Siberian Baseball

Monday, November 20, 2006

They signed Alfonso Soriano, not Ralph Soriano, right?

You know the problem with being a man of the people?

By the time you get home and have time to settle in for a blog post, most of the pertinent comments have been made. The people have sucker punched me time and again, and today was no different.

It's OK, though, I have an e-mail trail a mile long from going back and forth over the pros and cons of the Alfonso Soriano signing and on the whole I think it's a positive.

While some will mock the cash thrown about to close the deal and the fact that it's one of the first times in recent memory that the Tribune Company opened its wallet to try and put together a team that isn't made of rookies, past-their-prime veterans and fans selected to play in that day's game as part of a promotional stunt, I say it is a sign of good faith from the team.

Year after year of seeing the big names swing by, meet with the team, take a tour of the city and sign on either coast made me skeptical of the rumors at first, but according to, it's official (great move there, Nationals - was it worth keeping him on the sinking ship for the final two months of the season?).

The fact that the team has spent the money it needs to in order to secure its own free agents so far - in Aramis Ramirez and Kerry Wood - as well as signing Mark DeRosa and Soriano, seems to indicate that the "Loveable Loser" tag is starting to wear on Cubs brass as much as it has on the fan base.

Is it being done to sweeten the pot for potential buyers who are eyeing up the franchise? Maybe. Is it giving Cubs fans reason to look forward to the spring in a way they haven't for years? For sure.

For the quick wrap - and yes, I know much of this has been written and discussed at length over the past 24 hours:


* Instant credibility with this year's free agent class - If you need any more evidence that the Cubs are serious this year when trying to court a few arms for the rotation or to plug gaps, they need only point to Lou Piniella and Soriano.

* Another bat in the lineup - Ramirez, Derrek Lee and Soriano as the boppers in the Cubs lineup next year are solid starters. In flux is Juan Pierre and at first blush, it's the most recogizable infield that will take the field on Opening Day.

These are all good things.

* Who's the big winner? Lou's the big winner! - There's something to be said for taking the top prize in this year's free agent class. The pitching is pretty weak and I challenge you to find a better pick from this year's free agents. Psychologically speaking, this is a big play for the ballclub.

And its neurotic fans.


* The age thing - Soriano is listed at age 31. This monster deal is eight years long. How old will he be at the end of this contract, assuming no one wants to take over the contract of an aging slugger? That's right class, pretty freaking old.

As much fun as it was to walk around today talking to the other baseball fans in the office, this was the major buzzkill. It's a situation that you can easily see going south. I e-mailed Frankie pretty early in the day to say if there are no World Series wins in five or six years, people might be pretty bitter about this signing around that time.

* That's a lot of money - Don't trust the Chicago Tribune, they aren't really your friends. Sure, they provide all sorts of information daily, have a pretty building and give you cartoons every single day, but they aren't your friends.

If the Soriano deal goes bad, don't think the Tribune company won't hide behind this as a reason to stop spending money hand over fist.

Frankie has long held the opinion that Cubs fans should have rioted and burned down Wrigley years ago because with full seats and crappy teams, the company was happy to collect everyone's cash and keep fielding teams of losers and nobodies.

He's right, but only to varying degrees throughout the years.

If the company can go back to business as usual - full seats and empty teams - they'll do this in a heartbeat.

It bears repeating - the Tribune Company is not your friend.

* One player, does not a World Series champion make - I'll direct you to the Ron Karkovice Fan Club for an extended discussion on this one - check out the final two paragraphs in particular - where it's argued that the Cubs are not in position to make the jump from second-rate to top dog with the addition of one bat to the lineup.

For starters, they need starting pitching. Wood will be in the bullpen, Mark Prior had arm trouble the same day Piniella was signed and the only real arm is Carlos Zambrano who is probably getting pretty sick of being the only strong arm in that rotation.

While home runs are fun to watch, they kind of suck when it pulls your team within eight runs in a 10-2 blowout.

Just ask A-Rod's fans.

(Photo from

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