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Soriano the scrivener -- UPDATED
2006-03-21 21:08
by Bob Timmermann

Frank Robinson: Soriano, you're playing left field tonight.
Alfonso Soriano: I would prefer not to.

FR: Do you want to play right field?
AS: I would prefer not to.
FR: How about center field?
AS: I would prefer not to.

Washington Times article

The Washington Post examines the legal ramifications of the Soriano affair.

So does ESPN legal analyst Roger Cossack.

"I think it is a landmark case," said William B. Gould IV, former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board who is now a law professor at Stanford University. "I can't recall anything in a major sport where a player has refused outright to perform his assigned job in this manner. . . . It has implications not just in baseball. It has implications for all professional sports."

2006-03-21 10:48:35
1.   Sam DC analyzes the issues through the lens of Big Love.

capitol punishment collects dozens of links and analyzes the CBA issues.

The Natosphere simply explodes!

2006-03-21 11:45:21
2.   Mike Carminati
Nice Bartleby reference!
2006-03-21 11:45:22
3.   Mike Carminati
Nice Bartleby reference!
2006-03-21 11:47:05
4.   Mike Carminati
I liked it so much I posted twice.
2006-03-21 11:50:17
5.   Bob Timmermann
Actually I thought that was part of the joke.
2006-03-21 11:54:36
6.   Cliff Corcoran
The most interesting part of the article Bob linked is this:

"So if there is no trade, and Soriano doesn't have a change of heart, the most likely resolution is a trip to the disqualified list. An interesting wrinkle to that possibility is the fact that Soriano would not earn service time if he were disqualified. Therefore, though Soriano is due to be a free agent after the 2006 season, his contract would in effect be suspended, 'and he would not be a free agent,' Bowden said. 'He would still be our property.'"

I still need to check out the links provided by Sam in 1, but it strikes me that this case could set a dangerous precedent that would allow the inmates to rule the assylum. I wonder if Soriano has thought about what would have happened if Michael Young had refused to move to shortstop to make room for his arrival in Texas, or if he himself had refused to move to second base after being a shortstop in the minors. Free agency exists to allow players to get out of this sort of situation, not to give them reason to create it.

2006-03-21 12:07:34
7.   Bob Timmermann
It's weird finding myself agreeing with Bowden and Robinson, but I don't think Soriano has a leg to stand on in this matter.

Soriano, at this point in his career, has to defer to someone else to find a position as he's not a better fielder than Vidro nor does he have as much experience. And he's really not a better hitter at this time in my opinion. He looked 2003 World Series bad during the WBC.

2006-03-21 12:12:16
8.   D4P
Ah, Soriano.
Ah, humanity.
2006-03-21 12:25:08
9.   Cliff Corcoran
What I don't understand is, with Guzman both hurt and terrible, why they don't just put him at shortstop.
2006-03-21 12:29:18
10.   Bob Timmermann
Royce Clayton is around to play shortstop!
2006-03-21 12:34:56
11.   Bob Timmermann
I added a link to the Washington Times story also.
2006-03-21 21:34:22
12.   deadteddy8
I'm with Cliff. Here's what I wrote in a thread on

I think that he'd be fine with playing OF, except that he's legitimately afraid of embarrassing himself, a la the Todd Hundley Experiment, and thus destroying his momentum going into the open market. In fact, he's so bad at 2B that if he could be an average defensive outfielder, his total value would probably be greater there than if he stayed in the infield, especially if he played CF. All that said, I think the obvious move is one that hasn't been explored at all, to my knowledge: offer him shortstop. Yes, it's counterintuitive. Yes, it's a potential disaster. However, it's less of a disaster than trading him for some alleged pitching prospect, which is all they'll be able to get for him. Since his problems aren't throwing--they're fielding--I don't see how shortstop would be substantially harder on him than second. The team can spin it to him as something of a defensive promotion, since a move to the outfield has already been labeled a demotion. And finally, I can't believe the two headed monster of Cristian Guzman and Royce Clayton would be able to match his total production, even with the massive defensive edge. You can still probably chalk him up for 20 jacks and a 750 OPS.

