The Soriano Effect

Updated – 3:15pm C.T. – Soriano to Play Winter Ball?

The Cubs signing Alfonso Soriano to the 8-year, $136 million dollar contract last week has had ripple effects throughout the league. Teams are actually concerned with what the Cubs are doing….how many times has that happened? The Dodgers, Angels and Astros all overpaid for big time talent, the same as the Cubs did just 6 days ago. The Astros’ signing of Carlos Lee could have other effects on their team just as the way Jim Hendry hopes the Soriano signing has an effect on which free agent pitchers would like to play at Wrigley. With Lee on board in Houston, a report in the Houston Chronicle suggests that signing could bring Andy Pettitte back to Houston, as well as Roger Clemens. The Astros did make a good signing on Friday as well when they inked Woody Williams to a 2-year deal (with a 3rd year club option) worth $12.5 million.

More from the rest of the league, a market for Jacque Jones? And what effect D-Mat might have on the free agent pitching market….

The exorbitant contracts being signed throughout the league are here to stay. Year after year there are those contracts that are said to be ridiculous or absurd, yet owners continue to shell out big bucks on the hopes of bringing a World Championship to their city and until MLB puts a salary cap in place those contract will continue to get larger and larger. If the Soriano and Lee contracts have seemed “out of line” just wait until next off-season when teams line-up to sign Andruw Jones and Vernon Wells….Jones could approach A-Rod numbers, just ask Scott Boras.

The Cubs set the market when they signed Soriano and by all accounts they are not done. According to Phil Rogers the Cubs are still in the running for J.D. Drew, although the Boston Herald says the Red Sox are close to signing the very talented but much maligned outfielder. The signings of Soriano, Lee, Pierre and Matthews, Jr. could have an effect on the Red Sox finally being able to deal Manny Ramirez. The Angels made it no secret that Aramis Ramirez was their primary target when the free agent signing period began….they lost out. Then they moved on to Soriano….again they lost out. The Angels have some of the best prospects in the game, especially in the pitching department, and many of those names could land them Manny Ramirez for just $17 million over the next few seasons….a “bargain” by today’s standards.

Daisuke Matsuzaka…. Could this year’s free agent pitching crop be waiting for Matsuzaka and Boras to set the market? Think about it, when has a pitcher made this big a buzz throughout the league without ever throwing a pitch at the Major League level? The Red Sox have to sign him to a contract soon and some have speculated the contract could be worth as much as $70 million dollars over 5 years. So the Red Sox would end up paying more than $120 million for an unproven talent at the Major League level. What would effect would the Matsuzaka contract have on names such as Barry Zito, Jason Schmidt, not to mention Gil Meche, Vicente Padilla and Ted Lilly? Those pitchers have won and have had success at the highest level.

Jacque Jones…. The Cubs outfielder is on the trading block, no matter how Jim Hendry tries to spin it. When a name is mentioned once it can be dismissed as just a mainstream outlet thinking out loud, but when the same name is heard over and over again….there is some truth to it. Jones did a fine job offensively last season for the Cubs and this off-season might be the best time for Hendry to move Jones, despite the fact he is having shoulder problems. The contract the Cubs gave Jones last season does not seem nearly as bad a it did a year ago and a mid-level market team, like the Indians, could afford to pay the remaining 2 years owed to Jones ($9 million dollars). The Cubs have been said to be interested in trading for Jake Westbrook, could a package that included Jones be in the works? ….Jones had a lot of success in the American League Central.

Quote of the day…. From the Chicago Tribune:

“We certainly can’t outspend them. But even though they’re stocking up, I’m not afraid of them.” – Brewers manager Ned Yost on the Cubs.

Well, that’s the latest and greatest….and I’m sticking to it!!!

Update – According to a report in the Chicago Tribune from the Associated Press, Alfonso Soriano is looking for permission to play Winter Ball for his hometown team in the Dominican Republic. Soriano said he will ask for permission to play for the Eastern Stars when he is in Chicago next week at the press conference when he is formally introduced as a member of the Cubs. He said he would continue working in the outfield but could get some time at 2nd base and is willing to go back to 2nd if that is what the Cubs are looking for him to do.

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne