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September 28, 2007 at 10:30 AM

M’s have a secret

This is the type of stuff that drives people nuts. At least now it’s out in the open and not just back-channel whispering. I’m talking about former Mariners setup man Rafael Soriano. The reasons why the M’s would trade him for Horacio Ramirez is fast becoming the stuff of urban legend in media circles.
Mariners president Chuck Armstrong adds to the mystery with this cryptic missive to the Associated Press. Here’s the paragraph in question:
Armstrong said the disastrous trade that brought Horacio Ramirez from Atlanta for proven veteran setup reliever Rafael Soriano wasn’t all Bavasi’s fault. Armstrong said, without naming specific off-field incidents, that “a lot of things went on that compelled us to make that move” of Soriano for whatever the Mariners could get.
I don’t know. To me, a simple “our GM made a really bad trade, it happens.” might have sufficed. I’m aware, even having been here only one year, that Soriano was not Mr. Popularity in the clubhouse. But other than having an entourage of friends who weren’t players, no one from the organization has been willing to spell out exactly what its problem was with him. That he got a line drive off the head? That he wasn’t always available to pitch?
Seems he worked out those problems in Atlanta, where he’s made 71 appearances. Not sure why that couldn’t have happened here. Maybe the folks doing the player handling are different down there? Who knows? As I’ve said, the M’s love to keep secrets: especially in areas where they appear to have messed up big-time.
And do you know what? Perhaps there is a really good reason for why they did what they did with Soriano. Perhaps not. But where I come from, if you’re not going to spell out the transgression, it’s best to leave the innuendo to the Page Six gossip columnists. Maybe Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy can ask Armstrong if he’s ever had children (I know he has, as his son, a fellow blogger, is a self-proclaimed fan of this blog). I’m sure Soriano’s mother wouldn’t be happy if she was reading the AP story. Then again, we’re not exactly sure what he’s subtly being accused of here. Maybe he just walks funny.
And yes, I’ve talked to the other reporters and columnists who’ve been here for years. None of them knows what Soriano supposedly did either. Whatever it was, the Braves were apparently OK with it. The players? Much of the same innuendo, but nothing concrete. Lots of stories. None of it team-destroying stuff. Not everyone is going to be popular in a clubhouse. And Soriano wasn’t the first player to have a group of outsider friends following him around. But you don’t just throw away potentially the game’s best set-up man for nothing.
So far, with these hollow explanations coming out of Mariners HQ, that’s all I see here — nothing. Don’t worry though, it’s not like the team paid a price. Not like it just blew a playoff chance.



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