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I Can't Believe I'm Writing about Soriano Again

Mike SteffanosWednesday, March 22, 2006
By Mike Steffanos

As we knew it would, the Alfonso Soriano situation with the Nationals is revving up the speculation about him coming to the Mets. In some of the local papers we are reading why the Mets should move to acquire him from the Nationals, and how deep our lineup would be by adding his offense to the mix. Without even getting into Soriano's offensive deficiencies, I can concede that he would certainly hit enough to be an offensive upgrade over anyone the Mets could put out there.

The columnists that seem to advocate Soriano the most are the ones with a decided American League (read Yankee) slant to their thinking. Indeed, Soriano is a poster child for AL baseball, where scoring runs is given a huge priority over preventing them. There seems to be a thought among this crowd that Mets fans like me are just being stubborn and ornery in our opposition to Soriano.

While I concede that Soriano would provide some offense in the Mets lineup, has anyone else noticed that the Mets pitching staff doesn't strike out many batters? Soriano has been by far the worst second baseman in the majors for committing errors since coming into the league in 2001. His range is very limited, too. Paired with Carlos Delgado, he would insure that the Mets had the worst defensive right side of the infield in baseball. With groundball pitchers like Tom Glavine and Steve Trachsel, this would not be a good thing. Soriano's offense is just not good enough to cancel out his defense for this team.

Davey Johnson was always a manager who stressed offense over defense. He would have had no problem playing a guy like Soriano at second base and sacrificing defense for some runs. Johnson managed to win a World Series with the Mets, so he gets some credit with me, but I remember Johnson's Mets teams very well. Other than 1986 and 1988, they always managed to finish behind other teams that were more fundamentally sound than they were, especially those damn Cardinal teams. For all of the excitement that team provided, they didn't match up when it came to doing the little things (like defense). You can get away with this a lot in the course of the season, especially in games your offense clicks and you outscore the other team. In tight games, with everything on the line, not making the plays is often the difference between victory and defeat.

Now we hear that Soriano, with his back to the wall, has reconsidered and will play outfield at least in today's spring game. Good. Maybe this can go away.

The Journal News: Henderson Tutors Reyes
John Delcos reports on Ricky Henderson's arrival in camp to tutor Jose Reyes and some of the other Mets youngsters. Reyes is excited about working with Henderson, and understands what it is he needs to work on:

He can teach me a lot. He's one of the best leadoff hitters ever in the game. He knows what I have to do to get better.

... I swung at a lot of bad pitches last year. Last year, I didn't take a walk. This year, I will be more patient. I'm going to be aggressive and look for my pitch.

Mets.com: More Rickey
Marty Noble also has a nice feature on Henderson's first day in camp.

Newsday: The Finger
It's official, Pedro's toe is now not the only worrisome digit under contract to the Mets. David Lennon gives us the 411 on the condition of Billy Wagner's middle finger. I don't think I'm going to lose sleep over this one.

Bergen Record: Zambrano Feels Good
Steve Popper reports on Victor Zambrano's successful first spring training start back with the Mets. Zambrano looked pretty good, scattering 6 hits in 5 innings and not allowing a walk. Last season Zambrano was coming off an elbow injury that kept him from pitching winter ball, and struggle with his mechanics early in the year. Popper quotes Zambrano that this year is different:

It's a big difference last year to now. I feel looser in my mechanics. Last year I came back from an injury and my body was so tight. It's hard to pitch that way.

Gotham Baseball: The New Ballpark
Greg Prince from Faith and Fear in Flushing discusses the right and wrong ways of building new ballparks, and relates it to the Mets' building project.

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