Alfonso Soriano has had a very nice start to the season, so the fans that call for his head every time he makes a mistake in the field have been quieted a bit. That's about as much as anyone capable of rational, logical thought can expect from Soriano here in the beginning of the "bad part" of his mega-contract.
It seems that most fans' expectations had finally been brought down from expecting the 40/40 player that Jim Hendry John McDonough signed before the 2007 season. We realized Soriano's best days are behind him and we hope he can put out the production of a decent starter at the bottom of the lineup to negate his defensive deficiencies. As a fanbase, I think we've finally come to grips with the fact that Soriano will never be "worth" the money he makes each season.
Then here comes Gordon Wittenmyer talking about Soriano maybe hitting 50 homeruns this season and being totally serious about it.
Could this be the year Alfonso Soriano not only plays 150 games or more for the Cubs but also puts up some of the big numbers that his 40 home runs/40 stolen bases history and $136 million contract promised four years ago?
This would be like if I asked if this was the year that Gordon Wittenmyer finally became a serious beat-writer who didn't have to resort to appealing to the lowest common denominator in his writing. It just isn't fair to ask that question when the answer is most likely "No."
Of course, this is a nice change for Gordo and the rest of the media to at least be acknowledging that Soriano is doing some good things on the baseball field, but why is that not good enough? Why do we have to raise expectations on a 35-year old (at best) that is clearly in decline? Soriano's 2006 season was his best of his career and he had an OPS of .913. This year he is at .911 so far. Why would anyone even suggest he could keep this pace up for a full season at his age? It is just not fair to Soriano to raise those kind of expectations.
Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo said he sees renewed confidence in Soriano and improved lower-half hitting mechanics that are allowing him to be in a better hitting position sooner and to see the ball longer.
Can't we just leave it at this? Can't we just have hope that Soriano, as a result of Jaramillo's work with him, might avoid some of the crippling slumps that have plagued him his whole career? Can't we surmise that Soriano seems poised to post numbers that would be an improvement on his 2010 season? Isn't that good enough? Why do we have to go and extrapolate out that he's on a 53 HR pace and seriously wonder if he can keep it up?
Sure, he might, but it isn't probable and barely plausible even taking Jaramillo's work with Soriano into account. But being reasonable and logical doesn't sell newspapers, so we'll blow this all out of proportion and when Soriano finishes with 25-30 HRs, everybody will still be down on him for not being able to keep up his early-season pace (probably after Gordo points out how his pace has slowed in a later piece).
So thanks for feeding the stupidity that our fan base gets pegged with, Gord.