FanDuel - WFBC

November 19, 2006

Pinella finds something better than a wallet: The Chicago Cubs have reportedly given new skipper Lou Pinella a nice welcoming gift -- Alfonso Soriano. The two sides have apparently agreed to an 8-year, $136M deal. With the resigning of Aramis Ramirez, Kerry Wood and others, are the Cubs now a serious contender?

posted by wfrazerjr to baseball at 09:02 PM - 59 comments

No, the Cubs are not a serious contender. Seriously, fraze -- as a Cardinals fan you must know that every move the Cubs make backfires. Putting that truism aside, though, $17MM per for 8 is absolutely ridiculous, and this contract is going to be an albatross around the franchise's neck probably after year 2. (Although I think we are going to see a lot more crazy contracts this off-season, with the much-discussed loads of cash floating around the league -- and since crazy is all relative, maybe this isn't crazy.) Considering that one of the selling points on Soriano is speed and that he was below the generally-accepted break-even point for stolen bases (75%, compared to Soriano's success rate of about 70%) and that he is in the decline phase of his career for speed (considering his age), I don't think $17MM per year is a good investment for a power-hitting LF with questionable defensive ability. How's that hanging on to Soriano at the trade deadline working out for you, Jim Bowden?

posted by holden at 10:19 PM on November 19

Eight year contracts to players who will be 31 when the next season starts is just ridiculous. Unless there is some outrageous revenue stream that is still waiting to be tapped, and every single payroll in MLB doubles by the time the 2014 season rolls around, this is going to be a crippling contract to whoever is paying it at that time. That's assuming, of course, he's still playing baseball in 8 years. Let's do some comparisons: Players most similar to Alfonso Soriano by age 30: (where the number in brackets is the similarity score, and 1000 is exactly the same) 1. Howard Johnson (892) - retired at age 34, below average hitter 3 of remaining 4 years 2. Tony Batista (883) - went over to Japan, came back, got cut by Twins 3. Matt Williams (880) - had 6 more productive years (out of 7), definitely someone you'd hope Alfonso emulates 4. Bob Horner (873) - didn't play again...not a good comp 5. Jeff Kent (873) - still playing, and may be the most optimistic comp 6. Danny Tartabull (873) - done by 34, had 2 good seasons out of 4 7. Geoff Jenkins (870) - still playing, just barely older than Soriano, somewhat productive but not valuable as an OF 8. Ken Boyer (870) - had 3 more good seasons before alternating good/bad until 38 9. Joe Gordon (869) - came back after the war, had a couple good seasons but then petered out 10. Raul Mondesi (864) - extremely average hitting corner outfielder who just packed it in The only times in the past 15 years that I'd consider giving an 8 year contract to ANYONE in professional baseball would be Alex Rodriguez in 2000 and Albert Pujols in 2005.

posted by grum@work at 10:47 PM on November 19

Part of me agress with holden, but it's not like the Cubs just signed a one-year-wonder pitcher to a huge deal, and it's also not like the Cubs don't make money hand-over-fist and can't afford this sort of deal. As a Cubs fan, it's nice to see them do something like this...it was frustrating a couple of years ago when all they could seem to do was talk *about* Carlos Beltran instead actually talking *to* him. (Part of me wonders if this sudden spending spree has something to do with the Tribune Co. possibly selling the team.) Soriano has proven he can hit in the cavern that is RFK, and that he can hit in the NL just as well as the AL. He also hasn't been injury-prone. *knock on wood* Somebody was going to cough up the cash for him, so why not the Cubs? I'd agree the length is a bit much, perhaps, but the per year rate doesn't bother me. Now it remains to be seen what they do pitching-wise. They say they still want to add two starting pitchers...wonder what they can afford now?

posted by TheQatarian at 10:57 PM on November 19

Grum, As usual you have come up with some very interesting numbers. I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Soriano for the next 5 years, and then he's on the downhill slide. As for the size of the contract, it's outrageous. I don't think even a 4- or 5-year deal for $14 or $15 megabucks per is reasonable for Soriano. What will be interesting is how the Soriano deal skews the market for J. D. Drew and others of that level.

posted by Howard_T at 12:10 AM on November 20

Everything has been said in the comments above. No, this won't make the Cubs a contender. Yes, the Nationals should have dealt the guy last season in order to get something in return, and the team's hopes are based on pitching, not another bat. I fully believe Soriano will have a huge season, but until that team can find some healthy, impact players to put around Soriano (Ramirez needs to be around the whole season, as does Lee), they'll be improved but not a contender. Keep re-signing Kerry Wood, because he anchors that disabled list.

posted by dyams at 07:27 AM on November 20

I always found Soriano to be one of those fantasy monsters in the abstract, but not exactly the key ingredient on a winning team. I mean, do you hit him in the 3 or 4 hole? Is he a middle order guy with speed? Or is he a top order guy with power? Either way, he could hit 50 at Wrigley. That's sexy, but the guy has a career OPS of .836 (with a very low .325 OBP) and isn't much of a fielder. Despite the 40/40 stuff, there are oodles of better hitters making much, much less. That contract is ridiculous and will be unmoveable to all but three or four teams, three or four years from now, but that isn't off what others were offering. I think the Cubs made a desparate move here.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 08:10 AM on November 20

