Wednesday, March 22, 2006

D-Day For Soriano

I'll be updating this as new crap comes in... keep scrolling.

Today's supposed to be Alfonso Soriano's last shot, and he's unsure whether he's going to play:
"I'm going to think about it. I'm going to talk it over with his [sic]wife and agent, [Diego Bentz]," Soriano said when reached by phone. "I want to play, but they have [Jose] Vidro at second base. I will make a decision [on Wednesday morning]."

Does that sound like the beginning of someone caving in?

Ladson tells a story which just adds to the confusion:
According to two baseball sources, bench coach Eddie Rodriguez wrote two lineups on Monday. The one without Soriano's name in the lineup was on the clubhouse bulletin board for most of the afternoon.

"With me, I'm thinking I'm out of the lineup," Soriano said. "Before they made the lineup, I told them if I'm not playing second base, I do not want to be in the lineup. Nick Johnson called me at that time and he told me that they had me in the lineup, but [nobody showed up]. Now I look like the bad guy."

Huh? My reading comprehension sometimes sucks, but I'm still trying to see if I get this right... Because Eddie Rodriguez is a feckup (reason #1,376 why he needs to be shitcanned), Soriano didn't know he was in the lineup, so even if he had wanted to play, which he's made clear he wouldn't have anyway, he couldn't have? Huh?

Soriano, it seems, is feeling the pressure of yesterday's stunt. The team did an excellent job of shifting the public's ire from Bowden's incompetence (highlighted by the Sheinin piece in the Post which noted that Bowden made the trade EVEN THOUGH he knew that Soriano was opposed to moving) to Alfonso Soriano's decision.

Tin Foil Alert: Did the lineup card get switched at the last minute to make him look bad? Why would Eddie have two lineup cards? We want answers, Bill! Of course if they make the front office look bad, we'll have to turn to another source....

Regardless Soriano is now realizing that his petulance, especially at storming out of the clubhouse during the game, only intensified the focus on him, and was a bad case of crisis management. Now he's apologizing to the press for not talking. Damage control, for sure.

Meanwhile, Svrluga's article raises, and sort of answers some of the questions I asked yesterday:
Soriano's impending free agency could be a determining factor in the continuing conflict, and it's a point the union may argue if the Nationals put Soriano on the disqualified list. The Nationals and Major League Baseball officials believe that a player on the disqualified list doesn't accrue service time. Soriano has almost 5 1/2 years of major league service time, and must get to six years to become a free agent. If he were to remain on the disqualified list, management argues, he would not have his six years, and therefore would not become a free agent at the end of 2006. Instead, he would remain Nationals property.

Baseball's collective bargaining agreement, however, doesn't explicitly state that players on the disqualified list don't accrue service time, and the union, should it get involved, might argue that Soriano should earn credit for his time even if he ends up on the list.

Emphasis added, of course. That doesn't quite sound like the open and shut case that Bowden was crowing about yesterday, does it?

I'd argue, regardless, that Soriano is going to be a free agent at the end of the year. If he gets his service time, it's clear. If not, he'd still be arbitration eligible, and there'd be no way the Nats would tender him a contract next year. (A wrinkle COULD be whether his current contract would carry over to the next year, but let's not think about that now; my head would explode!)

I have no idea how tomorrow's going to turn out. Nothing, at this point, would surprise me.

I do know, however, that for the first time in my life, I can heartily endorse this Tony Kornheiser column and/or product.

  • ESPN's Roger Cossack weighs in and says that Soriano is fecked. I dunno. It doesn't seem that clearcut to me.

    MLB and the Union recognize that there's a difference between 2B and OF. When they compile Free Agency rankings, they list them in two separate categories because the demands for each position are different. If they both agree that they're different, couldn't that be used as an argument that Soriano can't be forced to switch? Just sayin'....

  • Bowden in Bowden's own words:
    Had any of us felt that Alfonso would not play left, we would not have made this deal. But you can’t make that decision after the fact....

    Texas refused us permission to talk to him before the trade. We still felt it was a worthwhile gamble because of our offense the year before and his athleticism.
    Every decision you make as a GM influences your future. And not all moves work out. If Soriano had agreed to play left, hit 40 homers and driven in 100 runs, they call you a genius.

    When he refuses to play, you get criticism and rightfully so....

    When deals don’t work out, the GM takes the heat. I accept the responsibility.

    As all things are with Jim Bowden, it's all about him, isn't it? And isn't he setting himself up perfectly for being the conquering hero should Soriano blink? Can't you see the track-suit-wearing Buttafuocoite strutting around as if he were king of the world? Is your bile rising too?

  • The NY Times gives an overview, and includes this anecdote, indicating A-Sor's stubborness isn't new:
    Last May, Soriano pouted when Rangers Manager Buck Showalter removed him from the leadoff spot and dropped him to fifth in the batting order. Soriano said he viewed himself more as a base-stealing threat than as a power hitter despite consistently ranking among the American League leaders in home runs and strikeouts.

    Just fix it, Frank!

  • WTEM is reporting that Soriano is in the lineup today, leading off and playing left. No word if he was with the team when they left for Jupiter, where they're playing the Cardinals.

  • The Eagle has boarded. Repeat. The Eagle has boarded. He's on the bus, but still unsure if he's going to play; he's talking to his agent. A compromise perhaps -- his agent could play left?

  • WTEM says he's playing. I'll be updating here.

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