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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

AP: Soriano refuses to play outfield for Nationals

He’s Not Left, They’re Right, He’s Gone…

Alfonso Soriano refused to play the outfield for the Washington Nationals in what was supposed to be his spring training debut Monday night, and general manager Jim Bowden said his biggest offseason acquisition will go on the disqualified list if he doesn’t agree to switch positions this week.

“The player refused to take the field, which we believe is a violation of his contract,” Bowden said.

...“We told him if we get to Thursday, and he refuses to play left field, we told him at that point we will request that the commissioner’s office place him on the disqualified list, at that time — no pay, no service time,” Bowden said.

“If he refuses to play and goes home, and the commissioner’s office accepts our request to place him on the disqualified list, then at that point, if he were to sit out this year, he would not be a free agent, he would stay our property because his service time would stay the same.”

Thanks to BeQC & WillieMays Haze

Repoz Posted: March 21, 2006 at 02:53 AM | 189 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: nationals

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   1. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:12 AM (#1909513)
Where's Juan Samuel when you need him?
   2. Nobody ##### with DeJesus Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:17 AM (#1909527)
I've got Kevin Bacon on a tractor to "I Need A Hero" running through my head.
   3. Rob Base Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:18 AM (#1909530)
Mr. Bowden, may I present Jeff Keppinger.
   4. ChadBradfordWannabe Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:23 AM (#1909545)
the union is going to have a field day with this one
   5. Jefferson Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:23 AM (#1909546)
Operation Shutdown II: Electric Boogaloo!
   6. Chris Needham Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:26 AM (#1909560)
Maybe someone here will know. Bowden's asserting that players on the DQ list don't accrue service time, but a quick skim of the CBA didn't really show much. It has a vague mention of "disciplinary suspensions" counting for service time, but I'd assume that the DQ list counts as something else.

Is Bowden's assertion based on something concrete or is it posturing?

The CBA does say that a player on the DQ list "shall be eligible to become a free
agent as provided in Article XX, if otherwise qualified as set forth
therein." A lot depends on what "otherwise qualified" means, and whether or not he's getting that service time.
   7. Sam M. Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:26 AM (#1909562)
Good for Frank Robinson. Good for Jim Bowden. I especially love the fact that, if they get away with using the DQ list, Soriano doesn't get service time towards free agency. If you can't spend two frigging weeks as a left fielder before you're traded, Sorryano, then you deserve to spend the year forfeiting $10M and having to wait another year for free agency. Dolt.
   8. The Original SJ Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:28 AM (#1909568)
Yet, the world hates ARod.

Oh, and Mr. Bowden, nice pickup.
   9. Chris Needham Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:30 AM (#1909573)
The thing is that thanks to the wonders of the arbitration process he'll be making more as a non-free agent anyway. ;) Would someone give him a $10MM contract? I suppose it's possible, but no one was really lining up to take him off Texas' hands.
   10. I Love LA (OFF) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:31 AM (#1909575)
There's no way the union doesn't file grievance for this. And I have to believe they'll win. Soriano is an All Star second-baseman and the Nationals knew he wasn't open to playing the OF when they acquired him.

Even if they don't, why doesn't Soriano just pretend he's completely incompetent playing the OF? The Nationals can't put him on the disqualified list for not being able to play the position.
   11. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:31 AM (#1909576)
the union is going to have a field day with this one

I don't know if this is really a fight that the MLBPA wants to fight. Not a labor lawyer, but given my layman's understanding of the Union Contract, I have a really hard time seeing a grievance going Soriano's way. I don't think that the MLBPA wants to see something like that set as a precedent.

This definitely has the potential to develop into a landmark event in the relationship between the the union and management. But if I were Donald Fehr, I don't know if I would want to go to mat for Soriano on this one.

The best thing for both the player and team involved is a trade (setting aside the obvious point that Bowden was an idiot for trading for Soriano in the first place).
   12. The Original SJ Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:31 AM (#1909579)
Once, back in grade school, I traded a turkey sandwich for a Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.

I was appalled when that Peanut Butter sandwich refused to turn into a Steak and Cheese.
   13. Rancischley Leweschquens (Tim Wallach was my Hero) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:34 AM (#1909591)
And to think the Bowden traded Sledge and Wilkerson for a player who won't play. sigh.
   14. Sam M. Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:36 AM (#1909601)
I was appalled when that Peanut Butter sandwich refused to turn into a Steak and Cheese.

You know, when I was in junior high, and I could answer all the history and social studies questions you could ever ask, my geometry teacher actually had the nerve to ask me questions about math! And I got some of them wrong! I didn't want to answer those questions. But he said it was up to him. Some nerve. You know what? I should have just written down "Cuban Missile Crisis" to the question about equilateral triangles. That would have shown him who was boss.
   15. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:36 AM (#1909603)
Even if they don't, why doesn't Soriano just pretend he's completely incompetent playing the OF? The Nationals can't put him on the disqualified list for not being able to play the position.

Well that's clearly Soriano's best tactic. Take the field, but be completely incompetent and see what happens. The Nats have a far less certain case if he's present but just not hustling.

By refusing to step onto the field, he's in material brach of his contract. If continues to refuse to play any game where Robinson pencils him in the outfield, then he's giving the Nats ample justification for DQing.
   16. Old Matt Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:39 AM (#1909616)
I think when Soriano's agent realizes that he loses service time, then he'll drop his demands.
   17. Zach Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:40 AM (#1909617)
Frank Robinson would have to be high on the list of baseball guys you don't want to get in a pissing contest with. A Hall of Famer, famously stubborn, plus he had 6 years of 150+ OPS+ for Baltimore, so it's not like you can run him out of town.
   18. The Original SJ Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:41 AM (#1909624)
Wow, there are 6 stuck posts here now.