No, the Cubs are not a serious contender. posted by holden at 10:19 PM CST on November 19 I take any comment from a Cardinals fan concerning the Cubs with a grain of salt. The signing of Soriano is a significant acquisition and definitely makes the Cubs a serious threat in the NL Central any doubt about that hasn't been well thought out. Grum you like numbers here's some you haven't taken into consideration. Soriano made a league-best 22 outfield assists. He became the first player in major-league history to have at least 20 outfield assists, 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the same season. The five-time All-Star hit .277 with 46 homers (third in the league), 95 RBI and 41 steals (sixth) while batting leadoff. Soriano also became the first player to have at least 40 homers, 40 steals and 40 doubles. You guys are talking like this is the acquisition of another Jacques Jones, give me a break.

posted by skydivedad at 08:13 AM on November 20

You guys are talking like this is the acquisition of another Jacques Jones, give me a break. I don't think anyone would be ridiculous enough to mention Soriano in the same breath as Jacques Jones, but unless he's capable of being the team's trainer, pitching every third, fourth, or fifth day, and providing some middle relief, all while hitting his 50 homers, driving in 100, and stealing 40-something bases, it doesn't look like enough. If Wood and Prior were healthy for the entire season, they'd be a definite threat.

posted by dyams at 08:46 AM on November 20

One thing not captured by numbers is the guy's ability to do brain dead shit in big spots. Chase a 3-0 pitch in the dirt, whiff on hi/away 0-2 offering, throw to the wrong base etc. Maybe he has gotten better in this regard the last couple of years, as I haven't watched him - he may have matured. He surely is a physically gifted player and can mash, but aren't the Cubs more than a bat away from contention? Where is he going to play OF or 2b? The just signed Derosa for $13m/3 years. Derosa can play outfield as well... I also wonder what the over/under is on number of games until Pinella's head explodes dealing with this guy?

posted by sfts2 at 08:51 AM on November 20

I take any comment from a Cardinals fan concerning the Cubs with a grain of salt. The signing of Soriano is a significant acquisition and definitely makes the Cubs a serious threat in the NL Central any doubt about that hasn't been well thought out. posted by skydivedad at 8:13 AM CST on November 20 Maybe I should rephrase or expand upon my comment. This move perhaps, coupled with a full season of Derrek Lee and some competent managing, makes the Cubs a contender in the NL Central. But then again, I think every other team in that division (Reds, Astros, Cardinals, Brewers) with the exception of the Pirates has a chance to contend in that division. Whether that makes them a contender in the bigger sense, I would say not -- although the Cardinals were by no means a contender at any point after June last year and somehow managed to win the World Series. This move addresses the Cubs second-to-last runs scored in the NL last year. The Cubs pitching staff, however, had the second worst runs allowed in the NL last year, and I haven't seen any offseason moves by the Cubs that address that problem and who knows how much money they have left now to pursue a top free agent pitcher, especially with talks of the sale of Tribune Co. (although perhaps Hendry's budget has already been set). All of that aside, viewing the contract in a vacuum, the big problem with this contract is its length and no-trade clause. One (perceived) significant aspect of Soriano's skill set, speed, is likely in decline and will probably be a non-factor about halfway into this contract. At that point, you are paying Manny Ramirez money for a guy who does not hit like Manny Ramirez. No one is saying that Soriano is another Jacques Jones, I think what I'm saying (and grum is saying) is that this is a very risky contract for a soon-to-be 31 year-old coming off of his career year.

posted by holden at 08:52 AM on November 20

Buy your World Series tickets now!

posted by stickman at 08:58 AM on November 20

I fail to see how getting Soriano (the most dynamic FA available) is a bad deal. The guy is in his prime and frankly all this talk about him being on the down-side of his career is a bunch of BS. It's about time the Cubs went on a spending spree and I don't think they're done. Signing Soriano this early in the offseason sends a message to the other FA's out there. According to Piniella the spending spree is just getting started. "the Cubs would still like to add one more hitter (Gary Mathews Jr. is the main rumor) and as many as three starters". The days of counting on Woods and Prior are over (Thank God). Look for Gil Meche, Ted Lilly, Jason Marquise as possibilities to join Wade Miller and Carlos Zambrano. Neal Cotts (LHP) can both start and relieve and would join Scott Eyre and Bob Howry, Micheal Wirtz and possibly Kerry Woods in middle relief, so really, middle relief shouldn't be a problem. Both Henry and Piniella have said DeRosa was signed to play 2nd, no chance Soriano isn't playing in the Outfield either in Left or Center but if they sign Mathews Jr. Soriano plays in Left. D. Lee has to be excited about getting some protection in the line-up. No matter what happens it's just exciting to see the Tribune Co. open the purse strings.

posted by skydivedad at 09:35 AM on November 20

I fail to see how getting Soriano (the most dynamic FA available) is a bad deal. Accquiring Soriano is not a bad deal. Signing a player who is almost 31 years old to an eight year contract is a seriously bad idea. Does anybody really expect him to steal 40 bases at age 35?

