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: February 21, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4660172)
So he's saying he'll no longer be available?
   7. odds are meatwad is drunk Posted: February 21, 2014 at 11:06 AM (#4660174)
I think most of those were picked up his first 2 years with the cubs. He had a cannon and teams for some reason would run on him. After that though it wss a rare thing.
   8. eddieot Posted: February 21, 2014 at 11:06 AM (#4660175)
He'll end this season with about $165 million in career earnings. I'd retire too.
   9. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: February 21, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4660185)
See, if HE gets a farewell tour, then THAT's something to get pissy about.

Hell, if Soriano would only hang on for another year or two, the Yankees could then stage a farewell tour for nearly half the goddam team.
   10. Swoboda is freedom Posted: February 21, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4660198)
When someone offers you a gazillion dollars guaranteed, I don't think there are many people who would say no.

They drove a dump truck full of money up to his house! He's not made of stone!
   11. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: February 21, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4660209)
It'd be nice to see them go into the Hall together.
   12. Eric L Posted: February 21, 2014 at 11:51 AM (#4660213)
Did anyone else arch an eyebrow at Hal Chase as a minus defender?
   13. Moses Taylor, Moses Taylor Posted: February 21, 2014 at 12:09 PM (#4660229)
Soriano is currently in 4th place all-time on the "Double Play Turned by an LF" list. He's just 4 short of tying the record. How is he that high on the list? I'm rooting for him.

Like meatwad said, good arm. Plus iffy reads and not direct routes led to runners trying to take advantage of him. He also tried getting guys more often than anyone I've seen from LF.
   14. BDC Posted: February 21, 2014 at 12:15 PM (#4660232)
I didn't notice till you mentioned this, Eric, but bWAR sees Chase as dead last among "dead ball" first basemen, and DRA doesn't like his fielding either; nor apparently does Win Shares.
   15. GregD Posted: February 21, 2014 at 12:36 PM (#4660245)
I didn't notice till you mentioned this, Eric, but bWAR sees Chase as dead last among "dead ball" first basemen, and DRA doesn't like his fielding either; nor apparently does Win Shares.
Is that even legal?

I am firmly behind believing our contemporary defensive stats over our lyin eyes, but the farther we go into the past, the more we have to doubt the wisdom of that, right? I know it is built into regressions to minimize the spread of the numbers, but still we have here a case where virtually every observer thought him the greatest defensive first baseman they ever saw and the stats say he's among the worst. No regression can solve that.
   16. GeoffB Posted: February 21, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4660256)
The splits were eerily even. In 93 games with the Cubs, Soriano batted .254 with 17 homers and 51 RBIs. In 58 games with the Yankees he batted .256 with 17 homers and 50 RBIs.


Funny, I'll take the split with the 17 homeruns in 58 games.
   17. BDC Posted: February 21, 2014 at 12:54 PM (#4660259)
Yes, Greg – but an odd thing about the metrics is that they do identify as the best-fielding 1B of the deadball era some players who had excellent reputations: Ed Konetchy, Frank Chance, Fred Tenney, and George Stovall. And bWAR and DRA agree on those top guys, as well as on Chase. Both also agree that Stuffy McInnis and George Sisler were good, though not as marvelous as their reputations. I don't know what they're really finding in the data, but it's not arbitrary.

Michael Humphreys notes that the evaluation of 1B defense is harder the further back you go, when first basemen made different and possibly greater contributions to team defense (as in the bunt-crazy deadball era). Humphreys also suggests that Chase might have looked great but not always played hard, which also squares with his reputation, of course.
   18. cercopithecus aethiops Posted: February 21, 2014 at 01:29 PM (#4660301)
Pretty darned good player for a pretty darned long time. 400 HR, likely to reach 300 SB this year; decent shot at getting to 500 2B. Only thing he really ever did wrong was taking too much money from the Cubs, and even then he only gave them one truly bad season.

Of course, he has his (rather glaring) weaknesses. If he didn't, he'd have been worth that contract AND a farewell tour.
   19. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 21, 2014 at 02:02 PM (#4660331)
This article about his voracious appetite for ice cream is one of my favorite things about Soriano. If he had played in an earlier era he might have been a HOFer (7 time All Star, 104 HOF monitor right now), but with more advanced stats we know better. He was truly an explosive player to watch when he was with the Yankees.
   20. BDC Posted: February 21, 2014 at 02:46 PM (#4660356)
Soriano played two years in Texas, characterized by his not being as good as Alex Rodriguez, but also by everybody being quite pleased that he was not Alex Rodriguez :) I was always struck by how good he could look at second base, but by how intermittently that happened. In terms of just raw stats, his Texas years are indistinguishable from the rest of his career. But the context appears to have been such that his OPS+ and oWAR for the Rangers are minimal, even though he was playing 2B and whacking 30 home runs a year. I liked him as a Ranger. The 2004 team got me excited about them again after the wheel-spinning of the AROD years.
   21. jingoist Posted: February 21, 2014 at 02:47 PM (#4660359)
#2,
"For that matter, both George Burnses were better players than George Kelly."