I am sure most of them are ripping me.
   19. J. Cross Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:44 AM (#1909632)
I can't imagine there's any way the MLBPA would win this one. Soriano is violating the terms of his contract. I'm not sure I'd expect the MLBPA to back Soriano up on this one.
   20. Dr. Vaux Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:44 AM (#1909635)
Both parties are being really dumb here. Bowden should have been aware of Soriano's reluctance to play a position besides second base; the latter had made that clear before the trade. On the other hand, Soriano's on the Nationals now, and he's being penciled into the lineup in left field. It's up to a team how to deploy a player under contract to it, so I really don't think a grievance would hold up. The Nationals want Soriano to play a position, and he refuses; if it was something really outlandish, like a team demanding that a pitcher play first base, or that a catcher pitch, then maybe I could see a grievance going the player's way. In this case, it's a normal baseball thing that's gone on for a hundred years, and the player is being abnormally brattish about it. It's not a case of his being treated badly or unfairly, just being assigned different duties, which is a quite different matter, and not unfair.
   21. Sean McNally Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:46 AM (#1909639)
What a spectacular (forget)-up this whole thing is...

First, Bowden acquires Soriano (even if Soriano plays left - Wilkerson's the better player).

Second, management puts off a potential blow up - reducing what little trade value Soriano has.

And finally, this DQ'ing... I know its in the back of everybody's mind - but I wonder if the Nats had an owner if this would have happened?
   22. The Original SJ Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:49 AM (#1909654)
And finally, this DQ'ing... I know its in the back of everybody's mind - but I wonder if the Nats had an owner if this would have happened?

Any competent owner would have gotten rid of Bowden, so I doubt it.
   23. Chris Needham Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:50 AM (#1909658)
Bowden should have been aware of Soriano's reluctance to play a position besides second base

The amazing thing, he was. If you read the article from the other thread this morning, the Nationals were aware of it. They asked the Rangers for permission to talk to him, which the Rangers refused to grant, knowing that it would likely end the trade talks. Bowden went ahead with the trade anyway, saying something to the effect of "Frank will fix it."
   24. Chris Needham Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:51 AM (#1909663)
I wonder if the Nats had an owner if this would have happened?

Interestingly, one of the beat writers recently suggested that if Lerner gets the bid (and all indications seem to be that they're the ones) that they'd be inclined to keep Bowden. I can't see that happening anymore!

Hopefully Cold Pizza will hurry up and get canceled so the bastard has nowhere to go.
   25. Phil Coorey. Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:53 AM (#1909668)
What happens if he gets DQ'd from his contract? Can anyone pick him up?
   26. BDC Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:56 AM (#1909681)
Soriano is an All Star second-baseman and the Nationals knew he wasn't open to playing the OF when they acquired him.

I wonder if that approach would get far. Suppose you acquire an All-Star first baseman and then you decide you really should be DHing the guy. Or an All-Star starter
and he needs to go to the bullpen for a while. (E.g. Esteban Loaiza.) Who cares if a player is "open" to that? What kind of case can the union make that being named a starting left fielder is some kind of hideous injustice?

why doesn't Soriano just pretend he's completely incompetent playing the OF? The Nationals can't put him on the disqualified list for not being able to play the position

Well, incompetent play isn't a great way to win either the 2B job or big money in the future ...
   27. BeQC Posted: March 21, 2006 at 03:59 AM (#1909685)
What happens if he gets DQ'd from his contract? Can anyone pick him up?

Soriano or Bowden? ;)
   28. Dingbat_Charlie Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:00 AM (#1909687)
I have said it many times, as have others, but I can't resist. Jim Bowden is just indescribably incompetent.
   29. PhillyBooster Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:02 AM (#1909692)
So, true story:

I had this job once. And I was working in this department, doing what I wanted to do. It was a really good job. Then, due to a restructuring, I was transferred into a department where I was had to do stuff I didn't want to do. Wasn't really furthering my career. DIdn't ask me if it was okay. Just transferred me. You know what I did?

I sent out some resumes, went on some interviews, and got another job doing what I freakin' wanted to do.

It's ridiculous that Soriano can't go do the same thing. He wants to play second. There are teams out there who would hire him to play second. But he can't because some team "owns his contact"? That's crap. What if they wanted him to be the bat boy? Or collect the jock straps?

If he can't go and get the job he wants, then there's got to be some protection keeping him from having to do a job he doesn't want for a year.
   30. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:04 AM (#1909696)
First, Bowden acquires Soriano (even if Soriano plays left - Wilkerson's the better player).

And that's without taking their respective salaries and service times into account. Soriano's making $10M in 2006 and is a FA after the season (if he doesn't continue to be a complete idiot).

Wilkerson is signed for $3.9M for 2006 and still has one more arbitration year left, I believe.

And that's without taking Sledge (who has his uses as a bench player) or Galarraga (who is still somewhat interesting) into account. 90% of the time of whatever we really don't know with absolute certainty who the winners and losers are in baseball trades until we enjoy the benefit of hindsight--but is there any possible scenario that could occur wherein the Nationals come out ahead? I just don't see it.
   31. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:12 AM (#1909707)
What happens if he gets DQ'd from his contract? Can anyone pick him up?

