Sunday, November 19, 2006

Cubs sign Soriano to record deal, still need pitching

The Cubs have signed free-agent outfielder Alfonso Soriano to a record deal worth $17 million per year over the next eight years, pending a physical. The contract means that the former Nationals outfielder, coming off of a 40-40 season, would be a Cub until the end of the 2014, when Soriano would reach the age of 38.

It may be a little excessive, but it's nice to finally see Jim Hendry get off of his ass and get something accomplished. The length of the deal, of course, risks that Soriano might end up in a situation similar to that of Sosa at the end of his Cub career. That, however, is a long way's away; there's no need to worry about that now.

The offense is now solidified with another bona fide bat in the lineup to accompany Lee, Ramirez, and Barrett, but, the pitching, as it always has been from the beginning, is in trouble. This blockbuster deal likely means that the Cubs will not go after a big-name free-agent pitcher such as Zito or Matsuzaka, though rumors of the trade involving Westbrook still exist. One starting pitcher may not be enough, though; the rotation for 2007 as it stands now is Zambrano, Hill, Rusch, Miller, and Marmol/Marshall, as I refuse to consider Wood and Prior as options for the rotation.

Everything else on the team is fixed, except maybe a closer. Go get a couple of competent pitchers, Jim.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Looks like Hendry didn't learn

Last season, Jim Hendry thought that he could pull the wool over the Cubs fans' eyes by trading away two pitchers unknown to the average fan for Juan Pierre. While Pierre posted a .330 on-base percentage in one season before filing for free agency and possibly headed to the Giants, Nolasco and Pinto will be around the Marlins organization for quite some time. In fact, Nolasco already paid dividends, winning 11 games for the Marlins who had a serious shot at the playoffs down the stretch. Pinto is showing promise, he posted an 8-2 record for Alburqurque (AAA).

Hendry is back at it again, trying his best to deplete what once was a farm system rich of young quality arms. After somehow miraculously getting David Aardsma for LaTroy Hawkins, Hendry has traded Aardsma and Carlos Vazquez for Neal Cotts. Of course, the addition of Cotts makes Eyre expendable, but I'm not quite sure what you can get for Eyre that you couldn't have gotten with Aardsma and Vazquez.

Besides, Cotts is another mediocre player to join the team; in 54 innings last year, Cotts allowed 33 runs and 88 baserunners. Meanwhile, Aardsma, in his last 22 innings with the big club, allowed only nine hits and four earned runs, while fanning 24. Vazquez, who is only 23, posted a 6-5 record with Daytona (high-A) and West Tenn (AA). He had a combined 2.75 ERA and allowed just 65 hits while striking out 91 in 85 innings over 54 appearances.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cubs continue to add mediocrity

This is irritating.

I don't understand why we continue to add mediocrity to the team and overpay for it.
The sooner Hendry understands that a player coming off of one good season does not deserve a multi-year, multi-million deal, the better off it would be. But, after numerous failures in the past, Hendry, unfortunately, hasn't learned.

Not only do we need to dish out $4 to Cesar Izturis next season, whose career on-base percentage is lower than both that of Patterson and Neifi Perez, now Mark DeRosa and his career .331 on-base percentage are owed $13 million in the next three years. Sure, DeRosa had a good season last year, but he was hitting in front of all of that power in the Rangers lineup. Prior to last season, DeRosa's career highs were 33 runs batted, 23 bases on balls, and 74 hits. DeRosa has has 21 homeruns over the past two years, but that's in Texas!

The most frustrating thing about this move is the fact that second base wasn't a main problem for next season. Center field remains a question mark as does the closer's spot, but the middle infield was covered by Theriot, Cedeno, and Izturis; we didn't need to add another weak bat at that price. But with only Carlos Zambrano and Rich Hill set for the rotation next year, the starting pitching should be the biggest concern! The free agent market in starting pitching is so rich this off-season, with guys like Schmidt, Zito, and Matsuzaka all looking for new teams; qll of the available funds should be spent there.

The signing of Kerry Wood also made me mad. Wood provided us with an average of two wins per season in the last couple of years, and we're paying him nearly $2 million? I suppose that's not as bad as the price tag on DeRosa and Izturis, because Wood actually has some talent, but if we were to bring back Kerry Wood after paying him well over $6 million per win (includes buyout) in the last two years, we shouldn't be paying him a penny over the league minimum.