Predictably none of the other 29 teams wanted anything to do with Alfonso Soriano’s contract on the waiver wire, so the 38-year-old went unclaimed after being designated for assignment by the Yankees last week and has now been released.
Soriano was fantastic for the Yankees as a midseason pickup last year, smacking 17 homers in 58 games, but this year he hit just .227 with six homers and a .611 OPS in 67 games as one of the worst regulars in baseball. He’s always had awful strike zone control, but a 71/6 K/BB ratio suggests he may simply be washed up at some point.
Still, now that he’s available for the minimum salary rather than $18 million quite a few teams should probably kick the tires on Soriano as a part-timer or bench bat. Assuming he still wants to play, of course. There’s been some speculation that he may simply retire after 16 seasons, 1,975 games, and 412 homers.
The Astros and Nationals share a spring training facility, so it was only natural that they would open Grapefruit League play together. The Astros were the home team. Here’s the lineup they rolled out.
Teams typically include at least a few regulars in their spring training lineups as a courtesy to the fans, who are spending money to see big league players play baseball. This is especially the case for home games. However, the Astros have decided to roll out a lineup with a combined 323 MLB plate appearances.
There might be a reason for that. Houston was lustily booed as they took the field. This was after running a video on the scoreboard celebrating their 2019 AL championship.
That’s all with the team that beat them in the World Series (and is widely regarded as baseball’s current heroes for beating the big bad cheating Astros) in the other dugout, of course. Nationals starter Max Scherzer has not thrown at any Houston player, and the game is now in a rain delay. But it seems like the Astros decided to spare their players from some possible rough treatment, both from fans and opposing pitchers.
The same could not be said for Astros mascot Orbit, who was also booed.
One can quibble with the merits of booing a bunch of players who have barely touched the big leagues because you’re mad at Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman, but sports fandom is something of an irrational business. Fans are going to want their pound of flesh, especially when they paid for the right to be in the ballpark and give the Astros a piece of their mind. Some of them even brought props! This is just how it all works, unfortunately. If you’re in an Astros uniform, you’re probably going to get booed.
Welcome to the 2020 season, Astros. It’s probably going to be like this all year.