January 7th, 2014

January 7 – Happy Birthday Alfonso Soriano

sorianotpUp until the 2009 World Series, one of my most frequent Yankee related “What if…” questions was “What if the Yankees never traded Alfonso Soriano for A-Rod.” Then A-Rod finally put together an outstanding postseason that year and led my favorite team to its 27th World Championship. At the same time, Soriano had just struggled through his third straight regular season as a Cub and had been horrible in the two postseasons he played in for Chicago.  So I stopped playing the “What if…” game.

Since that 2009 World Series however, A-Rod has emphatically confirmed all of his maddening insecurities that negatively impact his play and make it so hard to root for him. Soriano, on the other hand, has taken advantage of an unexpected return trip to the Bronx to remind us all of just how amazing a ballplayer he can be when he goes on one of his patented “hot streaks.” So I again find myself asking the question, “what if that trade in February of 2004 had never been made?”

If the deal never went down, worst case scenario would be that the Yanks would have failed to win that 2009 title. Rodriguez also put some monster years together during his time in pinstripes especially in ’05 and ’07 so you have to wonder if without him, New York might have missed postseason play all-together in a couple of those seasons. But Soriano’s body of work during that same period of time was not too shabby either and don’t forget the Yanks would have probably used the many extra millions they paid A-Rod to sign at least one other impact free agent. The biggest benefit of getting rid of Soriano was that it opened up the opportunity for Robbie Cano to become New York’s starting second baseman. If you remember, when Soriano was traded to the Nationals from Texas, he fought Washington’s desire to move him from second base to the outfield. Knowing how the Yanks operate, the chances are pretty good they would have dealt a young Cano to another organization because they would have kept Soriano at second.

Oh well, we will never really know the true consequences but it’s fun to surmise. Meanwhile, Soriano turns 38-years-old today and is once again being counted on to help New York win a World Series. The Yankee brain-trust had to force GM Brian Cashman to make the deal with the Cubs that brought this native Dominican back to New York in late July of the 2013 season and thank God they did. At the time the Yankee offense was sinking like the Titanic in the AL East pennant race. Soriano desperately wanted to wear the pinstripes again and willingly waived the no-trade clause in his Cubs contract to make it happen. Then he went out and put the Yankee lineup on his back and just about single-handedly kept the team in contention for fall ball up until the final few weeks of the regular season.

With the free agent signings of Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, Soriano’s role in the Yankees’ 2014 plans remains unclear. They have a glut of outfielders and DH’s on their current roster. But I’m hoping he gets a chance to start somewhere in the Yankee lineup because I don’t want to ask myself any more “What if the Yankees had kept Alfonso Soriano” questions.

This MVP of the 1952 World Series and this catcher from the 1927 Yankees were also born on January 7.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1998 Did not play in major leagues (Did Not Play)
1999 NYY 9 8 8 2 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 3 .125 .125 .500 .625
2000 NYY 22 53 50 5 9 3 0 2 3 2 1 15 .180 .196 .360 .556
2001 NYY 158 614 574 77 154 34 3 18 73 43 29 125 .268 .304 .432 .736
2002 NYY 156 741 696 128 209 51 2 39 102 41 23 157 .300 .332 .547 .880
2003 NYY 156 734 682 114 198 36 5 38 91 35 38 130 .290 .338 .525 .863
2013 NYY 58 243 219 37 56 8 0 17 50 8 21 67 .256 .325 .525 .850
15 Yrs 1908 8157 7524 1130 2045 466 31 406 1136 288 490 1732 .272 .321 .504 .825
CHC (7 yrs) 889 3696 3403 469 898 218 13 181 526 70 245 829 .264 .317 .495 .812
NYY (6 yrs) 559 2393 2229 363 627 132 10 115 320 129 112 497 .281 .323 .504 .827
TEX (2 yrs) 301 1340 1245 179 341 75 6 64 195 48 66 246 .274 .316 .498 .814
WSN (1 yr) 159 728 647 119 179 41 2 46 95 41 67 160 .277 .351 .560 .911
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/8/2014.