2006-03-21 23:07:22
13.   Johnson
From Roger Cossack's article:

The union argument goes like this: If Soriano's production at the plate is measured against other second basemen in the majors, he is arguably the best at that position in baseball -- even taking into consideration his shaky defense -- and thus he should be paid as the best. But as an outfielder, his offensive numbers, while still strong, might not place him in the very top tier of players who command the highest salaries

Of course, if Albert Pujols production as a catcher is measured against other catchers (despite the fact that he can't call a game or throw out a basestealer) get the picture. The union argument basically says that Pujols should hold out to play catcher because he could make $30 million a year behind the plate. Shoot, he should pitch every fifth day, too.

I hope Soriano challenges the Nationals, lands on the DQ list, loses his salary for the year, and can't find a bidder in the FA market next year because he's got an attitude problem. But maybe I'm just a premature codger.

Oh, wait. He wouldn't be a free agent due to the DQ list not counting towards service time. In that case, I hope the Nats hold their ground until Soriano is 38.

2006-03-21 23:25:28
14.   Bob Timmermann
Last year when the Cardinals announced that they were shifting Rick Ankiel to the outfield, he had to pass through waivers to go to the minors and some people thought some teams would put a claim in on him and then force him to pitch or go on the DQ List.

Obviously, that didn't happen.

2006-03-22 08:10:51
15.   Sam DC says he is going to play.
2006-03-22 08:59:06
16.   Peter
The thing I don't get in all of this is why the Nats would trade a LF for a 2B with the intention of turning the 2B into a LF and not even speak to Soriano about this beforehand. As I seem to recall, the Yankees spoke to A-Rod about changing positions before they pulled the trigger on that trade (which, coincidentially enough, involved Soriano).
And to top it all off: opening day's about 2 weeks away and he spent most of spring training at the WBC rather than learning a new position.

I feel bad for Soriano even though I can't necessarily say he's going about this the right way, but Bowden comes off looking like the biggest moron here.

2006-03-22 09:19:30
17.   Bob Timmermann
In most situations, Jim Bowden comes off looking like the biggest moron.
2006-03-22 09:19:36
18.   Humma Kavula
16 The thing I don't get in all of this is why the Nats would trade a LF for a 2B with the intention of turning the 2B into a LF and not even speak to Soriano about this beforehand.

Do not questions the ways of Bowden.

All will be explained in the new book: "Terrible Hurt, Hurt and Terrible: A Baseball Life," by Jim Bowden.

2006-03-22 09:19:59
19.   Humma Kavula
First line was supposed to be in bold. Sorry.
2006-03-22 10:08:10
20.   bobsbrother
Big media turnout today at Jupiter to see if Soriano takes the field in left. On the second pitch, he hit a fly ball to center, pulled in by Skip Schumaker, and returned to the dugout, presumably to put on his outfielder's glove. The press contingent eagerly anticpates the bottom of the inning.
2006-03-22 11:13:11
21.   Sam DC
No defensive chances for Soriano in his first inning in left. But he told Robinson that he will play the position all season. The audio reporting by the Post Nationals' beat writer linked below also says that Soriano will play all nine innings today and plans to take extra work at his new position going forward. Guess he's gonna make a run at good soldiering this.

Another blog reports Soriano is getting boo'd like mad in the corner, though this is not a home game.

2006-03-22 11:14:37
22.   Bob Timmermann
I don't trust the commenter in #20. I hear he's very pessimistic all the time.
2006-03-22 12:23:01
23.   bobsbrother
Bowden just said he would have preferred to trade Soriano, but none of the trade offers made sense. Now he would prefer to keep him, but they also want to make everybody happy. Everybody plays better when they're happy. Soriano will talk after the game, presumably about how happy he is.
2006-03-22 12:51:05
24.   Sam DC
23 Hmmm . . . sensing a certain rapierish wit running in the family.
2006-03-22 13:03:07
25.   Bob Timmermann
Only one person gets paid for it.

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