Hell, Gracie Allen might have been a better player than Kelly.
   22. DL from MN Posted: February 21, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4660368)
If Soriano is healthy and wants to play will he find a team willing to give him playing time? He might be done whether he wants to return or not.
   23. Ron J2 Posted: February 21, 2014 at 02:56 PM (#4660372)
#15 I guess one plausible explanation is that he wasn't giving an honest effort on a routine basis. I mean accusations against him went back at least as far as 1910.
   24. The District Attorney Posted: February 21, 2014 at 03:05 PM (#4660378)
I would agree that it's vanishingly improbable that a guy reputed to be the best fielder ever at his position was actually the worst fielder ever at his position.

But, when you consider that...

A) We've seen mediocre or even bad fielders like Roberto Alomar and Derek Jeter regarded as great defenders, and probably still would be so if we didn't have play-by-play stats;
B) 1B back then was a "team leader" position much like catcher is now, and thus 1B were credited with intangibles that may or may not have existed;
C) As #17 mentions, Chase was throwing games;

... I can believe that a guy reputed to be amazing was not really all that great.
   25. Ron J2 Posted: February 21, 2014 at 03:33 PM (#4660416)
Further to #23 here's a quote from The Sporting News in 1913:

"That he can play first base as it never was and perhaps never will be played is a well known truth. That he will is a different matter."

This is after he'd been publicly accused of throwing games by Stallings but before either Frank Chance or Christy Mathewson had made their accusations.
   26. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: February 21, 2014 at 03:37 PM (#4660421)
If Soriano is healthy and wants to play will he find a team willing to give him playing time? He might be done whether he wants to return or not.

He has posted a 115 OPS+ with 66 homers and 209 RBIs over the last two seasons. That doesn't make him a star and he might not get a huge deal but I am sure that Soriano would find a team to play for if he really wanted to continue his career.
   27. zonk Posted: February 21, 2014 at 03:50 PM (#4660428)
If Soriano is healthy and wants to play will he find a team willing to give him playing time? He might be done whether he wants to return or not.


He can still whack lefties with the best of 'em -- 293/349/555 last year. That's above his career line and recent performance - but not really out of whack with anything other than his dreadful 2009 (260/342/489 in 2012, 271/312/500 in 2011, 295/376/568 in 2010).

I would think an AL team in need of a RHB to smack lefties around a bit can probably find a spot for him until he cannot no longer do an .850ish OPS against LHP.

I guess the question would be whether he wants to spend another year or two as a short-side platoon guy. No one's going to pay a lot of money for a LF/DH/PH short-side guy... but if he wants to chase another ring or something, I would guess he wouldn't have trouble finding an AL team comfortable with him as the 25th man. Like I said above, seems like he's a pretty decent clubhouse guy, too...
   28. AROM Posted: February 21, 2014 at 04:01 PM (#4660432)
"That he can play first base as it never was and perhaps never will be played is a well known truth. That he will is a different matter."

My guess on Chase's defensive stats vs his reputation is that he specialized in making a spectacular looking attempt at a ball that would come up just short. He gets credit for the impressive athletic display, the ball goes for a hit, and the bookies he worked with stay happy.
   29. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 21, 2014 at 04:02 PM (#4660434)
Trivia time--Soriano is one of 3 MLBers to hit >45 HR's in a season and have fewer than 100 RBIs (he had 46/95 for the Nats in 06)--who were the others (one is obvious)
   30. Hang down your head, Tom Foley Posted: February 21, 2014 at 04:05 PM (#4660436)
Bonds and Greg Vaughn?
   31. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 21, 2014 at 04:11 PM (#4660443)
Bonds is correct--Vaughn is not
   32. jdennis Posted: February 21, 2014 at 04:20 PM (#4660447)
#29

Dunn, Pena would be guesses but they would be obvious so they are likely wrong. I think Dunn had multiple ones between 40-45.

I know Aaron hit 44 one year without getting 100, close but no cigar.