No, he'd be in baseball limbo. He won't be a FA for 2006 and, assuming Bowden's correct about him not getting service time while DQed, he won't be a FA next offseason. The Nationals retain control of his contract for as long as he's DQed.

Which is why it's positively stupid for him to actually refuse to step out onto the field. There are very few things that could allow a MLB team to DQ a player--but refusal to show up is one of them. It's somewhat akin to the umpires submitting resignations--it's the absolute worse negotiation tactic because you lose so much protection. Under the CBA, Soriano's going to get $10M for 2006 plus earn free agency at the end of the year just for showing up. Nearly no matter what happens, the Nats can't take that away from him--unless he flat out refuses to play.
   32. Squash Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:15 AM (#1909710)
This is what we refer to as a "public relations debacle." There's no one here who doesn't come off looking like a dunce.
   33. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:17 AM (#1909715)
I had this job once. And I was working in this department, doing what I wanted to do. It was a really good job. Then, due to a restructuring, I was transferred into a department where I was had to do stuff I didn't want to do. Wasn't really furthering my career. DIdn't ask me if it was okay. Just transferred me. You know what I did?

I sent out some resumes, went on some interviews, and got another job doing what I freakin' wanted to do.


Yes, because at-will employment is really akin to employment under a collective bargaining agreement (much less a professional sports' union).
   34. PhillyBooster Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:21 AM (#1909731)

Yes, because at-will employment is really akin to employment under a collective bargaining agreement (much less a professional sports' union).


No, the relevant comparison to between a free market employer and a monopoly employer. If I don't like my union job as an electrician or a librarian or a teacher, I can get a non-union job doing something similar. Union employees are generally free to go work for other people.
   35. Chad Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:21 AM (#1909732)
The real rub is that due to the Nats, um, unusual ownership, you can't be sure who's greasing what wheel. Why would MLB approve of such a stupid trade, both in terms of talent and cost. This isn't to say that Bud is throwing some help Hicks' way in return for a vote on some pet project Selig has, but it isn't to say that's not the case either. Really, with no other serious suitors for Soriano, when there was a better than good chance he'd be non-tendered, why would Bowden ship off his best player etc. for Soriano. It's fashion to just assume Bowden has Britney Spears' brains, but the man can't be that stupid. OK, he can be, but this whole thing just stinks. God how I wish someone would recreate the Federal League or the Player's League or something. It's really time for the anti-trust exempton to go.
   36. Squash Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:23 AM (#1909738)
It's ridiculous that Soriano can't go do the same thing. He wants to play second. There are teams out there who would hire him to play second. But he can't because some team "owns his contact"? That's crap. What if they wanted him to be the bat boy? Or collect the jock straps?

This strikes me as a can of worms. For everyone involved.
   37. BDC Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:24 AM (#1909740)
I was transferred into a department where I was had to do stuff I didn't want to do

Again, I can't see why being the starting left fielder on a major-league baseball team should be "stuff a baseball player doesn't want to do." If Soriano wants to advance his career and make even more millions than he's making now, all he has to do is catch the occasional fly ball and hit another 35 home runs this year. What is he afraid of, exactly?
   38. pkb33 Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:26 AM (#1909749)
There's no way the union doesn't file grievance for this. And I have to believe they'll win. Soriano is an All Star second-baseman and the Nationals knew he wasn't open to playing the OF when they acquired him.

Why would you think they'd win? I think it's exceedingly unlikely the union would win here, and tend to agree it's a fight they don't want at all.
   39. 5.00, .280/.320/.400, 4th outfielder Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:26 AM (#1909751)
Philly Booster Soriano should have the right but only if he buys out his contract. For example in the ROTC they pay for your college if you join the army. If you don't join then you have to give back all their scholarships.
   40. AJMcCringleberry Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:27 AM (#1909755)
Didn't Bowden say something like "These are people, this isn't a video game where you can just put players where you want" a few week ago?
   41. PhillyBooster Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:29 AM (#1909758)
Because people can want whatever they want. He could say he only wants to bat against lefties, and if there was someone out there who'd hire him under those conditions, that's fine. If not, then he's free to decide if he wants to play under different conditions or go home.

It strikes me as pretty ridiculous to say that a guy has to want to be a starting left fielder. No matter how much they pay him to do it.
   42. Kyle S Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:29 AM (#1909759)
the most unbelievable part of this whole story is that things actually came to a head. soriano didn't sit out the game after having some argument beforehand; they actually forced his hand, made him refuse to report to left field. that's hilarious!

man, bowden is such an idiot. first, he trades for some magic beans; then, in front of everyone, he proves that magic beans won't grow in his garden; finally, he must go hat (and magic beans) in hand back to the market to trade for something else.

i bet the return is gonna be really high. what a maroon.
   43. Mark S. is bored Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:29 AM (#1909761)
No, the relevant comparison to between a free market employer and a monopoly employer. If I don't like my union job as an electrician or a librarian or a teacher, I can get a non-union job doing something similar. Union employees are generally free to go work for other people.


Soriano is free to get a job in a semi-pro baseball league. But if he wants to play for a MLB team, then he needs to follow the rules of the CBA.
   44. Andrew Edwards Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:30 AM (#1909764)
If I don't like my union job as an electrician or a librarian or a teacher, I can get a non-union job doing something similar.

So are we saying that Soriano should go get a job in the Italian Baseball League? Or as a grade school gym teacher?
   45. PhillyBooster Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:34 AM (#1909776)

Philly Booster Soriano should have the right but only if he buys out his contract. For example in the ROTC they pay for your college if you join the army. If you don't join then you have to give back all their scholarships.


