How to best handle Soriano

The Washington Nationals and Alfonso Soriano are in a showdown as we speak. The club wants him to play left field and he wants to stay at second base. Last season, Nationals manager Frank Robinson proved that he normally wins these kinds of confrontations; he outlasted a home-plate umpire in a stare-down between innings during a game, and he squared off to fight with Angels manager Mike Scioscia. Simply put, Frank expects things to go his way.

The Nationals probably should have known that this could happen. Soriano had made it pretty clear in the past that he wanted to remain at second base. He correctly believes his production stacks up better in comparison to other second basemen than to outfielders. In other words, he made more money in arbitration as a second baseman and likely will get more money as a free agent at second, too.

But general managers take chances sometimes when they are trying to put a championship team together. Nationals GM Jim Bowden recognized Soriano's extraordinary power and the major need he would fill on his power-starved team. Bowden also correctly recognized that Soriano's skills are better suited to play left field. When Bowden wasn't granted permission to talk to Soriano before the deal was consummated, he took a chance that he would be able to get Soriano to see the light. Unfortunately for him, that was a miscalculation.