Cubs should keep reinvigorated Soriano

CHICAGO -- When the Cubs’ front office evaluates the team’s roster, Alfonso Soriano certainly isn’t a center piece of the franchise’s future. Still, at this point, he appears to be a key to Chicago’s success in the present.

Soriano, who hit a pair of home runs and tallied five RBIs in Friday’s win over the Diamondbacks,

may be the glue that keeps young players like Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo protected in what once was a poor offensive lineup.

After Friday’s monster effort, the veteran left fielder cited new management as a key to his happy surroundings – and impressive production -- in 2012.

“I am very happy with the (manager), GM and president,” said Soriano after going 4-for-4 to start the season’s second half. “They show me respect and confidence and confidence in myself, and I have not had that in three or four years here. It seemed before they waited for me to do something wrong to talk about me.”

With baseball’s trade deadline fast approaching, teams are looking for RBI men like Soriano. Soriano has two and a half years remaining on his initial eight-year, $136 million contract he signed in 2006. Although he has 10-5 rights that allow him to block any trade, he appears unfazed by events he cannot control.

“I don’t pay any attention to those (trade rumors) because I cannot control that situation,” Soriano said. “All I can control is my situation and play the game because the young guys make me feel young too.”

The Cubs have tried to trade Soriano on numerous occasions – and have done so knowing ownership is going to have to absorb most or all of his remaining salary. Still, the possibility of the former superstar staying in Chicago to protect those young bats and remain a positive clubhouse influence seems like a better plan of action.

Manager Dale Sveum has stated on more than one occasion that Soriano is among the most admired and respected players on the team. That was not the perception that Sveum or many baseball people have had from the outside looking in.

“I want to stay here, but it just depends on the owner and what (he) wants, but I feel happy here,” Soriano said.