Sure. He should lose his $10M and become a free agent. If he's willing to play 2B for the Mets for "only" $7M, and they're willing to pay him, then why the heck not?
   46. Шĥy Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:40 AM (#1909795)
I sent out some resumes, went on some interviews, and got another job doing what I freakin' wanted to do.

It's ridiculous that Soriano can't go do the same thing. He wants to play second. There are teams out there who would hire him to play second. But he can't because some team "owns his contact"? That's crap.


So what if players who have break out years and are signed to cheap contracts suddenly decide they want to "play a different position?" What you are suggesting would be basically giving every player the right to void his contract whenever he wants to.
   47. PhillyBooster Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:42 AM (#1909798)

Soriano is free to get a job in a semi-pro baseball league. But if he wants to play for a MLB team, then he needs to follow the rules of the CBA.


Right. He's free to sign with the Newark Bears or the St. Paul Saints. But those aren't really comparable jobs. The probably is NOT that there is a collective bargaining agreement. CBAs are great.

The problem is that the CBA is with a monopoly employer.
   48. Шĥy Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:42 AM (#1909801)
Sure. He should lose his $10M and become a free agent.

I think Mike meant by buyout that Soriano would not only lose his 10 mil contract, but he would also have to agree to pay the Nationals an agreed upon amount of money. That would seem fair.
   49. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:46 AM (#1909815)
The next time people want to dump on Cashman, just remember who had the presence of mind to dump this turkey before the rest of the world (in fairness, excluding many Primates) caught onto his sorry act. You can sample size that 2003 postseason all you want, but when you can get someone to swing and miss at the same pitch 783,373 times in a row, it may be that you've possibly unlocked the secret of how to get him out.
   50. MM1f Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:46 AM (#1909816)
See if he was signed as a free agent and refused to change positions that would be one thing as he could argue that he signed the contract intending to be a 2b.
Until then you are the teams biatch. You do as they tell you.
What if he was asked to move in the minors? He would have done so.
Hes still under the teams control at this point
   51. PhillyBooster Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:49 AM (#1909827)

So what if players who have break out years and are signed to cheap contracts suddenly decide they want to "play a different position?" What you are suggesting would be basically giving every player the right to void his contract whenever he wants to.


This issue came up in a similar context when Rick Ankiel decided he didn't want to pitch anymore, and there was concern whether some team would claim him off waviers and "make" him pitch.

I wouldn't object to setting the potential maximum salary at the arb number or whatever. I'm talking about working conditions. Ankiel shouldn't "have to" pitch if he doesn't want to, and Soriano shouldn't "have to" play left. Especially if some other employer is willing to pay them to do what they want to do.
   52. Squash Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:49 AM (#1909829)
Sure. He should lose his $10M and become a free agent. If he's willing to play 2B for the Mets for "only" $7M, and they're willing to pay him, then why the heck not?

Because if players can void their contracts any time they want, why shouldn't teams be able to? I doubt very much the union would want teams to be able to void stupid long-term deals they've given out once they've realized they're stupid. Not to say that it's a bad idea in theory, but guaranteed contracts are what make the MLB/NBA unions superior to the NFL's. This would be classic win-the-battle, lose-the-war.

And it gets really sticky when you consider that Soriano's still in his arb years. What if Miguel Cabrera said after his first year "Hey, I'm worth $15 million on the open market right now. Why should I wait 5 more years to go where I want? I'm voiding my contract now and cashing in with the Yankees." You essentially drive small-market teams out of business, because all their good young players are jumping ship the second they show some value. They now have zero incentive to even develop good players, because why invest all that money to develop them when all you're going to keep is the crappy ones?
   53. Squash Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:53 AM (#1909834)
Looks like Why beat me. From now on I'm not going to the bathroom anymore.
   54. Chip Posted: March 21, 2006 at 04:57 AM (#1909841)
Derek Jeter taught Sori everything he knows about refusing to change position.
   55. The Balls of Summer Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:00 AM (#1909854)
Because if players can void their contracts any time they want, why shouldn't teams be able to? I doubt very much the union would want teams to be able to void stupid long-term deals they've given out once they've realized they're stupid. Not to say that it's a bad idea in theory, but guaranteed contracts are what make the MLB/NBA unions superior to the NFL's. This would be classic win-the-battle, lose-the-war.

Teams release players all the time and eat the rest of their contract, then the player signs with another team. Why can't Soriano give the Nats $10 million bucks and then be a free agent, and take the chance that he can make most of that up on the open market?
   56. PhillyBooster Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:03 AM (#1909861)

Because if players can void their contracts any time they want, why shouldn't teams be able to?


Well it looks like they don't need to. They can just put players on the Dairy Queen list and prevent them from becoming free agents.
   57. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:11 AM (#1909886)
Because if players can void their contracts any time they want, why shouldn't teams be able to? I doubt very much the union would want teams to be able to void stupid long-term deals they've given out once they've realized they're stupid. Not to say that it's a bad idea in theory, but guaranteed contracts are what make the MLB/NBA unions superior to the NFL's. This would be classic win-the-battle, lose-the-war.

Which is precisely why the MLBPA leadership doesn't want to pick this particular fight. If I'm Don Fehr, I'd be just as pissed at Soriano by flat-out refusing to play and forcing a grievance on this issue as Bowden.


Right. He's free to sign with the Newark Bears or the St. Paul Saints. But those aren't really comparable jobs.