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 09:47 AM on November 20

How's that hanging on to Soriano at the trade deadline working out for you, Jim Bowden? Yeah, this is pretty disappointing for the Nationals. It was nice to have a superstar (if not a good team) to get fans to the ballpark. However, at least this way, Bowden wasn't the one who got rid of Soriano for some players that may have been good long-term, but that fans didn't know.

posted by bperk at 09:54 AM on November 20

Yeah, I'm not sure we'e saying that Soriano is a horrible player, so much as he isn't a 8-year, top five-paid-in-MLB player at the age of 31. Couple of points that I think are key: 1 - Most player's career peak is from age 26-31. 2 - His OBP is really low. His strikeouts are really high. The Cubs already suffer from high-strikeout guys. 3 - He has 22 assists not because he's a great outfielder. He has them because teams run on him all the time. If I were a Cubs fan, I'd be happy to get him, I would just hope it wouldn't prevent the club from getting other players a few years from now when an ancient Soriano is setting strikeout records and doing his impression of Rob Deer. How's that hanging on to Soriano at the trade deadline working out for you, Jim Bowden? I believe that Washington will get two 1st round picks from the Cubs. I think that's the deal with the CBA for free agent signings. Is that better than what they would've got under the gun at the deadline? I'm not sure - but it sure ain't bad. Picks are good.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 09:55 AM on November 20

Soriano made a league-best 22 outfield assists. He became the first player in major-league history to have at least 20 outfield assists, 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the same season. Guys who lead the league in outfield assists tend to either be amazing or amazingly shitty fielders. Soriano's assists total has more to do with the fact the position was new to him than anything else. As for the first player to hit 3 arbitrary numbers, what of it? Does that make him better than guys who posted higher OPS with fewer home runs because they can take a pitch once in a while? Does it make Soriano a better teammate than guys who are willing to change positions without it becoming a national referendum? He's a crap fielder at multiple positions who puts up gaudy but misleading staistics and he's on the downslide of a career, age-wise. Maybe holden's bias isn't the only one to watch out for.

posted by yerfatma at 09:57 AM on November 20

Frankly, I don't care what he does when he's 35. When the Cubs join the Yankees and Red Sox' as big spenders I'm f'ing thrilled!

posted by skydivedad at 10:01 AM on November 20

The president of the cubs used to say we want to play big games in september this year the new president said we want to win the world series granted we are the laughingstock of MLB but least they are finally doing something about it the teams problems are not just on the field they are all over and it will remain to be seen how they handle these signings I can actually give them the benefit of the doubt Now if we could just add some starting pitching? GO CUBBIES

posted by luther70 at 10:06 AM on November 20

I believe that Washington will get two 1st round picks from the Cubs. Though the Cubs have the #3 pick in the 2007 draft, the Nationals wouldn't get it. Teams that finish in the bottom half of the standings only have to surrender a 2nd round and a sandwhich pick when they sign a Type A FA. Soriano is Type A. So basically the Cubs didn't give up much and the Nats misplayed their hand.

posted by skydivedad at 10:07 AM on November 20

Maybe holden's bias isn't the only one to watch out for. Bias in this thread? No way...

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 10:38 AM on November 20

When the Cubs join the Yankees and Red Sox' as big spenders I'm f'ing thrilled! The cubs were 7th in the league in spending, 25 million behind the sox. To put that into perspective the sox were 75 million below the yankees. The world series champions were at number 11 at 7 million below the cubs. My point? I don't know, except that one, the cubs weren't exactly misers, and two, the cubs were much closer to the sox than the sox were to the yankees, so I don't think money was or is the problem. It's putting a winning team on the field, and only time will tell, but if I was a cubs fan I wouldn't like this move. He's got talent, no one's denying that. But he'll be making over 15 mill at 38 (if I'm looking at this right). That's insane and could very well be an albatross around the cubs neck in the future.

posted by justgary at 11:04 AM on November 20

the cubs weren't exactly misers Sure, but I can appreciate sdd's point: the Cubs have been raking it in for years and not spending it. Now they're starting to spend it. Step two will be spending it properly. All in good time.

posted by yerfatma at 11:30 AM on November 20

Money absolutely doesn't buy championships, unless it's spent very, very wisely. Teams with money can throw it around all they want, but recent history shows it just never works out as easily as most think. If it was based on the money spent, you'd never have to play the season. Yes, the Yankees can usually spend enough to at least make the playoffs, but without a championship, their year is looked at as embarrassing and a complete failure. The length of Soriano's contract seems to show it's money not wisely spent. He doesn't have the type of skills that will most likely translate into big numbers as he gets into his upper-30s. He'll need to start developing more of an eye at the plate and improve his average, because by the time he hits 36 or 37, some of those home run balls will be staying in the park.

