Seeing as this day lacks juicy rumors beyond what we have heard for the past weeks, not to mention breaking news, I decided to experiment with what I will call 'Moves in Review'. In these entries we will look back at transactions through our 20-20 restrospect goggles, subsequently critiquing both ends of the deal. I hope you'll excuse the general flood of Dallas-area information I examine, but those are simply the moves I know best. (That is not to say, of course, that I won't be looking back upon the AJ Pierzinsky deal-so come back next Thursday!)
Today I've decided to run down Ranger GM Jon Daniels' first major action in his new job: The trade that rented Alfonso Soriano to the Washington Nationals.
Now, before looking at the raw production of the involved subjects lsat season let us examine the background information surrounding Alfonso Soriano and Brad Wilkerson-the two lynchpins.
Soriano, of course, came over with AA straggler Joaquin Arias in the Pay-Rod deal of 2004. He had hit 77 home runs in the previous two seasons, in addition to stealing 76 bases. He came to texas and posted a batting average of .274 over the next two years, hitting 64 home runs and driving in 195 from spots in the order as various as 1 and 4. His talents were never truly utilized in this stop of his career, as manager Buck Showalter forced Sori to shy away from his dynamic nature on the basepaths. In addition, he lacked the testicular resilience to force Soriano into a more natural left feld role, instead prompting AL batting champ Mike Young to move to shortstop.
There's no doubt that Soriano a disappointment in Texas. In reality there was no way he could have fulfilled expectations; he was percieved as the trade off for Alex Rodriguez. But what he managed to do was underperform-to the fans, and more importantly to the king of micromanagers, Buck Showalter.
Nobody ever received confirmation on this fact, but most believe that Daniels pulled the trigger at the behest of his manager. Between Soriano's blatant refusal to play the outfield (Which, interestingly, disappeared during his free agent year)and his Buck-angering demeanor (To be quite honest, though, is there anyone good enough for a micromanager?), at some point Showalter tired of his prize second baseman.
Brad Wilkerson came into the league in 2001, labeled as a tough, gritty player who exhibited talents in every facet of the game; power, plate discipline, defense, speed. He put up solid years in 2002 and 2003, his first couple of full-length seasons. But in '04, Wilkerson broke out by hitting 32 home runs. He gained the dubious moniker of being the Montrewashington ExpoNats' best hitter, and if the Rangers had attempted to trade Soriano for him straight up that offseason, they would have been sent away with tail tucked in shame.
Unfortunately for Brad, the coming season did not pan out. His home run total dropped by 21, his on base percentage by .023. Nevertheless, many dismissed this as a simple off-year; apparently Daniels counted himself amongst them.
Soriano went on to have a career year in Washington. Surprise surprise, the move to left field that he dreaded so much turned out to be the very thing that helped him earn a 136 million dollar payday from the Cubbies. However, when looking at his stats from last season, something is fishy... his 46 home runs contrasted rather badly with only 95 RBI. While this is partly to blame on the dreadful lineup the Nats trotted out there, something must be said about his penchant for hitting meaningless homers.
Wilkerson fared far worse both in financial strength and on field performance, however. He was injured for over half the year, and when on the diamond performed exceedingly poorly; hitting only .222 and playing defense below his usual standard.
The other principals Texas recieved in the deal were Armando Gallarage and Terrmel Sledge. Sledge was dealt to San Diego as part of the horrendous exchange later in the offseason, Gallaraga is wallowing in AA mediocrity keeping Mr. Arias company.
Washington got nothing other than Soriano officially, but they will collect two picks early in this year's draft as compensation for Soriano's departure.
All in all, the trade looks like an utter disaster. Washington recieved a monster season and two draft picks, Texas an oft-injured outfielder who has failed to deliver, an unimportant piece in an AWFUL trade, and a fading prospect. There isn't a doubt in my mind that when I grade this trade, I have to present...