What makes the independent leagues incomparable to a non-union employer in another industry? That the difference in pay is so dramatic?

When Soriano signed with the Yankees as an undrafted free agent out of Japan, he knew (or should have known) the terms of the CBA and that basically his career would be in total control of whatever team controlled his contract until he put in his six years of major league service and could be a free agent. At that point, he's free to choose whatever city to play in and negotiate everything (NTC, positions, etc). Until that time, he needs to honor the terms of his contract--and his contract says that he shows up at the field and plays ball unless he's physically unable to perform, as determined by a doctor (and there's an appeals process for those decisions in the CBA).

He's free to leave MLB anytime he wants if playing leftfield rather than secondbase is truly that unbearable for him and he can find an independent league that would love to have him--for a fraction of the major league minimum. He'll just have to leave $10M behind, as well as future earnings.

Speaking of future earnings, has Soriano's agent advised him yet that he's probably costing himself some serious change in the form of future contracts by throwing this little tantrum?
   58. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:18 AM (#1909906)
Well it looks like they don't need to. They can just put players on the Dairy Queen list and prevent them from becoming free agents.

A team needs justification for placing a player on the DQ list--justification that's so hard to come by, that I can't recall the last time a team did so successfully.

A few years ago, the Rockies tried it with Neagle a few years ago--and basically were forced to pay him nearly all his money after a lengthy grievance. Aside from that, when has a team actually succeeded in placing a player on the DQ list against the player's will?

The answer is very seldom, if ever, because most ballplayers have an IQ above room temperature and understand that pretty much the only thing that they can do to get suspended without pay is to refuse to show up. Which is what makes Soriano's actions so spectacularly stupid.
   59. PhillyBooster Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:21 AM (#1909922)

What makes the independent leagues incomparable to a non-union employer in another industry? That the difference in pay is so dramatic?


That, but mostly the fact that MLB controls all 30 employers and about 180 minor league affiliates that are directly comparable to minor league teams.

You are consistently ignoring the fact that MLB is a MONOPOLY. Employers who control 90-some percent of the market are monopolists, which puts them in a much different position than other employers. Monopoly employers can get things like getting to "control his contract until he put in his six years of major league service." My employer can't get that, because I can go work for someone else.
   60. PhillyBooster Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:25 AM (#1909936)

The answer is very seldom, if ever, because most ballplayers have an IQ above room temperature and understand that pretty much the only thing that they can do to get suspended without pay is to refuse to show up. Which is what makes Soriano's actions so spectacularly stupid.


Or, contrarily, that GMs have an IQ above room temperature and don't insist that players play positions that they have publicly stated that they are unwilling to play.
   61. Chris Pummer Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:26 AM (#1909940)
You know, when I was in junior high, and I could answer all the history and social studies questions you could ever ask, my geometry teacher actually had the nerve to ask me questions about math! And I got some of them wrong! I didn't want to answer those questions. But he said it was up to him. Some nerve. You know what? I should have just written down "Cuban Missile Crisis" to the question about equilateral triangles. That would have shown him who was boss.

That's like the Soriano situation until you realize that he would have answered 21 social studies and history questions wrong last year, 23 the year before, 19 the year before that, 23 the year before that and another 19 the year before THAT. THen just think about all the questions he wasn't getting too!
   62. TerpNats Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:26 AM (#1909941)
If I'm the Nats, I exile him by trade to Kansas City or Pittsburgh or Colorado, even if you can only get a pair of low-level prospects for him. He's not worth the pain.

And while I was heretofore ambivalent about Bowden, this is the tipping point. If I'm Lerner/Kasten, whom I assume will end up running the Nats, I fire him the day after I take over and hire an interim GM (given Kasten's Atlanta background, it might be someone like Frank Wren) until I can hire a permanent GM in the offseason.
   63. ColonelTom Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:32 AM (#1909965)
man, bowden is such an idiot.


Ah, my friend, you forget - Jim Bowden works for Major League Baseball, not a separately owned team. This is a great showdown for MLB against the MLBPA, one in which MLB may well have a winning case. You think Bud Selig & Co. weren't watching the Terrell Owens debacle in the NFL? Soriano = T.O. And if MLB wins, the next guy who tries to pull a stunt like this (yes, I'm looking at you, Gary Sheffield) will find the MLBPA in a significantly weaker position for it.

All that's not to say that the Soriano trade was, from the get-go, a brilliant scheme concocted by Bud Selig - but the possibility that Soriano would refuse to play LF certainly wouldn't have made this trade less desirable for the Nationals' owners, Major League Baseball. Bowden wasn't ignorant of this possible outcome; he just didn't see it as a complete loss for his bosses, which it isn't.
   64. mr. man Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:35 AM (#1909983)
i would fire bowden and hire the entire staff of baseball prospectus as a unit.

not to be the gm--to be my bullpen by commitee.
   65. TerpNats Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:36 AM (#1909985)
If I'm the Nats, I exile him by trade to Kansas City or Pittsburgh or Colorado, even if you can only get a pair of low-level prospects for him. He's not worth the pain.

And while I was heretofore ambivalent about Bowden, this is the tipping point. If I'm Lerner/Kasten, whom I assume will end up running the Nats, I fire him the day after I take over and hire an interim GM (given Kasten's Atlanta background, it might be someone like Frank Wren) until I can hire a permanent GM in the offseason.
   66. Dan Szymborski Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:45 AM (#1910007)
A few years ago, the Rockies tried it with Neagle a few years ago--and basically were forced to pay him nearly all his money after a lengthy grievance.