posted by dyams at 11:32 AM on November 20

Eeech, this makes me cringe. Paid way too much for the guy and for too long of a contract.

posted by jerseygirl at 11:43 AM on November 20

I'm trying to see this in a good light. It's good for Cubs fans. Regardless of the amount and length of the contract, the Cubs just signed a superstar, so it's a cause for joy. I'm inclined to welcome a little bit of Chicago homerism this time. I'm looking at you, Detroit people. Soriano just had his best OBP and BB season. If this is indicative of a trend, and if Soriano does indeed cut down on senseless baserunning, he will make a great addition to the middle of the batting order. Of course, the linked article quotes Pinella putting him at leadoff. And this signing doesn't solve the Cubs' most glaring problem, starting pitching.

posted by qbert72 at 12:16 PM on November 20

Way to much money for a player his age and the length of the contract. I doubt Soriano will be playing in 2012, never mind 2015. Just my opinion on it. It will open the flood gates for future signings of other player in a yet still early offseason. But if it works out for the Cubs,than good luck to them.

posted by Ghastly1 at 03:03 PM on November 20

Money absolutely doesn't buy championships, unless it's spent very, very wisely. No, but it does an excellent job of buying you a spot in the postseason. What you do from that point is dependent on pitching, luck and timing. A terrible contract, for sure, but I also believe the Cubs will have the ability to move Soriano later in his career to the Yankees, Red Sox or some other idiots willing and with the pockets to overpay.

posted by wfrazerjr at 03:19 PM on November 20

I think that the real value in Soriano is to put him back at second base. He would probably be the most productive offensive second basemen in the majors for the next three or four years and then for the final four years of the contract you could stick him in LF, RF, 2B or possibly 1B which apparantly is now a defensive position that can be picked up on the plane trip to spring training. I do appreciate that he is on the backside of his career but the versatility he brings defensively and offensively (I could see him batting 1-5 depending on your lineup) are a huge benefit. But yes the money is stupid, but isn't the money always stupid?

posted by kyrilmitch_76 at 03:41 PM on November 20

This is just stupid. Aside from the stolen bases, Matt Murton's already putting up similar numbers, and he costs under a million a year (oh, and he's also six years younger, and likely to get better). Hendry could take that extra 15mil a year and drop it on some serious starting pitching. Not that I mind. I look forward to the Brewers winning against a strikeout-prone, pitching-poor Cubs team next year.

posted by rocketman at 04:04 PM on November 20

He became the first player in major-league history to have at least 20 outfield assists, 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the same season. He became the first player in major league history to have at least 10 outfield errors, 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the same season. He became the first player in major league history to have at least 150 strikeouts, 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the same season. He became the first player in major league history to have at least 17 caught stealings, 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the same season. He became the first player in major league history to have less than 60 unintentional walks, 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the same season. He became the first player in major league history to have an OPS under .950, 40 home runs and 40 stolen bases in the same season.

posted by grum@work at 04:32 PM on November 20

Way too much time on your hands, friends. Let's review in a few years.

posted by sydney2006 at 04:59 PM on November 20

I enjoyed watching him in Texas, and I think Cub fans will, too. He is not totally hapless in the field, he is just as likely to make an outstanding play as to blow an easy one, and at the plate, he is just as likely go yard on a bad pitch as to go down swinging. I also feel that he posesses the ability to become more disciplined in the field and at the plate. If the Cubs add Gary Matthews Jr. along with DeRosa and Soriano, they will be a lot of fun to watch. Stupid Tom Hicks.

posted by mjkredliner at 05:05 PM on November 20

I keep noticing the reoccuring 40 Home Runs and 40 Stolen Bases in your Stats diatribe grum. If your saying Soriano sucks as a Baseball Player, I'd say your selective manipulation of Stats can be applied to almost every player in the league. I for one, regardless of the asinine comparisons of Soriano to Matt Merton and grums misleading Stats rebuttal aside, look forward to seeing Soriano in Cubbie Blue.

posted by skydivedad at 05:07 PM on November 20

The long term contract doesn't mean a damn thing. I am sure he Cubs have a buy out figure included somewhere in that contract that will allow them to get out at any time he becomes non-productive for a specified figure at something much less than the yearly figure appears to be. All in all I think it is a good move for the Cubs.

