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I normally consider Philadelphia Daily News columnist Bill Conlin’s columns to be a waste of newsprint, but he’s got a piece in today’s paper about why the Phils shouldn’t sign Alfonso Soriano that actually made me stop and think.

I’ve been a pretty big proponent of bringing Soriano to Philadelphia. He would bring both protection for Ryan Howard and more speed to what is (if the team can find a taker for Pat Burrell) an already speedy lineup.

But Conlin makes some good points against signing Soriano, including the fact that Soriano strikes out a lot:

Should the Phillies turn the current staying-in-the-news hints that they might actually pursue a free agent who could cost as much as $105 million (insert laugh track here) for 7 years into reality, there is a deal-breaker.

And here it is:

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That’s how 473 strikeouts look all lined up to march into box scores, ready to kill rallies. That’s how many times Ryan Howard (181), Soriano (160) and Utley (132) walked slowly back to the dugout last season.

You’re talking about the 3-4-5 spots in the Phillies’ batting order. And, yes, the thought of the 136 homers they hit last season is intoxicating. However, the mind boggles at the stranded RISP numbers all those strikeouts represent.

The problem with the Phillies is that they too often fail to come through in the clutch. This a failing that frequently gets pinned on Burrell, but the truth is that Ryan Howard’s numbers with runners in scoring position aren’t very good, either. Getting rid of Burrell would be good, but replacing him with another strike out prone hitter might not be the best idea.

Then again, there are so many reasons to sign Soriano, as new Phils 3B coach Davie Lopes points out:

“This is a good team, good city, good park for him,” Lopes said. “He’s just an outstanding guy. Pound-for-pound, I’ve never seen anyone hit the ball farther. And he brings energy to the park. Every day, he comes in with a smile and is ready to play. He has the ability to elevate and pick up people.”

In the past, the Phils have been criticized for not having the right attitude. Soriano is said to have a great attitude. The Phils have been too slow. Soriano is fast. Plus, Soriano had a big year playing in a big park for a bad team while hitting leadoff. Imagine what he could do with the Phillies playing in a tiny park hitting behind Ryan Howard?

Then again, imagine how many times he could strike out.

8 Responses to “Let’s rethink Soriano”

  1. Sarah Green says:

    Maybe the Phils should sign Soriano and replace their hitting coach. Hmmm?

  2. Coley Ward says:

    Amen!

  3. Sarah Green says:

    Dudes, what is it, bait Sarah Green month (week??? what day is it????) here on UmpBump? But assuming that these exasperated queries are not merely rhetorical, I shall explain.

    First, it does not surprise me, Nick, that Coley is giving you an “Amen.” Coley has decided to hate Red Sox fans for no apparent reason, except that certain towheaded twins he knows can be very Massholish about the Sox on his fantasy league message board, which annoys him. And for this, in his worldview, an entire Nation must suffer.

    But nevermind all that. Yes, the Yankees and Red Sox have the two highest payrolls. However, the Yankees’ payroll last year was about $80 million more than the Red Sox’ payroll. The difference between the Sox and the third-most-costly team (the Angels) is much smaller—about $17 million.

    OH. And WHO could the FOURTH most expensive team RIGHT UP THERE with the EVIL EVIL Red Sox (and the overlooked, in this debate, but almost as evil Angels) BE?!

    COULD IT NOT BE COLEY WARD’S BELOVED PHILLIES?!?!?!

    Indeed, it could.

    Indeed, it IS!

    So, while you can call us Evil Empire II, a more accurate term would be something less extreme…Callous Commonwealth, perhaps. Because the difference in payroll between the Red Sox and the Angels is only big enough to field one other team: the $15 million Marlins. But the difference in payroll between the Red Sox and the Yankees? That’s big enough to pay for either the A’s, the Indians, the Reds, the Brewers, the Royals, the Rangers, the Tigers, the Padres, the Jays, the Nats, the Mets, OR some combination of any two of the D-Rays, Rockies, or Pirates (or of course those cheap-ass Marlins). That’s a pretty big gap. I call it…the Evil Gap. Also, our ticket prices are soooo much higher. They started going up when we got Pedro and Manny and just never stopped. So we feel entitled to free agents, because we’re paying through the nose for right field grandstand obstructed-view wooden seats that aren’t even angled to face home plate (they face the left field wall). Does that make us slightly obnoxious, perhaps? Yes. But look, it’s not our fault we were born in the greatest state in the country, in a city that is the Hub of the Universe, that just happens to have the greatest baseball team ever invented in it. Okay?! Gawd.

    That is not to say that I want Mr. Wife Beater or Mr. Whinyface on my team. Just to be clear.

  4. Coley Ward says:

    Sarah, I’m not sure where you got your info, but every list that I can find on the world wide webs says that the Phillies have the 12th highest payroll in baseball, at around $87 million.

    Additionally, while the Red Sox 2006 payroll was $80 million less than that of the Yankees, you can bet that the team’s 2007 payroll, if they add big contract players like Matsuzaka, Drew and Lugo, will be a lot more evil.

  5. Sarah Green says:

    Here’s my source:

    http://blog.sportscolumn.com/tag/MLB%20Cost%20Index

    Obviously ESPN.com is more reputable, but I don’t know how to account for the different figures.

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