Friday, July 26, 2013
IIs Alfonso Soriano Even an Upgrade?
Although it’s not actually official yet, all indications are that Alfonso Soriano will be a Yankee by this weekend. Soriano left the Yankees as a shaky defensive second baseman with speed and power in the Alex Rodriguez trade and returns as a plus defensive LF who still has pop but doesn’t run all that much. Soriano has never been much of a walker although his 3.9% BB/PA this season would be his lowest since 2002. He still loves swinging at pitches in the left-handed hitters batters box, so that will be fun to watch.
In order to determine what Soriano adds to the team, you have to figure out who he’s replacing. He’s an option for LF and DH, and that’s pretty much it. So his playing time is going to come at the expense of Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells, most likely. Here are their rest-of-season ZiPS projections, pro-rated to 250 PA.
If you factor in defense and believe the defensive metrics, Soriano probably adds a run or two of value above Wells. So in theory if Soriano is replacing Wells he adds three runs or so to the Yankees over 250 PA. That may not seem like much, but that’s about a week’s worth of offense for this team.
It’s entirely possible that Hafner’s projection is way off and that his days as an effective player are over. It’s also a fact that he adds no defensive value at all, whereas Wells can at least man the OF and 3B in an emergency. But at least for now Hafner projects as the best hitter of this sordid cast of characters. But once you factor in defense I’d say that Soriano is a more valuable player to have than Hafner as well.
My guess is for now we’ll see Soriano in LF, and a Wells/Hafner platoon at DH, with Wells also occasionally resting one of Brett Gardner and Ichiro! What will be interesting to see is what happens if Curtis Granderson ever comes back. It’s hard to see a spot for Hafner at that point and while his play since May 1 hasn’t deserved a spot, I am still holding out hope he can bust out of his slump.
My thought on this trade, and really on the way this team has done business over the past season is this. It stinks. They’ve blown so much money on players like Kevin Youkilis, Wells and now Soriano to build a team that’s got a lower chance at the postseason than half the teams in the league. They’ve done it with an eye on getting below the salary cap in 2014 so they can get some savings, but I don’t think the savings they’ll get will even come close to making up the $40+M of essentially wasted money that they’ve spent on replacement level production and the ratings and attendance drop that this team has spearheaded.
I guess they should go ahead and try and make one last push for the postseason at this point because I can’t see any way this team is competitive in 2014. But someone like Soriano isn’t really a push, he’s more like a slight nudge. And if they ended up giving up a viable prospect for him I will really dislike this move.
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