Also, to an earlier post talking about Soriano being a gentlemen, one point to counter: Soriano complained a lot when the Cubs moved him to LF. Threatened to quit.
   33. zonk Posted: February 21, 2014 at 04:20 PM (#4660448)
I'm going to play fair and just guess Kingman.... and now head off to bbref to see if I'm right, but I'm pretty sure I'm wrong.

Darrell Evans is my second guess... which I'll also check, but pretty sure I'm wrong.
   34. Misirlou was a Buddhist prodigy Posted: February 21, 2014 at 04:23 PM (#4660450)
Brady Anderson?
   35. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 21, 2014 at 04:26 PM (#4660452)
all wrong so far--this happened in the 60s by a very prolific slugger (not Mantle)

(and I never would have guessed it)
   36. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: February 21, 2014 at 04:33 PM (#4660455)
Harmon Killebrew is my default trivia answer so I'll go with him.

And on an unrelated note I never, ever in a trillion years would have guessed that Soriano had 32 and 34 home runs the last two years. I thought he had a nice stretch with the Yankees when he first joined them but would have guessed he was around 20.
   37. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: February 21, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4660456)
Killebrew is right--45/96 in 1963

and I never would have guessed that Soriano was sitting at 406 lifetime--I would have pegged him the the mid to low 300's at most
   38. zonk Posted: February 21, 2014 at 04:36 PM (#4660458)
I'm gonna guess Killebrew too... or rather, say Killebrew after thinking Jose is probably right and looking it up on bbref :-)
   39. Moses Taylor, Moses Taylor Posted: February 21, 2014 at 04:53 PM (#4660468)
<i>Also, to an earlier post talking about Soriano being a gentlemen, one point to counter: Soriano complained a lot when the Cubs moved him to LF. Threatened to quit.</ui>

That was in Washington, and I think overblown. He signed with the Cubs as a LF.
   40. Jim Wisinski Posted: February 21, 2014 at 05:35 PM (#4660484)
That was in Washington, and I think overblown. He signed with the Cubs as a LF.


He was quite adamant that he wasn't going to move to left field, if I recall correctly, but when Washington made it clear that they were sticking to their guns and no threat from him was going to work he pretty much just shut up, accepted the move, and did his best to learn the position.
   41. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: February 21, 2014 at 06:03 PM (#4660500)

Soriano batted leadoff that year so not that surprising that he fell short of 100 RBIs.

Killebrew is the only one with neither 100 R or 100 RBI.
   42. Walt Davis Posted: February 21, 2014 at 06:22 PM (#4660517)
If Soriano plays next year, obviously it has to be with the A's.

I was surprised to see Otis with negative dWAR.
   43. Publius Publicola Posted: February 21, 2014 at 06:28 PM (#4660520)
This is really shaping up to be a banner year for the Yankees. Now they have two veterans they're relying on with one foot out the door.
   44. BDC Posted: February 21, 2014 at 06:38 PM (#4660525)
I was surprised to see Otis with negative dWAR

Otis played most of his long career in CF, where his RField numbers seem essentially random. +6 at age 24, -12 at age 26, +5 at age 27, -11 at age 29, +16 at age 31, -7 at age 32. I wonder (but all y'all know a lot more about these metrics than I do) whether "average" at CF in the 1970s AL fluctuated quite a lot year-to-year depending on the given active personnel at the position. Otis played the position steadily for a team that had a good defensive reputation, and won several division titles. I wonder if he was the same decent glove throughout but more or less valuable depending on how context changed around him.
   45. boteman Posted: February 21, 2014 at 09:08 PM (#4660584)
That was in Washington, and I think overblown. He signed with the Cubs as a LF.

Ahhh yes. That was the controversy that spawned my world-famous SorianoWatch audio blog with live updates from that gripping first Spring Training game during which Soriano was introduced as the Nationals' left fielder. A nation let out its breath. Good times.

Sadly, Google has not seen fit to maintain the audio files attached to that blog, those bastards. All that talent gone to waste. I oughta sink their ferry.
   46. Walt Davis Posted: February 21, 2014 at 10:18 PM (#4660606)
I wonder if he was the same decent glove throughout but more or less valuable depending on how context changed around him.

Interesting question but this would be picked up in the positional adjustment I think -- i.e. if CF suddenly became a lot better than RF -- but maybe it's not so sensitive (or relies too much on offensive differences).

His defensive rep was good enough that in his early 30s he pushed a young Al Cowens to RF (where he was quite good) and a young Willie Wilson to LF (which was probably the wrong decision).

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