November 21, 2006
JUST WIN, BABY BEARS:
The more, the merrier: Cubs' willingness to shop justifies Soriano deal (Tom Verducci, November 21, 2006, Sports Illustrated)
Argue all you want that the Cubs overpaid for Alfonso Soriano (eight years, $136 million, including a full no-trade clause), but no team has had a better offseason at this early stage of the shopping season. In Soriano, Chicago signed the best available player on the market (Daisuke Matsuzaka excepted). It also signed the best manager available, Lou Piniella, added some needed pop at second base (Chicago second basemen ranked last in the league in 2006 with 57 RBI) by signing Mark DeRosa and in the second spot in the order (Chicago's No. 2 hitters ranked last with a .319 OBP), signed serviceable backup catcher Henry Blanco. The Cubs also brought back third baseman Aramis Ramirez and pitchers Kerry Wood and Wade Miller at what already are looking like bargain deals in this Owners Gone Wild winter.
The problem with Soriano is the contract, not the player. But why should that be a concern if it doesn't preclude the Cubs from other moves? And it won't. GM Jim Hendry isn't done yet. Before the winter is out he likely will have signed a starting pitcher (Gil Meche being the frontrunner for now), added a left-handed bat (Cliff Floyd being the most likely one) and signed ace Carlos Zambrano to a Roy Oswalt-styled extension. Hendry and the Tribune Company, which is exploring the sale of the team, know they won't have to worry about Soriano's value at age 39 (his last year of the contract) if the Cubs aren't any good in the short term. The money will be somebody else's problem.
"Jim's going about it the right way," one agent said. "He's been like, 'No trade? An extra year? Sure. Whatever it takes.' He's closing deals because he knows they need to win now."
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 21, 2006 11:22 AM