The Bronx Bombers’ nickname hasn’t really been fitting this season. They have not been hitting many bombs.
Still, the Yankees have managed to stay in the hunt in baseball’s most competitive division, the AL East, in spite of the unusual lack of power. To date, the Yanks, who are only 2.5 games back in the American League Wild Card race, hold the second worst slugging percentage in baseball, .371., which has dipped to .336 in July. To help assuage their offensive issues, the Yankees are bringing back an old friend, a man with an ear-to-ear smile and almost unlawful amounts of swagger: Alfonso Soriano.
The Yankees sent Class A pitcher Cory Black to Chicago and Soriano waived his no trade clause to make the trade official.
At 37 years of age, Soriano, who last suited up in the pinstripes in 2003, may no longer possess the blazing speed that accompanied his prodigious power in his early Yankee years, but he still knows how to launch home runs. In fact, Soriano has hit more home runs in July (eight) than the entire Yankee roster has been able to muster (seven)!
The trade feels right when it comes to Soriano. He might have had his best season in Washington (during a monster 2006 campaign, Soriano blasted 46 home runs and pilfered 41 bases for the Nationals) and have spent more time in Chicago with the Cubbies than with any other team, but I’ll always think of him as a Yankee. Soriano exploded onto the scene as a Yankee in 2001 (and hit a huge homer in game seven of the World Series that sent Yankees fans into momentary euphoria) and produced a couple more magnificent seasons in the Bronx before moving on to Texas. He was the rock of the Yankees’ lineup back when they really bombed, and, while he hit 181 home runs in a Chicago Cub uniform, he never stopped being a Yankee in my eyes. Now he’s coming back to a Yankee team that needs his still-potent bat as they try to make a playoff push.
Most of the Yankees’ big offensive guns, from Curtis Granderson to Mark Teixeira to Derek Jeter, have spent the majority of this season sidelined by injuries. Their offense has been putrid. Still, pitching has kept them in the playoff hunt (as a team, they’re tied for second in the AL in ERA). The addition of Soriano not only brings a familiar face home but also should provide a huge boost to the Yanks’ chances of making the postseason and a reason to call them the Bronx Bombers again.