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Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I Don't Want to Play Left Field

Great story last night about how Alfonso Soriano of the Washington Nationals refused to play left field in an exhibition game. Check out the story on here.

Soriano, a second baseman, was traded in the off-season from the Texas Rangers to the Nationals for OF Brad Wilkerson and two other players. One problem - the Nationals already have an all-star second baseman in Jose Vidro.

No problem, Washington thought, we'll just move Soriano to the outfield.

Another problem - Soriano doesn't want to play the outfield and said so from the get-go.

Well, Soriano returned to the Nationals yesterday (he had been playing with the DR in the WBC). Manager Frank Robinson had Soriano batting leadoff and playing left field. However, with the game about to start, left field was vacant. That's right - Vacant! Soriano just decided not to take the field at all. Eventually, Robinson came out and made a switch, but fans and players were very confused.

I do have to admire Soriano for sticking to his principles. He said he was not going to play outfield, and he obviously didn't change his mind. However, you would think the situation could have been handled a little more maturely.

In my opinion, though, the real people at fault here are the Nationals' management. You would think that a team would find out if an all-star was willing to make a position switch before they traded for him. Now, they are probably going to have to trade for him for 30 cents on the dollar.

Washington GM Jim Bowden says that the refusal to take the field was a violation of Soriano's contract (he's probably right), and is threatening to report him to the commissioner for placement on the disqualified list (which would, in effect, suspend his service time). However, that doesn't change the fact that the guy made a stupid trade without doing all the necessary research.


I would love to see the Nationals let Soriano languish on the suspended list indefinitely. While you can criticize Bowden all you want (and he deserves plenty of criticism for his inane moves with the Reds), Soriano is under contract and is required to do what all other employees in this country who are under contract must do: obey the boss. It's about time someone take a hard line against these primma donnas.

Blogger some guy -- 3/21/2006 5:10 PM  

The real reason this was a bad trade is that Brad Wilkerson was a great team guy, and now no matter what the outcome is the Nationals are stuck with a clubhouse cancer with zero trade value because he is a free agent after this year.

Blogger Robby -- 3/22/2006 1:19 PM  

I sympathize with Soriano somewhat. Any arbitration guy (even a well compensated one like him) has no choice at all in where he plays. Soriano didn't choose to go to a team with an established 2B. Once he's a free agent, different story - you can essentially choose where you play each year if you sign one-year deals, or sacrifice some of that choice for greater security with a long-term contract.

The real reason Soriano doesn't want to switch is a purely economic. As a free agent next winter, he'll command considerably more as one of the best 2Bs rather than a decent but unspectacular LF. Still, his best option right now is to suck it up and play LF.


Anonymous Anonymous -- 3/22/2006 2:00 PM  

"anonymous" called him "one of the best 2Bs" -- with a bat in his hand, sure. But he's a TERRIBLE fielding second baseman, and the next team, or the team after that, SURELY will want to move him down the defensive spectrum, maybe even to first base. Soriano's agent is not doing him any favors if he is not telling him to run out to left field.

Anonymous Marc -- 3/22/2006 5:22 PM  

I agree that he's atrocious defensively - the new Fielding Bible makes a pretty convincing case - but I'd wager there are teams willing to overlook that to put in a power bat in a traditionally weak offensive spot (even if his offense is overrated bc of a relatively low OBP and inlflated slugging stats by his home park). I just hope it's not my team.


Anonymous Anonymous -- 3/23/2006 7:09 AM  

"Soriano is under contract and is required to do what all other employees in this country who are under contract must do: obey the boss. It's about time someone take a hard line against these primma donnas."

I beg to differ. Efficient breach is where it is at. Soriano is well aware of the consequences of refusing to fulfill the obligations of his contract and if he feels the benefits outweigh the costs, then he was well within his rights to refuse to play. He eventually changed his mind, but that was his decision to make.

Blogger RPS -- 3/23/2006 11:46 AM  

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