As the trade deadline approaches, the New York Yankees will absolutely need to be shopping around for another quality bat to add to their lineup if they hope to be playing October baseball. But in the meantime, it may be worth their while to give someone who has mostly been riding the pine another chance as a regular: Alfonso Soriano.
Now, Soriano has not done anything to deserve a spot in the team’s starting lineup so far this year. He is batting .231 with a pitiful OBP of .255. He is only hitting .202 in 129 at-bats vs. RHP, and the power has also been lacking from the 38-year old outfielder as he has only hit six long balls this season.
As a result of his poor performance and the team’s need for Carlos Beltran to take over as the primary designated hitter, Soriano has seen a very limited amount of at-bats in June. In fact, he has been absent from the team’s starting lineup in seven of the last eight games.
But despite all this, manager Joe Girardi should give the slumping slugger another chance as a regular. Sure, Ichiro Suzuki has done a nice job in right field taking over Soriano’s spot, but at this point in his career, he is almost exclusively a singles hitter. In fact, 41 of his 45 hits this season have been singles.
The Yankees already have plenty of players in their lineup who do a good job of getting on base. What they are in desperate need of is someone who can drive runners in. Soriano, when right, has shown throughout his career that he can be that guy. Just last season, he showed that he is still capable of getting hot and carrying a team for a week or two at a time. It is easy to forget that he finished with 34 home runs and 101 RBIs last year.
Players rarely go from 30-HR and 100-RBI seasons to basically being finished the next year. Also, Soriano has been the definition of consistent in his career, hitting at least 20 homers every season since 2002.
Girardi needs to start giving Soriano at-bats again, even against the right-handers who have given him so much trouble this season. If Soriano plays to the back of his baseball card, he will eventually get red-hot, which may be enough to help carry his team offensively through the summer.
Also, the Yankees might be wise to at least work out Soriano at second and third base. He was an infielder once many years ago, and if he does get hot at the plate, it would be helpful to have as many places to slot him in as possible. Would it be a bit scary defensively? Sure, but you can always take him out for the late innings.
Is it a guarantee that Soriano will return to his former self at the plate? Far from it. But until the Yankees are able to bring aboard another big bat to their lineup, they might as well do their due diligence and see if the seven time All-Star sitting on their bench has anything left in the tank.