ADAM DUNN...NOT ONCE BUT 3 different times. Man this guy must have really thought DanO was an idiot.
Soriano ready to put Nats on spotposted: Wednesday, February 22, 2006
VIERA, Fla. -- It is always appropriate to visit the Nationals on George Washington's birthday. Of course, the team still has no owner. It might not have a name, either, although MLB might do what most of the prospective ownership groups intend to do -- change the name and sell a whole new line of licensed products.
Oh yes, they also have two second basemen, at least in Alfonso Soriano's mind. So when Soriano and Jose Vidro report for their first workout Thursday, everyone is waiting for the conversation between manager Frank Robinson and Soriano. Jose Rijo, a special assistant to general manager Jim Bowden, talked to Soriano Tuesday night when he got to his hotel in Cocoa Beach, and delivered the message to the indefatigable general manager: "Not good," Rijo said. "Prepare for Plan B."
With Cristian Guzman in camp early and so slimmed and conditioned that he looks 20 years old again and word among the players that Vidro is in the best shape of his career, the Soriano question could be a mess. However, Bowden figures that Soriano has no choice.
He will make $10 million this year. Is he going to go home?
He is a free agent at the end of the season. Is he going to sit on the bench and DH in American League ballparks?
Bowden doesn't think so. "When," asks Bowden, "did players begin dictating to clubs what position they're going to play?" Or dictate to Hall of Fame managers?
Now, Bowden has always been willing to take gambles; he took a shot at Sammy Sosa and stepped it up this week, offering to double his original offer to $1 million, but after Sosa first agreed to the deal with Rijo, he changed his mind.
As Soriano drew the line between second base and left field, Bowden realized he could have a problem. He's talked to teams about trades, and offered three different Cincinnati GMs Soriano for Adam Dunn. But the market might be small for Soriano, because of his salary and because many teams consider him strictly a DH.
His Texas coaches insist Soriano is the worst defensive second baseman in the game. They also don't think he'll be a good left fielder.
"He can't catch popups, why should he be able to go back on fly balls?" asks one Rangers coach. Another Rangers official is concerned that his lack of concentration will get worse in left field with nothing going on. Then there's the 1.011/.639 (with .265 OBP) home/road OPS split as he goes from a great hitters' park to one of the toughest.
Bowden might be right, and Soriano will realize that he has no choice but to play where he's told to play. The Nationals/Grays/Dubyas/whatevers need him to hit home runs. Then again, they might have to trade him and try to get pitching, even if they sign Pedro Astacio and as encouraged as they are with Tony Armas, who is throwing very well after having a strong winter in Venezuela following an operation to loosen the capsule in his right shoulder.
No owner. No name. No Soriano. That would be a problem.