posted by The Woj at 05:31 PM on November 20

Soriano can be a frustraring player to watch at times. His playoff production for the Yanks was basically nothing, he will swing at awful pitches and he is a shaky fielder at best. If he is playing second base those 40 homeruns look huge but as a corner outfielder they are good but not great. I think the per year is right on(not many high profile FA = overpaying on the few out there) but the duration of the contract is a bit ridiculous. I guess the bottom line is that Soriano has as big an upside as he has a downside. If you want him to hit fourty homers you gotta let him swing the bat but he will also strick out a lot. Not every power hitter can have an eye like Ortiz or Giambi (well like Giambi used to)

posted by HATER 187 at 06:25 PM on November 20

and grums misleading Stats rebuttal aside, If grum's was misleading then your original stats were every bit the same. You only focused on Soriano's good stats. Grum@work pointed out Soriano's bad stats. When it comes down to it, both are the facts. Just don't make Soriano into something he's not.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 06:30 PM on November 20

I'm not making him into anything but what he already is, one hell of a Ball Player!

posted by skydivedad at 06:48 PM on November 20

If your saying Soriano sucks as a Baseball Player, I never said he sucks. You wanted to tie in a 3rd stat to his 40/40 numbers, so I thought I'd just play along and tie in some other stats to the 40/40 numbers. He's a great baseball player, but his contract is going to look terrible in (my guess) 4 years. Any guesses on what his totals will be next year if he is playing CF for the Cubs? I'm guessing .869 OPS, 28HR, 25SB, and enough errors/misplays to be moved back to left field before the season is done. Sure, I could be way off, but this season smelled a lot like Beltre 2004. I am sure he Cubs have a buy out figure included somewhere in that contract that will allow them to get out at any time he becomes non-productive for a specified figure at something much less than the yearly figure appears to be. If they did, it would be reported all over the place by now. I suspect there isn't a buyout until the last season.

posted by grum@work at 11:06 PM on November 20

sdd, why is the comparison to Matt Murton "asinine"? How is grum's "rebuttal" any more misleading than your 40/40/x numbers? grum's whole point, which you seem to have missed, is that arbitrary counting stat numbers don't really say much about a player's talent. There's no question Soriano is a plus for most any team whether he's at 2B or LF. The questions are: is that plus worth what the Cubs will pay? Will he even be a plus in a few years?

posted by yerfatma at 05:47 AM on November 21

This is just stupid. Aside from the stolen bases, Matt Murton's already putting up similar numbers posted by rocketman at 4:04 PM CST on November 20 Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.0.1) - Cite This Source as?i?nine? // Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[as-uh-nahyn] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation –adjective 1. foolish, unintelligent, or silly; stupid: It is surprising that supposedly intelligent people can make such asinine statements. According to rocketman the "numbers" produced by Soriano and Murton are similar with the exception of stolen bases. This statement is so far from the truth that it is a perfect fit for the definition of asinine. That it's patently false should be self evident. Player TEAM POS G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS OBP SLG AVG 1. A Soriano WSH OF 159 647 119 179 41 2 46 95 362 67 160 41 17 .351 .560 .277 2. M Murton CHC OF 144 455 70 135 22 3 13 62 202 45 62 5 2 .365 .444 .297 TEAM POS SF SH HBP IBB GDP TPA NP XBH SB% GO AO GO/AO OPS 1. A Soriano WSH OF 3 2 9 16 3 728 2839 89 70.7 103 205 0.52 .911 2. M Murton CHC OF 2 1 5 1 16 508 1888 38 71.4 163 91 1.97 .809 Let me highlight a few for you. Home Runs 46-13 Not similar, RBI 95-62, not similar, SLG .560-.444, not similar, 2B 41-22 (oh I forgot 40+ doubles isn't a significant stat in sportsfilter world). Those are but a few "numbers" as you can see, that aren't similar at all. "The questions are: is that plus worth what the Cubs will pay? Will he even be a plus in a few years?" 98 Years of futility says yes to the 1st question. A few years matters not a bit if he blows up next year is all that matters to Jim Henry and myself. (I can't speak for all Cub Fans)

posted by skydivedad at 08:31 AM on November 21

A few years matters not a bit if he blows up next year Sure, except when the team cites his contract as a reason they can't pick up decent free agents or resign talent, things may seem different. Which of these similar players would you pay all that money for after age 30? He had a heck of a year last year and was 26th overall in OPS. I just feel like the Cubs are paying a lot for what he's done, not for what he will do. Let me highlight a few for you. Home Runs 46-13 Not similar, RBI 95-62, not similar, SLG .560-.444, not similar, 2B 41-22 (oh I forgot 40+ doubles isn't a significant stat in sportsfilter world). Those are but a few "numbers" as you can see, that aren't similar at all. Fair enough. At this point I can't tell if you're being pissy or if you just don't get why 40 doubles isn't as meaningful as telling me what his SLG was: the SLG will reflect home runs and doubles and triples and singles and adjust for number of plate appearances, so why not just use that instead of saying some guy happened to hit x number of y type hits?

