It has been approximately a week and a half since the Soriano signing and it still makes me smile. As a season ticket holder I am normally spoon fed the likes of Jeromy Burnitz and Jacque Jones, but this season I get to chow down on an Alfonso Soriano buffet. This is the best free agent delicacy served up since the Hawk patrolled the wall in front of Sheffield Avenue. The greatest part of all is that not only has it made the Cubs Faithful ‘giddy as all get out,’ but it has scared the feces out of our NL Central foes. Cardinals’ fans have been complaining for 12 days now and Brewers fans may need a new goal. Finishing ahead of the Cubs in the standings may not be as easy as it once was. If you thought the Cubs overpaid for their superstar, the Astros signed the Krispy Kreme spokesman to play left field. It will sure be fun to watch “El Caballo” negotiate the many angles and walls at the Juice Box for the next 6 years. The Pirates may be more irrelevant than they were last year and the Reds just shelled out $14 million for the other Alex Rodriguez.
A signing of the Soriano magnitude impacts the entire division, not just the Cubs. $136 million seemed like a lot to me as well, but ‘The Hendry’ knew that money would impact the entire division, and in some ways, all of baseball. Meanwhile, the Cardinals quietly reunited Adam Kennedy and Mini-me in their middle infield. Walt Jockety is a proven winner and a very good GM, but he is making the Gateway city rather nervous. As Jason pointed out before, re-signing your own players cannot be viewed as a momentous occurrence. Therefore, retaining Suppan and Weaver does not change the team one bit, albeit a World Series team.
By making yourself better with free agents, in turn you can also make other teams worse. The Astros targeted Carlos Lee, but they had no choice after the Cubs landed Soriano. Though their contracts differ in length, the two sluggers will make approximately the same amount of money per year. Ask yourself if that makes sense. A five tool player, who can bat leadoff and hit 40 homeruns while throwing out more runners than any other outfielder in the game is making the same as a guy who has seen a treadmill less often that the “pre-Slimfast” Tommy Lasorda.
(A shake for breakfast, one for lunch and a sensible dinner, even Pasta!)
Anyway, it does not make any sense, but the Astros needed to land a whale and they got one, literally. Now I am sure that Carlos Lee will hit upwards of 50 homeruns thanks to the Crawford Boxes in Left Field at Minute Maid, but he is a defensive liability without much else to offer. Remember this is the man that Bridgeport traded for Scott Podzednik. Don’t get me wrong, he is a phenomenal offensive player who hit .300 with 37 homeruns last year, but he will not have the same impact as Soriano.
I have a good buddy who is a Pirates fan and every year I feel worse for him. Granted the Cubs were the worst team in the NL last year, but the Pirates have been pitiful for a long while. It has been a few decades since the Jim Leyland/Doug Drabek era ruled the now defunct NL Eastern Division. This team has continually traded away its top tier players in an attempt to acquire prospects and minimize the payroll. I do not think the Pirates had any plans to sign Soriano, but it still hurts. Mark DeRosa may have been more up their alley, but we snagged him too, and all but eliminated the Pirates from the meaningful free agent market.
Every season the Reds make the city of Cincinnati believe in October, but by mid-August those hopes disintegrate. Whether it is a supreme lack of pitching, multiple Griffey injuries or the fact that Adam Dunn cannot hit above .250, something is keeping this team from the post-season. And while I hate to anger Reds fans, Alex Rodriguez will not lead you to the ‘promised land.’ Sure, Bronson Arroyo destroyed Glendon Rusch and the Cubs last year, but who didn’t? Like Pittsburgh, I do not think the Reds had a shot or were interested in signing Soriano, but they did not just get a lot better like the Cubs did.
Trust me, I am not proclaiming Alfonso Soriano to be the greatest player ever, but he is the biggest free agent signing in Cubs history, so please let me gloat for a little while. Believe me; his addition will have an immediate impact on this team. There will be less pressure on Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez and a lot less pressure on Michael Barrett. Matt Murton will have a real chance to prove his worth, heck Mark DeRosa may even hit close to .300 again, who knows.
A signing like this makes the team better, the players better and the opposition worse off than they were before. It injects electricity into a ball club and a stadium. It provides hope to fans and sends a clear message to the rest of the league. I am excited and I cannot wait for the Cubs Convention, I just do not know if I am going to have as much fun as ‘The Hendry.’ The fact remains that while most teams have done very little in comparison thus far, Hendry continues to spend more money than the Hilton family. At this rate, Paris may even start attending games next year because it will be the “HOT” thing to do.
Thanks for reading, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and until next time….
Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!!!