This isn't the same thing though. The Rockies were trying to simply void the contract using vague language that had never successfully been used that way - Soriano's breaking some pretty clear-cut obligations.

Aside from that, when has a team actually succeeded in placing a player on the DQ list against the player's will?

Quite a bit actually - just off the top of my head, there's Deion Sanders, Stan Javier, and Chico Lind, who all went AWOL from their teams. Heck, Rey Quinones was once placed on the DQ list when he disappeared to go to his grandmother's funeral without informing the team and that's a far more legitimate reason to leave the team than having a temper tantrum about what position you play.

It doesn't happen too often because very few players are stupid enough to do this.
   67. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:46 AM (#1910008)
There's no way the union doesn't file grievance for this. And I have to believe they'll win. Soriano is an All Star second-baseman and the Nationals knew he wasn't open to playing the OF when they acquired him.
I missed the "player gets to choose where he plays on the field" provision of the collective bargaining agreement.
Even if they don't, why doesn't Soriano just pretend he's completely incompetent playing the OF? The Nationals can't put him on the disqualified list for not being able to play the position.
Why doesn't he just throw games? Gee, I think the Nationals -- or MLB -- might be able to punish him for that.
   68. billyshears Posted: March 21, 2006 at 05:55 AM (#1910038)
What if Soriano was just annoyed about being traded to the Nationals on principal and decided that he wouldn't play for him no matter what position they wanted him to play? Seems clear to me that he would be violating the terms of his contract in that case.

Now, what if in order to draw up some fan interest, the Nationals came up with a promotion "Come see Alphonso Soriano pitch on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and catch on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays." That strikes me as unjust and I have a hunch that no matter the letter of the CBA, Soriano would win that one.

Asking a bad defensive 2b who also happens to be an all-star to change positions is obviously somewher in the middle. My guess is that the CBA is silent on the issue, which likely means that Soriano loses, but I think players should have some rights to not have to play a position on the baseball diamond which they do not customarily play. If they don't, what is to prevent the second example from occurring except good sense, which is in precious short supply in baseball these days? Regardless of the outcome in the Soriano case, some sort of protection against this would be relatively easy to write in to the next CBA.
   69. A triple short of the cycle Posted: March 21, 2006 at 06:04 AM (#1910061)
My two cents are that if Soriano doesn't want to play outfield he should have had that written into his contract. Take the field ####.
   70. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 06:05 AM (#1910062)
Asking a bad defensive 2b who also happens to be an all-star to change positions is obviously somewher in the middle.
It's not really somewhere in the middle at all. Of course the player loses. He signs a contract to play baseball, not to play second base.

Unless a player can somehow show that the team was acting in bad faith -- and an arbitrator is not an idiot -- the player loses, and it's not a close call.


I am amazed at the number of people here who think a player has some sort of say in what position he plays.
   71. McCoy Posted: March 21, 2006 at 06:12 AM (#1910070)
You know what this means? This means that Dusty Baker gets his dream come true. He'll get to ship Walker off to Washington in return for Soriano and then send Cedeno down and have Neifi play short. I'm sure Dusty is killing kittens as we speak.
   72. Zach Posted: March 21, 2006 at 06:28 AM (#1910076)
What if Soriano was just annoyed about being traded to the Nationals on principal and decided that he wouldn't play for him no matter what position they wanted him to play? Seems clear to me that he would be violating the terms of his contract in that case.

Then he could either hold out or refuse to report, just like in the days of the reserve clause. But either option is functionally equivalent to the Dairy Queen list.

Asking Soriano to make a position switch he's unalterably opposed to is kind of a jerk move. But the whole point of having a contract is that it's an agreement that can be legally enforced, even if one of the parties decide they don't want to deliver on their half of the bargain.

Ultimately, I think this is a situation that has to end with Soriano getting traded or capitulating. (I'm discounting the possibility that he'll sit out the year on the DQ list.) Putting him at second and displacing a good player in the process undermines Frank Robinson too directly. It can't possibly be a good idea to keep around a star player who has directly defied the manager and won.
   73. CFiJ Posted: March 21, 2006 at 06:31 AM (#1910079)
Keep in mind that the current free agency system works to Soriano's advantage by limiting the market for 2nd basemen every year, so that when he becomes a free agent, he'll have a huge demand for his services. Not to mention arbitration. The MLBPA had the opportunity to negotiate total free agency, but they chose this system because they knew it would drive up salaries.
   74. Law Boy Posted: March 21, 2006 at 06:31 AM (#1910080)
Success spoiled Soriano, and he's not even that good.
   75. ColonelTom Posted: March 21, 2006 at 06:37 AM (#1910087)
Why doesn't he just throw games? Gee, I think the Nationals -- or MLB -- might be able to punish him for that.


IF you can prove that he did it. Gary Sheffield's said as much about his poor defensive performance years ago as an infielder for the Brewers, and no one's punished him for that. Besides, given Soriano's cluelessness in the field at his chosen position, who's to say any errors in LF are the result of dogging it?
   76. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 06:45 AM (#1910091)
Is it just me, or is everybody involved in this story a bit stupid?

Bowden is stupid for his fetish for Deion Sanders and other toolsy guys. As well, trading for Soriano is pretty much a bad idea too.

Robinson is stupid for putting Soriano in the leadoff spot.

Soriano is stupid for reasons that were probably covered. Maybe he can start in left and then start throwing balls into a dugout or two.
   77. I can't believe we're playing Francoeur(KevinHess) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 06:48 AM (#1910094)
I'm amused that anyone is taking Soriano's side here. Yes, it was stupid of Bowden to trade for a player he knew would create this kind of problem, but Soriano hasn't a leg to stand on. The man is being paid 10,000,000 freaking dollars to play baseball under the conditions laid out in the CBA. If he doesn't want to obey those rules (which include having his contract controlled by his employer for his first six years of service time), he should find another place of employment. He can go to Mexico, or an indy league. It'd be different from my POV if they were telling him to pitch. He has no idea how to do it properly and could get hurt (like Canseco). But LF and 2B aren't significantly different. I know it's not the same, but it's close enough that Soriano is being a little #####.
   78. Astro Logical Sign Stealer Posted: March 21, 2006 at 06:50 AM (#1910098)
It's not a question of whether Soriano gets to say where he plays. It a question of what's the Nats' remedy for Soriano refusing to go along with their plan. I don't see how the Nats get to stick him on a list and keep him from playing baseball ever again, which is what Bowden says he's going to do. (Bowden's also calling Soriano the team's "property.")

In this game of chicken, Bowden loses. And he's going to make an ass of himself doing it.

#68: The situation you're describing is what happened when the Cardinals traded Curt Flood to the Phillies and he didn't go. And in fact Flood lost.
   79. I can't believe we're playing Francoeur(KevinHess) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 06:54 AM (#1910103)
I don't see how the Nats get to stick him on a list and keep him from playing baseball ever again, which is what Bowden says he's going to do.

They don't get to do that. They get to keep him from playing in the MLB system until a) he agrees to play when and where they want him to, or b) they work out a trade to their liking.
   80. Astro Logical Sign Stealer Posted: March 21, 2006 at 06:56 AM (#1910104)
They get to keep him from playing in the MLB system until a) he agrees to play when and where they want him to, or b) they work out a trade to their liking.


Oh really?

As I said in the other Soriano thread, I'd love to see that litigated.
   81. SouthSideRyan Posted: March 21, 2006 at 06:59 AM (#1910109)
Didn't Derek Bell get paid in full for operation shutdown? I seem to remember being pretty outraged about that.
   82. billyshears Posted: March 21, 2006 at 07:01 AM (#1910111)
It's not really somewhere in the middle at all. Of course the player loses. He signs a contract to play baseball, not to play second base.

Unless a player can somehow show that the team was acting in bad faith -- and an arbitrator is not an idiot -- the player loses, and it's not a close call.


You know, except for the part of my post that said "My guess is that the CBA is silent on the issue, which likely means that Soriano loses," I completely disagree with that.

And now that we've settled on the "bad faith" standard as determined by an arbitrator who "is not an idiot", shall we just proceed to the part of the discussion where each side characterizes bad faith in a way to achieve whatever they thought was the just outcome in the first place?

Is it bad faith to ask a second baseman to catch? Is it bad faith to ask a position player to pitch regularly? Is it bad faith to ask a pitcher to pitch so many innings that he feels like he is risking injury? Is bad faith limited to occasions when a team risks a player's health, or can occasions wher a player feels he is being made to look like a fool qualify? Is bad faith a subjective standard - as long as the team feels that they are acting reasonably then they're not acting in bad faith? Or are teams held to some sort of objective notion of reasonable player usage - Is Mark Prior within his rights to say no to Dusty Baker when Baker tries to send him out for inning number 400 in 2006 because he feel like his arm is about to fall off and he believes that no reasonable team would use a player in that manner?

I get the whole "a player signs a contract to play baseball, not to play second base" thing, so I'm not arguing that there are any sort of contractual protections in place to protect Soriano, but there are ways that a baseball team can utilize a player that are extremely unfair to the player and I think that a player should have some sort of protection. My guess is that if presented with such a case, an arbitrator who is not an idiot would find a way to shoehorn some sort of protection into the CBA. Obviously, these instances are so uncommon that there are no real examples that come to mind. And if you disagree that there even should be this sort of protection for players, then there isn't much left to talk about. But if you do believe the players should have some sort of protection, I think this presents in interesting opportunity to discuss exactly what we think those situations would be. I dont think "bad faith" gets us anywhere.
   83. I can't believe we're playing Francoeur(KevinHess) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 07:09 AM (#1910115)
They get to keep him from playing in the MLB system until a) he agrees to play when and where they want him to, or b) they work out a trade to their liking.


Oh really?

As I said in the other Soriano thread, I'd love to see that litigated


Oh really? Me too. Do you have any legal explanation for why breach of contract should be acceptable in this case?
   84. Zach Posted: March 21, 2006 at 07:12 AM (#1910117)
But moving a bad fielder to an easier position is such a fundamental aspect of team management, the team can't concede the issue.

Probably 60% of major leaguers have played shortstop at some point in their baseball career. Look at the percentage of shortstops your team drafts this summer. Most of them will end up at other positions, some before their first professional games.

I don't think teams can concede more than a good-faith gaurantee that positional moves will be made to address perceived team needs and player strengths.
   85. I can't believe we're playing Francoeur(KevinHess) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 07:13 AM (#1910119)
I just had an idea for what Soriano could do. He could take the field whenever he's in the lineup, and claim he's playing left field, but walk over to his customary second base position. When questioned, he could just claim that he was employng an extreme defensive shift, positioning himself better than the coaches would. What do you think? He couldn't be put on the DQ list then, could he? Wouldn't he face a more generic disciplinary suspension?
   86. ian Posted: March 21, 2006 at 07:13 AM (#1910120)
MLB and the MLBPA came to their CBA voluntarily, as part of a larger market framework.