posted by yerfatma at 08:44 AM on November 21

Ok, His SLG% (.560) was ninth in the league last year. Some additional non-stat based information that could possibly change a few of the negitive Soriano opinions around here, while I'm not holding my breath thinking that's possible, I do believe most of you will at least reconsider your positions. According to Nationals manager Frank Robinson, Soriano is a positive influence in the clubhouse. ''That's one of the refreshing things about having him here,'' Robinson told the Washington Post (this is in contrast to earlier comments about his qualities as a team-mate). I trust Frank Robinson's opinion, you of course don't have to. Soriano has won three straight Silver Slugger awards and four overall for being the best offensive player at his position, as judged by managers and coaches (yea but what do they know). He has played in five All-Star Games and was the MVP of the 2004 game. He became the first rookie to hit a walk-off home run in postseason history when he belted a two-run homer in the ninth inning of Game 4 of the 2001 ALCS against Seattle. He also hit a game-winning RBI single in the 12th inning of Game 5 of the World Series against Arizona that year. Despite his defensive shortcomings, Soriano was voted as the National League's starting left fielder in the All-Star Game. (Fans, what do they know). He finished 6th overall in MVP voting with 106 points. Like I said, I can't wait to see him in Cubbie Blue!

posted by skydivedad at 09:28 AM on November 21

98 Years of futility says yes to the 1st question. A few years matters not a bit if he blows up next year is all that matters to Jim Henry and myself. (I can't speak for all Cub Fans) You seem to be assuming that the accquring Soriano is what will put the Cubs into the World Series. If the Cubs were a team that had been on the brink, maybe that would be so. However, the Cubs were no where near the brink last year and one player won't have the monumental effect on a team's chances that you are assuming will happen. The third worst team in the league will have to seriously revamp their team for success next year. The Tigers are a good example of a futile team that drastically improved. They didn't do it with one player however. They built up the team by accquiring players like Rodriguez, Guilen, Rogers, and Ordonez. All made significent money, but none have an albatross of a contract. The thing the Cubs need to improve is pitching. With the millions being shelled out to Soriano, that task will be difficult. Earlier you stated a few pitching candidates for joining the Cubs rotation. Lilly, Meche, and Marquis are all average pitchers, but none of them make a solid number two starter. A rotation including all three of them would be decent, but that thought seems optomistic. As for Wade Miller, I can't see him helping push the Cubs over the hump. Despite his defensive shortcomings, Soriano was voted as the National League's starting left fielder in the All-Star Game. (Fans, what do they know). Not much if you payed attention to any discussions on SpoFi around the All Star game. All Star voting is a big popularity contest, not neccesarily finding the best players. I'd look through this thread as it outlines why uneducated fans aren't the best choices for choosing All Stars quite nicely.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 09:44 AM on November 21

I never said acquiring Soriano is going to put the Cubs into the World Series, please don't say I did, he is however a big piece of the puzzle. I also quoted Piniella as saying more pieces are going to be added, which was one of the signals Soriano's early signing sent. GM Henry said as much today " ''It's way too early yet,'' Hendry said. ''We're not ready to think this is the ballclub we'll line up with next year. A lot of things can happen. We have a lot of work still to do." Hendry said improving the starting rotation through trades or free-agent signings is the next target, as well as adding left-handed batting help to the bench. Juan Pierre signed with the Dodgers today and it's clear Soriano will be the leadoff hitter and probably play Center field. Not much if you payed attention to any discussions on SpoFi around the All Star game. All Star voting is a big popularity contest, not neccesarily finding the best players. It's ironic that the Fans and The Silver Slugger voters agree on something, I guess those All-Star MVP voters are just as clueless.

posted by skydivedad at 10:14 AM on November 21

Could you conflate a few more pieces of unrelated information for us? What does the accord between Silver Slugger Awards and fan voting and the phase of the moon have to do with anything? I take it you have always and will continue to endorse the all-star starting 9 as an unimpeachable source of player talent ratings.

posted by yerfatma at 10:22 AM on November 21

You guys sure have a hard time understanding that just because the Fans Voted as such doesn't make it wrong automatically. You act as if their wrong 100% of the time, which is just as absurd as saying they're correct 100% of the time. I take it you have always and will continue to believe they never get it right.

posted by skydivedad at 10:30 AM on November 21

It's ironic that the Fans and The Silver Slugger voters agree on something, Since the voters did so well in choosing Loretta as the 2B it would only seem logical that he is also the Silver Slugger Award winner. Of course, that would be a coup and rightfully didn't happen.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 10:34 AM on November 21

I suppose the irony escapes you...... Oh yea, the fans also voted for Manny, Beltran, Jetter, Guerrero and Ortiz all of whom Won Silver Slugger Awards so according to your logic these were completely inappropriate choices. On 2nd look, I guess your snark doesn't really work.

posted by skydivedad at 10:54 AM on November 21

Since the voters did so well in choosing Loretta as the 2B it would only seem logical that he is also the Silver Slugger Award winner. Are you guys purposely missing SDD's point? The combination of a Silver Slugger and All Star votes is not meaningless. The player is being recognized by both his peers and the fans. On preview, what SDD said.

