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Matthew Leach

Sori deal one Yanks couldn't afford to pass up

Sori deal one Yanks couldn't afford to pass up

Sori deal one Yanks couldn't afford to pass up

NEW YORK -- Here's what you need to know about the Yankees' acquisition of Alfonso Soriano: The veteran outfielder was immediately written into Friday's starting lineup against the Rays, batting cleanup and playing left field.

That says something about Soriano, to be sure. But it says at least as much about the state of New York's lineup. In exchange for a pitcher with a 4.25 ERA at Class A Advanced, the Yankees brought in a player who instantly becomes one of the most dangerous threats on their roster.

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Soriano has his flaws, and they're not hard to see. He's a limited fielder (though likely better than his reputation), and he makes far too many outs -- he has a .287 on-base percentage this year.

But even so, Soriano is an upgrade for this team, on this day. He'll be replacing players with very similar limitations, but without the advantages he brings. And all it took was Corey Black, a right-hander who projects as a middle reliever, and a fairly modest amount of money.

Soriano will eat into the at-bats of Vernon Wells and perhaps Travis Hafner, and that's nothing but good news for Yanks fans. Those guys also aren't getting on base, but unlike Soriano, they're not hitting for any power to balance it out.

"When you look at our club, it's been a struggle this year to score runs," manager Joe Girardi said. "So I think we're looking for run producers and people who can hit the ball out of the ballpark. Those are some of the things I think the organization is looking for."

The numbers are fairly gruesome. The Yankees entered Friday 12th out of 15 teams in the American League in runs scored, last in slugging percentage and 14th in home runs. They're 14th in the AL in OPS against left-handed pitching and last in OPS by left fielders.

The composite line by Yanks left fielders on the year is a .223 batting average, a .268 OBP and a .330 slugging percentage. Soriano is at .254/.287/.467. That's an upgrade.

"We need a right-handed bat, obviously," said first baseman Mark Teixeira, who is out for the year due to a right wrist injury. "We need that thump. We need to score a few more runs, and he's one of those guys that can beat you with one swing."

It really was a fairly simple equation, in the end, for general manager Brian Cashman. Soriano, though not a perfect player, was a clear and significant upgrade over what the Yankees had in the way of left fielders and right-handed bats. He came at a low cost in talent, and a low cost in salary.

So while Soriano wouldn't make sense at all for some teams, his acquisition was virtually a no-brainer for New York.

"By far, he is the best available bat to date -- one that I could certainly get my hands wrapped around," Cashman said. "We had a bird in the hand, and I know we're going to be better for it."

Cashman also acknowledged, by the way, that Soriano might not be enough. He made it quite clear that he is still seeking additional upgrades to his offense.

But in the short term, Cashman had an opportunity to make his team noticeably better, at minimal cost. He really couldn't afford not to do it.

Matthew Leach is a national reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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