Alfonso Soriano returned to the Yankees last July and literally took the team on his back and carried them through the dog days of summer. At a time were the Yankees could not score runs at all due to an injury depleted lineup, Soriano arrived on his white horse and starting hitting the baseball like it was 2002. The Yankees ultimately missed the playoffs, but if not for Soriano, the season would have been over in early August rather than late September.
A year later, however, Soriano looks old and is no longer an everyday player. A free agent at year’s end, Soriano began the season with hopes for one last multi-year deal. Now, the Yankees may be forced to release him mid-season.
Vernon Wells came to the Yankees just prior to Opening Day last season and got off to a hot start. In the month of April, Wells hit .300 with a .366 on-base percentage and six homers. Then he forgot how to hit a baseball. By this point in the season last year, Wells was hitting .224 with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs. Soriano is hitting .228 with six home runs and 23 RBI. Vernon Wells was simply awful last season and was replaced by Soriano. This season Soriano has been even worse.
Soriano has had a terrific career. He will probably never make the Hall of Fame but he does have a case that could be argued for his inclusion in Cooperstown. He has racked up 412 homers, 1159 RBI, and is a .271 career hitter. He has amassed a 27.5 WAR, lowered considerably due to his poor defense. He is a seven time All Star with four Silver Sluggers. He has had big moments in the playoff and World Series, although he never won a ring. Unfortunately, his career is ending on a whimper. And it might be coming to an end very quickly.
The Yankees are engaged in a fierce pennant race for the AL East crown. Only two games separate the Blue Jays, Orioles and Yankees. But both the Orioles and Yankees are on the outside looking in with regards to the two Wild Card spots. Soriano’s singular contribution to the team is his power bat. He is a liability in the field and his speed is gone. If he is not hitting home runs and driving in runners, then he is simply an empty uniform on a team that can’t afford to carry him much longer.
He has already been demoted to a platoon player but that may not be enough. GM Brian Cashman needs to find a power bat to spark life into the Yankee’s stagnant offense. If Soriano doesn’t start hitting, the bat that Cashman acquires may take Soriano’s roster spot.