posted by bperk at 10:55 AM on November 21

I think the fans get the All Star voting correct 100% of the time. They have never failed to vote for the players they want to see the most. If the Cubs could have had Juan Pierre at the same rate he just signed (5 yr/$45) instead of Alfonso Soriano (8/$136), and they plan on just putting Soriano in Pierre's place in center field and at the top of the order, then in my opinion the Cubs blew it. As a Cubs fan, I would so much rather have seen them sign Pierre and blow the big cash on pitching... ...unless Soriano is NOT replacing Pierre. If Soriano is, in fact, staying in left field and the Cubs intend to sign, say, Gary Matthews Jr., AND the Cubs plan on flipping Matt Murton and/or Felix Pie for some top of the order pitching, then I love this signing from a Cubs perspective. I don't think the numbers for Soriano are that outrageous in this market (I certainly wouldn't compare him to Adrian Beltre -- his track record is much, much stronger and more consistent than Beltre's was). And the way things are going, it may well be that by the time Soriano declines in the direction of being a more average player, $17 mil may be an about-average salary. I'm not a big fan of Soriano myself, to be honest, but I can't deny what he's capable of doing at the plate. To really judge this signing, though, I think it has to be taken in the context of the Cubs' plan, which we haven't seen in total yet. If the Soriano signing gives the Cubs the flexibility to trade for pitching, with the tools they have, they can definitely bolster that rotation. Soriano is like signing Sosa, which was really only worthwhile the one year both Wood and Prior pitched 200 innings. Not a coincidence.

posted by BullpenPro at 11:11 AM on November 21

Are you guys purposely missing SDD's point? The combination of a Silver Slugger and All Star votes is not meaningless. The player is being recognized by both his peers and the fans. Which is why I have a series of stopped clocks around my house, all set to different times. Endless enjoyment.

posted by yerfatma at 11:16 AM on November 21

Fox SportsNet just announced the Cubs are signing Julio Lugo. Henry has a 3PM News Conference schelduled according to 670 AM Score Radio. Lugo was a favorite of Piniella with the Devil Rays and can play Center, 2nd and Short giving the Cubs flexibilty to make some additional moves. I sure hope it's for real.

posted by skydivedad at 11:39 AM on November 21

The combination of a Silver Slugger and All Star votes is not meaningless. The player is being recognized by both his peers and the fans. The Silver Slugger is picked by managers and coaches, not other players (his peers). Just so no one gets confused. Despite his defensive shortcomings, Soriano was voted as the National League's starting left fielder in the All-Star Game. (Fans, what do they know). Well, I'm pretty sure they didn't vote Soriano in because of his defence. If that was the case we'd have seen Orlando Hudson instead of Chase Utley, or Omar Vizquel instead of Edgar Renteria at this years' all-star game. According to Nationals manager Frank Robinson, Soriano is a positive influence in the clubhouse. This is the same guy that originally threw a hissy-fit when he was traded because they were going to play him in the outfield? This is the same guy that refused to play a pre-season game and was (temporarily) suspended by the team for not taking the field at his new position? oh I forgot 40+ doubles isn't a significant stat in sportsfilter world 23 other players had at least as many doubles as Soriano did, including such powerhouse sluggers as Orlando Cabrera, Kevin Youkilis, and Freddy Sanchez. 40HR/40SB/40doubles may sound great, but I'll take 58/0/25 if it also includes an extra 40 walks. Yes, Soriano had a great year. And yes, Soriano is a good player. But no, he's not going to be worth $17mil/year for the next 8 years (unless, as I stated before, there is a radical change in revenue for the Cubs (and MLB in general)). I take it you have always and will continue to believe they never get [all-star selections] right. Of course not. I do believe there are mistakes made by the voters as a whole, including: 1. home-team flooding - voting for your home team, and because you have a higher attendance, he becomes a starter despite a much better choice (Mark Loretta in 2006 is an example) 2. flash-in-the-pan - voting for a player who is having a completely out-of-character first two months, but at the end of the year you wonder why he played (Chris Shelton almost did that this year) 3. veteran love - voting for a famous veteran player who is having a bad year (and maybe hasn't been "all-star" calibre for a while) because of habit and name recognition (Cal Ripken in 2001, despite winning the AS MVP) I agree, it's for the fans to enjoy, but then call it the "MLB Fan Favourite Game" instead of the "MLB All-Star Game". Fox SportsNet just announced the Cubs are signing Julio Lugo. Henry has a 3PM News Conference schelduled according to 670 AM Score Radio. Lugo was a favorite of Piniella with the Devil Rays and can play Center, 2nd and Short giving the Cubs flexibilty to make some additional moves. I sure hope it's for real If he signs for 3 years and $36million, will you still hope it's for real?

