The 136 Million Dollar Man

Noticeably absent from the Cubs Recap was any mention of the injury to Alfonso Soriano. Soriano left the game in Top 1 after injuring his right calf on a routine play to the OF. Sori did his usual "little girl hopping through the daisies" hop before catching the ball. But when he landed he came up lame on the calf and had to be helped off the filed by TheRiot. Soriano apparently went straight into the clubhouse.

To replace the star LF and leadoff hitter, Lou had to quickly juggle his roster around. DeRosa, slated to start at 2B, was sent to LF. Fontenot was called upon to lead off and play 2B in place of DeRo. And here we go...

Soriano is a freaking baby. I'm sure this is a legit injury, so I have no beef with that. But what continues to piss me off about him is his child-like insistence of leading off despite the fact that he is clearly not suited to be a leadoff hitter and is hurting the team every single time he makes a PA in the one hole. This followed his same infantile crying about moving from 2B, where he was clearly no longer suited to the position, to LF a couple of years back w/ the Nationals. Watching all this play out again this year, I've reached the simple conclusion that Soriano is simply very weak mentally. I'm not sure how an athlete of his stature could reach the heights that he has-but what other explanation is there?

Contrast Soriano's attitude with this: DeRosa, who was forced to play LF last night after having played it about once all of 2007, and Fontenot, who was forced to leadoff and play 2B when he was not prepared to get a start in the game, went a combined 3-9 and scored 2 Rs. DeRosa's hit came off a bomb of a HR off of Harang. 3-9 isn't as impressive as it seemed when I was watching the game last night, but it still works. How do you think Soriano would have fared in a situation like that? His bat wouldn't even have caught a whiff of a baseball all night-and probably for 3 weeks afterwards. I think this says a lot about Soriano and why DeRosa and Fontenot continue to be two of my favorite players.

Soriano's injury is sounding like it's going to result in a DL stint. Speculation is that The Big Murt, Matt Murton, will be called up with Sori out. Is this really all that bad of a thing? Soriano hates cold weather and has gotten off to a pretty bad start. Maybe some time off will let him get his swing going. Additionally, Murton will get the chance to showcase his skills for a potential trade and will likely help the ball club in doing so.

The questions this raises though, are these: With Soriano out, who will hit leadoff. And once Soriano is back, will he move back to the one spot?

UPDATE - 3:15 PM Central: Will Carroll's Under the Knife column (subscription required) is up at Baseball Prospectus with news, sort of, on Soriano's injury. For the unfamiliar, Carroll is the sites resident injury expert. A PhD turn baseball writer who really knows his stuff. Per Carroll, the injury is right "in the belly" of the calf muscle and "swelled up significantly" right after it occured. Carroll says that what is more important, though, is how quickly the swelling resides. At this time, he doesn't seem to have any info in that regard and is thus unable to give a prediction on how long Soriano might be out.

The more worrying part of Carroll's discussion on the matter is a comparison he draws to Ken Griffey, Jr. Carroll compares Sori to The Kid in that despite good conditioning they both have continual leg problems that seem to build on one another. And no one, and I take him to mean the respective training staffs here, seem to know how to prevent them. Let's hope not.

UPDATE - 3:45 PM Central: The Cubs have placed The Glass Ego on the DL and recalled E-Pat from AAA. Presumably, the Cubs will use Reed Johnson and DeRosa in Left for now.

Comments (3)

Lionel

April 16, 2008 at 9:03 AM

Jayson Stark said this morning on Mike and Mike that this is actually a good thing, as far as injurioes go, for the very reasons you stated. The Big Murt is almost certainly going to be called up if Sori goes on the DL. The only other OF on the 40 man is Sam Fuld and the Cubs don't need 3 CF's. The only other option I see is to move Reed Johnson to LF full-time (where he practiced all of spring training with the Jays) and call up a utility man like Jake Fox or E-Pat who can play OF if needed. Assuming it's Murton, it will give the Cubs a chance to showcase him, in case they need to move him in a trade.

The other thing that Stark mentioned was that this could actually give Lou an "out" to find a leadoff hitter. I don't really agree with this. Yes, he can experiment, but with who? Fukudome would be a great leadoff hitter, in my opinion, but that "wastes" his left-handedness. The Riot has been a leadoff hitter, but he needs to hit a little more to be a leadoff hitter. And then, even if someone becomes established as a leadoff hitter, can Lou really tell Alfonso "the Glass Ego" Soriano that he is being moved back down in the order?

jumbo

April 16, 2008 at 9:36 AM

That's why they pay us the big bucks to write this blog. We're on par w/ Jayson Stark and anyone else ESPN can throw at us in terms of access and baseball writing knowledge and experience.

Great new nickname for Sori. He shall hereinafter been known as The Glass Ego.

Re: leadoff-I think TheRiot slots in there. With Pie looking like balls there's just no other hitter that profiles for the top of the order. Barring a trade, for Bip Roberts or otherwise, I think TheRiot is our guy for the time being. And hopefully after Sori gets off the DL too. If TheRiot gets hot-there's your excuse to keep him there.

Re: LF-I'm expecting Johnson to get the majority of time in LF. Murt will fill in in LF when Johnson moves to CF vs. LHPs and/or when Pie needs some time off to think about how NOT to look like CPat every AB. I don't think Murt goes right into starting every day. And I get the feeling that Lou is lovin' him some RJ right now-Johnson looked good when he had that 4 or 5 game stretch where he played every game.

jumbo

April 16, 2008 at 7:33 PM

And the winner of the leadoff sweepstakes is...

Lil Mikey!