That, but mostly the fact that MLB controls all 30 employers and about 180 minor league affiliates that are directly comparable to minor league teams.

You are consistently ignoring the fact that MLB is a MONOPOLY. Employers who control 90-some percent of the market are monopolists, which puts them in a much different position than other employers. Monopoly employers can get things like getting to "control his contract until he put in his six years of major league service." My employer can't get that, because I can go work for someone else.


It isn't a monopoly, because it doesn't prevent competition. There are also alternatives. Japan, for example? I don't think MLB has shown itself to have the kind of market power which is indicative of a monopoly. I don't think consumption is the mark of a monopolist, it's how the would-be monopolist can use its market power while retaining that consumption level. MLB, imo, does not have much leeway here.

Anyways... ff you don't like a contract, DON'T SIGN IT. I am dismayed at the free market rhetoric which is used to attack voluntary agreements. MLB is free to not accept employees that want employment outside of certain accepted parameters (CBA). Employees are free to play in Japan or other leagues. There is no wrong here because Soriano can't be paid $10,000,000/yr in America in the Major Leagues choosing his own team every year only playing the position he wants to yadda yadda yadda. You're not entitled to anything.

$0.02
   87. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 07:17 AM (#1910122)
The Nationals would still own Soriano, his soul, his underwear, and his life if Soriano retired, right?
   88. I can't believe we're playing Francoeur(KevinHess) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 07:21 AM (#1910126)
Yes, he would be going commando for the rest of his life.
   89. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 07:23 AM (#1910128)
so much for Soriano's alternate plan to 'retire' and wait until he can unretire and go somewhere else.
   90. billyshears Posted: March 21, 2006 at 07:26 AM (#1910129)
Anyways... ff you don't like a contract, DON'T SIGN IT. I am dismayed at the free market rhetoric which is used to attack voluntary agreements.

I, however, am dismayed at the free market rhetoric used to attach individuals who have very limited rights to access the free market. The last voluntary agreement Soriano signed was eight years ago. Soriano has been compensated very well for his time so I don't weep for him, but since 1998 he has had zero opportunity to negotiate the conditions of his individual employment, either in the U.S. or in Japan.
   91. Brandon in MO (Yunitility Infielder) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 07:30 AM (#1910133)
Granted, Soriano already retired and waited when he didn't want to play for the Carp.

So, I think you only get to fake your retirement once.
   92. Astro Logical Sign Stealer Posted: March 21, 2006 at 07:30 AM (#1910135)
Do you have any legal explanation for why breach of contract should be acceptable in this case?


Do you have any legal explanation why the Nats' remedy for Soriano's breach is to prevent him from working in baseball ever again?
   93. I can't believe we're playing Francoeur(KevinHess) Posted: March 21, 2006 at 08:01 AM (#1910142)
I asked you first.
   94. Law Boy Posted: March 21, 2006 at 08:04 AM (#1910143)
If Frannk Robinson put Soriano in the lineup to play LF on Opening Day, and he refused to comply, although Orza almost certainly would litigate the issue on Soriano's behalf, my legal opinion is that the MLBPA would not prevail.

I would advise the Nationals not to put him on the disqualified list until then (or to at least remove his name from the list for Opening Day), thereby giving Soriano every opportunity to cure the breach of contract/insubordination.
   95. DCW3 Posted: March 21, 2006 at 08:18 AM (#1910147)
Once again, this whole fiasco would have been prevented if Bowden had simply bothered to calculate the trade's NOPA in the first place.
   96. Dr. Vaux Posted: March 21, 2006 at 08:29 AM (#1910150)
Playing lf really would hurt his value, because if he does it for a year, he'll still be considered (wrongly, of course) a capable 2b by teams when he's out on the market, and he'll be free to sign with a team that will play him there.
   97. JMM Posted: March 21, 2006 at 09:03 AM (#1910157)
there are ways that a baseball team can utilize a player that are extremely unfair to the player and I think that a player should have some sort of protection.

Fair enough, but moving a 2B -- espeically one who is so terrible at playing the position -- to LF isn't even in the same universe of qualifying for such protection and is hardly comparable to forcing a non-pitcher to pitch or a non-catcher to catch (or a pitcher to play a regular defensive position).
   98. CONservative governMENt Posted: March 21, 2006 at 11:00 AM (#1910177)
This thread is a perfect example of normally level-headed posters jumping into 'bash the GM'-mode a bit prematurely and now digging themselves to the Asian continent trying to defend themselves rather than admit that Soriano has no legal or ethical basis on which to stand.

And while Bowden made a dumb trade, Soriano has had months to work on the LF adjustment and has really been stupid if he did nothing during this time.
   99. BFFB Posted: March 21, 2006 at 11:06 AM (#1910178)
Also if it was to go to arbitrage of some sort the objective fact that Soriano is not a top second baseman doesn't actually matter. What would matter is whether or not the perception at the time he was traded was that he was a good second baseman or not.
   100. BDC Posted: March 21, 2006 at 11:24 AM (#1910179)
players should have some rights to not have to play a position on the baseball diamond which they do not customarily play

If the team believes it has a better player at your customary position, you move, whether you are Ernie Banks or Tony Fernandez or Cal Ripken. Why should Soriano be different?
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