Sunday, July 30, 2006

Texas has Little to Show for Loss of Alfonso Soriano

A hitter, a pitcher, a first-born, a kidney -- nothing seems too much to pay for the privilege of renting Nationals slugger Alfonso Soriano for two months. Yet, ironically, it was a scant 200 days ago that Soriano was still the property of the Texas Rangers, who were only too happy to spin him to Washington for next to nothing. All the Rangers have to show for the highly sought superstar are outfielder Brad Wilkerson, playing part-time and batting .230, and pitcher A.A. Galarraga, mired appropriately enough at AA. To think what might have been had the Rangers held Soriano to trade him now. Instead, he is the biggest loss to Rangers owner Tom Hicks since the team gave up on Travis Hafner, sending him off to Cleveland for Einar Diaz and Ryan Drese. Now Texas has acquired Carlos Lee in yet another two-month rental, giving up Kevin Mench, an outstanding hitter with a great eye at the plate. Mench is just coming into his prime at 28, playing a coy defense despite his lack of speed, spraying the ball to all fields with power and hitting righties almost as well as lefties despite manager Bucky Showalter playing him part time and leaving him to bat without protection in the No. 7 spot. Like Washington, Cleveland, San Diego and other teams smart enough to trade with Texas, Milwaukee will reap dividends for years to come.