posted by grum@work at 11:51 AM on November 21

1. home-team flooding - voting for your home team, and because you have a higher attendance, he becomes a starter despite a much better choice (Mark Loretta in 2006 is an example) With the availability of online voting, I wonder how much of a role attendance now plays into the equation. Certainly, the size of the team's fan base (and relatedly, the number of countries represented on the roster) makes a big difference. I'm not disputing your attendance comment at all -- I honestly don't know what influence attendance now has on the voting. Do people still sit and poke out those chads? (I do, but I don't see it at the ballpark nearly as much.) I agree, it's for the fans to enjoy, but then call it the "MLB Fan Favourite Game" instead of the "MLB All-Star Game". Can you be a "star" without anyone knowing about it? Are you a star by virtue of your excellence alone? "Star" to me incorporates talent with notoriety. The All-Star Game accounts for the sum of both parts, and I would argue is aptly named.

posted by BullpenPro at 12:41 PM on November 21

I think we all know the validity of All-Star game appearances by now. They are what they are and nothing more. I think the sheer number of them shouldn't really be used as ammo for HoF consideration, but that's more of a modern reality. We also seem to be getting bogged down in a little bit of a pissing contest about the actual value of Soriano. All it comes down to for me is: 1 - That's a lot of money for a lead-off hitter and mediocre left fielder - though to be fair, I don't really care what any of these guys make. 2 - I just don't think Soriano is that great a player. He hasn't seemed to improve on any of the shortcomings he had when he came into the league. He still strikes out too much without the appropriate number of walks to compensate. He just doesn't get on base enough for a lead-off guy.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 01:14 PM on November 21

1 - That's a lot of money for a lead-off hitter and mediocre left fielder - though to be fair, I don't really care what any of these guys make. I don't think anybody cares about how much he makes except for Cubs fans, and there it is only to the degree that it handcuffs the club now and in the future. $17 mil for Soriano is fine, but I don't believe it's publicly known what the Cubs are budgeting for this or any future year. If that $17 mil could have been spent on Juan Pierre and a solid starting pitcher, and spending it on Soriano means they won't get that starting pitcher, then it is a big deal. But if they plan on getting that same pitcher anyway, then the money is not an issue. 2 - I just don't think Soriano is that great a player. He hasn't seemed to improve on any of the shortcomings he had when he came into the league. He still strikes out too much without the appropriate number of walks to compensate. He just doesn't get on base enough for a lead-off guy. First, I totally agree with you that Soriano has major flaws in his game. And the fact that he is so slow in correcting those flaws leads me to believe that he is uncoachable. His behavior last spring has added quite a bit to that perception. However, the trick in valuing Soriano is in knowing what he is and how he will be used. He has vastly different value as a second baseman than as a left fielder, and he has vastly different value from slot to slot in the lineup. He is a terrible leadoff hitter, no doubt. But if the Cubs plan to use him to protect Aramis Ramirez or Derrek Lee, his value is higher. If he hits third, ahead of those guys, the likelihood that Lou is going to let him run free is pretty small, so the SB element decreases in value (though his speed on the bases is likely to enhance the numbers of guys hitting below him -- fewer double plays, more extra bases on hits, etc.). If he hits fifth and is protected by Jacque Jones, he will hit, he's going to steal more, he's going to drive in more runs with Ramirez and Lee ahead of him, and his value will be quite large. Carlos Delgado averages about 140 strikeouts a season. And Soriano's walk total last year was over double those of his previous two years. And he's now hitting in the Friendly Confines. His value to the Cubs in unknown. Which is why I'm waiting until the Cubs are done dealing to make a fair assessment of this signing.

posted by BullpenPro at 01:41 PM on November 21

I agree entirely. I think it would be much smarter to put Soriano in the 3-hole ahead of Lee and have Ramirez hitting fifth. That's as dangerous as it gets in the NL, right there - certainly close to the Mets 3-5. That will compensate for the holes elsewhere in that lineup. Insofar as the money is concerned - did they overpay? Yes. Did they have to? Of course. Why should I care? Only if it prevents the Cubs from being able to acquire pitching. Will it? Uh, hard to see them having an unlimited budget - so probably. However - there isn't exactly any free-agent pitchers out there that would likely be an automatic No. 1 or No. 2 starter. Boston looks to get the potential guy, the rest are very questionable - and the guys that look most like a number three guy are going to get huge deals. That's just the nature of this year's free agent market. Maybe the Cubs didn't do such a terrible thing by locking up the marquee position free agent available. It'll improve their line-up (provided they don't automatically insert Soriano into the lead-off spot) for sure. However, I can't help but think that this move seems a little desparate - Barring a huge trade, or next year's free agent crop being good and Chicago bound, the pitching just isn't there at all for this to make sense. They better hope to win with Soriano in the next three years - by year four of this deal I can't see him being the same kind of contributor. By year 8 it'll be a big Windy joke.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:38 PM on November 21

Cubs ownership finally recovered the combination to their vault! The U.S. Treasury probably thought that money was out of circulation.

posted by dyams at 06:27 PM on November 21

Can you be a "star" without anyone knowing about it? Are you a star by virtue of your excellence alone? Exhibit A: Tim Salmon - excellent career, a star in Anaheim, zero All-Star appearances

posted by grum@work at 07:24 PM on November 21

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