Soriano gives in

Well, it looks like Alfonso Soriano has agreed to play LF, at least for now.

I keep reading about how forcing Soriano to play LF is some sort of grave injustice being perpetrated by a employer agaisnt a helpless employee. I think this notion is ridiculous.

The standard baseball contract guarantees a player a spot on the baseball roster. It provides no protection against changing positions, changing spots in the batting order, playing when hurt, or being benched. The last three items happen all the time as a result of player performance, and there's no reason for a player to expect that the first item shouldn't happen, unless he gets it writen into his contract explicitly.

People keep coming up with terrible real-world examples of being forced to change jobs to illustrate how traumatic being traded to the Nats and being forced to change positions supposedly is. The best analogy I can think of is that of a consultant who's taking on a new project in a new city for six months. And most consultants get paid a lot less than Soriano does. Yeah, it's an adjustment, but you still use the same basic skills. Moving to the OF takes some getting used to, but it's still baseball -- catch the ball and throw it to your teammates. For crying out loud, even Kevin Millar can play LF. And Soriano's main asset as a fielder, his exceptional range, will be a bigger asset in the outfield.

The rub, as everyone seems to understand it, is that Soriano's value as a power-hitting 2B is higher than his value as a power-hitting OF, even if he is the worst regular defensive 2B of the last few years. As long as he can accumulate 93 days of service this season, he'll be eligible for free agency after this season, when his contract expires. I'm not sure how true this is, given that all the other MLB teams have scouts who recognize that he's a poor infielder who belongs in the OF where he can use his range and make fewer tricky plays. But I guess one team that's dopey enough to promise him a spot at 2B next year is enough of a market. Still, there's no expectation that the team will act in a manner that will maximize the value of the player's next contract.

The job of a baseball player is to win, period. Soriano seems like a nice enough guy in person, and I think his initial refusal to move may have had more to do with personal pride than with money. But if he had successfully won his argument, the effect would have been to hurt his team on the field and to throw incumbent 2B Jose Vidro under the bus. These things are most definitely not part of the job description.

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